Lady Bunny - New York drag star lands at Oasis

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Friday February 3, 2023
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Lady Bunny (photo: Stephen Menendez)
Lady Bunny (photo: Stephen Menendez)

As a grande dame of drag with a hilariously crass wit, Lady Bunny has long been a prominent figure in the drag world, particularly as the co-founder of New York City's Wigstock.

Along with DJ gigs in nightclubs, Bunny is also in "Playland," a new feature-length film by Georden West that will screen at film festivals in coming months. Fans can look forward to her giant wigs in song parodies and routines in her new show, "The Greatest Ho on Earth," at Oasis on February 10 and 11.

Lady Bunny (photo: Stephen Menendez)  

Jim Provenzano: You're now touring with your new show. What are some of the favorite cities you visited so far or look forward to seeing?
Lady Bunny: Rikers Island and Sing-Sing.

You love to poke fun at your old pal RuPaul and his show. Did you ever think Ru would come to such fame when you, Ru and others left Atlanta to make the scene that you created in New York City in the 1980s?
Ru always had star quality and looks, even before he became a star. That was obvious to most who came up with us in Atlanta. But he was also lazy, and would refuse to work at Popeye's or other jobs we all used to do. In New York City, at a club where we both worked weekly, Ru was so lazy that he would lip-synch the same song every week. At least it was a good song: Nicole McCloud's "Don't You Want My Love."

Who's your favorite drag queen, living or dead?
Bianca Del Rio is both living and dead to me.

What advice would you offer an aspiring drag performer?
Stay away from me if you're young, thin or pretty! Actually, I'd suggest learning enough stage presence to do a whole song. On "Drag Race" and in clubs, we rarely see full songs performed any more. I perform medleys myself, but many of the mixes I see performed don't make a ton of sense. Or they rely more on gimmicks than the ability to sell a song.

You frequently offer critiques of politicians left and right in your social media accounts. What or who is your latest target?
George W. Bush was the last president to raise the minimum wage in the U.S. It hasn't kept up with the cost of living. Democrats had full control of Congress and the White House for the past two years, yet they allowed conservative Dems to join with the GOP to block a needed $15 minimum wage.

Thousands of people in the UK are out in the streets protesting unfair wages right now. In the U.S., people keep voting for parties that don't raise wages, even as the cost of living soars with inflation and you can't rent a one-bedroom apartment in most of the country on $7.25 per hour. Instead of protesting like the Brits, French or many other countries, Americans rarely protest. They're more likely to tune in to reality TV shows about vapid rich people than seek to change their own reality.

How do you respond to people who say that performers shouldn't comment on politics?
Should is a loaded word. Whenever we tell someone they should do something, we're assuming that we have some sort of moral authority or superiority over them. But when people comment on my posts, "You should stick to drag," there's a hint of prejudice (and maybe sexism) in it. As if they're saying, "You dress up and make jokes, so you can't be intelligent enough to discuss issues."

What they mean is, "I disagree with what you've said, but I have no good response except to change the subject to who is saying something rather than focusing what is actually being said."

Right wing politicians in many states are trying to outlaw drag shows or restrict audiences. Can you comment on that?
Please outlaw Heklina and Peaches Christ's dreadful shows! Seriously, I think that even among moderate Republicans, gays are somewhat accepted. Not among evangelicals, but we got gay marriage years ago and the world didn't explode from sin.

So now the GOP angle appears to be focusing on smaller groups; drag queens reading stories to kids as groomers, and on trans people. Conservatives will try to harness fear and distrust of these smaller groups to tarnish the gay community as a whole.

I've asked this before, but I'm so fascinated by how you travel with those gigantic wigs. Have you had any problems with the airlines recently?
No problems, but I need to get a drum case like Elvira has. She glues a stick to the bottom of it and places the wig head and styled wig on the stick. They arrive in perfect shape. Unlike mine, which are crammed into the increasingly small overhead compartments. In keeping with my age, I'm switching to turbans with bangs!

As the co-founder of Wigstock, do you see any other drag festivals that you think are inspired by it? And is there anything you miss about those days?
Yes, and I'm performing at Miami's Wigwood this weekend! I was also at Bushwig in Brooklyn in September. Drag festivals are a lot more fun when I don't have to organize them!

What can your fans expect from the new show when you perform at Oasis?
Demented new parodies from everyone from Lizzo to Todrick Hall and Beyoncé, an original song or two, lots of laughs, and monkeypox transmission. But no classified documents. Or even class!

Lady Bunny's "The Greatest Ho on Earth," at Oasis on February 10 & 11, 7pm. $30-$50. 298 11th St.

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