November 05, 2014


“I do not call myself a drag queen,” says John Epperson, also known as legendary performer Lypsinka.“I don’t like that term. I think of Lypsinka as a woman. [Lady] Bunny thinks of herself as a drag queen. Bunny reminds her audience that she’s a man in a dress, and I don’t do that.”

As Lypsinka, Epperson has spent decades enthralling audiences with complex soundscapes. Years before the Internet, Epperson was sampling live recordings, interviews, and sound effects for Lypsinka shows. Now Lypsinka will return to the New York stage—after a nine-year absence—for a trilogy of performances starting November 5. “The first show is called Lypsinka! The Boxed Set, which played in New York 13 and a half years ago. That one is a traditional Lypsinka show. It uses lots of sound bites from different sources and I never stop moving, and I’m alone on stage, and it’s entirely lip-synched,” explains Epperson. The second show, The Passion of the Crawford, is, obviously, a tribute to the infamous actress. “A lot of it is a recreation of an interview Crawford did in 1973.”

For the third show in the trilogy, Epperson sheds his Lypsinka character, singing and playing the piano live as himself. “I am a trained pianist. A lot of people don’t know that I can play the piano, or that I can sing,” Epperson says. “Some people don’t even know that I can talk.”

Epperson has been subverting expectations for decades as Lypsinka and since he first donned drag as a child. “It must have triggered some kind of deep thing in my fantasy life when I was a kid, because it became the thing that I did as an adult. When a kid does it, people think, ‘Isn’t that cute?’ But when a grown man does it, they can also find it shocking. And if it wasn’t shocking, they wouldn’t buy tickets.”

Lypsinka! The Boxed Set at The Connelly Theater, 220 E Fourth St (btwn Aves A/B), November 5–January 2; The Passion of the Crawford, November 8–January 3; John Epperson: Show Trash, November 11–January 3; various times; $45–$60 single show/$80–$100 two shows/$105–$125 three shows. Visit for more info.