The legendary Lady is once again reprising her role as Dean of Drag and sharing her “Lady Lessons” with biological women looking to unleash the sassy, fierce drag diva within! Lady Bunny took time from her busy schedule to school us in the fine art of shoe selection, catch us up on what she’s been doing since last season and chat about the changes you’ll see this season on Ru’s queen-packed campus.
Socialite Life: Were you surprised at all when Logo/World of Wonder announced the third season of Drag U?
Lady Bunny: I know that (after) the first season, it was clear that the concept needed to be tweaked…but you know it has been – and they must be doing something right because there is a third season!
SL: During season 2 and into season 3, your role on the show has grown – which I was so glad to see…
Lady Bunny: As was I! (Laughs)
SL: What was your experience like being “Dean of Drag” this season?
Lady Bunny: Well, you know, I love it – and one of the reasons that they have me is that in the middle of all of these lessons and life coaching that Ru does, because Ru is almost in a “Dr. Phil meets Urkel” role (Laughs) coaching the women and helping them get over some of their inhibitions and ruts they’ve been in and you know the drag queens from Drag Race who are professors are all coaching them…I think they add me because it’s a bit of lightness, silliness, and comedy in the middle of it – but this year they’ve added some hunky guest male instructors to my “Lady Lessons”. There’s nothing wrong with a little eye candy, is there girls?
SL: Not at all! One of the biggest changes from Drag U’s first season is the elimination of the grades. (In fact, when we spoke before, you defended your honest critiques of the gals getting makeovers.) How do you feel about the kinder, gentler approach?
Lady Bunny: Well, you know, personally, I love it – because we didn’t want there to be a hard competition element. We wanted the notion that in some respects, everyone has gotten a great makeover and hopefully risen up above a not-so-great situation to feel better about themselves – whether they walk around as their new persona while grocery shopping or not. And, I feel that the strictly competition shows…I don’t know, there’s just so many of them. I mean, how much weight can you lose? How well can you sing? How many bugs can you shove in your mouth? You know, I think it’s refreshing that on Drag U there’s a sense that there may be a winner but all of the girls have gotten to feel like a star and at the end, they all walk down the runway together. I think it makes a refreshing change.
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SL: This season, there’s now an emphasis on the ladies’ finding their (for lack of a better word) “daytime drag” look. How do you think women can incorporate a little bit of a drag persona into their everyday lives?
Lady Bunny: I don’t think many women want to walk around looking like RuPaul or Sharon Needles or Lady Bunny in the supermarket – but if they do, I want to go to that supermarket! (Laughs) Obviously, the runaway looks were over the top, but this was an attempt to give women more solid takeaway advice that they could incorporate into their look and overcome some of the fears that many women have, like “Oh, I don’t want to show my legs” or “I’m too fat to wear something like this” – ways they can actually overcome figure flaws or enhance their assets in less showgirl ways. And the thing I will say that not everyone knows is that the main stylist responsible for making the women over in both the day and runway looks is Mathu Andersen, who is the genius who has been doing RuPaul’s hair, makeup, and wardrobe for years. So, the women are getting some excellent advice. I don’t think he gets all of the credit that he deserves.
SL: Ru’s put out a great book, Workin’ It, with some great tips. I love your “Lady Lessons” – is there any chance you’ll collect all of them in a book?
Lady Bunny: Umm…my look is a little over the top. I’m not sure too many ladies would follow my lessons. I mean, I don’t deal with things like choosing the right cup size. (Laughs) I think I would be better at a beauty book for drag queens than for real women.
SL: Well, your attitude and sense of humor could translate to biological women quite easily. I love you because I’m drawn to the queens (like you, Pandora Boxx and Tammie Brown) who have a great sense of humor.
