Interview by Miss Tasha LaBlush
[PHOTOS] Billy Erb Photography (billyerb.com)
Try stepping on a chaotic comet’s tail. It’s easier than keeping up with America’s globe trotting Queen of Low Down Comedy in High Heels…Lady Bunny…in her first Transformation cover interview.
She’s a guilty pleasure wearing a flotilla blonde wig. Her Baby Doll delivery comes at you with a soft, smooth Southern accent that both sweeps you away to Tiger Tail plantation then smacks you hard right on your funny bone. She’s brave. She’s bold and she ain’t about being politically correct. Let’s chew the fat…
Our devilishly pointed tongues are planted firmly in heavily Mac blushed cheeks. When it comes to trans-feminine hygiene, what makes Lady Bunny feel like she’s on the rag?
RuPaul was kind enough to turn me on to medical silicone adhesive, which is great for gluing on heavy wigs. Sadly, she didn’t turn me on to the remover you need to go with it. I have more of my real hairline than her, so without the remover you literally pull your hair out when you de-coiff. That bitch sabotaged me! I had a reverse widow’s peak for months while my hair grew back in!
You’re always tramping (and working) around the world. Keeping up with you and your frantic bookings, omg. You just returned from Amsterdam, Holland. (Gotta wonder if she had a Royale with cheese, oops that’s Paris, Amsterdam is for hash). Anyway, you were the MC at a three day music festival called “Titty Twister.” What was it like? Did you stick your finger in a leaky dike? Where there any other Celeb Queens we should know about? Oh, and did your titties get twisted by a tall Dutch dude in wooden clogs? The lights in the Red Light District must have twinkled brighter just to honor you…
That trip was bizarre, but fun. I was hosting a hard rock stage at this festival way out in the country. I’m not the biggest rocker and the rain could dampen anyone’s spirits, but they needed a loud mouth emcee and while initially confused, I was up for the challenge. The organizer told me that he’d hired me to make it even more gay, since in previous years the straight crowd had become a little rowdy feeling up the female go-go dancers with hard-ons. So my job was to make the straight guys hard-ons go away–perfect for me! There was a time when I could get them hard, but if I’m at an age where that’s no longer possible, at least make some money off the fact you’re now turning more stomachs than heads. Dutch guys have the biggest white dicks I’ve ever seen, complete with enormous bull balls to slap against your chin(s) while you hungrily fellate them. Um, so I’ve heard…
You’re in Europe, maybe even Paris, and let’s say you’re enjoying your favorite form of recreational SEX. Outside, you hear a cop car with its hinky Euro WIENER-WIENER siren urging to you onward and upward closer to that delicious ache. The curtain is going up. Your panties are pulled down and it’s almost showtime folks. Transformation devotees and your loyal fans everywhere yearn to know…Is SEX somehow different or more wicked for you in Europe than in good old finger licking America? Oh yeah and what position might we catch you in darling?
My position is normally that of cocksucker. Vocal warm-ups are essential before any singer’s performance! As far as sex differing on different continents, I live in NYC which has a unique approach to hooking up. We pass each other on the street and if we’re interested, it happens. It’s so easy. Most other places there is this complicated dance, phone numbers exchanged, dates made, etc. In NYC, we just do it. I also find that people in Europe often seem uneducated about safe sex and I’m a safe slut who doesn’t enjoy explaining condoms to someone who speaks another language who should already know precautions. It’s a turn off. Drag queens attract a lot of straight-identified or confused guys who are especially confused when I get done with them. I suppose they think they’re straight and I’m a woman so they aren’t susceptible to “gay” diseases like AIDS. Wrong! Attitudes like that are why AIDS is spreading fastest among the straights of color.
The “Bunny” in Lady Bunny is about your trademark Big Hair, yes?
I’ve always been drawn to big hair. I was born in 1962. I grew up seeing 1960s styles which were the most impressive hairdos since Marie Antoinette. Big hair not only signals that you’ve dressed to impress but it’s also about proportions. A larger ‘do can help mask a man’s broader shoulders, larger heads, etc. Chris March, of Project Runway fame, had me in massive styles containing 16 wigs which I could only endure for an hour at a time because they were so painful. I’ve actually scaled down my wigs a bit!
