“A Night of A Thousand DeVitos” invited the hardcore fans and the Danny-curious to immerse themselves in all things DeVito.
Photo: Lucia Buricelli
“I think he’s gonna come tonight, I just feel it in the air,” John Beltrano said to a friend while adjusting the tufts of hair protruding from his mesh semi-bald cap. “It’s like Beetlejuice — if you get enough people to shout his name and strip onstage, that is when Danny DeVito comes.” His look, inspired by Frank Reynolds, DeVito’s character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, also included black “glasses” made from pipe-cleaners and a white T-shirt with seven tally marks (another Reynolds reference from the show’s tenth season). But he wasn’t the only DeVito; Beltrano was just one of hundreds of attendees in makeshift black frames who had endured frigid temperatures and an L train shutdown to attend the first “Night of a Thousand DeVitos” at Rubulad, an underground performance space in Bushwick.
For Alana Miller, the organizer of the party, filling the space with a swarm of DeVito lookalikes was itself the point. As she explained, “There are no bad ideas if you’re willing to commit hard enough.” She’s been organizing events and parties under the name Glittermilk since 2020. Many of her absurdist parties have been collaborations with Rubulad, including Disco Fish, an aquatic-themed disco party with mermaids and kiddie pools and “A Night of a Thousand Clowns” Halloween party. As a former arts therapist in the public-school system, she used to spend her summers producing interactive experiences at music festivals, such as a performance where people repented their sins to a dominatrix nun. In 2020, she decided to produce events full-time.
That night, Miller was emcee for the evening, dressed in a tank top printed with body hair and a beer-belly fanny pack over it that gave her the semblance of Danny DeVito’s body.
From the street, Rubulad’s garage-like space is easy to miss; there are no signs or markings, and the address is only given out to ticket holders. Inside, the walls are layered with handcrafted art from parties past. In the courtyard, people pet and lounge on scrappy, colorful sculptures — like a giant mouth with a rainbow tongue that doubles as seating.
The heart of the event took place at the indoor stage and dance floor, featuring a Danny DeVito–inspired comedy and burlesque show, and DJs who were scheduled from “nine till late.”
“Danny DeVito was not somebody that I would’ve conjured as a favorite,” admitted Joe D’Espinosa, who was one of the DJs booked for the night. He pulled samples of the theme song from DeVito’s 1978 sitcom Taxi and layered it with disco and house music.
At a Danny DeVito “transformation station,” partygoers helped themselves to bald caps, pipe-cleaner glasses, and “Hello my name is Danny” name tags.
Miller admitted that the theme wasn’t completely arbitrary. “With how polarized our country is, there are very few people that are universally beloved characters.” she explains. “But Danny DeVito elicits the joy instinct in us all.”
Many of the performances were created specifically for that evening. Dancer Lil’y con Carnage, one of the acts for the evening, performed a raunchy “Trash Man” inspired burlesque routine.
“There’s this feeling that the new “basic” is this sparkly hot raver chick.” Miller added, “I’m much more interested in creating spaces for people to become a little, grumpy, over the top bald man.”
“I didn’t have any Danny DeVito material ready,” said Nathan Dufour Oglesby, who raps about philosophy as “Nathanology.” For the party, he dressed up as Louis De Palma, DeVito’s character from Taxi.
He tried out some new material on the audience: “Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman said once they divorced, they became even closer,” he said. I Want to Know What Love Is began playing and the audience sang along. “When I’m trying to plumb the mysteries of love, I find myself unable to explain it. You need someone who’s rich and intelligent, like Danny DeVito, to explain it.”
Partygoers served looks from DeVito’s five-decade career, a dynamic range of characters that included Arnold Schwarzenegger’s twin in the 1988 hit Twins and the Penguin in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. “I forgot he voiced the Lorax!” someone yelled while pointing to someone dressed as one.
Those who ventured into the courtyard found a DeVito coloring station, a “Danny De-VooDoo-Doll” craft station, flash tattoos and dozens of other artist-designed Danny DeVito experiences.
Tattoo artist Will Shargo already had a design of Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds dressed as art critic Ongo Gablogian from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in his portfolio. When he heard about the event, he designed five more flash tattoos.
MacKenzie Allulis, a filmmaker and frequent attendee of Rubulad’s events, was surprised to learn they had received the first tattoo of the night.
Between sets, performance artist Roo Woythaler recruited fans to join a cult dedicated to the four-foot-ten character actor.
Members of “DeVitoism” were handed detailed pamphlets and then taped together in small groups. They were then invited to release any of their shame or sins by blowing bubbles, connecting to “the DeVito within.”
For the party, Miller made a skirt of “Dovitos,” chip bags decorated with Danny DeVito cut outs that she gave out throughout the evening. “I don’t know the real Danny DeVito, but I don’t think anything would make him happier,” she said.
Sari Rubenstein, a founding member of Rubulad, never doubted Miller’s vision for an all-out DeVito-palooza. “It turns out, there’s all these really intense Danny DeVito fans out there,” she said.
But some just came for the Glittermilk brand of bizarre jubilation. “I’ve missed all of her [Alana’s] parties, but I think I picked a good one,” Jonah Levy said.
For Melinda Feedler, who already had a “Danny DeVito” crop top in her closet, DeVito’s pro-union politics were one reason she adored the actor. “He is the epitome of positive masculinity,” she explained.
“I’m visiting from Maryland,” Rachel Miller said while waiting in line for the “DeVito Transformational Experience. “I texted my friend, ‘Let’s get fucking weird,’ and she brought me here.”
The evening concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning. After a conga line, partygoers chanted, “I am the Trash Man!” (an iconic Frank Reynolds quote) until phallic sculpture by a local artist Julie LaMendola (rumored to have once been used in a performance at the Whitney Museum of Art) showered the crowd with Danny DeVito confetti.
Danny DeVito, rumored to have received an invitation, could not be reached for comment.
Photographs by Lucia Buricelli