While the ladies and ladyboys of RuPaul’s Drag U take the week off, we give you the saucy, sassy and scandalous Lady Bunny, the headmistress of Drag U! This drag legend pulls no punches in our exclusive interview! The uber-fabulous diva addresses the critics who feel she’s a tough judge, dishes about her Drag U experiences and gives us the one piece of beauty advice no woman should ignore (and cracks a lot of dirty jokes in the process!) If you’re not blushing now, you soon will be!
Socialite Life: You’re my last interview for Drag U and, as they say, I’ve saved the best for last.
Lady Bunny: Aww, you’re making me blush!
SL: It’s true! I’ve been a fan of yours forever!
LB: But I’m new on the scene! How could that be possible? Wait…are we starting the interview calling me old? Click! I’m just kidding! Honey, I know I’m old…
SL: No, the word is “legendary”!
LB: Oh, that’s right! And it’s not “hulking”, it’s “reubenesque”.
SL: Oh, yes, that what it is…
LB: Okay, we’ve got all of our euphemisms down!
SL: Yes, you’re legendary…and beautiful…
LB: Oh, tell me more…I wish you had a cock! Or maybe you do! (Editor’s note: I don’t)
SL: How did you arrive at Drag U?
LB: Well, you know RuPaul is kind of my drag mother. We were roommates in Atlanta, Georgia back in ’82 -’83 and we both moved to New York around the same time and were roommates then as well. And you know, of course, over the years we’ve kept in touch – but it wasn’t really until we did a movie together called Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild, where we had all of our scenes together that we really connected for the first time since “Supermodel” came out – which was pretty much when we stopped living together. And we were just kind of reminded of what drew us to each other in the first place, which was a twisted sense of humor. So I think that he just thought that since I was old…I mean legendary…that I would be a good person to be a judge, since I’d presumably seen most of it – if not all of it by now. So that’s how that came about. I’ve also actually worked with World of
Wonder (the production company behind Drag U) on a few different things. I made an appearance on the Tori and Dean show to various things with them.
There’s lots more with Lady Bunny after the jump…so get hopping!
SL: As a judge, it seems that you’re the harshest critic in your assessment of the ladies. Do you feel like the Simon of Drag U?LB: I am not familiar with American Idol, but I know that Simon is supposed to be the meanest…but you know, I always tried to give a positive and a negative. I don’t really have control over what they edit in or edit out. I was never trying to be mean, but at the same time, I mean if Socialite Life was…you want to be credible. You don’t want to say that something which is awful is great because if you did, your website would lose its credibility. It’s the same with me, I’m not going to see something busted and give it an A. You know? Because some of these women have self-esteem issues, I think the general take on it was never to be overly harsh. So, no I wouldn’t exactly put myself in the Simon category (laughs) I think some of the press has picked up on “Why are the drag queens being catty to these women with low self-esteem?” and, in defense of the drag queens, myself included, you have to realize that these women aren’t suffering from such low self-esteem that it prevented them from going to a casting for a show which called for them to be made over by drag queens – to prance down the runway with ridiculous outfits on! (Laughs) So, before you boo-hoo about these women’sself-esteem, these women also are seeking attention, or they could not have been cast on the show. SL: I agree completely – I had heard that criticism in the press and on Facebook posts and such and I didn’t think you were being overly critical and that’s why I threw that out there…LB: Well, we were told that some of these women had issues and not to be overly harsh and so I don’t think I ever was – and sometimes I would start off with a comment which was “I liked this, but this has got to go”. Now, in the editing, they can cut out the part where I said “I liked this” and that might make me seem meaner than I am. I also contribute to Star Magazine’s “Worst of the Week” column and, you know, they don’t want you to be cruel but the column is called “Worst of the Week”! (Laughs)So, they don’t want anything complimentary. I also think the guest judges, since they only did one episode, I don’t think they had as much to go by – and I did all eight episodes. I was more likely to kind of know what to expect, based on those expectations going a certain way. But, I wouldn’t say I was overly harsh. And if you do try to say that, f**k you, bitch! (Laughs) No…I’m just kidding… SL: No, I thought your critiques were on point, especially when you called out one of the ladies for having too short of a heel…LB: Well, I know that they would call out any drag queen in any pageant for that, and this is Drag U! Hello! I mean, a high heel puts everything into proportion. Why do you think models are stumbling down the runway in six inch heels – and they’re already string beans with perfect proportions. So how are you going to put a dumpy or regular-sized woman on the runway without (heels)…plus you’re adding all of these trains and shoulder wraps and capes and what not – and big wigs – and it does look dumpy unless you prop it up on a heel. You know, they don’t call me “Lady Bunion” for nothing! (Laughs) SL: Well, I posted on your Facebook page that I thought there needed to be more you on