Entertainment » Television

Lady Bunny goes to Drag U

by Jim Halterman
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 19, 2010

Class is in session tonight on Logo as the Drag Queens from RuPaul's Drag Race take on making over real women on the new series RuPaul's Drag U. This time around, the Drag Teachers include Jujubee, Ongina, Nina Flowers and Raven and their weekly task is to take women who need instruction on how to reclaim their lives and teach them to be more empowered... by becoming Drag Queens.

While the women work on their drag persona, they'll not only get individual instruction from RuPaul but they'll also have to walk the runway and face the judges. One of those judges is popular Drag Queen Lady Bunny who recently talked with EDGE's Jim Halterman about not only her duties on RuPaul's Drag U but also about her own past as one of the most popular Drag Queens on the stage.

Plotting a takeover?

EDGE: Let’s talk about you before we get into RuPaul’s Drag U...

Lady Bunny: ...Well, that’s the name of it this season but there may be some changes down the line...

EDGE: ...are we plotting a takeover?

Lady Bunny: [laughs] I’m just teasing. Ru is my old roommate from Atlanta 25 years ago!

EDGE: Wow! How long have you actually been doing drag?

Lady Bunny: About two or three months...[laughs]. I really got my start in Atlanta. RuPaul and I were resident go-go dancers for a band called the Now Explosion and then we ended up moving up to New York together and being roommates there, as well. I consider him my Drag Mother because he’s one year old but he’ll always be that one year older!

EDGE: From watching RuPaul’s Drag U, you can see how much work goes into creating a drag persona. How long did it take you to cultivate the look you have now?

Lady Bunny: It took many years. I don’t even like to look at old photographs of myself because it took me so long to figure out how to do my makeup and wigs... and I’m sure people who read this will be chortling ’Bitch, you still don’t know now!’ I’ve never been the most polished looking but I just kind of burst onto the scene. I knew I wanted to hang out in bars and perform and be a ham and be in drag. I didn’t really have a clear cut version of what Lady Bunny really was like Lypsinka did. She really hasn’t changed her look... or her act, just kidding... since I met her. Bunny is still developing!

Story continues on following page.

Watch this clip of Lady Bunny performing as a teenager on RuPaul’s "Give It To Me Revue" at the 688 Club in Atlanta. Video by Mister Richardson:

Drag empowerment

EDGE: There’s a lot of talk in the Drag U about the empowerment of being in drag. Can you talk about that?

Lady Bunny: Unlike other Queens - no disrespect to them - Lypsinka, who likes be referred to as John Epperson when he’s not in drag, or Varla Jean Merman who likes to be known as Jeff Roberson. I am Lady Bunny. I think apart from my Mom, I’m addressed as Bunny. I don’t focus too much on my male persona. I don’t live as a woman. I definitely don’t wear gigantic wigs to the super market. (But) Lady Bunny is not an act. Lady Bunny is who I am. Part of the power of drag and one of the reasons I don’t really go out not in drag all the time is that it pushes your adrenaline button. You make an entrance, the flashbulbs start poppin’. In drag you can walk up to the best looking guy in the bar and grab his crotch. I would NEVER do that out of drag. Drag Queens can do anything!

One drag queen was complaining to me and said ’Why do people always want to grab Drag Queens boobs?’ I guess it’s this idea that you’re exposing them as false. Since I often wear mini-dress length skirts, people always want to twirl up your dress I guess to say ’I can expose you because I know you have a penis.’ I’ve never understood their desire to do that. Lady Bunny certainly isn’t fooling anybody but people do that. When you put it on you do become public property.

EDGE: My mother must have brought me up right but I would never grab a Drag Queens boobs or look under a skirt unless I was invited!

Lady Bunny: It’s very common, though.

EDGE: Let’s talk about RuPaul for a little bit...

Lady Bunny: ...why?? [laughs]

EDGE: Have you seen the effects from RuPaul’s Drag Race on the drag community and how people are receiving them?

Lady Bunny: I have! I know the Queens from Drag Race are being booked all over the place and Ru really has seemed to bring drag back. The funny thing is that Drag Race is Logo’s most successful original programming to date and yet for years they didn’t really want to feature drag so I’m glad Ru proved them wrong! If it leads to a drag boom, hey, Mama likes to eat!

I think that [Drag U] might have a wider appeal because the drag professors, who are the Queens from Drag Race, are making over real women. It taught me a lot, I have to say. I have a newfound respect for women. A lot of these women have lost their mojo because they’ve sacrificed their dreams and keeping up their appearance because they had kids to raise, because they had to deal with an abusive relationships or they were dealing with cancer. I think gay men, who normally live alone and have a lot of disposable income for cocktails and fashion don’t understand what it’s like to give up your life’s goals to put your kids through college. There’s also this idea that Drag Queens and gay men have the secrets that can teach these women how to be more glamorous. And now you return the favor, ladies, and you need to teach your sons and husbands not to beat us and not to kill us because we are worthwhile human beings who deserve human rights.

EDGE: I really liked how the women’s families come in to see them do their runway show. Does your own family see your work?

Lady Bunny: I was always a ham so I was involved with acting from a young age. I’ve got great parents. They’ve got an 8x10 photo of me in drag on their dresser. My act has gotten dirtier over the years so I don’t really flaunt it in my Mom’s face. My parents are fairly liberal but they’re also religious. They understand what I do for a living and I may make gays cackle in a bar where everyone is drunk at 1am, but your parents are not going to have the same reference to things like gerbils. In fact, in an attempt to be supportive of my career, my parents rented Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild and it’s just filthy! I haven’t even been able to watch it because I’m afraid to see what they saw! I know there’s father/son incest, a big pair of balls swinging from under my dress...these really deranged looking huge, low hanging balls that were props but we decided to use my own because they were bigger. But I don’t really have a family act but that was really one of the challenges of Drag U was to keep it fairly clean.

EDGE: Tell me about your role on Drag U.

Lady Bunny: I play the Dean of Drag, one of the regular judges. The other regular judge is Frank Gaston, who choreographed Beyonce’s Single Ladies. He’s the Dean of Dance and I’m the Dean of Drag. Each week there is also a guest judge. The first day I got there, I heard this voice in the dressing room next to mind and I could not believe my ears. It was Jack?e Harry, who, to me, was the funniest thing in the 80s. She was the judge the first day. Mia Tyler, Liv’s sister, was a judge. Chaka Khan, Kelly Rowland, Mama Kardashian, Taylor Dayne. We have rotating guest judges. On the very last episodes, the contestants are Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, Lucy Ewing from Dallas and Tabitha from Bewitched!

EDGE: What else are you doing this summer?

Lady Bunny: I performed at Toronto for Pride. I’m going to Warsaw for Euro Pride. I’m going Texas and all around the country. You can pretty much keep in touch with me on www.LadyBunny.net, which is my online home. Also, there’s another reality show in the works called The Queens of Drag: New York City. They’re going to run webisodes about all the Queens in September on Gay.com and on HereTV to build the fan base and they have some great footage. There are some crazy Queens here!

EDGE: So this is like the Real Housewives?

Lady Bunny: Yes but with better hair!

RuPaul’s Drag U premieres July 19, 2010 and airs Mondays at 9/8c on Logo.

Watch this interview with Lady Bunny on the set of her latest play When Joey Married Bobby in NYC with Samara riviera and Sassy.:

Jim Halterman lives in Los Angeles and also covers the TV/Film/Theater scene for www.FutonCritic.com, AfterElton, Vulture, CBS Watch magazine and, of course, www.jimhalterman.com. He is also a regular Tweeter and has a group site on Facebook.


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