It’s true. The Dean of Drag, the Queen Bee of Wigstock, and a Queer Icon for thirty years, the one and the only The Lady Bunny is heading to Seattle as part of her West Coast Tour, this Thursday, July 28 at Julia’s on Broadway. Tickets still available HERE! (Portland and Vancouver BC fans can check her out this weekend, too…she’s also headed your way.) The Lady Bunny has conquered film, television, and the stage not to mention the Internet…you should definitely check out her website and blog for her naughty videos (we’re including one of the filthiest ones below) and her very opinionated take on politics, queer culture and what’s up in the world. She’s one smart cookie with a long history of speaking her mind, when she’s not entertaining the sweaty masses at clubs and venues all over the country or delighting us on “RuPaul’s Drag U” currently airing on Logo.
We tried to set this interview up days ago, and it seemed it was NOT going to come to fruition but then yesterday I was walking through Safeway at 23rd & Madison and I got a phone call. It was an alien phone number with a funky ass area code and no name attached and frankly I feared it was the student loan hounds after me so I answered it with great trepidation. But, it wasn’t Fannie Mae…it was The Lady Bunny! Talking to me! In Safeway!
We had a very brief exchange (largely due to the fact that cell phone coverage inside that Safeway is WEAK!) and we made plans to hook up later, via the Intertubes. I zapped her some questions and she responded in the WEE hours of the morning…Girlfriend gets up EARLY! Check out the “T” on The Lady Bunny…she has some good dish!
Michael Strangeways: In my initial email to you I mentioned my love for the short films you did in the 80’s with the late, great Tom Rubnitz (who also did the first Wigstock film) “Pickle Surprise” and “Strawberry Shortcut” which also featured a very early appearance by a certain Ms RuPaul. Any fond memories or behind the scenes dish about the making of those films?
The Lady Bunny: Tom was a genius and I was so flattered to be included in his video shorts. His other works cast Ann Magnuson and John Sex who wer downtown royalty at the time so I felt that I’d hit the big time. Tom was also a very talented painter who created a magnificent cartoon portrait of Carol Channing for me which still hangs on my wall. I do have a little dish–RuPaul had not blossomed into the polished glamazon he is today and I felt that while all of our looks were campy and vintage, his blacked out tooth and 80’s perm look didn’t really fit in with the rest of the video short’s aesthetic.
MS: It’s been 7 years or so since the last Wigstock…is there any chance it could ever return, or was it of a certain time and place, never to be replicated?
TLB: The festival had a 20 year run in NYC, which ain’t bad. My Wigstock partner, Scott Lifshutz, is a painter and he and I decided to give it a rest for a while to pursue personal projects. That event did wear us out! We don’t rule out a revival at some point but when you flip your wig for over 20 years, a long break is in order. Plus NYC is very corporate these days. So I’m not sure that Wigstock’s wacky vibe would be appreciated as it was when the local gay community was very unified and Wigstock served as a hipper version of gay pride.
MS: I think most people assume Lady Bunny is just this kooky drag queen they see on TV, or maybe the potty mouthed drag queen they see in live performances, but anyone who reads your blog knows that Lady Bunny frequently and very passionately writes about political and social issues…she’s got a brain and strong opinions. Were you always this involved with political issues, or has it evolved over the years? And, where does it come from? Do you come from a family where standing up for your political beliefs is important?
TLB: My dad forced us to watch the Watergate hearings and I hated it because it pre-empted the Brady Bunch. So I always felt that politics was a man’s province and so I shunned politics throughout my youth. But as I grew up, George Bush’s actions horrified me. We went into Iraq for no reason–Saddam wasn’t launching attacks on us and had no weapons of mass destruction. So why are we still there? This is a real stain on our national character and the rest of the world views the US as terrorists. It infuriates that people who mindlessly say “SUPPORT THE TROOPS!” have no idea what the troops are even doing. One thing they’re doing is wasting our money. Each soldier overseas costs roughly $1 million per year–we can’t afford that now. We’re building schools in Afghanistan when 3 states have been reduced to 4-day school weeks here. What sense does that make?
And this debt ceiling “crisis” proves that there is no democratic party. If the debt ceiling is routinely raised, then why would the GOP be able to attach sweeping cuts to it and why on earth would a democratic president give in to their insane demands? With the majority of Americans supporting increased taxes on the rich and closing corporate tax loopholes, why are we cutting social security, medicaid and medicare? Neither party are representing what the people want. Unfortunately, Obama has proved that good ol’ boys come in all colors and is a huge disappointment. I’d still blow him, but I’m not sure I could vote for him.