Drag U…LB: (Laughs) I do too! I wish you would post that on the producer’s page (laughs)! I did get to interact with the contestants the most on the last episode, and that was the one where they had the celebrities from the classic TV shows – which are Gilligan’s Island, Dallas and Bewitched, which was my all-time favorite show – besides I Dream of Jeannie. It was such a thrill to work with Tabitha (Erin Murphy). All three of the girls were…I don’t want to give too much away, but Charlene Tilton (Lucy from Dallas) is a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body! The thing is, drag is…when you put all of that stuff on, it really pushes your adrenaline button. I mean, I could go out to a club without all of that stuff on, but it would just be like “Well, there’s just another body taking up space” but if you bust in with a wig and sequins, it pushes your adrenaline button because you’re not just going to sit and sulk over in a corner somewhere. You kind of have to be working it, which you don’t in plain clothes. But yeah, I don’t control what goes on in the editing room, but I agree with you! SL: If there’s a second season, we need you more front and centerLB: Well, good. I hope there’s a second season too.SL: Speaking of wigs and such, your wigs are phenomenal, but they look so heavy! How do you manage holding your head up with your enormous wigs on?LB: Well, you know what, I do special “neck-cercises” to strengthen my neck. I just require a different guy every night with an erection (laughs) and it gives me the strength to hold them…it’s kind of a backward and forward motion…SL: I’m getting that mental picture…LB: …and it comes in handy with dealing with big wigs like that! (Laughs) You know what? Drag is all about proportion and I’m not petite in any way, so I like to have big hair to balance everything else out. SL: And they don’t get in the way when you’re performing? LB: Well…I sometimes Krazy Glue the wigs to my head and, in fact, Taylor Dayne was a judge and she watched me put my nails on with Krazy Glue, put my earrings on with Krazy Glue and put my wig on with Krazy Glue and she said “You need to be doing commercials for Krazy Glue!” (Laughs) You never know…hey Krazy Glue! I’m ready for that endorsement deal! (Laughs) But, beauty knows no pain. You have to do whatever it takes and it takes a lot for me – I need every trick in the book!SL: Well, I think you and RuPaul look positively ageless!LB: (Laughs) Well, there’s a few extra pounds on me. Maybe it was something in the water in Atlanta -when were cutting our drag teeth together. Ru’s one year older than me, but he’ll never admit it. But he’ll always be that one year older! No, it was delightful to work with Ru and I have to say that the celebrity guest judges were all just incredible. The first day I got there, I was in my dressing room and I heard this voice and I was like “Oh my God, I know that voice” from “Maaarrry” and it was Jackee Harry, who has to be the funniest person to emerge from TV in the late 80s. Mia Tyler, loved. Kelly Osbourne, loved. Mama Kardashian, loved. And Chaka Khan is one of my idols. SL: Did you have a lot of interaction with the Drag U “professors” during the show?LB: Yes, I did – and I really loved all of them. We stayed at the same hotel while we were shooting and, just for the record, Raven is not a bitch, she just plays one on TV.SL: Oh, I know, she was such a sweetheart during our interview!LB: He does a real good job of it (laughs)…and I’m never going to cross him to find out! Because Ru was there and because I’ve worked with World of Wonder, it was a very easygoing cast, a very easygoing thing to shoot. SL: I’m not surprised. Everyone I’ve talked to has been so nice…LB: And I really loved Jujubee. Tammie Brown and I hit it off really well. I didn’t get to hang out with Shannel as much, but I have so much respect for her makeup and styling…and Raven’s makeup cannot be believed. I mean, it’s a shame to wash it off at the end of the day, she’s put so much work into it. In fact, I had to request that I have a makeup artist! (Laughs) Because I was like “Wow! They’re so much more polished than I am, so I had better have a makeup artist or I’m not going to be fit to judge anybody!” SL: What are you hoping women are going to take away from Drag U?LB: Well, I’m sure you’ve heard all of the stuff about getting in touch with your inner diva, so I won’t get into that. But, you know, women are not a minority, but women are still oppressed. I have a new found respect for women after watching the show because, unlike most of the people I associate with, who are single, gay men – not usually with even a partner, much less a family – this show made me realize that women give up their entire lives for other people (like) a man – who might be abusive, making sure that their kids grow up right – or grow up right and get into school – and sometimes have an abusive husband and work two jobs! Women are the nurturers and I’ve got a great Mom like that, but just seeing different women’s stories really increased my admiration for them. Because, unlike gay men, who live alone and have a lot of disposable income – and they sure don’t have kids. So, I think that we tend to be a lot more selfish, a lot more self-centered. And the whole country is obsessed with makeovers. Any time from back in Phil Donahue‘s day, whenever a chat show – like Ricki Lake or Maury Povich – needs ratings, they do makeover shows, because the whole country’s obsessed with them. And there’s this perception that gay men – and now drag queens – hold the secret