LADY BUNNY, Fusebox 2014
Lady Bunny was “born” in Atlanta, Georgia, when a young Georgia State student hooked up with a budding RuPaul on the Atlanta club scene. Becoming roommates, the pair formed a strong bond that still exists today. “Ru was better at make-up than I and while she may not like to admit it, she is definitely my drag mother..!” says Bunny. Together, they moved to NYC in the mid-eighties to become resident go-go dancers at The Pyramid Club. Bunny was so impressed with the inventive in-house performers that this enterprising young queen founded the festival Wigstock in order to showcase their talents to a wider audience in Tompkins Square Park. While the event had a modest start, the seed of inspiration was planted and did it ever grow! In the following years, Bunny’s efforts and the talented queens of the downtown scene turned this annual event into a hipper version of Gay Pride Day about which the New York Times said “the karma is dynamite.” Attracting 40,000 bewigged attendees at it’s height, the freaky festival ran for over twenty years and became the subject of the 1994 cult favorite Wigstock: The Movie.
Her place in the NYC scene firmly established, Bunny’s own comedy act began to develop into a whirlwind of twisted song parody medleys and Laugh In-inspired one-liners between bouts frantic go-go dancing. Her wacky signature look began to develop as well–along with her waistline! Thankfully, her trademark empire waist mini-dresses which doesn’t require too much of a waist, but it does show off Bunny’s gorgeous gams. With false eyelashes long enough to embarrass Tammy Faye Bakker and gigantic blonde bouffants, Bunny’s trademark look is instantly recognizable and much to her own amusement, the NY Daily News has even chosen Bunny twice as one of the most stylish New Yorkers. Bunny was profiled in a the deluxe Pop magazine spread featuring her elaborate wigs, shared a whole page in Harper’s Bazaar with Kate Moss shot by Patrick DeMarchelier, and was chosen in 2010 as one of NYC’s most notable residents by V magazine, along with Marc Jacobs and Lady Gaga. And the latest Candy magazine featured Bun-Bun in a spread by famed fashion shutterbug Ellen Von Unwerth.
“Bunny is the funniest queen on earth” claims RuPaul. Many who have witnessed her high energy stage show would agree, and she’s left international audiences gasping with her demented and raunchy act. Parodies like “Don’t Let Your Son Go Down On Me” and “It Takes Two (To Make My Hole Feel Tight)” have delighted adult crowds around the world. And for eight months in 2012, Bunny slayed with her first one-woman multi-media cabaret show in a decade, That Ain’t No Lady! Both the sold-out crowds and NY Times theater critic David Rooney totally got it in his rave review. Bunny gagged that this critic understood her perhaps better than she did herself!
“A once proud and subversive warrior tribe that deified freakdom, drag queens have become awfully mainstream. Tame transvestites are now passing for Kardashians, while biological women all over television are communing with their inner drag divas on shows like “Mad Fashion,” “RuPaul’s Drag U” and “The Real Housewives of You Name It.”
But whatever happened to authentically scary, sewer-mouthed, gutter-glam fierceness? That endangered but not extinct form of alternative entertainment has a resplendently tacky old-school flag bearer in Lady Bunny, frugging with infectious abandon on a toxic cloud of Aqua Net in her first cabaret show in 10 years, “That Ain’t No Lady!”
Playing Tuesdays at La Escuelita Cabaret Theater, this 90-minute set of filthy stand-up and pornographic song parodies strives to awaken the ghosts of a pre-sanitized Times Square. After an opening mash-up of X-rated Katy Perry revisions, the Lady warns, “That concludes the PG portion of tonight’s entertainment.” She’s not kidding. Much of what follows makes “The Book of Mormon” seem like “Bambi.”
Founder of the defunct annual outdoor drag festival Wigstock, Lady Bunny has remained faithful to her signature look, which calls to mind Dusty Springfield rendered as a Thanksgiving parade float on fabulous gams. She and her gargantuan bouffant became New York club fixtures in the 1980s and have since gone on to wider notoriety, recently as Dean of Drag on “RuPaul’s Drag U.” But Bunny is best experienced in a filter-free environment with shirtless cocktail waiters.
