Episode 70 of the Two Left Feet podcast
pisode 70 of the Two Left Feet podcast
Interview with Dante Nero He is a Comedian/Actor/Relationship Guru/Philosopher/ Renaissance Man/ unintentional Baddass/ DJ, stripper and bouncer.
Hey everyone on today’s episode of the two left feet podcast we had on my main man, Mr. Dante Nero, who is a stripper, a comedian and actor, a bouncer, a podcast hosts his own podcast show man school 202. I am so happy to have on my big homie Dante Nero. I really like what he’s doing. And this episode we talk about, his childhood in New York City, growing up how we became a stripper, how we became a comedian, how we became an actor. Great episode I’m so happy I can bring to see you today. Let’s jump on to it.
Terence: Hey. So I am now on the line with Mr. Dante Nero, you are a comedian, actor, relationship Guru, philosopher, renaissance Man. Unintentional baddass. You are a DJ, stripper and a bouncer and you are the podcast host and creative man school 202 is a weekly podcast and saved men and women’s relationships. Is that right?
Dante Nero: I would say so, yeah.
Terence: How you doing today?
Dante Nero: I think I’m good. It’s good to be here.
Terence: I’m a big fan of yours. But I’m curious, I kind of want to like, I guess hear about your story and everything. So tell me, what was your childhood like growing up in New York?
Dante Nero: I grew up 80s and 90s, late 80s and 90s, you know, the crack era, the era of mass incarceration, police brutality, Giuliani time. I grew up at a time when Brooklyn was a real. So my dad at the time worked as at the parks department, which took care of all the parks in New York city. He was a laborer, but he also did a lot of youth work within the community probably from 1935 all the way till probably when he was 70. Dealt with kids and did tournament’s basketball, track, netball, soccer, you name it, he did it all.
Terence: I guess what was it like growing up in that household with your father?
Dante Nero: Well, my dad was a really dynamic, personalities, he was only five foot.
Terence: How big are you? If he was father was five foot?
Dante Nero: I’m six one, I don’t know what happened, but I would say that’s how they put the steroids in the chicken. But he was a old school. I mean that’s a lot of were my principles come from, keeping your word and stuff like that mean what you say. Say what you mean. He used to say stuff like that to me. But he, you know, he spent a lot of time with everybody else’s kids. So in a way, as long as I was young, too young to challenge him. It really wasn’t a problem when I started becoming the kind of kid that would challenge him. He kind of found that annoying. And I would say in a lot of cases, he was very dismissive of me.
Terence: Was is disrespectful or no?
Dante Nero: I think, I was never disrespectful. He wasn’t having it anyway. So that wasn’t even an option. But if you tell me respect as a two way street, then that’s what it is. And so now I’m going to hold you to the same standards that you hold me too, even though I might be a child.
Terence: I don’t think any parent wants to hear that. It makes sense, but I don’t know how many parents want to hear that?
Dante Nero: But this is again a level of inauthenticity because you can’t, you don’t say that to people if you’re not, like, one of the things that I believe in is I’m not telling anybody to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. So when it comes down to that any deviation from what comes out of your mouth is a problem. And it’s interesting because as I’m older, I found that applying these principles to everyday life makes everything better. And when I say everything mean everything. So I just recently had a little kind of a thing with one of my one of my family members. And I basically I was on the radio and I said something about, it’s all true. It was also my personal truth, but my family number got really upset because they didn’t want to be exposed. They didn’t want me talking about it, but the point is true. And then they basically sent me an email, let me know that. That I hope that basically that if I’m going to talk about them and they, I hope that I’m prepared to talk about my flaws and anybody who listens it, and this goes to show you, our family members take it for granted that they need to get to know you. Because if anybody knows you, me, if you follow me, if you know me, if you just took a little bit, I don’t hide anything. And I don’t hide anything for that same for that reason, so that somebody can’t tell me they going to expose me if I’m telling the truth. So that really makes me want to talk about it more, but I’m also older and I’m a little more mature and I realize I would get my feathered rustled, that I would just go in.
Terence: I’ve heard about that. Hear you was a wild boy back in the day.
Dante Nero: I was a little wild, but it really came, my dad was like super over-protective so he would always don’t go there you’re going to get hurt. You’re going to go out, don’t play out in the street and get it back. Like it was just so like negative about everything. Something’s always going to happen. And I think that comes from, so he kind of instilled a fear in me. And so I was afraid of everything and I honestly, I just got to the point where I was tired of being afraid. And a long time ago I realized I must’ve been 12, 13. And I realized that fear exists between when an opportunity is presented to you and how long it takes you to access that opportunity. So the longer you take to access it, the more the fear grows, tends to fear is Like when you first started, I know you did a little Salsa first, go to your socials, you’re afraid to dance. And the longer you to get out there good battle and different, the more starting the fear builds up. And so I learned that at a very young age. And then I realized that if I confronted through, the quicker I confronted the fear, the less it would affect me. The problem with that is then you become very reckless because as soon as something fear or you start to feel that fear, I’m running into the burning building all the time it got to be a habit. And then it actually became almost an addiction then. I realized that the accolades that I would get from my peers for being the guy who would run into the burning building and they’re like, man, you’re crazy. But it all really came out of fear. And I think you get to a point also where you, you kind of decide that stepping on the gas all the time. It’s not always necessary. Sometimes it’s just like I did a little martial arts in there and one of the, you know, I did a lot of difference. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different styles took little Quito, took jiu jitsu, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One of the things I even took problems of God. Jewish [Inaudible 00:10:24] is really, just like a combat form of defense, but it’s forward. Everything goes forward. You’re constantly attack you. Even when you block, you’re attacking.
Terence: It’s kind of similar to Wing Chun in it? Always come forward though?
Dante Nero: Well, Wing Chun will trap. But you will trap up with you’re always striking. You’re always aggressive. It’s real because it’s combat.
Terence: Isn’t it for the military?