to making women look their best – or, in the case of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, even for men to have the helpful hints. So, what I would like to say to the women who enjoy those tips and enjoy Drag U is we are happy to dispense with them! Now, do us a favor and go home and teach your sons and teach your husbands not to beat us and not to kill us! (Laughs) Because if they do, you won’t be getting anymore of these tips when we are gay bashed to death! So, I think that I now have a greater appreciation of women’s supportive, nurturing role in a family and hopefully, through this show, women – and their men who like to see them looking good – appreciate that even freaky transvestites like me have a role in society that should not be diminished and should be supported and that should have equal rights and should be allowed to marry. It shouldn’t be a one-way thing, where it’s like “We want your tips and that’s it.” Costuming does change so much. It changes the way you walk and the way you hold yourself…when I try on a dress with a full skirt, the first thing I want to do is look in the mirror and pick one side of it up and twirl around…you feel like Cinderella. Costumes really can transform you, whether there will be any…I mean, obviously, the drag professors aren’t going home with these women to style them on a daily basis, but I saw the looks on some of the husbands who were in the audience – some of the looks they were giving their wives in their new, more self-assured and definitely prettier and sexier versions of themselves – and once you see someone in that light, it might transform their love life for good – and it’ll be like my dates – “Aww, c’mon honey, put the wig back on!” (Laughs) I mean, really, that would be a true Draguate! (Laughs) When your man tells you “Just put the lipstick on. Put the wig on, please!” But, yeah, there were some tears from the contestants, some broken mirrors…I’m just kidding! I think it was genuinely touching. A lot of times, it’s all about saying “I’m going to do something for me” and for women who are so caught up – like I know my Mom is – in “Is my Dad Happy? I’m leaving town. Have I prepared and frozen his suppers for the next few nights? Are the kids taken care of?” It is empowering – even if it’s just once – to say, “You know what? It’s time to work on me and try that hair color and see if I’ve still got it because I’ve been so busy fooling with the rest of you that I really haven’t had time to.” So, I think there is some lasting value.SL: Was there any transformation that really stood out for you? Did you get to see the “before” images?LB: Yes, the guy who runs the Dragulator (for the show) is actually RuPaul’s makeup artist and hair/wig designer Matthew Anderson, who is a genius. So the girls are getting…I mean, RuPaul doesn’t play around with her looks – she always looks fantastic – so, these girls are getting the best possible makeovers…I’m not sure if I answered your question, what was it again?SL: I was just asking if any of the transformations stood out for you.LB: You know, from the very first episode, I don’t recall her name, but the one who looked like Mae West (Linda, Raven’s student from the first episode). I mean, she was pretty butch, and choosing a 1930s Jean Harlow, Mae West, marcel platinum hair (look) with the smoky eyes…that completely worked on her. I didn’t see how she was going to transform that much. She really stuck out to me. SL: So what’s in the future for Lady Bunny?LB: Well, I’m going to Paris to DJ for Visionaire magazine (V magazine) for Fashion Week in October and I’m DJ-ing for a party here in New York. And right after that, I’m going to do a comedy festival with a bunch of drag queens at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. And I’m DJ-ing and performing around here in Boston, Provincetown, Ohio – I just got back from Montreal. I did Poland’s first Gay Pride a few weeks ago. So, yeah, I’m keeping busy. SL: How can your fans best stay in touch with you?LB: LadyBunny.net – don’t miss it, because I have craziest friends on the planet and they send me the most ridiculous videos everyday! In addition, there’s my calendar and clips of me performing, and everything you might want to know or see.SL: Now, before I go, do you have any special pearls of wisdom you can share?LB: Yes. I don’t know what they are called, but there’s a new fashionable sandal this summer which is like half sandal, half ankle boot. Do you know the name for that?SL: Personally, I’d say “ugly”…LB: Well, I was going to say “hideous”! Only wear those if you want your legs to look shorter and dumpier! This is a style which should be by-passed by everyone except the leanest and longest of legs! Usually with an ankle strap, you’d usually see that on a high heel, but this is a wide ankle strap which is on a flat shoe! It does all the wrong things! I understand that shoe designers want to change the design every year so that you’ll have to buy something new – and I don’t mind it as long as it’s a cute shoe – but personally I don’t care for this shoe. But whether you like it or not, the fact is that it will make your legs look shorter, I don’t care who you are!As a personal aside, take heed on that last tip! Lady Bunny knows of what she speaks! Keep up with Lady Bunny via her Facebook page and on LadyBunny.net. We’ll be back next week with more from Drag U. If you’re having withdrawals, or just want to revisit all of the incredible transformations so far, visit LogoTV.com! A new episode of RuPaul’s Drag U premieres next Monday night at 9pm EST!