She resurrects the “Laugh-In” quickie joke-a-thon format, punctuating her zingers with limber go-go moves, and dips into a seemingly inexhaustible repertory of pop desecrations old and new. She employs video assists to perform her debauched rap parody of Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” and Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” helpfully recapping the plot of “Burlesque” for the millions of us who missed it. While her Amy Winehouse tribute is perhaps not the most reverent, one gets the distinct impression that Ms. Winehouse would have been tickled.
Most of Lady Bunny’s best lines are unprintable here, but more than any performer I saw this year “the old pig in a wig,” as she calls herself, made me weep with laughter, often while groaning with disgust. And isn’t that what the best low comedy is all about?
Today, Bunny’s time is divided between touring night clubs and gay pride festivals with her bawdy comedy acts and television and film appearances like To Wong Foo, HBO’s Dragtime, Another Gay Sequel and RuPaul’s Starrbooty. On TV, Bunny was cast on RuPaul’s Drag U as the Dean Of Drag for the three years that the show ran, as well as a roaster on The Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson and an emcee on Sex And The City. In June 2013, Bunny will appear alongside Ellen Degeneres, Wanda Sykes, Dustin Lance Black and Larry Kramer displaying a more serious side as the group discusses the state of all things gay on HBO’s very moving The Out List. Her scandalous youtube parody videos have received hundreds of thousands of hits.
This multi-talented queen writes original music as well. On July 1st, Lybra Records will release Bunny’s self-penned single Take Me Up High with an impressive set of remixers to suit every taste. In support of the single, Bunny has snagged magazine covers of In Toronto and NYC’s Odyssey, will appear as a guest Bartender on Bravo’s Watch What Happens and will debut the song at record release parties from Fire Island to Miami to Amsterdam all summer long. A great buzz from both fellow artists to popular djs hint that Take Me Up High might just be a summer anthem of 2013.
Bunny got her start as a dj from club promoter extraordinaire and axe murderer Michael Alig–who was the subject of the film Party Monster. While the club kids were bopping to hardcore techno on the main floor, Bunny hit upon the idea of spinning a lighter, more musical sound in the smaller, auxiliary room of Limelight. Her formula worked and party-goers are wowed not just by Bunny’s musical selections, but also by the fact that Bunny is so passionate about dance music that she’ll often joins revelers on the dance floor. She became a sought after dj with club residencies at venues like Spa, Life, XL and Splash, where she currently spins a night of disco classics every Sunday. As an in-house dj for Visionaire and V magazines, Bunny has spun for high fashion crowds in London, Milan, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing and even at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. She is also the go-to dj for furniture giant Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams who has refused to throw a party without her over a decade now. The Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual Hampton’s fundraiser has also booked Bunny for over a decade and organizers claim that in the event’s long history, she’s the only dj to get a sometimes stuffy Hamptons crowd dancing. “My secret is sizing up every crowd and playing what they want. If this is your wedding or birthday party, I love determining your favorite songs in advance and playing them. I can play what I want at home for free, so I am not one of these djs who gives you attitude if you request something old, mainstream or both! Your party should be about you, not me”, says Bunny. This formula has enabled Bunny to jump from spinning circuit hits for Miami Gay Pride’s huge crowd of 40,000 this past year to spinning hip-hop jams for teens at H&M’s NYC store. Joining forces with M.A.C. Cosmetics, Bunny not only selected all the in-store music to play for the duration of their Shop M.A.C. collection in 2011, but also wrote and recorded campy in-store voiceovers advertising specials for this kitschy and highly successful line.
Bunny may have reached her largest audience ever in the decade that she contributed the The Star’s weekly Worst of The Week column, dissing celebrities with outrageous ensembles with hilarious quips. Bunny also contributes regularly to Huffingtonpost.com, Odyssey Magazine and her own unique blog on LadyBunny.net, which mixes everything from politics to pop culture.