In our circle of misfit bitches, pink princesses and cave trolls here’s a fantasy we’ve all entertained. Wait, we’re not talking about regrets and pity pots. Just suppose a choice of gender was presented to you and you would still know everything you know now about life and love nests. Let’s say you could have been born a buff male or born a genetic blonde bombshell female with all the luxury accoutrements…pms aside, would you chose the hottie female or stick with your chick stick?
I’m happy the way I am. Drag queens and transgendered folks possess a different way of looking at the world which comes from looking in the mirror as our birth sex and thinking “I think I’ll change that.” (With make-up, giant wigs, special costuming or even surgery.) In order to change what we need to change, we have to take a really hard look in that mirror–and sometimes what’s looking back at us is really hard, too–in order to see what we need to work on. I think we cast that same critical eye everywhere we look and offer a unique perspective on lots of things. My friend Antony of Antony and The Johnsons, who is transgendered, agrees with me and we both feel that men have run this world into the ground and that it’s time to give women or third sex people a shot. If you look around at the world with its very male, belligerent aims to dominate other countries through war and sanctions, how can you not conclude what’s needed is more caring about each other and peace? We also need to respect Mother Earth so we have a place to grow and ignore the greed and competitiveness that causes us to ignore the safety of the planet we live on, our home. It’s very feminine to care for one’s home. Drag queens or M-to-F transsexuals can often have a woman’s intuition. Many have a woman’s desire to nurture, which is why you’ll see drag queens with “children” (protegees) or even houses or families who all take the same last name. Most of my best friends are drag queens and I have found most of the deepest bonds with “fellow” queens and my trans friends.
The 1969 Stonewall Riots were way before your time, true. On Huff Post Live you expressed knowledgeable opinions about that pivotal event in Gay Rights. New York City Police harassment of gay bars was common in the late sixties. Outside the tiny Stonewall Inn a crowd grew to over 2000 as they watched police arrest a bartender, a doorman and a few very irate drag queens. A sense of urgency and desperation must have hung thickly in the suddenly not so free air on that hot and humid summer night. The people were fed up with being strong armed and were empowered as one to create social revolt. That night marked the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. Will you tell us what Stonewall has come to symbolize to you and your many drag friends? Do you think gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are still looking in the rear view mirror for rogue cops? As a New York resident are you proud of those events and why?
Drag queens are bold and I’m glad that it was us who kicked off gay rights in this country by not wimping out to cops and bashing back. (Judy Garland had just died and this might have factored into the mood which led to Stonewall.) What bugs me is that drag queens are still looked down on by many conservative elements in the gay community, who forget our crucial role in starting the movement for all gays’ equal rights. We don’t just put on a pink t-shirt once a year and then return to closeted office jobs–we live in costume much of the time and therefore are subject to wider discrimination. I certainly won’t be accepting it from those within our own gay community who would prefer to whitewash the movement of drag queens, trans people, leather queens, or anyone else who isn’t establishment-oriented.
When I lived in NYC’s meat-packing district which was then known for its trans street hookers, RuPaul and I were regularly harassed by the police. They didn’t care that we lived in the area–they assumed if we were on the streets, we were hooking. And therefore able to be harassed or run in or raped, etc. Nowadays I don’t live in that area so I don’t experience police harassment. If the cops are cute, I may even harass them! I think many of them have now received sensitivity training for gay/trans issues so they are now less likely to cause trouble with us. But I also look like I’m going to a party of some kind when I’m out and about. If the cops think you are hooking and you are trans, I think they still may give you a problem. Maybe they just don’t think I’m cute or passable enough to charge!
From all walks of life, there are so many sincere and wonderful transgender people in our society that simply desire to live the gender of their inner souls in peace and quiet respect. Do you feel this vital segment of humanity is finally gaining positive momentum and social acceptance with equal rights? Or, do some of those high profile individuals lurking comfortably below the social horizon need to become vocal activists and get back on the radar? Do you have any personal predictions or compass points for this transgender trending issue in the future?
