Best known for her iconoclastic, Tony-winning turn as Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens, Christine Ebersole has been twinkling and zinging on Broadway, the cabaret circuit, film and TV (including an early 80s SNL stint and the upcoming USA show Royal Pains) for over 30 years. Channeling the lemony silly-sexiness of Carole Lombard, the actress-singer is currently on Broadway in a non-musical capacity in a delightfully carbonated revival of Noel Cowards comedy Blithe Spirit. As Elvira, the deceased, vixenish first wife of Charles (Rupert Everett) whose ghost is summoned by a medium (Angela Lansbury) during a dinner-party seance, Ebersole floats, flits and chirps across the stage, Cowards cunning wit humming through her. Out phoned Ebersole recently, and though she was quick with an infectious laugh, the conversation got shockingly serious on matters both spiritual and political.
Out:Is performing in a play less draining than a musical?
Christine Ebersole: Its like a walk in the park. Its much, much harder [in musicals]. The voice is a muscle. When youre tired or stressed thats the first thing to go. This role is not emotionally taxing. I dont come on stage for the first 25 minutes -- they just talk about me. So its easy!
Anything uniquely challenging about doing Noel Coward?
I do comedy just like music. Its rhythm and notes that you hit; youre just not singing. Sometimes you do end up singing; when you elongate a sound, thats a note.
Are you superstitious? One to dabble in Ouija boards, sances, etc?
When I was a teenager, but I dont do that now. My life is spiritually driven. The way I see it, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. Thats our true form. Its just that right now were in these bodies, this temporary housing.
What do you think of the non-musical adaptation of Grey Gardens with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, which debuts on HBO this month?
I was told that there was a lot of made up things that werent true. I dont know because I havent seen it. But I think overall its great that they did it. I really admire both Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as artists. Its great that the world gets to know the Beales.
Do you feel possessive of Edie?
No. I feel very devoted and very loyal to the Edies, but I dont own them. It was almost like she came into me and I went into her. We inhabited one another. Im just forever grateful to her for that experience. Playing the role, the way I describe it, I was driving the bus but I wasnt the only one on the bus.
Youve got tons of gay fans, obviously --
Im always working my gay icon status. [Laughs] The character of Edie was so important in the gay community. Shes been marginalized, a spiritual warrior not ashamed, afraid or apologetic about who she was. Thats why Im very keyed into gay rights. It can be a leader, really, in the charge for personal freedom. Were all challenged by that right now by the climate we live in, one thats defined by economic slavery. Were not free.
In June 2008, you said that you were a Ron Paul supporter, and a registered Republican.
Its very important for people to not be hoodwinked. The whole last eight years of this neoconservative fascist movement has hijacked the Republican party and Christianity. Im a recovering Democrat. And Im not really Republican. I registered as a Republican for Ron Paul. People are forgetting what Obama said: Marriage is between a man and a woman. I was getting crazy boycott mail from all these gays. Everybodys bamboozled. Ron Paul was the only candidate that endorsed marriage for gays. Im not for this Jim Crow separate-but-equal crap. Its a lie.
Now that Obama is President, how do you think hes doing?
Barack Obama is not running the country. People need to open their eyes, OK? The ones who issue the currency run the government. The Federal Reserve runs the country, and they are in the pocket of the military industrial complex. Obama came out of nowhere, and surrounded himself with nothing but financial people. He is owned by the bankers. And the bankers are systematically destroying our country. We had the Revolution to get away from the Central Bank. In order to maximize revenues, the money lenders would lend money to countries to be able to expand their empires through war. England was so much in debt that they rolled it over to the colonies. Taxation without representation. And thats exactly what they tried for generations to get away from. Jefferson talked about that: A central bank is more dangerous than a standing army. Thats why Lincoln was assassinated; because he did not want a Central Bank. And they finally got it in in 1913 -- the 16th Amendment, the Federal tax. Which is basically unconstitutional. Tax someone on their wages? It took them 20 years to bankrupt us, and weve been living under bankruptcy since then. Were not taught that in school. A lot of brainwashing goes on through religion, culture and our schools.
Wow. Who knew our conversation was going to end up here?
[Laughs] It all goes back to personal freedom and human rights -- gay rights is at the vanguard. Thats really kind of a measurement, isnt it, of how far weve come. Obama never said gays should get married. Oh, hes gotta please this part, please that person -- but when he gets in, hell be different. Youre not a leader, then. Youre just a liar. Do you think that Martin Luther King would change his position so that he could advance his career?
You should write a book!
My politics are completely informed by 9/11. That was my wake up call. I was asked to sing at Firemens Memorials, so I kind of got thrown in the trenches. I really got a sense firsthand the agony and sorrow of all that. I will tell you this: the official government account is a complete and total lie. Dont believe your eyes. Dont believe your ears. Dont believe your heart. Dont believe your intuition. Believe what we tell you. What has happened is, where truth is authority, weve changed to authority is truth. Thats where weve gotten in trouble. My God -- we started off with Drew Barrymore, and look where its led us!