My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

The magnetic man behind
Cary NoKey

Sometimes he’s called 8Bit and sometimes he’s called Cary NoKey, but his real name is Rob Fusari and he is the man who gave us Lady Gaga.

Before that, he co-wrote and produced such Destiny’s Child’s hits as “No, No, No” and the jaw-droppingly excellent “Bootylicious.” He could have retired after that, but instead he went on to produce “Wild Wild West” for Will Smith, “Train on a Track” by Kelly Rowland, and “Love That Man” by Whitney Houston.

Then in 2006 he started dating a rocker chick named Stefani Germanotta and urged her to write and perform dance music. He co-wrote and produced many of the songs on her debut album The Fame, including one of her biggest hits, “Paparazzi.” Then he urged her to change her name and the rest is history.

That history includes a legendary falling out, in which both sued the other, and they are no longer friends. But Fusari is not finished yet. On Feb 27, he brings his band Cary NoKey to the Danforth Music Hall as part of RuPaul's Drag Race Battle of The Seasons 2015 Condragulations Tour. He’ll do shows in Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal.   

“Cary NoKey is DJ driven style dance music,” explained Rob by telephone. “More of a theatrical experience than a live band.”

I asked him if he performed in drag, but he describes his wild outfits as “more of a Bowie thing than drag. I’m a huge Liberace fan.”

He’s diplomatic about Lady Gaga. Though it was his idea to use that name, he stops short of taking too much credit. “I try to avoid taking that on, because I don`t want to take away anything from the artist,” he explains. “I found her when she was doing a rock`n`roll type of thing and I helped her realize who she was as an artist. We were looking for something that would click and make her shine. Together we found this magical thing. The naming was just one part of the picture.

“We`re not friends,” he elaborates. “We were very close at one time. It`s the business. I get it. She and I are very much alike, and like magnets, we pushed apart. I wish her the best. She`s incredibly talented.”

Yes, Cary NoKey will be doing their version of “Paparazzi”in concert. But more important to Fusari is that “through Cary NoKey I was able to find myself. I thought the other stuff would bring happiness, but all it brought was mayhem. Money wasn’t the answer. It`s about being at peace with oneself.”

Cary NoKey and RuPaul's Drag Race Battle of The Seasons 2015 Condragulations Tour is on Fri, Feb 27 at the Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave.