Although she has been hard at work preparing for her show “Trans-Jester,” Lady Bunny took time out of her busy schedule to chat about her past, present and future.
Lady Bunny grew up in Tennessee and her father was a college professor. Always the performer, Bunny grew up playing roles in his college productions. “I was the neighborhood leader when it came to staging haunted houses and putting on plays, with two sheets hung between trees as the backdrop.”
Bunny became part of the Atlanta drag scene, and was a roommate of Ru Paul. Although she still has her Southern charm, and as she says, “a good dose of he-haw” in her humor, she moved to New York City in 1984. After growing up in the South, she “felt more in sync with New York.” She became so much a part of New York that Joan Rivers roasted her. Influenced by the music of Grace Jones, Patti LaBelle and Eartha Kit, Lady Bunny is also a DJ and loves dance club music.
Bunny was so impressed by the diversity of drag in New York, that she started the famous Wigstock festival. With its beginning in the East Village, Wigstock was an annual festival held every Labor Day. The crowds grew to thousands each year and after twenty years; there are now Wigstock cruises. In 1995, a documentary was made, Wigstock, the Movie.
Lady Bunny is now on tour with her new show, Trans-Jester. The show opened at the Stonewall Inn, and Bunny jokingly said was the reason why the Stonewall was named the 1st National Monument dedicated to the gay-rights movement. Proud to be performing there, Lady Bunny said it gave younger people who came to her show the chance to see where history was made. Lady Bunny’s advice to LGBT youth is to treat everyone with respect. She said that living through the AIDS crisis was her generation’s challenge, and that today’s generation should not be afraid to have a sense of humor.
Co-written by comedy writer Beryl Mendelbaum, Trans-Jester is the most solid cabaret show Lady Bunny has ever done. With a mix of show tunes, Adele, Bruno Mars and some original blues, it has been drawing sold out crowds.
Beyond the songs and the comedy, it is the deeper message that Lady Bunny wants to share. Through her comedic talent, Lady Bunny questions whether we have become too politically correct.
She said, “This show asks, can we still laugh?” Lady Bunny feels we need more dialogue as a country and said, “What are we focusing on?”
Lady Bunny said the younger generation is experimenting with gender roles more, and there is more labeling among different members of the LGBT community. When talking about the growing friction between the drag and trans community, Bunny said that she “refuses to have a wedge between communities.” Her show aims to show people that it is Okay to laugh at yourself.
Lady Bunny thinks that people are too caught up in “worrying about being politically correct,” and feels that “ by being overly sensitive to using the right word, we are stifling discussion. If you go looking for enemies, you’re going to find them.”
She said hearing a live audience “pushes the adrenaline button” and loves meeting new people on the road. She is working on another show, but wants to keep Trans-Jester going. Soon the show will be going to London at the SoHo Theatre. She has no plans to stop performing.
Although Bunny calls her humor X-rated, I found her to be quite the “Lady.”
Lady Bunny will be bringing her show, Trans-Jester to the Rrazz Room at the Raven in New Hope, Pa. on Saturday, January 28th.
For tickets, go to www.therrazzroom.com.