Dante Nero: Yeah. The Russian when you’re talking about, it’s called [Inaudible 00:11:00]. But what you find sometimes in martial arts it’s sometimes, if you’re a boxing fan, you watch somebody like Mayweather who sucks the guy in and exhausted. And so there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And knowing all those ways is always better. But I digress. My point being is that you learn this. Like I always say on the show, the true wisdom is the understanding of underlying concepts, how they relate to situations as seem irrelevant on but really are not meaning at the root core of everything that we learn is a lesson that we should learn. And if we learn that lesson and we really understand it, then we can reapply it in every situation over and over. And again. And so if you talk about sometimes you retreat, sometimes you, I mean strategy in martial arts and fighting it, sometimes you counterpoint it, sometimes you’re aggressive and having those variations in those and the scope of the spectrum of what you could do is something that makes you a more complete fighter. And it also makes you a complete fighter in terms of emotions, in terms of relationships, in terms of your life and you’re, you’re fighting to keep happiness, to maintain happiness. And sometimes there’s different tools for different things and you need to have those tools so that you get, you don’t succumb to…
Terence: it’s kind of like that thing not everything’s a hammer or when you’re a hammer, not everything’s is a nail.
Dante Nero: A hammer just doesn’t really do good with screws.
Terence: I want to ask you this real quick. Going back to that true wisdom and everything as like underlying, what did you learn from being such a wild boy? You know, what did that teach you? What was underlying thing from that?
Dante Nero: Well, I think I’ve found out that everybody is afraid, no matter who you think the tough, unless he’s a sociopath or psychopath. But everybody believe in that even though they got somebody that they feared. Most of the time people don’t want conflict. And when met with conflict, real conflict, they will back down 98, 99% of the people don’t want it. And the guys, then the ones who don’t want it or get really agreed upon who do want it, really a breed apart, real warriors like bill for that. But most dudes who just, they just yapping. I mean find that. But, but what’s interesting is that’s even true to people sincerity. I mean everybody wants to be remembered that wants to be remembered in their death and they’re willing to do whatever they need to do, even if it’s fraudulent, that’s one of the things I learned is that everybody is scared. I remember years ago watching Mike Tyson and I was watching him in the, in the, you know, he was in the dressing room they oiling him up and wrapping the door in his wraps and everybody would say, you the champ, you’re going to kill him. And I just thought it was odd that they were like so positive. Like, you’re going to kill them. You’ve got to do this. And then when I realized, wow, this is a situation where they’re actually hyping him up, but I wouldn’t understand the, maybe what we would have perceived as the baddest men on the planet. Why does he need to be hyped up if he’s really that dude? I mean, we should be listening to music. I mean, what is this necessary? And it made me realize it. Wow. Even Mike Tyson has the fear, he is dealing with that fear and trying to manage that fear. When you understand that puts you in great company. When you, when you are managing that on that level.
Terence: I’m curious. I want to hear about what is the, maybe like the wildest thing you’ve done trying to overcome fear?
Dante Nero: I jumped out of the second floor window on a dare. It wasn’t even a second floor window was like I was on orientation of college. I went to SUNY new Paltz upstate and there was this huge structure wall, that’s surrounded the thing. And literally the wall was, I’m trying to figure out how big I can say the wall. So I have to say 30 feet. Somebody dared me to jump over it. And by the time they were daring me. I was already over wall.
Terence: You were jumped over the wall. You would on top of the wall?
Dante Nero: I jumped over it to the ground and don’t get me wrong. I was in to Marshall Art, so that’s why I would try to hit and roll. But it was just, the momentum was, so I just, when I hit my all, I could feel the bones in my feet with crack. I didn’t break anything, but I sprained my foot, my knee, and I spent the rest of the time with a soft cast. But I mean that was kind of my thing is to confront those things as quickly as I could. I get them out the way and then after a while it becomes easy to do. You don’t even have the fear if you got a reaction. I had a situation where I got into a scrap for some dudes and it was like a two dudes. And my mind, the dude was real disrespectful and I was like I want to teach him a lesson, in my mind, I was like, I’m going to break this dude’s arm. And it was funny there was two of them.
Terence: Where were you like in the club? What was he wearing at home?
Dante Nero: I was actually I was riding my motorcycle and at the time everybody had these fluorescent green, I had this bike that looked like it was straight out of the book of Eli post-apocalyptic joint and I’m waiting at the light and this kid goes, I buy your bikes from you for $5. I go, how about I punch you in the mouth for three and he was like, what? And I got off the, I got off the bike and we scrapped. And I remember at the time, I remember specifically I was going to my, my stepdaughters a parent teacher meeting and I’m out in the street scrambling with these two dudes. I had one of them down and I’m trying to lock him in. I was older and they were younger, kind of 20 year old and I was trying to lock him in to pop his elbow and the other dude hit me over the back where the garbage cans. Then I grabbed him and I was like, it was just too much. They were too fast. They were too young. But afterwards I thought to myself, what if this dude as a screwdriver, whatever if he had a knife. I was didn’t that happen fear in the moment. I didn’t even have healthy fear, it just like if you checked in my heartbeat, my heartbeat was level, just wasn’t excited and I just like, this is what I’m going to do. I want it to be the story that he told his grandchildren, this is why you don’t talk to strangers and be disrespectful. Because this is what happened to me. This guy was on the motorcycle. And he broke my arm in my mind. That was the whole thought. And afterwards we heard the sirens, they broke out. And I thought to myself, I didn’t even have reasonable fear, where I could really been dead. So I mean that can happen too. When you get to the point where you can’t even.
Terence: Did that make you, I guess like reassess your life or reassess steps at that point?
Dante Nero: You have to reassess some things in calm, like listen, you way off the deep end. I also pledged Que, I don’t know if familiar with the fraternities. So I pledged Que, which is one of the hardest fraternities to get in. And that the abuse from that was something that I’d never, and then the, the ability to take it like you don’t fight.
Terence: So you definitely went through hazing. Hazing was a thing?