Lady Bunny: Well, you kind of have to when you’re wearing a wig and a pound of makeup and your junk is shoved into your butt! Ha! (Laughs) If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’re kind of clueless! But, you know, I do have some tips for women and one of them that is really bugging me these days is that I know women like to have that “hot new shoe” every season. However, for the last season, the fashionistas who choose that shoe have played a horrible trick on women. I’m referring to these ankle boots, there are several varieties. One has a wedge heel that’s really high, one that’s an ankle boot that’s perhaps Lady Gaga-inspired but it’s got studs all over a chunky heel and it basically looks like “Lady Gaga meets a gothic witch”. There have never been less flattering shoes. They are guaranteed to make most women’s legs look dumpy. And, while I will not claim to be a “fashion plate”, people do compliment me on my legs and I know how to showcase the legs. So girls, if you prefer to look “up to the minute” and have dumpy legs wear those shoes. If you prefer to have good looking legs, avoid chunky ankle boots.
SL: That’s a great tip! By the way, I’m jealous of your legs – I think you’ve got the best in the biz.
Lady Bunny: I really don’t, I just know how to package them! (Laughs) There are ways to showcase…like ankle straps, for example. They cut the leg and make them look shorter. So, if you have perfect proportions and really lean legs, wear them – by all means. But, they’re gonna chop the leg in half – if you have a heavy leg, don’t ever wear ankle straps. Men who are drag queens know this because they don’t have the delicate, shapely ankles that women have. If you have beautiful ankles and proportions, ankle straps are a great way to show them off – but they’re not for every gal.
SL: Speaking of men who want to be drag queens, how would you address the criticisms by the gay male audience that they want to be made over “Drag U style”? Do you think there should be a separate show for wannabe drag divas? Would you want to be involved?
Lady Bunny: Well…I would prefer to see a show like Drag Race, where you see queens who already have their own style and their own shtick and have developed a persona. I’m not sure that I’d be too interested in seeing the show which turns men into drag queens. Ladies, you all know there’s a shortage of good men, let’s keep some of them men! (Laughs) They all don’t need to be drag queens!
SL: Drag U ended the past 2 seasons with celebrity makeovers. What celebrity do you think most needs a Drag U makeover?
Lady Bunny: Well…ummm…let’s see. I’m sure that there is, I’m probably just not thinking of them. I think Sarah Jessica Parker could really use a makeover. She does that exact same thing that I’m talking about where she doesn’t have the longest legs, but she always cuts them with ankle straps. She has a long face, as I do, and when she’s wearing those ankle straps, and no bangs and flat hair, it makes her face look as long as her calf – which is not a good look. So she needs bangs, she needs volume in the back of her hair and she shouldn’t go anywhere near an ankle strap or a mini-length skirt. And she should also wear more makeup! I mean, I think she’s very appealing, but I’m frequently puzzled by her choices.
SL: Are you still doing the celebrity “fashion police” critiques for Star magazine?
Lady Bunny: You know, they just stopped “Worst of the Week” one week ago. It was fun, but to tell you the truth – I don’t know if this is because I’m getting older – but I didn’t know a lot of the stars they’ve been using for the last couple of years. And when the star would be Cher or someone of that ilk, we were familiar with their entire career – their songs, their movies – so it was easy to dig into material like their songs and movies and make a crack about it, like “Clearly, she couldn’t turn back time” about Cher – or something like that. But with these brand new celebrities, I would Google them and they only have a website – they don’t even have a Wikipedia entry. It had become harder.
SL: Let’s talk more about what you’ve been up to. Your one-woman show, “That Ain’t No Lady” received rave reviews- the NY Times said it makes “The Book of Mormon” seem like “Bambi.” Any plans to take the show on the road?
Lady Bunny: I do and I’m taking it (as a one-night thing) to Tampa. We’re looking for producers to do a proper tour because I had so much fun doing it. I’m going to remount it in New York with the same title but, since there was some topical material, I’m going to update it a little bit. It was a lot of fun for me – it was a lot raunchier than Drag U (laughs). We tone it down a little for television, let’s say.
SL: You, along with queens like Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman are keeping cabaret alive. Do you think it’s a dying art?