Trans is the last taboo and I do think a wider acceptance is slowly happening. Candis Cayne, Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox have brought the issue center stage with high profile appearances on TV. But if your mother isn’t a star or you aren’t on a hit TV show and you’re just some average trans person who isn’t passing or even attractive, your appearance can disturb average people…who can be so cruel. Even gay people, who love to see trans people who are pretty and winning pageants but who mock the less attractive ones. It’s not uncommon for m-to-f people in show business to lie and say they’re post-op, because America can’t handle someone like Candis Cayne with boobs and a penis. I have noticed a few cases in recent years, like trans blogger B. Smith, who has claimed in high profile interviews that she considers herself between both sexes and doesn’t fit into any box. I commend her on her bravery–I haven’t heard this before and I’d say I was in the same category. Neither male nor female.
From your professional perspective, has Drag Culture in the entertainment business gone mainstream in the media mix? It still seems Drag hasn’t quite gone mainstream in conservative America. Say it ain’t so Miss LB, is it just about media rating shares, box office receipts and big bucks going into deep corporate pockets?
Mainstream is always about dollar signs. Everything has to be somewhat sanitized before the gate keepers even consider marketing it to the masses. A lot of the drag we see on TV is watered down as a result. Hollywood rarely portrays drag or trans rights correctly, but it may be getting a little better.
As an entertainer you stand in those glorious high heels before large, small and immense audiences. Remember back in the day if you wanted a friend to have your phone number you’d simply say, “Call me, I’m in the book!” Nobody says that anymore. They’re too fucking preoccupied. What’s your take on the poppy field of digital devices confronting you in audiences today? Has live entertainment lost something human because of the digital explosion?
Definitely! I went to a Lady Gaga concert and her fans were videoing her entire show to put on YouTube so more idiots would like their YouTube channel. This ruins it for other fans who don’t need to see which songs she has pyrotechnics on and which songs she changes costumes for. That’s for people who pay for tickets to find out at the show. Stars who have gotten busted for remarks which have been called racist, insensitive or just awkward now have to stifle their creativity because everyone with a phone has a video camera on it. So one blunder can live on YouTube forever. It stifles my creativity. And people are no longer “in the moment” at clubs or at shows because they are so possessed with documenting it. Enjoy the moment and bring something to the party. Don’t just steal images or footage from it so you can gain more Twitter or Instagram followers. The party has moved online and people with these devices have forgotten how to have a good time. A lot of people don’t even dance in clubs anymore!
You have a new music video! It’s fun, happy and makes you want to dance. Very 90s. It’s on YouTube and iTunes. Will you give us a little inside info on your new video? Please, your Drag Majesty, say you have more on the way. We hunger for more Lady Bunny!
It’s called “Take Me Up High.” It’s a song I wrote a few years ago. I’m best known for song parodies but I do write original music as well. It skyrocketed to #17 on the Billboard Dance Chart and I’m working on a follow up with Libra Records. People say the track has a 90s sound which I’m thrilled with, since that was the last time I enjoyed most club music. Nowadays, many clubs have skipped the underground dance sound they were known for and always play dreary top 40.
Last month you were in Los Angeles shooting a television pilot. Without getting our Bunny hopes up too high, will you give us just enough dish so we can scoop the planet and let our Transformation readers brag about reading it here first?
Sure! The show is called “Politics Is A Drag.” Ester Goldberg, Coco Peru (from “Girls Will Be Girls”) and I discuss issues of the day. Sort of like “The View” does politics with but with better hair! Since all three of us gals are interested in politics, this all came about after we hooked up on Facebook. We shot the pilot and they’re shopping it now–so stay tuned!
You and RuPaul, “Ru,” have such a fascinating friendship. Early on, you were both unemployed roommates struggling to buy a thrift store frock to shashay in Atlanta, Georgia clubs. You remarked, “Ru would say, I am a Star!” You said she had her own “Code of Existence.” What did she mean? Did you share her special code and her alpha confident ambitions?