Dante Nero: I mean I always get, people always argue with me because I’m the only one that admits to it, but it’s in black letter in black Greek letter fraternities. It’s rapid. I don’t know if it still is, but it was when I’m pledged and I mean they beat us up. I mean you got paddles and just like school days, the whole thin but imagine 10 times worse. And I always say this the hazing, the purpose of the hazing was as African Americans, as black people that built this country, our ancestors went through that, sometimes just so that we can read, like people could get caught reading and have their eyes gouged out. So here’s a situation where you got black, you got young black men and women who have an opportunity to go to college to get an education that your ancestors fought for. And you don’t want to go to class because you was drinking too much the night before when you have ancestors that have died so that you can get an education. So I always make that the caveat of what the hazing was, it was an opportunity to see, to look at a window through your ancestors, through slaves ancestors were slaves. Look through what they went through. The difference was at any given time I could say, I quit. I don’t want to be in your club, but your ancestors could never say, I don’t want to be black no more.
Terence: So you are you saying you are appreciative of that, what you’re saying or what?
Dante Nero: I mean, I understood why they did it, I guess that there’s always better ways to learn things, I didn’t have to go through that to learn these things, but I went through it in this, it is what it is.
Terence: I want to ask you this. I guess I’m going back to your time and everything. So you grow up with your father and everything. Where was your, was your dad and mom from, what’d your mother and father were they from New York? Where were they from?
Dante Nero: My mother was from Virginia, Southern. A little town called Zunon, Virginia. It was like Mountain town, a couple of thousand people. My grandfather was Sue or Monacan Indian and my Native American. And my mom was Southern my grandmother was descendants of slaves. On my dad’s side, my dad’s father was from Antigua West Indies and my grandmother was half black, half white from Boston. She was very fair skin, gray eyes. She was at a time when you couldn’t came out as a product of a mix, mulatto relationship. I don’t even know the story of that, maybe it was consensual. I don’t know. But she grew up in an orphanage. Because you couldn’t be half black, half white. So she grew up in an orphanage and then she met my grandfather and I think they first lived in Harlem and then they moved to Queens and then ultimately to Brooklyn. I’m part coconut.
Terence: So you can go to New York, what made you go to college?
Dante Nero: It was just something that my father didn’t go. My father had an eighth grade education. My mother had a sixth grade education. It was just something at the time. That’s what you did. If you could, my father worked a civil service job. My mom was a stay at home mom, but she baby-sitter kids all the time like 13, 14 kids at a time. But it was just something that you did. I got three older sisters, two of which one of my sisters has a master’s degree. One of my other sisters has two master’s degree in, one is just really good at math, but didn’t, didn’t go to college. So it was just a thing that we did at that time.
Terence: I mean your parents probably really proud of you to even go to college, right?
Dante Nero: Yeah. I mean well my sisters had already gone and got degrees I didn’t finish school. Because I realized that I wouldn’t waste more to get away then to get an education. My dad was an exceptionally big personality and I was in his shadow and I just wanted to kind of get some space so that I can find my own place.
Terence: I guess I already know about it. I know you were a stripper at one point. How did that come about?
Dante Nero: I was in college. I was a Que dog, they did a benefit toys for tots or something like that. And so if you know anything about black Greek letter organizations, the major, the oldest, fraternities, the Sigmas, Kappas, Ques and the Alpha, that was the four major. And then you have Sigma Phi role [Inaudible 00:27:31], and these other ones that came around in the 70s. And so each one was represented. There was a guy who was supposed to do it for the Ques and he canceled the last minute. They needed somebody to fill in. And who else better than me. I was kind of wild. I was always wild. So everybody would get him to do it, he’ll do it. And I did it. I also had from my neighborhood, there were guys who I knew were doing it before, right up and before I went to, well maybe not be far, I went to school, but during, when me going to school, I knew that they were male dancers and stuff like that. And so I knew that they were doing it and I, you know, I had a good body and chicks like me and I was like, this might be cool girl. And I asked the girl if she wouldn’t mind me doing it, which is a different me, which is a way different me now. And she was like, no, it’d be great. You can make some money. We were living together in college and so I was wanting to do it and I’m not sure when I left school, I was working with emotionally disturbed kids. And I got attached to a kid who didn’t have anybody and they ended up shipping them to a Sanitarium. And it really kind of broke me. Because I used to bring this kid who was an orphan. I like to bring him home with me on Christmas and holidays and stuff like that. And the system is just not set up to cure people only to give people a shot. And I lost track of him and when I lost track of him, it just really broke me and I left school. So I was sleeping on my mother’s couch and I ran into one of the dudes who was stripping and I was like, all right, I can do this, this is light and lively. I was still with the girl that I had lived with in college. And that really wasn’t going well. She was very abusive, emotionally abusive person. And I was just a nice guy and I was taking it, like I would be in the street and she’d be yelling at me in the streets crazy. Like when I think about how I am now and how I was then, and I would be like, come on, just stop, just wait. I think a lot of people go through that in their life and they stay in that place. I just one of the things, I think that they’re always helped me is that whatever situation I was in, I knew that, I want it to be better. I wanted to have a better situation. So whatever I learned, I tried to apply it. And I mean, so when people look at me in terms of whatever my accomplishments that wasn’t really the focus. The focus was just to be in the present and kind of work, do the best that you could. And then comes these little baby steps that ended up being, when I think so how far I’ve evolved it just that, I don’t even think that was in my thought process, it was just, all right, this is something to learn. Don’t do that no more. This is wrong. Don’t do that, don’t do this. And then all of a sudden the path is revealed because all the other paths become eliminated.
Terence: Let me ask you this. I feel like we all try and learn from our mistakes?
Dante Nero: No. I mean, you see people doing the same things wrong over and over again. So I mean if you think about it, you probably could count on one hand the people that make mistakes and don’t make those same mistakes again. If you really, if you go through your Rolodex of people who you know, most people do the same shit over and over and over again and wonder why, but I mean it’s also fear a lot of things, it’s a lot of things. It’s fear. Its people have a level of comfort with what they’re familiar with any number of things.
