Catching Up With Justin Bond
By Phillip B. Crook
In the rolodex of performers who've made it big playing bitter, middle-aged, alcoholic women (Megan Mullally, we're looking at you), none have done it with as an outrageous (or sincere) twist on gender as Justin Bond. Those unfamiliar with Bond as Kiki, of New York cabaret duo Kiki and Herb, will likely remember the performer as the ringmaster of sexuality in John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus. On the eve of Bond's directorial project playing at The Kitchen, Out spoke with downtown NYC icon about Lady Gaga, the transgendered community and, of all things, pie.
Out: You once described Kiki as just one slice of the Justin Bond pie. So I think the obvious question here is'what's your favorite kind of pie?
Justin Bond: I think my favorite is peach.
Have you seen The Waitress with Kerri Russell? It's about a waitress who makes all sorts of exotic pies with crazy names.
No, I haven't, but my nickname was pie-face when I was a kid. My grandfather called me pie-face because I was always asking for more pie at family dinners.
What are the ingredients in Justin Bond pie, be it nutmeg or six-inch heels?
Let's see'lord. Something sweet, something bitter, a dash of liqueur, a few sprinkles of tobacco, some liquid eyeliner for good measure and a flaky but well-formed crust.
Perfect. So now that we know what you taste like, I'm curious how inherent the word 'trans' is in defining who you are.
That word is key because it's the closest word that I've found to accurately describe myself, because inherently it has no specific definition.
You've said everyone is in one way or another trans. Will you explain why that is?
I think the construct of what it means to be a man or a woman is so indefinable that all we can do is aspire to be a man or woman, because what those terms mean is so different to every person. And we'll never actually be able to satisfy the definition. All of us will fall short. If no one can ever truly be a man or a woman, then we're all trans.
As someone who moves between genders, do you think that means you aren't acting out a gender role at all?
I think that I can play with what people's perceptions of gender are. But as far as my own identity, I don't identify with one or the other. People say, 'Should I describe you as he or she?' and my response is, 'That would be fantastic.'
How long ago did you start saying that?
Just recently. I've always felt that way, I guess. Someone said to me, 'Oh, I thought you were a woman' and I said, 'Well, if you had thought I was a man, you would have been wrong also, so don't worry about it.' I'm very rarely offended, but I am taken aback by how freaked out people get because they feel like they have to be right, when in fact they very rarely will be.