Upon meeting Tony Green, it’s immediately obvious how he’s gained his reputation. His signature gap-toothed smile beams as he pulls you in for a firm hug, his ineluctable laugh booming. The service industry pro was selected by readers of this paper as Coolest Local Male Celebrity in last year’s Best Of Fort Worth issue, and as we sat at a small metal table at La Zona, one of the Near Southside restaurants where he works, it’s easy to see why. He has an inscrutable gravity, with people constantly floating in and out of his orbit, exchanging greetings and goodbyes with flurries of hugs and kisses on the cheek.
He’s well-known up and down West Magnolia Avenue among the city’s culturati, and he’s hoping that soon that fame will work its way over the city at large – and then in ever-widening circles outward from there. His plan for becoming a world-dominating personality/brand? Easy: introducing himself.
The vehicle he’ll use to do so is by dropping his own personal theme song and an accompanying late-night format internet talk show.
“It’s an introduction of myself to the city of Fort Worth,” he said of the show, his own enthusiasm bolstered by multiple espressos. “And Fort Worth also needs an introduction, too. It’s very city-focused. There’s people and places that keep popping up that we can highlight – new business, people, artists. And I can do that. I’m good at that.”
His theme song, appropriately called “Hello, I’m Tony Green,” will make its debut on Wednesday, March 20. The pilot episode of the equally appropriately named Hello, I’m Tony Green will be filming in front of a live audience at Shipping & Receiving Bar on Saturday, March 23.
For the song, which came about well before any idea of a TV show, Green worked with electronic neo-soul singer and close friend Ronnie Heart. Its bouncing synth groove recalls Stevie Wonder, while gospel singers accent with claps and soulful “Tony”s as Green mugs in playful self-aggrandizement.
Green, who went to school for design before being soured on the field during unpaid internships after graduation, always knew he would do something in a creative medium, but television was never on his radar, he said. In reality, he’s an aspiring soul singer, whose modest work to date includes providing occasional backup vocals for local musicians like Heart and penetrating hip-hop artist Tornup. Green is in the process of writing songs for an EP of his own material that he hopes to put out later this year.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I always thought [music] would be how I did this, how I’d grow my thing. Because I can sing, so, like, of course, I’m going to do a music project. But now, I’m doing a talk show and it just feels right.”
The idea for a show was actually pitched to him one night at Shipping & Receiving by co-owner Eddie Vanston. The progression goes as follows: Green was asked by friends at Texas Producer, a video production company, to shoot some guy on the street-style segments during Arts Goggle, the annual art and music festival that takes on West Magnolia every October, where he would humorously interview patrons and proprietors. This somehow led to Green being asked to host a celebrity karaoke sing-off event at Shipping. Vanston must have been taken by Green’s charisma on the stage because it wasn’t much longer before he approached Green about doing a live talk show in his bar.
“I was just sitting at the bar with my friend,” Green recalled, “and from across the room, Eddie [Vanston] just shouted, ‘Hey, how would you like to host a talk show in the bar?’ I’d obviously never been asked that question, but I certainly do know who to talk to,” Green added, his laugh booming.
Green’s baroque sanguinity makes him seem like an obvious choice to lead a couch panel of diverse and interesting guests or play up comedy clips and skits –– which are part of the show’s evolving blueprint –– but that doesn’t mean he’s taking this opportunity for granted.
“This is a project that has really given me a voice,” he said, “and I just want to grab onto it. Falling upon this opportunity is no small thing for me. I get how big it is. It’s a cool thing, and I hope it resonates with people.
“And then, of course I’m super-nervous,” he added with his booming laugh echoing in the small coffee shop again.
Hello, I’m Tony Green will be live-streamed on the show’s Facebook page and YouTube channel before a proper edited version appears on those sites. The pilot episode’s guests include painter/sculptor Nancy Lamb, Fortress Festival cofounder Alec Jhangiani, and beloved drag performer Frida Monet.