Terence: Let me ask you this. I guess when is it too late to get out of a pattern?
Dante Nero: I don’t think it is ever. I always say happiness is a decision away. I’ve had guys who I’m straight punks just let people take them and I say, Hey, I used to always say the greatest thing about being a punk is tomorrow. You don’t have to be, it’s a matter of you making a decision and that decision seems to be something so far reaching from what you’re capable of. It’s really not, it’s just a decision. Anything that you had a hard time to do if you take the plunge, usually when you look back, you go, wow, that wasn’t hard at all. It’s the fear that stops you from doing it.
Terence: I understand that. I’m curious. What did you learn from, I guess your stripping days?
Dante Nero: I mean, I definitely understood attraction, understanding how women think and how they think different than men and attraction because not understanding attraction, when your business is sex, if you don’t understand that you starve. You have to be able to see what is what, in order to move forward.
Terence: So I’m curious. Were you a superstar back in the day?
Dante Nero: It was pretty out of control. I mean, I’ll put it to like this. I had a bump on the radio. Yo, this is Kendrick Lamar. And I aren’t keeping my radio on, I had a bump as stripper. I had a bump on the radio. But honestly that wasn’t my intention. My intention was just to be good at it. I was doing it and I wanted to be good at it and I wanted to make money at it and a lot of times I don’t even realize, it’s funny when I’m running into people who knew me back then and they talk about how extensively people knew me and knew what I did, I don’t even remember that I was so focused on the work just being better and just doing the work and then do the things, sometimes I wished I was more aware of. But I can front, I had a ball.
Terence: Yeah, it sound like it might’ve been a cool lifestyle?
Dante Nero: Well, I had a bunch of cool dudes that I kind of made and I choreographed them. And I actually did costume design. I taught myself how to sew and I would sew other people’s costumes, I would choreograph their act to overcome their weaknesses and stuff. And then I had a group, I started the group, the group is called wet seduction. It was 13 members and even the marketing, I had a guy make long Western black dusters with the logo on the back and we used to all walk in, like when they weren’t working, they had to come to my shows. And so we would walk in 13 deep with black dusters. It looked like tombstone. We walked in like tombstone and that kind of helped everybody kind to know who we were because we rolled as a unit, it was just a marketing tool. And after a while they started getting work too. And so we were all in different directions making money.
Terence: Yeah. I’m curious, I like to talk about, I guess like you begin to stage and learning something. So I asked like dancers that, but I guess for you, what was your beginning of stag like in I guess stripping, what was that like for you?
Dante Nero: I have a philosophy about learning in general and I think there’s always a great thing to have and rules of engagement, so when you want to learn something, the first thing I say is do the research. Do as much research about whatever you’re trying to learn. Then find a mentor, somebody who you think is credible, somebody who you think is good at what they do and they’re doing it themselves or have done level of success with these confirmed by some of the best people in whatever you’re learning that this is the guy. And then shut up and pay attention and listen and remove your fear and move your ego. Humble yourself to the process and then absorb the process on a level that, where you just have this openness and what happens is you start to learn and then when you learn and eventually you outgrow your mentor and it’s time to find another mentor, somebody. And so you don’t always have, like for instance, stripping wasn’t something where they were mentors but they were guys who were hot and who were making money and you have to do it on your own just by observing, you had to observe what they did and then how can I make this better? But it’s all incremental to, a lot of times I’ve counseled guys because I do the one on one consultations and stuff like that and I’ll counsel guys and they will like, well I’m not you and I go, but you don’t understand that I was used at one time. So everybody is a process. I mean, I know you Salsa, when you first watched dudes, you’re like, how could you remember this? And then when you do it comes to that.
Terence: That’s so true. I go to like dance conferences, where there’s just people come to dance. It can be intimidating we can always be the kind of inspiring man just to see that?
Dante Nero: We also don’t realize that nobody cares. Everybody has their own fears and they’re dealing with their own shit a lot of times. And you think they’re watching you and they don’t even get lots of, they have their own fear that they came with.
Terence: Yeah. That’s real talk. So you’re doing the stripping thing and everything. And I guess what makes you stop? Like why do you get out that businesses that age or?
Dante Nero: I always say that this is how you know when to quit stripping. When you got to figure out whether you wear your G-string over your stomach or under your stomach, that’s when you know it’s time to quit. I could’ve probably got back in, but the business, it had its time.
Terence: How long were you doing it?
Dante Nero: Like almost 10 years.
Terence: That was your full time job right away?
Dante Nero: Well it was my full time job until I started working with the phone company. I was all working for the phone company in 94. I probably started dancing in 89, 88 like that and I stopped at around 98 and 99 something like that. When I started, when it started getting harder to keep in shape, I just stopped. The problem was that you create a level of credibility. And it was weird because my mom was like, why don’t you get a job with a future, with pension, which you don’t understand is that your credibility is your pension. Because like, even now we literally talking 20 years later they’d be like, you still danced? You want to I’m like, are you even looking at me. But they remember you being that dude.
Terence: Let me ask you this. I didn’t get a chance. Tell me what kind of, what kind of impact did your mother have on you?
Dante Nero: My mom, she was a stay at home moms. She was one of the sweetest ladies, very sweet, kind woman. And I think I learned empathy from her. My father was really strong dude and my mom was really strong too, but in a quiet way, like really calm, quiet power. And she had to be, because my pops was a maniac all over the place. And so she just always kept that even keel, which was his, I think that was his balance.
Terence: Okay. I understand that. So you’re doing your thing and then you move to the telephone company…
Dante Nero: Then I ran for office as a union delegate for the telephone company. I learned, I mean it’s a, it’s a technical job was interesting for a while. And then I got bored and then I was like, okay, I’m going to run for office and I’ll be a union delegate. And I did arbitration and I think the most people I had under me was like 300 people, 299 people at one time that I was in responsible for. Just fighting for their rights. And I did that for a while and then after a while, I got bored with that.
