The only thing more recognizable than Lady Bunny's southern rasp is probably her enormous hair, which is often blue. This year, the drag icon worked it as a judge on RuPaul's Drag U and sent the blogosphere in a tizzy over her raunchy YouTube parody of Katy Perry's 'California Gurls.' We caught up with Lady B to talk about that now-infamous video, the state of gay politics, and of course, her promiscuity.
Out: Where on Earth did you get the idea to make your Katy Perry parody, 'West Virginia Girls'?
Lady Bunny: This was my attempt to do a YouTube video that wasn't as dirty as the rest of my act [laughs]. This was my attempt to be PG, and I'm not sure it worked on that level. But I've gotten a lot of good feedback from it, and it's gotten a healthy number of hits. Sherry Vine is a friend of mine and she's done these hugely successful Lady Gaga parodies, and she said 'Don't change [the settings] so that you approve the comments on your YouTube video.' And so, I thought, You know what? Let me just see what comes out of the woodwork. Because people are very, very hateful when they're anonymous. I was shocked because some people were like -- someone even put as -- 'This is hate speech!' I'm like, Wait a minute! Number 1, when you do a parody, you have to have words that fit into the same rhyme scheme, so it could be 'West Virginia Girls' but it couldn't be 'Maine Girls' because Maine has one syllable and California has four!
So anyway, it's not like I went around and did a scientific survey of which state has the ugliest girls and tried to pinpoint them with hate speech! I just' this video was born out of my desire to play an inbred, toothless hag, which I thought I was very convincing as. I put on 50 pounds for that video. Well, I put them on 10 years ago [laughs].
Long-term preparation, huh? That's dedication.
Yeah. You know, I'm from Tennessee, so I have no business criticizing anybody -- we're the other end of Appalachia. I can criticize my sisters.
Do you know anybody from West Virginia?
I don't. I did perform there once. But I just performed in Richmond, Virginia, at their gay pride event. They didn't seem to mind it, but you know, you don't mind criticizing your neighbors. The thing that I think was the most offensive was that I say they're unemployable. Let's face the fact, America is becoming a third world country. The whole country is now experiencing conditions similar to what is in West Virginia, where there are very few employment opportunities. There are so few that you have to have dangerous mining jobs.
Are there any other songs on the radio right now you're ready to make fun of?
Well, Pink's new song 'Raise Your Glass' does rhyme with ass'
Maybe that would be a glasses and bottles insert[ion] video that we would do on XTube.
I read you're in a short film called I Was a Tranny Werewolf. What's happening with that?
They sent it to me, and I didn't watch it [laughs]. That's horrible. You know, I never saw Another Gay Sequel either.
Because my parents rented it in an attempt to be supportive. I know it has pedophilia, a guy having sex with his father, and crap and shit and bar jokes. Every time I wanted to watch it, I just cringed thinking about what my parents had seen trying to be supportive of their 'son' -- in quotes. So yeah, never got to see that one, but I had a blast filming it.
Is there anything off limits for you to joke about?
Well, yes. I mean, there is. There are certain racial boundaries that you can't cross. I would say that AIDS humor is still pretty taboo. I saw a recent play by Jackie Beat, who managed to work it in in a way that a New York City audience found acceptable. The thing that I think people should understand is that if someone makes a joke about AIDS, I don't think they're necessarily laughing at your condition. It's different for different jokes. Different jokes have different meanings. I think humor is a great pressure reliever. I know that since HIV was born, every pimple has been a lesion, every cold has been pneumonia for me because I'm a hypochondriac. So to give a joke about it kind of takes the specter away. So, it's just different things for different people. I have black friends, and I love nothing more than for them to call me 'Cracker' because in my mind that signifies they are comfortable enough with me to make off-color remarks which others would find offensive. But there's a difference between what you do in public and in private.
In a lot of what you do, it seems like you have a political voice, which a lot of drag performers don't. Why is that important to you?
I'm not super political in my nightclub act because it's hard to get the message of any complexity when everyone's drunk late at night. But come on, people, get it together! We gotta get this country back on track. I'm really happy that gays are outraged by this rush of suicides -- I'm glad that it has brought us together -- looking on the bright side, because that sounds horrible. These suicides have always been going on. It's just that [now] they've all been happening at once. We've got to stop being so reactionary and we've got to start being proactive and angry and demanding our rights. To me, the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' is not high on my priority list. I think it is gays' equal right to serve if they want to, but why would you look at Iraq and Afghanistan and say let me go die in the war in the country that we're fighting for weapons of mass destruction, which they never had? Why does that seem like a noble calling? I don't get it.
And I'm a slut, so gay marriage is not overly important to me [laughs]. I mean, the country's going to the dogs, and the thing that's driving me crazy is I'm hearing gays say 'Oh, I'm not going to go vote. I voted for Hillary. I never liked Obama.' And I'm like "OK, I'm not 100% thrilled with everything Obama or the Democrats have done either. But Hillary is not running in this election coming up." [Laughs] So quit whining, and make sure you get out there and vote and make sure that the crazy antigay, anti-Muslim, racist, anti-immigrant party who is only pro-big business does not get into power! How soon we forget that it was Republican policies that got us in the mess we're in. Obama is just trying to clean it up. What has he had? Two years? And this is with a Democratic majority, but not that big of a majority. And the Republicans have plainly stated they want Obama to fail, which is basically saying they want U.S. to fail. So, I don't think that's a good idea [to] just sit back and say, 'I'm not happy.' The Republicans are crazy. I mean, look at Sharron Angle. She wants to bring back prohibition of alcohol. And she represents Nevada? Home of Las Vegas!
What would you do if prohibition were reinstated?
Well, for me, it would be easy. I would just simply step up my intake of ecstasy, acid, cocaine, heroin, and poppers. Which as you can tell, I am so fond of doing before every interview.
What's your take on the 'It Gets Better' campaign?
I think people -- gay and straight -- were genuinely harmed by these suicides, coming in such a large number in such a short time. Now, if you're going to maintain that level of outrage, and start making some demands and complaints about bullying -- which face it, most of us went through, I know I did -- then that's a development. However, if you're just going to change your Facebook picture to one of the kids who was a victim of this for one week, then that's not really going to do very much. The same way that putting 'Equality' as your middle name on Facebook is not a very strong statement. It's better than nothing. But it does get better, because you will soon be old enough to drink, and have sex, and hang out with only gay people. And you will not be bullied by straights anymore, you'll be bullied by size queens.
Moment of truth: Do you ever get a headache from the weight of your hair?
I don't get a headache, but I do get a neck ache. Let me just say I'm keeping a chiropractor and massage therapist quite well-off. But at the same time, the weight of the wigs strengthens my neck muscles, which you know, makes me good for other neck-oriented exercise.
For more on Lady Bunny, visit www.LadyBunny.net.