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Even in 'Quaran-Kiki,' Frankie Grande Inspires Kids to Wear Glitter

Even in 'Quaran-Kiki,' Frankie Grande Inspires Kids to Wear Glitter

Even in 'Quaran-Kiki,' Frankie Grande Inspires Kids to Wear Glitter

The Danger Force actor discusses the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in kids' shows, as well as his Tiger King parody.


Frankie Grande is an escaped villain—on Nickelodeon's Danger Force.

The gay actor and influencer has reprised his role of Frankini from the superhero children's show's prequel, Henry Danger. But don't think of Frankini as evil. "He just really wants to bring happiness," asserted Grande in a recent Zoom interview with PRIDE. And don't think of Danger Force as a show reserved for kids, either.

"It's one of those shows where like adults get jokes more than the kids, but the kids don't know what they're missing," Grande attested.

Danger Force, about a school of young superheroes-in-training helmed by the hunky Captain Man (Cooper Barnes) and the inventor Schwoz (Michael D. Cohen), may be of particular interest to LGBTQ+ folks and allies because of the rainbow diversity on display. A recent episode featured same-sex parents, and there are several out actors on the show, including Grande and Alec Mapa.

Frankie Grande

"Frankini was loud and proud, covered in glitter wearing heels, lashes, drama," Grande said. "It was so amazing to get to do that on Nickelodeon like it just made me feel so proud to be able to represent that community for the world to see."

Grande has seen the influence of his character firsthand. A boy under age 10 at Disneyland approached him, and said, "My mom said that I can wear nail polish because of Frankie, and I love it."

Additionally, a little league team approached Grande and his mother and grandmother in a parking lot in Florida—where they had gone to observe a blood moon—and performed one of Frankini's musical numbers from Henry Danger. "The stars were aligned for a musical performance in a parking lot, which only happens to me, I feel," Grande quipped. His sister Ariana is also a fan of celestial sightings, he noted.

Grande is one of the cast members who will appear in a special at-home musical "Quaran-kini" episode of Danger Force, which will air Saturday, May 9 at 8pm Eastern and Pacific. In the special, "the city of Swellview is quarantined from a way-too-natural gas leak from the nearby Bhutt Factory," according to a release.

Fortunately, the Broadway entertainer had the home green screen and microphone already set-up for "gaymer" Twitch events before the health outbreak. And he enlisted some friends for hair and makeup for the weekend's "DIY episode."

In addition to Danger Force, Grande is helming several other online events, including hosting Rainbowthon, a celebrity fundraiser for the Los Angeles LGBT Center next Thursday, and Digital Drag Fest on May 23.

"I'm thriving. I'm having a good time," Grande said of his quarantine performances. "It keeps me busy too and keeps me sane."

To help keep fans entertained during stay-at-home orders, Grande is also producing a "Bathroom Talent Show" series on Instagram, where he shows off talents ranging from impersonations to singing Dua Lipa to recreating The Little Mermaid in the tub. The bathroom "has the best lighting and the best acoustics," Grande attested.

His most recent release is a performance of "Husband Number 2" from a musical parody of Netflix's Tiger King created by Andrew Lippa; Kristen Chenoweth previously crooned "Little Pieces" as Carole Baskin in the digital series, which will also reportedly include RuPaul's Drag Race's Nina West. And it was Chenoweth who, after seeing Grande's Bathroom Talent Shot, referred Grande to Lippa.

Not to be outdone, Grande performs as Baskin, Joe Exotic, and the gay zookeeper's husbands in his own YouTube music video, complete with costumes, performances, and fake toothless grins.

"Believe it or not, all of those things that I'm doing in my bathroom are naturally occurring thoughts in my head," said Grande, who doesn't need to go on Twitter to see trending topics to feel the cultural zeitgeist.

It's also no surprise to Grande that shows like Tiger King and Schitt's Creek have become cultural obsessions for America right now. "I think it speaks to the content, and I think that that's really cool that we're finally in a world where the content is excellent and [is] consumed by the masses, regardless of the sexual orientation of the lead character," he said.

"We need these depictions positive depictions in the world, especially on Nickelodeon where we can talk to kids and allow kids to know that this is just part of the way the world works," he added. "There's no such thing as 'you're normal' and 'this is not normal.' Like everything is normal because God made us all. And that's it. Period."

And Grande can relate to Tiger King in a different respect—for over four months, he was in a polyamorous relationship with Daniel Sinasohn and Mike Pophis. It was "a learning experience," said Grande, who only has time for one boyfriend at present.

"I discovered through that I'm more of a monogamous kind of person," said Grande, adding, "It's different having like a one-on-one relationship and I think that there are definitely different ways to love. I was a hundred percent believer that I think that [polyamory] is something that can work. I discovered for me that it wasn't it. I want all the attention all the time."

Grande also hopes that better representations of polyamorous relationships appear in media other than in Tiger King, which had a "pretty horrific" depiction of straight men getting married to a gay man for drug use that resulted in a very bad outcome. "It was kind of an example to the world that like this will never work out," said Grande, who has put his faith in TV trailblazer Shonda Rhimes for creating a better representation in the future.

In his interview with PRIDE, Grande also showed off a few of his talents: an impersonation of Smeagol (Gollum) from Lord of the Rings, as well as Smeagol's take on "Rose's Turn." Watch the conversation and performances below.

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Daniel Reynolds

<p>Daniel Reynolds is the associate social media editor at Here Media. He is also the world&rsquo;s tallest poet.</p>

<p>Daniel Reynolds is the associate social media editor at Here Media. He is also the world&rsquo;s tallest poet.</p>