Terence: So are you still with the telephone company?
Dante Nero: Yeah, I’m still a delegate. I still do arbitrations and stuff like that. Because it was a responsibility that I took. Plus it kind of frees me up to do the things that I want to do. But it was kind of a thing that just kind of happened and then I ran out and I needed something else more creative to do. I needed a creative outlet.
Terence: When did you start doing standup?
Dante Nero: Well, I had a clothing line before I had a clothing line. I mean, I bounced and I have security companies that had stuff like that, but I had a clothing line. The name of the clothing line was Dante roGus, we was going well and we had some place in, but I realized that I always wanted to do stand up and I was doing this clothing line so I wouldn’t have to do stand up.
Terence: Oh, is there an excuse? I want to hear about all your standard career real quick. Tell me your crazy story from balancing. I don’t want to skip over that?
Dante Nero: It’s so many, I mean, not bouncing, but stripping and I was just, I mean it was a 90 and it was the 90s was at a time where you knuckled up, you could get shot at and stuff, but a lot of times when you knock dude out. He don’t really have time to get the gun.
Terence: So give me one story from bouncing please?
Dante Nero: I was doing this show in Brooklyn and it was at the time, so let me preface this by, there was a time when you couldn’t have a party without a stripper. Like every party had a stripper, you had a male and a female. Like, so if it was a party regular dance party or club party promoters, they would hire a stripper, a male strip, and a female stripper. And at some point in time of the night, they would shut the music down to take the center and you would strip in the middle of the floor and you make your money and go. So it was like kind of the entertainment of the night. And I was doing it. I was deep in the hood. I was in Williamsburg right in the hood. And I let the girl go on first. So guys could feel appeased and I went on and the dude, it was a balcony and they were chanting to the music, go faggot. And they would take him beer as throwing beer at me off. So I remember telling him to stop the music and I said next one how going to throw beer at me. I’m come up there and knock them out. And they were like grumble. Because you know they had the numbers. And I think what happened, I think it’s a little vague. I think I was doing some stunt with a girl on the floor and her ex man was there. I think he comes down, he grabs him by the shoulder. It comes downstairs and grabs me by the shoulder. I drop him. I hit him. A lot of times you would be in these places by yourself. So I can be in the Bronx, I could be in Staten Island, I could be in Queens, in the hood by myself. So you got to you always have to keep your eye out. So the guy who put his shoulder put his hand on my shoulder clock, what the groups are. So I knew he had two other guys with them. And so I hit him. I ran right to the guy, one guy was sitting down at the table. I hit him and then I hit his friend they weren’t even playing like just cleaning house. And reason sounds crazy, but it’s really more strategic than anything, if you aren’t really about it and somebody knocks from the mountains like I always say, guys are always tough till they get punched in the mouth. Then you see really what dude is made out and if you drop fights over and if you with your crew and both of them holding their mouth, one holding their eye you good you have the upper hand. Plus you have the fear that they’re dealing with wild guy. So I remember them kind of rushing at me and I was popping dudes over like somebody where bounces there that were like breaking it up and it was me against all the guys and I’m popping them on the mouth. I had a couple of other stripper’s their too, and it was a huge, like the balcony opened up into a wide staircase and they started running down the staircase. And so I remember them coming down the staircase. I could see them coming on the staircase and I met them at the middle of the staircase because the leverage, like I’m not trying to fight uphill because that gives you a disadvantage, but they’re coming to me so I could just kind of duck down and throw them over my shoulder, down the stairs. So they have momentum was just plugged down here. And I think two of my boys were there and they kind of pushed the dude out, push the dudes out. Now they’re outside they get their weapons and stuff. Go pop the trunk. And I kept telling him no, don’t put them out. But they thought, a lot of people play checkers. I always play chess, so let’s do them here instead of getting them to the trunk, now stuck in this club with those guys outside. I don’t know who they’re calling who or whatever. And so we actually have to call the cops. Like we wouldn’t leave and call the cops.
Terence: You could die that night?
Dante Nero: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of times I could die, but I mean you’re young and you don’t really think of it. I mean, a lot of this, you know what I think about it now, there’s so many different ways I could have avoided. But at the time I didn’t have the savvy or the ability to do so.
Terence: Let me ask you just real quick, in that instance where they were like taunting you, was that your ego that made you?
Dante Nero: It was probably ego, you’ve got to understand. I mean, I don’t know what your background is, but if you let a guy it’s like the punk tests. If a guy bump you and you let it go and he bump you again, okay, the second time he bumps you, he’s aware of it now deliberate. So you’re going to have to deal with that. If you don’t deal with it’s just going to keep escalating and you deal with it. And so a lot of times I would go, okay, this is what the situation is. If I don’t deal with this, what is going to be my recourse and how does this escalate so I might as well get it in now while they’re not ready, when they’re mentally prepared and then I really got a problem. I was never the initially aggressive, but if a guy was throwing me shade and I could see, okay, this is where it’s going, I would go right there, right now, let’s do it now. And a lot of that had to do with fear because of the fact that was the fear of the anticipation of what was going to happen. So if I take control, I always felt like if I took control over it and I made it happen, at least I’m in control of it as opposed to waiting and maybe they don’t jump bad. Maybe it goes good. Nah, this is going the way I want it. I want it to be able to make the decisions. I used to say this all the time, never really happened to me personally, but I used to say never suck on the pistol. So what it means if you get robbed and the dude got you on the ground and he tells you to put the pistol in your mouth, don’t do it. Why? Because if he’s going to kill you, he’s going to kill you anyway. And you don’t put the personal in your mouth. Now he got the, now you’re dead because you was sucking on pistol. Like you got to be reasonable about what is going on. You got to be honest with yourself about what’s really going on. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, people panic and they do things, but most of the time you could kind of get a read on where somebody that, if you’re paying attention.
Terence: I’m curious, in today’s day in age where we’ve got these MMA fighters going around, could you do what you did then now?