Lady Bunny: Well…one of the reasons I wanted to do my cabaret show was that I was reading a book on success in the music industry. And some of the words stung me. Here’s what the book said: “If you are performing in a place where people have paid to come and see you, then you are in the entertainment business. If you are performing in a place where people are already there drinking and dancing, you’re in the alcohol business.” And so it is a very different thing to develop a cabaret audience because often me – or the other queens from Drag Race – will get booked to be the entertainment at an already hopping nightspot. But it’s very different thing to say, “Hey, come and spend one hour with me at a place where you wouldn’t already be going.” And, since I hadn’t done a cabaret show like that, it was a real challenge and I’m glad it went well. So, yes, I’m definitely going to be doing more of that kind of thing.
SL: Do you write your own material for your shows?
Lady Bunny: A lot of the show is parodies – all of which I write. But, I will hear jokes and rework them, people will tell me jokes, I’ll find them from the internet – but no, I don’t write all of them.
SL: You make us laugh, a lot. Who makes you laugh?
Lady Bunny: Charo makes me laugh. Lisa Lampanelli makes me laugh. Margaret Cho, Mo’nique, LaWanda Sykes…no, wait LaWanda Page! (Laughs) She makes me laugh, but she’s dead! Wanda Sykes, all of them.
SL: You do quite a lot of gigs as a DJ. Did those talents come about before Lady Bunny was born or did they come as a result of the drag?
Lady Bunny: I don’t know if you would remember, it was actually a World of Wonder production, Party Monster, about Michael Alig, the club kid promoter who ended up axing his drug dealer to death? (Laughs) He actually gave me my start DJing. I always DJed in drag but it was…the music had become…techno was in full force and the music had become so hard that they’d book me in a smaller room to play a different kind of music. Maybe older, maybe less frantic than the main floor…so, that’s kind of how I got my start.
SL: Speaking of music, do you have any desire or plans to release a single like many of the Drag Race queens have already done?
Lady Bunny: Yes, I’ve released a couple and they’re available in cutout bins worldwide (laughs). But it’s actually something that I’ve just started working on again. I do write music – I don’t just write parodies, I write original lyrics. That is definitely something I’d like to do. Ru and I actually wrote and recorded a duet on his last album (Champion) called “Throw Ya Hands Up” that’s available on iTunes. I’ve always had my hand in but I want to start working on that more.
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SL: I love your posts on Facebook. They really make my day.
Lady Bunny: Well, honey, I am a sad, sad addict, I have to admit. I went to a party last night and saw a bunch of old friends and it was very refreshing to interact with them in person as opposed to liking their posts! I’m a “people person” but let’s face it, Facebook is how people communicate these days – but I don’t think there’s a substitute for actually getting together – and I was reminded of that last night!
SL: Well, I can’t wait to see season 3 of Drag U and hope there’s a season 4 and season 5….
Lady Bunny: Well, I love doing it. I mean, there is some bitchiness on the show, when we’re on camera, but I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed meeting the queens from every season. When they’re on the show, unlike Drag Race, they’re not sequestered with no cell phones or computers because they kind of set it up so that the girls will snap – because that adds drama to the competition – and I get all of that. But it’s wonderful to work with the queens – many of them I consider close friends. I just worked with Jujubee and I love her to death and I’m still always in touch with the crazy Tammie Brown. Sharon Needles is a really fresh, interesting kind of drag queen who I’ve totally enjoyed hanging out with. One of the other interviewers said, “Oh, Latrice (Royale) was throwing you some shade.” Honey, that’s for the cameras. We all got along great because there is no competition between the queens on the show. There may be some bitchiness, but honey, that’s just what queens do, read each other. So, it was a treat meeting them when they weren’t so stressed out and competing but hired as talent. It’s always a hoot to tape!
SL: Well, if you have any say, I’d love to get on the show. I need a makeover!
Lady Bunny: I’m trying to get my mom on there…before she croaks! She’s a scene stealer! (Laughs)
Socialite Life debuted back in 2003. SL Flashback showcases some of our favorite content from years past. This article was originally published on June 18, 2012.