Lady Bunny’s Back in Town!

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Thursday October 3, 2013
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She's back! Lady Bunny, New York nightlife drag queen extraordinaire, Wigstock creator, performer and DJ, returns to San Francisco with the latest edition of her bawdy variety show full of saucy songs and sassy commentary.

Although she recently enjoyed a mad dash through San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento gay bars in July to promote her latest single "Take Me Up (High)," her return this time includes a complete show.

Bunny (whose real name is John Marc Ingle) recently performed in Mexico, which, according to her, had some ups and downs. "My laptop computer died while I was there, so it was really fun to use different keyboards at an Internet caf´┐Ż," she commented.

Bunny noted the economic disparity as disturbing. "Some people like to go to the beach resorts and be served by people who all speak English, and do nothing else. I like to go and catch a vibe of the people and city, and enjoy some great food that I don't need to be eating."

In between DJing and doing three nights of her cabaret show, Bunny toured Mexico City for a few days, but complained that, "You're under siege with needing bottled water everywhere; closing your mouth under the shower, avoiding recreating an Herbal Essence commercial."

"Also, they no longer allow over-the-counter prescription drug sales, so that's no fun," she added. "There are splendid beaches and resorts, but the city's just sprawling."

As I recalled the 'de-gayification' of Mexico City's Zona Rosa, and the possible demolition of her upcoming venue Rebel (to be replaced by yet more condos), Bunny quipped, "I have that effect on venues."

Offering a slightly more serious perspective, she said, "When I was in San Francisco in July, I saw very few gays in the Castro district. The hippies and gays have been priced out of the Haight and Castro, so they're not equipped to be able to live there."

Bunny's visits to the Bay Area go back to the days when Josie's Juice Joint was the default venue for LGBT acts. Having lived in various gayborhoods in Manhattan for the past several decades, she sees the same effect in the West Village, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen.

"It's very sad, there's not a gay place any more," she said, having DJed the closing night of the popular club Splash.

"If it's because we don't need a gay place, then that's great, I guess. But if it's causing us to lose our traditional gay places where you can see us, that's sad. I'm glad we're being accepted, but we're losing a lot of our gay venues."

For the longtime New Yorker, the heyday of the 1970 and 1980s may never be matched in their fabulousness. Bunny and her pals, many from Atlanta, like RuPaul, LaHoma Van Zant as well as Linda Simpson and others, contributed to a vibrant nightlife scene closely tied with the nascent activism and growing gay presence.

"Throughout the '70s, and '80s, the big gay club was the only place we felt comfortable to dance to anyone from Donna (Summer) to Madonna. That was the only place to see a big group of gay men, other than AA meetings."

Bunny said she wouldn't mind straight venues if they weren't so, well, straight. Most of the gay venues that have closed in both New York and San Francisco have gone 'straight.'

"Those places were breeding grounds for gay culture, and I mean breeding in a good way, not bareback sex!"

Such off-color comments fill Bunny's show, which crosses the line between crass and camp, with plenty of classics and new bits, song parodies, one-liners and celebrity digs.

"I did a similar show in Provincetown and Rehobeth Beach," said Bunny. "A couple of times, as a goof, I sang a song straight, and those went over best of all. When you're changing the lyrics to a song, you're not always concerned about your tone. Anyway, it's fun to see how people react."

Expect some unusual video segues in between Bunny's elaborate yet swift wig and costume changes.

"Being sensible has never been my trademark," she half-joked. "It's like a club show; I'm doing material for ADD people who are also drunk. One supposes that a cabaret audience may be more attentive, but only slightly. But that's why the nightclubs invite me. My singing will drive anyone to drink."

The more adventurous of patrons should sit up close to the stage, and perhaps bring their own plastic tarps. Bunny warned that a few powders and fluids are part of the show's props.

"It's nothing weird," she quipped. "Just some fake blood and fake cocaine; you know, baby powder. But I know how to aim it. I'm pretty good at controlling my...flow."

She added, as a joke (we think!) "Anyone who has real cocaine gets in free!"

Lady Bunny performs That Ain't No Lady, October 4 and 5, at 7:30 and 10:30pm, at Rebel, 1760 Market St. $26. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/431818

For updates on Bunny, go to www.ladybunny.net