Dante Nero: I mean, what I was doing even then was kind of like MMA. Like I never got a black belt from anybody. I’ve never had a black belt, but I would do two years of judo. I would do a year of a kung fu or Eagle claw and I would box. And I was like, I would just bounce around. Like when I would go to a dojo. They would beat me up for six months because I didn’t know their system. And then once I would start to get a feel of that system, because I had a lot of skills fighting, I would start to get the hang of it, how they did things and then I would usually disappear and go to some other school. Like I took classes in Japanese jiu jitsu, Brazilians jiu jitsu, muay tie, Wing Chun, Eagle claw and I boxed, kickboxing, not along the Taekwondo, but I would bounce around a year here, six months here, eight months there. And so my fighting style was just kind of eclectic kind of thing that we were doing anyway. I Brazilians jiu jitsu and they did jiu jitsu. But their jiu jitsu was, you know, how black people got the flavor, they would take like it didn’t look like anything I ever seen. It was boxing. It was kung fu. That was a mix. And so I kind of did that. So I mean you could say, I mean, people would go always go that Bruce Lee was the first MMA fighter, because he mixed jiu kan do, Western boxing, muay tie and Filipino martial arts and also mixed grappling arts. So he was mixing a rally, but black dudes were doing that in the hood because you the circumstances is different, have you ever heard of the 50 blocking system. It’s like a jail martial arts. But the jail martial arts is a bunch of tough dudes from different disciplines in jail teaching each other different things. And so that’s how he like black folks were doing that before there was UFC, they always been mixing and matching and stuff like that. So you just couldn’t do it now because of the legality. But I mean it’s also dudes call the cops. Dude, I remember getting smacked around by the cops on Broadway and 47th street and Manhattan. We, me, my boy and his girl had a fight with three dudes because dude says something his girl and I’m fighting three guys on Broadway and 47th street. It cops broken up and they smacked us around and then sent us home. Like, that was like right now that happened. Everybody’s going to jail. It was definitely a different era.
Terence: I’m curious, if you don’t mind, we’d like to hear about your beginner stage and stand up. What was that like for you?
Dante Nero: So I always wanted to do what I wanted to do. I was a kid who used to sit up and watch Johnny Carson, David Letterman, like I was a kid and I would stay up late, sneak up and listen and peak through my mom and dad’s door. And so I had really obscure comics that somebody of my age shouldn’t even know. So I always wanted to do it. And every once in a while I’d get a notebook and I will put stuff in the book. I was doing this clothing line and I realized that I was doing the clothing line as a way to keep from doing standup. The next day I found an open Mic online and I went and I started doing comedy. But let me put it like this. I been writing stuff, but what I did again was I didn’t have a mentor, but I must’ve read eight books on standup comedy, how to do it, the writing, the structure joke, structure. Because I also didn’t think I was funny. Like I didn’t think I, not that I was, couldn’t be funny, but I knew that people didn’t laugh at me. So I was like, in order for me to do this, I need to have my fundamentals. So I read a lot of books on comedy writing and stuff, so my jokes were really, really tight and structured really well. So it didn’t matter how I look or how intimidating I was, the jokes would work. So that goes back to that philosophy of just finding a mentor and then excepting the system, submitting to the system and then absorbing everything that you can absorb, also confidence. Confidence comes always from how prepared you are. So I was just paired there’s nothing worse than the teacher telling you hand up the homework and you know, you didn’t do it. And when you did do it and it was done well you’re not collecting homework.
Terence: So I will listen to your standard before you call, I think my favorite joke was, you said this girl wanted you to love her forever. You said she needed to change her name to [Inaudible 00:57:35].
Dante Nero: I was highly influenced by Patrice O’Neal. I met him and we became friends and probably 2002, 2003 and people didn’t really get how dynamic he was as a standard comedian not just funny, but he was prolific like I don’t know. How does this ever been anybody close to him?
Terence: How did you meet him?
Dante Nero: I was doing open mikes and there was this white girl that I was writing with, was a crew of us with writing and I was ahead of the game because I was so prepared in my fundamentals. She was like you should meet Patrice O’Neal. And I go, who’s Patrice O’Neal? He should meet me. And she was like, no, he’s very funny. She says and I quote, he has the heart that pumps a black oily substance, not unlike oil. Because he was so brutally honest, people intimidated by him. And I was like, yeah, whatever. So when I met in my bedroom at the Boston comedy club and I was like, Oh, this must be the dude. And he just seemed cool and we talked and was kicking it or whatever because he was, he was a dude who was interested in learning too, we’ve always had a thirst for learning. And we exchanged numbers and stuffs. And I remember we called and I told him that story that this white girl said, I should meet you. I should meet you because your heart pumps an oily black substance. And he laughed. And it was like, all right. We hung up. And then he called me back and he goes, let me ask you something he goes that chick that said I was an evil person, he goes, why did you talk to me? And I said, because I ain’t scared of you. I’m not afraid and I wouldn’t let somebody, and that’s where our friendship started. Right from there. Dope dude. I miss him a lot.
Terence: I’m curious. How did he impact your comedy career or did he impact your comedy career?
Dante Nero: He was a guy who really pushed the limits. Like I was learning from him, I was like, wow, you could say that. Like, you could be honest like that. And that was the thing, his honesty, even at the risk of not getting a laugh, even of offending people, I mean, people, he used to walk third of the crowd a lot of times early on, they will walk out, piss them off. They would get up and leave. Now I used to look at that as a badge of honor, but I realize now that was just his ego. Like he kind of took to the fact that he can make people are uncomfortable and stuff. He kind of wore it as a badge and now when I headline I go to punish everybody for something that somebody might have said or just be in a mood and allow your ego to supersede what the job is to entertain people, it kind of works against, you know, if you have a philosophy, it works against that philosophy.
Terence: Yeah. I definitely understand that. Do you think that’s kind of why he might not blowing up as he should have?
