American drag queen and comedian Lady Bunny is back in London this month for her first solo show in the UK, Trans-Jester!, at the Soho Theatre. Here she talks gender politics, Melania and that election.
Hi Lady Bunny, what have you been up to recently?
I’ve been performing Trans-Jester! in NYC since April, and now it’s hitting the road. I’ve been tweaking the show for UK audiences to add some topical references and chopped a few things which have to do with the US since you guys may not be familiar with them. Was Caitlyn Jenner’s TV show on there? I goof on her quite a bit. This show deals with gender politics, but I try to avoid actual politics because it’s all so dire that we need to take a break and laugh or we’ll go insane.
Have you come to terms with your new president yet? What do you think of him so far?
There was an election? My God! Why was I not informed? Oh, never mind. I’m sure it turned out OK. America would never do anything silly like electing a belligerent, narcissistic sociopath. I mean, we’re not Russia! I just hate that now Melania is our First Lady; we’ll lose one of our most brilliant jewellery designers. I have a bracelet she designed in 2015. I bought it in 2013 from Macy’s.
Tell us about your new show Trans-Jester!
It’s just like Les Miserables, except get rid of all the dreary and depressing French stuff and replace it with me singing and dancing for 90 minutes. Oh, and my usual fart jokes. This show actually combines the raunchy and sometimes offensive humour I’m known for, but in the context of this question: with political correctness gone wild, what are we still allowed to laugh at?
What specific areas of gender politics wind you up?
Pretty much all of it, but especially the L’s, the G’s, the B’s. The T’s, The I’s and the A’s. Did I forget any letters? I wouldn’t want to seem non-inclusive. Trans-Jester! also discusses how puzzled I am by the fairly recent rift between the drag and trans community. For me personally, I feel closer to drag and trans people than any other segment of our community. I’m thrilled that the NYC run of this show really struck a chord with both older gays who remember fighting for medicines for AIDS instead of the endless list of names for new gender variations and the younger folks, some of whom agree with me and some who don’t. But most seem to have been entertained by it. I have a unique perspective and am not afraid to express it. And peppering my more serious points with jokes prevent the show from ever being preachy.
Do you ever worry about offending people with your material?
I’m pretty sure that everyone in the audience will be offended by something in the show – especially sticklers for personal hygiene and good grammar. I actually asked on the ticket sales site that people do not attend this particular performance if they are prudish, overly PC or who don’t like offensive humour. Trans-Jester! is for those who enjoy an unabashedly twisted laugh.
How do you handle hecklers?
I read them my No Refunds policy.
When were you last in London? And what do you love about the city?
I last performed National Treaures with Bianca, Sherry Vine and Jackie Beat and then DJed at Horse Meat Disco. After that, Lady Lloyd and Baga Chipz dragged me later to some club where Fat Tony was spinning. Tony was the promoter who first brought me to London to perform at the Limelight, presented by Leigh Bowery. London has such a colourful club scene that I’ve formed many lasting friendships there. So I’d say my favourite thing about London are the people. I’m also one of those folks who loves everything old and hates everything new. So being surrounded by all of the ancient history titillates me. But enough about Tasty Tim and Dusty O. I love that most of your famous drag queens are so much older than me. I mean, Theresa May looks to be at least 90.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My mom told me “Lock the door if you’re gonna do that.”
Finally, why should people come and see your new show?
Because if they don’t, I come and perform it in front of their house! I haven’t performed a full-length show in London since Marc Almond’s boyfriend produced a two-week run 15 years ago downstairs at Freedom Cafe. I’ve grown as a performer since then, as has my waist size. In my view, this is the most cohesive show I’ve ever done. The music ranges from Bruno Mars to Adele to Prince, with show tunes, a country classic and even an original song or two. The bottom line is: this old bitch finally got some new material. Catch it while it’s fresh!