Lady Bunny is a true renaissance woman. Over the years New York's reigning drag queen has wowed us with her exploits as a lip-synch artiste, disco DJ, cabaret chanteuse, political pundit, and world-class cocksucker. And now she's conquering the theater as Chariy Devine, a big-haired (what else?) free-spending small-town preacher's wife in the off-Broadway play When Joey Married Bobby. We caught up with the Lady over a cup of chamomile tea the other day, and, as usual, she had us in stitches with her colorful observations on theater, her plans for fans of Pat Robertson and Britney Spears, and, of course, sex.
Tell us about the play.
The play is really fascinating because it has a gay marriage theme, but what it really does is poke fun at religious hypocrites -- something we should all be doing on stage and in every minute of our everyday lives! As people like Pat Robertson say that the Haiti earthquake was justified, and we have serious presidential contenders like Sarah Palin who are hoping, as George Bush did, for the end of days so that they can ascend to heaven. I mean, whoo! The heartsickness of politics right now. .But I should stop -- the director said, 'Sell the play. This is not about your political views'
Let your political views rip, girl.
Well, after Pat Robertson's Haiti pronouncement, not to mention when he said Katrina hit New Orleans because Ellen DeGeneres was chosen for that awards show....this is not a fringe figure in the Christian religion. This is someone who has a lot of followers who give him money to spout shit like that. I think the only way that this country could ever move forward is if we mass murder anyone who's ever contributed to Pat Robertson or any other religious institution. Or anyone who has ever sung along to a Britney Spears or Ke$ha or Beyonce song. We need a fresh start.
Speaking of fresh starts, you're primarily known as a solo performer. What's it like being part of an ensemble for a change?
really enjoyed being with the cast, stepping outside my own circle and
meeting people who don't know who or what I am or what I've done. We're
really just taking each other at face value. It has really been fun to
see [co-star and former Detroit Tigers pitcher] Matthew Pender,
who's totally straight, and could not be sweeter, doing his
straight-guy shadow boxing thing backstage. I didn't realize he was a
pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and it just so happens by some fluke
that I am a "catcher." Which I did inform him while on my knees
twiddling my nipples.
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?
I haven't done a play since Ethyl Eichelberger was around, and she died in the ;80s. So it's been a challenge. I'm used to lip-synching a lot in my act, and with this you actually have to memorize lines. And I had to put on 50 pounds for the role, which just to be on the safe side, I did two years ago.
Has this experience inspired you to take on more 'straight' acting roles?
I'm just glad the script found me because I like to act, but my look does limits things. Like Carol Channing is not really ever going to vary her performances very much. Or Charo, or Dolly Parton. I need my war paint. I was recently called by the casting person from Ugly Betty, and I just told her right off the bat: 'Let's not waste each other's time. Tell me what you are looking for, and I will tell you honestly if I am that. Because if you're looking for girls that are young and pretty, I am not one of them. If you're looking for someone that can look like Marilyn Monroe, I can't'
Have you been burned by Hollywood in the past?
The thing is, casting agents want to see everyone because Hollywood's take on drag is so off that often they'll play your audition video for Johnny Depp, who, then, swoops in and takes the role, as they had intended him to do from the very start! I'm kidding, but that is rumored in the drag population -- you don't want to be too good at the audition because they plan to cast John Travolta anyway, and they just want to show him this video to give him some pointers. So that he can take it an destroy a role like Edna in Hairspray by saying 'I want to be more girlish' because he's a fucking fag. How sick is it if you're a fag who wants to get buttfucked, and the only way you have of expressing it, that we know of, is to put on drag and a fat suit!
Would you consider taking on a role out of drag?
The one thing that keeps me from doing roles out of drag is I'm just so deadly afraid of...autograph hounds. No, I would do it if I thought the role was really amazing and I thought I could do it. But I'm a man who has been called Bunny for 25 years. I've got gender issues. Unlike other queens like Charles Busch, or John Epperson as Lypsinka, or even RuPaul, using my birth name is just not an option. I'm not trying to say that I'm an actor portraying Lady Bunny. I am Lady Bunny.
When Joey Married Bobby is at the Theatre 80 through Feb. 26th. 80 St. Marks Pl., (212) 388-0388. $26-$30.