MORE Lady Bunny AFTER the JUMP!!! (er, HOP!)
MS: You’ve been to Seattle before…any fond memories? Or, not so fond memories?
TLB: I worship the food at Pike Place Market! And I’ve also enjoyed working with Mark “Mom” FInley over the years. I did have one kooky experience at a theatre several years ago when Lady Chablis turned ugly towards me for no reason and smashed some mirrors. But we patched things up, finally. And I wouldn’t like her if she wasn’t volatile! She’s never dull–that’s for sure!
MS: We know it’s been hotter than hell all over the country this summer but Seattle’s had a very chilly summer (bring a wrap). The Lady Bunny is a Southern Girl but that wig must weigh a ton and be hotter than hell. How do you cope with the heat?
TLB: The most feminine thing about me is that I don’t sweat! I can’t explain it but I just don’t! Maybe my foundation’s too thick for the perspiration to escape?
MS: I’ve been dying to know the answer to this question for years…how do you transport those HUGE wigs? You can’t just stuff them into a Trader Joe bag and head to LaGuardia…Your baggage charges must be huge…or, do you have West Coast wigs and East Coast wigs? A wig in every port?
TLB: Some I style myself so I pop them in my suitcase and style them upon arrival. But the pre-styled coiffures do go in a plastic bag as a carry-on. Elvira glues a wig head to the bottom of a drum kit and I have yet to try that!
MS: RuPaul has said that one of the reasons why she wanted to do “Drag Race” (other than the fat checks from Logo) was to reinvigorate the drag scene. She sensed that younger queer kids were not embracing it…even denigrating it. And, “Drag Race” has seemed to accomplish this…the show is hugely popular and the contestants are zipping to gigs all over the country. Do you think “RPDR” helped “save” drag and were you worried that maybe drag was on its last legs prior to its success?
TLB: Drag’s popularity comes in cycles and it was waning before “Drag Race”. I get the sense that the younger generation feels more open about their sexuality so drag doesn’t interest them as much. But in the 70’s and 80’s, it was very freeing for gay men to watch a flamboyant transvestite performer who dared to challenge gender roles. Now, RPDR has created a new crop of nationally known drag performers which appeal to the kids. And while some are great performers, others are only interesting on the show–not on a stage doing their acts. But club owners book them anyway because kids will come out in droves to get their picture taken with them–so it doesn’t matter if their act’s any good or not. This is a bitter pill to swallow for many established queens who are more talented than many from RPDR but whose bookings suffer because they lack that name recognition from a national TV show.
MS: Do you have anything special in store for your Seattle show at Julia’s?
TLB: Yes! I haven’t been there in a few years so I have lots of new material and can’t wait! I have new parodies from Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, J-Lo, Taio Cruz and even Amy Winehouse.
MS: What’s next for The Lady Bunny? We know you’re heading to Portland this weekend and we can catch you on “Drag U” on Logo. Any other gigs or Lady Bunny branded entertainment coming up we need to be aware of?
TLB: After Portland I head to Vancouver for their gay pride, Miami the next weekend and then Provincetown, San Jose pride, Columbus, Honolulu pride, San Francisco for Folsom Street, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Chicago, the Hamptons and Detroit. So Bunny is always hopping! I’m also recording some original music and preparing to release a new dvd of some my more recent parodies of Like A G6 (Like A Cheese Stick) , Firework and a demented Salute to Burlesque in which I play “Scare.”
MS: We do a podcast on the website…will you be a call in guest sometime in the future? You can plug anything you wanna plug, or just rant about The Bachmann Clan or anything your little heart desires…we’re always interested in anything the Lady Bunny has to say.
TLB: Definitely! It’s hard to shut me up!
Oh, we WILL take her up on that! We wanna be BFF’s with our favorite Bunny! And, she ALWAYS has something interesting to say!
You can check her out LIVE and IN PERSON at Julia’s on Broadway this Thursday, July 28 at 9pm with a great supporting cast of local favorites on hand including Mama Tits herself, Busty McGee. You should check that out AND Lady Bunny’s website AND to tide you over, here’s the classic “Pickle Surprise” video AND a newer (and filthier) video from the Divine Lady Bunny.