Lady Bunny Discusses 'Clowns Syndrome,' 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Controversy And More
didn't need to win a frickin' reality TV show to become one of the world's most famous and influential drag queens.
Instead, she spent the last 30-something years earning it as an emcee, singer, songwriter, actress, DJ and the founder, organizer and hostess of Wigstock
, a drag festival that "delighted up to 40,000 New Yorkers every Labor Day for nearly 20 years."
On Tuesday, April 29, Bunny will debut her new cabaret show, "Clowns Syndrome," at La Escuelita in New York City, where her last sold-out show, “That Ain’t No Lady!” won her rave reviews, including one from The New York Times’ David Rooney, who wrote: “Most of Bunny’s best lines are unprintable here, but more than any performer I saw this year ‘the old pig in a wig,' as she calls herself, made we weep with laughter, often while groaning with disgust. And isn’t that what the best low comedy is all about?”
We caught up with BunBun to chat about the new show, political correctness, RuPaul and what can offend a queen who makes a living by being offensive.
The Huffington Post: I saw “That Ain’t No Lady!” three times, that’s how much I loved it.
Lady Bunny: A glutton for punishment!
I really am. I brought different people with me every time. It was fun for me to see them react to you. I really feel like there are no longer that many people doing what you do.
Well, in what way?
Because you’re so --
I don’t give a shit!
You don’t give a shit, you’re brutally honest, you’re provocative and controversial and it literally makes people gasp -- and sometimes groan. I think people miss that really "off the rails" sense of humor that’s dirty and dangerous but also smart. We don’t see that very much any more, so when people encounter that, it really takes them by surprise.
The funny thing is I was not expecting this because I’m mainly a club performer, so if I do shocking things like squirt an enema full of tomato juice between my crotch to the tune of Leona Lewis' “Bleeding Love,” it is low brow and people in nightclubs appreciate twisted stuff. And of course younger people know the newer songs that I’m parodying. But I was really shocked to get a great review in the New York Times and he really pinpointed what I think is the difference. He said drag has become kind of sanitized and here’s this fierce thing from the gutter who is raunchy and wild and I just really thought from a straight reviewer to come and get that -- because drag hasbecome kind of sanitized.
For me, drag has this really rich history of being really political, too. Even if it’s not political in terms of it being about politics but it has confronted a lot of things in mainstream culture and it has been incredibly subversive. Do you think that in some ways it has lost that feeling?
I have a theory about this which is that when gays were really searching for acceptance in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, it was very freeing for gay men to go and see someone who was not only out of the closet but a flamboyant drag queen doing dirty material. Because there was a fearlessness to it. Now drag is more mainstream, so I’m not sure drag is as freeing for gay men and to some extent drag may have become old hat. It is so mainstream now and a lot of it is boring.
So do you feel a calling then to make sure that the other end of the spectrum is still represented and thriving?
In doing what I do, I’m going to be on the dirtier, raunchier, crazier side because that’s what I want to do. It’s not such a noble “manning the fort.” I’ve got to do what makes me happy. When you perform in clubs, people are drunk and it’s late and you’re not going to get too involved or too political or go in-depth with a monologue. A cabaret show allows me to do all that with change costumes and a few lighting cues and props and I can make it a bit more like a theatrical thing with a bit more thought to it.
You told me that there’s a segment of the show that has a rant about political correctness. But that’s not really something new for you -- you’ve always been outspoken about your problems with people being politically correct.
Oh yeah. First of all, banning words doesn’t change minds. As a black trans friend once said, PC is another word for two-faced cunt. Just because you can’t say a word in public doesn’t mean that you like that person anymore. And I think that’s very true. Beyonce is shepherding a campaign to ban the word “bossy” because it inhibits leadership qualities in little girls. Oh really, Beyonce? So shaking your ass in a blonde wig to awful music is going to take girls straight to the White House? I don’t want to inhibit little girls' leadership qualities, in fact I think we should have a female president -- we'd only have to pay her half as much [laughs]. But I just don’t think it should be Hillary [Clinton] because as 70-year-old menopausal woman whose husband has been cheating on her for 50 years with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and drones, she would take out a whole Cheesecake Factory just get Monica Lewinsky!