No, I didn’t share Ru’s immense confidence. Ru never worked a regular job and would even get evicted because schedules and rent due just didn’t jive for her. She really had to become a star so that these things were taken care of for her. She knew she was a star even at rock bottom and it turns out her hunch was right. I’m a little more self-conscious than Ru and had to augment my early bookings with anything that paid the bills. I even worked a brief stint at Popeye’s Fried Chicken!
You have always known the confidence and love that comes from a supportive family. That unqualified happiness you experienced growing certainly has shaped you. It shines through in your warm Southern personality. So many are seeking their own identity and they don’t have “we’ve got your back” family support. Will you tell us about your beloved family and how they supported you? Do your parents attend any of your shows?
My parents have seen my shows, although I make them leave the room during the dirtier bits. They always told me “Be whatever you want to be.” They never flinched when I said that I was gay or later on, a flaming drag queen. I feel very lucky in this respect. I went through my early 20s phase of hating my parents since I had to become my own person and we often become who we are by rebelling against who we came from. But then I realized that many of my most outrageous friends couldn’t even tell their folks that they were gay, which made me more appreciative of Mom and Dad. Of course, navigating through the world of drag is something my parents couldn’t help with. I was also very lucky to have drag mothers who helped me navigate through everything from safe sex to drug use to shady club owners and make-up tips!
From a fan’s point of view you became much more than a flourishing Drag Deb and New York City Celebrity when you co-created and hosted the annual Labor Day Drag Festival, Wigstock. The 1995 film, Wigstock, The Movie is a drag cinema must see. One doesn’t expect a campy flick to have heart but it contains so many touching and honest moments. Now that you can fondly look back on Wigstock, what has that kaleidoscopic drag carnival come to mean to you? Are you ever likely to revive Wigstock? Would you care to shout-out to any of your former Queens of Tompkins Square Park?
I can’t imagine reviving it. NYC has changed so much and Wigstock would have been nothing without an incredible audience which dressed up along with the entertainment. Do you think the yuppies that currently inhabit Manhattan are going to dress up? If they do, I don’t wanna see it! Wigstock was for the freaks and by the freaks. It wouldn’t fit into the corporate NYC of today. But it was magic, and it stemmed from the thriving club scene which featured drag queens doing so much more than lip synch. Queens were fronting live bands, reading poetry, doing stand-up, had dance troupes, etc. Drag is now more popular, but has become less interesting and edgy. My favorite thing about Wigstock was the sisterhood. The feeling that we all came together to put on a show. There was no competition to it and no winners, just a love of performing and a feeling of inclusion.
You’ve been blessed with the rare human quality of not taking yourself too seriously. In return, your gift to the world is one of the most precious of all…laughter. You allow us to laugh at ourselves and we laugh right along side you.For that zany, and yes sometimes trashy inspired gift, you are loved and your fandom is ever increasing.How does Lady Bunny view herself in and out of the makeup and costumes? Do you have a personal vision of where you want to go now? What sort of legacy are you piling up higher than your dazzling collection of bouffant wigs? (Oh baby, if those wigs could tattle…)
Do I look that old? Don’t answer that! I haven’t really thought about a legacy, but I would like to write an autobiography before I forget everything! Many incidents have already been blacked out due to alcohol abuse. I’ve been fortunate to dip my big foot into a variety of scenes including music, DJ-ing, comedy, fashion, art, television, film journalism and politics. Sometimes I need to focus more because I do have so many irons in the fire. But they all have to do with entertainment and I’m still enjoying myself immensely. I get bored easily, so it’s in my best interest to be a Jill of all trades. I hope people think of me as someone who had talent, because I’m getting sick of people who are famous for doing nothing. I work very hard! (LadyBunny.net)
Your hard work is paying off darling. It keeps your high heels off the streets of the meat packing district. Meat packing? Now there’s a joke set-up for Lady Bunny.
In reply, you don’t look or act or dress old at all. You’re still on the way up. We thank you so much for sharing with us your naughty humor. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your personal experiences while living a trans life and building a successful career in a world of gender conformity.
We want you to soar across the evening sky as we ride along, wigs in the wind, on the diamond dusted comet we call, Lady Bunny.
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