Dante Nero: He was definitely self-sabotage and he sabotage and stuff every chance. But I really don’t think it was because of that. I think he was really afraid of success. So like if you do a college and you got to television show back then you could make 10 stacks. You do a college, you do 10 stacks. So you could literally go out, do three colleges and make 30 stacks. So he would do three colleges, then sent home and buy sneakers online. And just pay his bills, pay his car, pays mortgage and then just chill until he ran out of money. And then he would go out again. But it wasn’t like he didn’t really have a goal of I want to be this, I want to be that. In fact, he always said he was going to quit. I’m quitting he used to say that all the time. But I think he loved it and he loved the attention. And I just, I learned, wow, you can stay what you want to say. He gave me license to be me. And not to worry about what they thought.
Terence: Yeah. I think elephant in the room might be one of like my one of my favorites standup.
Dante Nero: Is probably one of the most prolific special events. Not only that, but not just the honesty of it, but like he wanted what he said to mean something. And I’m the same way, you know, I’m the same way. I think that was one of the reasons why we would close because we both kind of had that, those same sensibilities. I think he was a little more angry than me. I mean, because I was running around swimming in pussy.
Terence: I remember he was more angry than the dude who was knocking people out?
Dante Nero: He was, but I would do that and then go and then go to the diner and get a burger. Like it wasn’t like it wasn’t a thing every day. He didn’t really get laid a lot until he started having fame and he start getting the confidence of his fame is when he started getting late. And I don’t think it was, you know what I mean? Some girls just fucked with them because of who he was. But most of the time it’s the confidence you get from the accolades that you knows your value, but what I think we don’t do is we don’t look at that value on, we don’t even advocate. We don’t even see it as value. Well, can you give me those things in the friends that we have like loyalty or honesty or just all kinds of stuff like that, we love having friends who’s all of those things. But then when it comes to those same qualities, when we have those qualities, we think that those qualities are worthless.
Terence: Okay. I definitely understand that. Can we move on to, I guess you getting into, I know you probably talked a lot about the black fellows show man. But you know, I guess going past that, so you started your own podcast, right? I want to ask you, you’ve been doing it for way six years now. How long you been doing this stuff? I’m curious, could you give any advice to people who might be starting a podcast now because you’ve been doing it for so long?
Dante Nero: Close to seven. I would tell them the same advice I would tell anybody is you just got to do it. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I believe same principles and do the research, find out what you need to do and then start doing it because it’s going to suck when you start doing is just like anything else you do. It sucks. Any number of things you as a broadcast, the process, the whole thing. When it stops sucking is when you get good at it. And the only way you get good and get good at it is by doing it by practicing. You got to be OK with the growing pains it takes to, to get good at it.
Terence: What episode do you think you’re at right now?
Dante Nero: I wouldn’t even know. I couldn’t even tell you.
Terence: Maybe 400 or what? You’re going to be my episode 70. I’m like, Hey, I can’t wait to get to your 400.
Dante Nero: Just keep doing it and watch yourself. So when you have things that you say repetitive. You got to not do that. Like you just keep saying, let me ask you something. You said that, but you only see those flaws when you look back on it. Because when you’re doing it. There’s a nervousness when you’re doing it, when it’s fresh, but that’s anybody. So you’re not really yourself and I’ve been doing a media blitz. So I literally have been doing radio three, four times a week. I’m been on different people’s shows. So I’m not phased, like it don’t matter. I did a predominantly LGBT podcast, huge podcasts today. And what you realize is for me just my whole thing is all my rules and regulations of my premises have always been about heterosexual relationships. But since then, I’ve had LGBT community on my show. And what I realized is that the same way we talked about men and women, masculine and feminine is also in the LGBT community. It’s also just dominance and submissive, all kind of the same thing. And so again, the principles are so universal that they work for them as well. You just have to know what matches up. What the principles are and how they relate to an LGBT relationship. Who’s the dominant, who’s the submissive? And you could tell, I mean, if you shut up and listen.
Terence: Is podcasting you want actually to do fulltime or you think you want to stay with the phone company, can you do it full time? Has it getting to this yet?
Dante Nero: I’m almost done. The only reason why I’m sticking around with the phone companies because I’m trying to figure out when to leave and I’m trying to take man school 202 to the next level. And it’s just not time for me to go yet. But it’s close.
Terence: If you don’t mind me asking, like what’s the next level man that for the fulltime job for you or what?
Dante Nero: Maybe even radio, maybe serious radio. But even if I did serious radio, I will still doing my podcast. The game has changed so much in terms of with social media has changed the game. Like when I got in you tried to get your Letterman, you’re David Letterman, and then you validated by the industry and then you move your way up. Now this is interesting. Like the LGBT, a podcast that I did today, they had did serious radio for 10 years. They left serious radio to do their own podcasts. And the first episode that they did, they shut their servers down. And they get such big following from that. And I mean, Joe Rogan’s podcast is bigger than Fallon. I mean the format, if you think about what he does, his format would be unheard of on television. Sit down and do a three hour interview with someone. So what you start to realize is that everything that people think they know about broadcasting, of what people, like all the quote unquote marketing and demographics, they have no idea what they talking about. If you look at it now, NBC now has a podcasting platform it way later. Like this new two to three years. And even the ones that did it, it’s small. They don’t even understand the model. You could be a dude who gets 4 million followers on your Instagram and then all of a sudden you get Instagram for you and influencers. Instagram famous. So the game has changed at one time I thought serious radio was going to go under because of the subscription. It’s like, why is somebody going to pay for radio? But also you could also ask, why do people pay for water bottles, bottles of water? That was all a marketing. Also, I think the natural course of things is that it’s changed where people want access to their fans, to the people they look up to. Broadcasting gives you a real of who they are. I mean whatever production is, it is minimal and you just doing what you do, you have years ago you would have a fan and you’d send them a letter and they would get my answer. But now your Instagram, your Snapchat, your Facebook literally, I mean I don’t do that, but if somebody posting rarely, you know what they’re doing from moment to moment. So it’s changed the game. It’s gotten people closer to their fans, which is I think is good and bad because bad because they think they know you. The other thing is, I always say this, people were calling them their Facebook profile, but they don’t work on their regular profile. And the real life, they don’t care about that. They just care about what it looks like on the internet. Right. And people are actually taking vacations to show that they can Instagram it. And it’ really not about enjoying the life. It’s just doing it so that you can show everybody else that you do dope shit, which is, how could you enjoy that? I mean, I’ve gone to concerts where people watched the concert through their phone. The concerts right there you’re watching it to your phone. So I think this is an interesting time and it’s funny, I was talking to somebody old school, like I’m pretty cool with Maseo from De LA Soul. So mace Maseo was talking about, how the internet got it all fucked up. But I was like dog, it always swings back and forth. I mean clearly we went from Obama to fucking Trump, clearly depends on swings and it swings to extremes.
