Actor and screenwriter Victor Colicchio has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since the neighborhood was “too hot to handle for most people”. His West Side Story includes the last Times Square apple drop and appearing on stage with George C Scott…

Victor Colicchio on Restaurant Row
Victor says Hell’s Kitchen is unlike any other neighborhood. Photo: Naty Caez

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
Born and raised in da Bronx till age 15. Then I bounced around Manhattan island for six years before settling in Hell’s Kitchen. It was at a time when the Kitchen was too hot to handle for most people. Very dangerous, but I was young and loved living on the edge.

What was your first job? What do you do now?
As a young kid, I would go on the roof of my fifth floor Bronx walk-up and stare at the Manhattan skyline. It looked like Emerald City to me. I knew there was magic and excitement there. So I quit school at 16 and got a job as foot messenger for Conde Nast publications. I knew that would be the best way to learn about Manhattan. It was a glamorous job. I met the top photographers of the day — Richard Avedon, Gianni Penati, Irving Penn and Bert Stern. I met the top models of the day and even appeared in Vogue, Glamour, Brides Magazine, and occasionally walked the runway. For a 16-year-old Italian Bronx boy it truly was the land of Oz. A horse of a different color.

I’ve just written a new screenplay that I will also direct this fall. It’s titled Time. I centered the plot around the first Italian American presidential candidate, who is visited by a time traveler with a warning. This is an important work for me as it dispels the myth that all Italians are in the Mafia (lol), and more importantly it predicts a very grim future for earth if a climate emergency is not declared immediately.

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
I used to sing at Club Nirvana on the top floor of #1 Times Square Plaza. I was performing there on a New Year’s Eve, hung out with Dick Clark and counted down the Big Apple Ball as it brought in the New Year. That was the last year of the “apple drop”. I took a red light bulb from the apple, which Dick Clark autographed for me. The roar of the crowd down below was thunderous. I remember it to this day.

Victor Colicchio in Times Square
One of Victor’s favorite moments was performing at Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Photo supplied.

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
It’s funky, family-friendly, diverse, active and has a strong sense of community. I’ve lived all over this island, and Hell’s Kitchen is unlike another neighborhood. Ask anyone in Manhattan where they live and they will tell you. Ask a Kitchen resident the same question and they will smile and say with pride “Hell’s Kitchen.” The location is unique as it borders the Hudson River and Times Square, and is walking distance to Lincoln Center and Central Park. I love walking in and out of the Kitchen streets. You can feel the history of the waterfront buildings, hotels and bars that were once filled with merchant marines aka Salty Dogs. When I stroll down Restaurant Row, take in the architecture, the old time street lamps. I can feel a time before cars, when “Stage Door Johnnys” would pull up in their horse-drawn carriages with a chorus girl sitting next to them.

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
Fatherhood. As a single parent to a teenage daughter I’ve faced the most difficult challenges of my life. Knowing when to pull in the reins, and when to let my daughter run wild and free. I had to be both maternal and paternal and give her twice as much love.

What else should we know about you?
I haven’t traveled the world much… because when you live in Manhattan, the world comes to you.

As an actor, some of my work includes Black Klansman, The Irishman, Inside Man, Goodfellas and The Sopranos. Some of my writing credits are for Summer of Sam (directed by Spike Lee), Potluck, Robbin’ Da Hood and Waiting on Dion. My favorite character was professional prizefighter turned Washington DC district court judge His Honor John Sirica — a very diverse and interesting fellow to portray.  I first portrayed him at the Theatre at St Clements on W46th St in the play Trial on the Potomac, written by George Bugatti. Last month I revisited the character in the current docudrama The Secrets of Watergate, written and directed by George Bugatti.

My stage credits include: Half Deserted Streets, written by Oscar winner Robert Moresco (Best Screenplay Crash) and Wrong Turn at Lungfish, directed by Gary Marshall. As Tony Danza’s understudy I was damn fortunate to play opposite George C Scott quite a few times.

Victor’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Pier 96 Manhattan Community Boathouse — Hudson River Greenway and W56th St
Free public Kayaking. We offer free kayaks, and instruction. It’s operated by volunteers. I’m one of them.

Victor Colicchio at Manhattan Community Boathouse
Victor is a volunteer at Pier 96 Manhattan Community Boathouse. Photo supplied.

Hudson Bagels — 691 9th Avenue (bw W47/48th St)
Hand rolled kettle boiled bagels.

North River Lobster Co — Pier 81, W41st St
A nice half-hour ride up the Hudson while eating fresh seafood and downing cocktails.

Mickey Spillane’s — 350 W49th Street (corner of 9th Avenue)
I love to trip down memory lane of years gone by.

All’ Antico Vinaio — 729 8th Avenue (bw W45/46th St)
The most deliciously creative Italian sandwiches in Manhattan. I seldom eat meat and boycott pork products, but I can’t resist their Prosciutto with pistachio cream on fresh focaccia bread.

St Clements Church — 423 W46th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I lived a few doors west of it. I performed in my first play there and kicked off my acting and writing career, and performed there this past summer as Judge John Sirica of Watergate notoriety.

BarDough — 350 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Excellent food and cocktails.

If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

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1 Comment

  1. A really nice article on Victor. Years ago we played together in a band called “The Squirrels.” I watched him over the years as he blossomed into a fine actor and script writer. He personifies what being a New Yorker is all about. Creative, popular, talented and fun are his trademarks. Rock on Victor!

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