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The one and only Lady Bunny fluffs up her wig for the Cafine's crowd.

What a Drag

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It'll be false eyelashes, big wigs and hairspray at Cafine's on Saturday, July 22, when New York's high priestess of drag, Lady Bunny, hops into town for a night of unprintable song parodies and appalling decadence.

Not up on your transvestites? With Bunny, you've started at the top, skipping right over all those tiresome cross-eyed Barbra Streisand impersonators. This bewigged, blond, Southern bombshell is the one and only Lady Bunny — founder of the now famous (OK, maybe infamous) Wigstock Music Festival in New York. It's an event that has lured thousands of dancing drag queens and their adoring voyeurs for 16 years. She emcees gracefully each summer, through rain, shine and onstage slapping incidents. This year she ominously awaits the drag Diana Ross and Supremes "reunion."

"We plan to do it the right way," Bunny says. "Maybe we'll yank off her wig."

With all the excitement of Wigstock mere weeks away (this year's event is Sept. 3), not to mention Lady Bunny's 12-city tour set to launch in October, Bunny still made time to talk with Style Weekly about her upcoming gig at Cafine's. She was only a fashionable 40 minutes late for the interview.



Style Weekly: Your Wigstock Web site claims you're 22 years old. That would have made you… uh… 6 years old when you started the Wigstock festival. Is that… um… correct?

Lady Bunny: Hmmmm … I'm pressed, so I guess I'll say, a lady never tells her age.



SW: I notice you're blond.

LB: Yes, I'm always a blonde. It's a Southern thing. I like platinum, but I'll go as dark as ash with the help of wigs.



SW: How many wigs do you own?

LB: Toooo many.



SW: The makeup process looks elaborate. How long does it actually take to get ready for a show?

LB: What do you mean? I wear soooo little makeup; five minutes — tops. OK, I'm kidding. An hour and a half. More if you're doing the nails.



SW: God, you must look stunning after that.

LB: Yes, especially if I've had a couple of drinks. I look extremely stunning.



SW: So, you've been a drag performer for how long?

LB: Oh, about 17 years. I always dabbled in acting as a child. And it was very apparent that I had an affinity for the makeup. I'd even use food coloring. But the drag thing came in college when I was cast in "Our Town" as a straight baseball player. And I was just so much more alive than that. I thought, I've had to pretend to be straight all my life. Later, by coming out as a drag character, I got to play the character I really always wanted to play… which is a big drag queen. … In doing my show, I'm my own choreographer, my own costume designer, my own makeup artist. There's a lot more to it than just the wig.



SW: About the Cafine's show. How would you describe it?

LB: (Laughs) It's sick trash from a retarded whore. No, no, no. It's comedy of the rat-gut variety. Filthy song parodies. And true to my Southern roots, I've got a few X-rated country numbers in there, too.



SW: Cafine's draws a pretty mixed crowd in Richmond. Does the show have any kind of wide appeal?

LB: Oooh, everyone will love it. (Laughs.) You know, even my mom comes to see my shows. There are parts, though, where I say, "Maybe you should go to the bathroom, Mom." Actually, this last time in "A Taste of Bunny" [her recent New York show], she didn't come. My mom is so cool. She just said, "I'm not going to come, because I'm not going to sit there and pretend that I like something that makes me uncomfortable." And I thought that was fine.



SW: Your family's OK with this career?

LB: Oh yeah. I couldn't ask for a better situation, really. As a kid, I used to press my parents about what they wanted me to be when I grew up. I'd ask, "Not a doctor or a lawyer?" They'd say, "Be whatever you want." Now, of course, they say, "Well, you sure called our bluff being a transvestite." But it's cool. They have ceramic bunnies in their front yard!



SW: Any thoughts on doing this show in a conservative city like Richmond? You must know that a lot of folks will feel compelled to pray for you.

LB: Well, that's OK. I'm from Chattanooga after all. I'm not frightened by it. Drags have never been popular among the extremely conservative. But a sophisticated crowd can enjoy a drag show. Of course, I'm not trying to say my act is sophisticated, not by any stretch. But drag is established, and it can really be an entertaining, theatrical device.



SW: Do you have any plans while you're here? Any friends you're meeting?

LB: (coyly) No friends. Yet ….



Lady Bunny performs at Cafine's, 401 E. Grace St., on Saturday, July 22. Doors open at 10 p.m. for those 21 and over, and admission is $10. Call 775-2233 for details.

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