Terence: I want to ask you this real quick. Why don’t you watch you post your episodes on YouTube?
Dante Nero: Well initially it was because it was a way to monetize it. I’m going to start stuff on.
Terence: You definitely should. Because that’s another way for people to see your product. I mean eventually you get you monetize on YouTube.
Dante Nero: But I also been doing this seven years and I need to make a living out of this. But the model is a little bit different. Like YouTube, if I got on the YouTube game early on, nobody’s making money on YouTube unless they making money on you. You got to be huge. And I’m just, I don’t know if I’m willing to do what it takes to be a YouTube guy. I mean I’m happy with my life now.
Terence: Dante all you got to do is film the episodes and it’s uploaded to YouTube. That’s all you got to do.
Dante Nero: If you see behind me to my left that’s a four K cameras. The reason why I’m in the studio now is because I’m putting up a mounted cameras. I mean, I will put excerpts but I’m not going to put the whole thing because you have to filter people so that they can date. Otherwise they’re not going to pay for it. I mean you give them free but they got to pay for something. I mean, so much time and effort I put into this, the time and effort, I put into the philosophies and thinking about stuff. I want to make a living out of it.
Terence: Have you heard named Gary banner?
Dante Nero: I know him. But he was doing that when nobody was making money on it. I like that dude. But now, what he’s talking about now is like buying Apple stock now. The horse are out the barn already. So it’s funny because people actually use an Instagram as a video channel, so people have mastering that. So it’s always changing and you got to adapt with it or what? I mean, it’s constantly changing and I mean, new technology moves so quickly. If somebody says, yeah, get a YouTube channel, you like, yeah dog. That’s like trying to buy like you want to [Inaudible 01:16:49] now. You missed the, you missed the boat. I mean like, it’s sort of like people are talking about Bitcoin. Now’s the time you get into Bitcoin. But a lot of people are going to get caught up the process of the thing, just like the.com, I don’t know if you remember, Yahoo.com got sold for millions of dollars and then it went bus. But to the same token, amazon.com is one of those .com and that is taking over everything. So whenever it is a surge, there’s always 95% of everything is scams. But when people know what the 5% is. And now the thing is different. I mean, I would say I have comic friends who have television shows that I don’t even know that they have a television show. Because with Netflix and Hulu. So the inmates are running the asylum now. So this is an exciting time, but you still got to be aware of what’s going on in kind of think, okay, what’s the next move.
Terence: I want to ask you this last set of question. We could wrap this thing up. So I want to ask you this, I guess like call them rapid fire questions. I want you to try answer these in like 10 seconds of this. All right? If you could meet anyone did or alive, who would it be?
Dante Nero: Carl Sagan.
Terence: Favorite thing to do outside of, I guess podcasting?
Dante Nero: Fucking.
Terence: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Dante Nero: because he wasn’t listening to his boys.
Terence: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
Dante Nero: Best gift I’ve received. A sincere compliment about my comedy from my peers.
Terence: If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Dante Nero: Control people’s minds.
Terence: What is one item you can never live without?
Dante Nero: Laughter.
Terence: As a child, what did you want to be growing up?
Dante Nero: Want to be a genetic engineer.
Terence: What advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Dante Nero: Remove your ego.
Terence: So now tell me what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Dante Nero: Everybody makes their own mistakes. But he has to make their own mistakes. You don’t have to make people’s mistakes. You don’t have to make your own mistakes to know you can learn from other people’s mistakes.
Terence: I mean, if the wise man learns from other’s mistakes, last one Dante, you are stuck on an Island for five days. What are three things you’re bringing?
Dante Nero: An axe, a magnifying glass. And a water filter.
Terence: Alright that it, I think you are answering those questions perfect. I like I said, I guess I just want to thank you for taking this time of day to talk to you.
Dante Nero: No problem any time.
Terence: I really appreciate it. So enjoy the night Dante. I wish you the best of luck with man school though. I love Andrea. I love Harry. So you got the whole squad.
Dante Nero: Yeah, no doubt you should do an interview with them.
Terence: Harry and Andrea, definitely should that’s a good idea, no doubt. Like I said, thank you so much. Take it easy.
Hey everyone, if you made it this far to all, it’s the end of the video. I want to thank you so much. My overall goal with making these interviews and these episodes is to give a voice to dancers, you know, to give them a platform to speak their story. So if this is a value to anyone, then that that means the world to me. My overall goal is to give value to the dance community. So if you find no value in this and I urge you to please let me know where I can improve on I truly want. So, you know, just give value and content to the dance community. So please let me know how I can improve where I’m messing up because to be 100% honest with you, I’m learning along the way as I do this. I truly have. So to be able to interact with, you know, the dance community, which means the world to me because it, it gives me feedback and lets me know, you know, what I’m doing right, where I can improve upon, what I’m doing wrong, which I feel like my maybe more important. So please, if you all could comment and just let me know what you think it means the world to me. Because you know, that feedback just helps me improve. So please comment as well, please like, and subscribe. That means a lot as well. But I want to say thank you so much for just watching this because it means the world to me. I want to take you on this journey and the two left feet podcast, I’m very excited for it. So once again, thank you so much.