Lady Bunny brings her one-woman show, ‘Trans-Jester,’ to the Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre

By : Jeremy Williams
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Lady Bunny is one of only a few pre-Drag Race queens whose talent has become so large that her name transcends the LGBTQ community. She is not only a world famous drag queen, but also a DJ, actress, singer/songwriter and comedienne extraordinaire.

Bunny’s latest comedy show, Trans-Jester, which she launched last year at New York’s historic Stonewall Inn, is coming to the Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre May 19 and 20. Bunny chatted with Watermark ahead of her Sunshine State visit about what we can expect to see from her show, what she thinks about the current state of drag and why she can’t stand the damn “word police.”

Watermark: Are you excited to be heading to Orlando and the Parliament House?

Lady Bunny: I cannot wait. I’ve been a guest of the Parliament House many times but I haven’t had the chance to do my one-woman show Trans-Jester yet, so I am excited to be coming.

Tell us about the show.

It’s a dirty, raunchy, comedy show but it also asks a question that a lot of us are thinking right now: “What are we still allowed to laugh at?” When you see comedians like Bill Maher, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refusing to play at colleges because the kids are uptight, I have to ask myself what is going on here. We are worried about micro-aggressions like what words we are speaking, but half of our tax dollars are going to macro-aggressions like killing people in other countries. We have really gotten out of whack with the political correctness, so much so that we’re about to make Dick Van Dyke change is named to Penis Van Lesbian.

Where is that line where people can find it offensive and people take the policing of jokes and language too far?

Unlike Donald Trump, I don’t say that I’m politically incorrect to make women or immigrants or Muslims feel bad. I’m coming from the far left, probably farther left than Bernie Sanders even, but I need to laugh and I like to laugh at dirty stuff and laugh at twisted stuff. So if we are falling all over ourselves to think of 56 new gender terms that pop up on Facebook and have them be heard, then don’t take away the seat at the table of the loud-mouthed, raunchy drag queen who is here to put it to you straight.

Is there a line in comedy where it goes too far?

Comedy is meant to show you a different viewpoint, palatable, with jokes. I feel like we are just dancing on eggshells with all these new words: non-binary, gender queer, gender fluid – I think that last one is when I am in drag and have diarrhea. Everyone is confused and no one seems to know how to start very real conversations that we need to start. At the same time, our own gay think-tanks like GLAAD are propping up Caitlyn Jenner and suggesting that she needs to be a role model.

You’re not a fan of Caitlyn Jenner I take it?

I take Caitlyn to task in this show. I respect anyone’s right to transition into anything, but I think she needs to focus on transitioning out of the Republican Party which has been destroying the rights of the community that her simple ass has been trying to join. If I make fun of that, I’m not being transphobic at all; I revere my trans friends and they are as mystified by Caitlyn as I am. If our gay think-tanks aren’t thinking – pardon the expression – ‘straight,’ then maybe it’s left to the comedians.

Do you think people are just too sensitive today?

Back in the day on Saturday Night Live, there was a skit with the character Pat. The gag was that no one knew what gender she was. Was that skit transphobic? Or the “Men of Film” from In Living Color who gave the snaps up movie reviews. Did they use every homosexual stereotype in the book? Of course they did, and it wasn’t homophobic in the slightest. In fact, it was embraced by gays because they got us so well and we loved it. Today, everyone is so afraid to laugh because they are afraid that someone is going to point a finger at them and shame them.

The man who works the door at my show in New York said, “Hey guys,” to a group of people walking by and was yelled at by a girl in the group as being sexist. We can’t be demonizing greetings now. Moms have been saying “hey you guys” along with “y’all” for years for all genders. I mean, really, we are attacking greetings.

You have a long history with another famous drag queen, RuPaul. In fact, you were roommates back in Atlanta. Do you tell any scathing stories about her in the show?

I make some cracks about Ru in my show about when we met and the people in my audience get all “woooooo” like I’m attacking Mama Ru, and I’m like bitch please. Which one of his three homes do you think he is sitting in caring about what jokes I make. Ru and I share a love of all things humor from silly to twisted and dark.

RuPaul caught a bit of flack last month after saying on a podcast that bachelorette parties should stay out of gay clubs. Do you agree with that statement?

I haven’t heard the podcast, but I got the Cliff’s Notes version of it. I heard that Ru didn’t like bachelorette parties at gay clubs, and I thought that’s interesting because his show has put drag out there in such a mainstream way that it has reached a lot of women.

I was sitting with Alaska and William at this Christmas show this past year and I looked out into the audience and everyone in the front row was a girl, and honey, a fan is a fan. Alaska and William said the girls are the biggest fans and the first to buy the merchandise. But I will say we do lose some of our gay subculture with that, but I don’t think the people who own these bars and clubs and restaurants that feature drag performers mind their money one bit. Also, as some gays are leaving the clubs and choose rather to find and meet guys on Grindr, straight people coming to the clubs are filling the gap.

How has drag changed from when you first started doing it to now with it being as mainstream as it is?

Drag Race doesn’t emphasize talent, they just lip sync to a song, one they may not even have picked to do in their real act. This isn’t the way to showcase talent. You can say, “Oh, make me a dress out of newspaper in 10 minutes,” and that’s a great challenge on TV, but as a working female impersonator I’ve never once had to do that. That makes for good, fun and silly TV, but with the focus on these challenges we are getting some queens who are brilliant at makeup and have a catchphrase. But if you book them to perform, they are lacking – any working drag queen can tell that you. We have all sat puzzled at how someone who packs a club because they have been on TV can barely perform.

So you’re more interested in the talent and not the look?

I’m more concerned with the art of drag, and I would much rather watch someone tear the shit out of a performance even if they don’t have their contour or padding perfect. I’d rather a great performer with an unpolished look than a celestial beauty who cannot walk. I mean Kim Chi can barely walk in heels. She is exquisite and her hair and makeup are imaginative, but I mean really, you can’t walk.

I’m older. I grew up on Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball, so I don’t gravitate to the train wrecks; I’m about the talent. That’s why I’m happy that I got to work with some of these girls and got to see their acts, because I don’t want to see them in tears, I want to see them shine.

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