In the works of William Shakespeare, the clown archetype delivers pearls of wisdom and truth. In 2016, it’s Lady Bunny in TRANS-JESTER.
As most people spend their days walking on eggshells and toeing the line of political correctness, Lady Bunny fulfills the Shakespearean tropes of the clown by using makeup and disguise to aid her unchecked and unflinchingly honest voice.
TRANS-JESTER, which was extended and sold out in April and May of 2016, has returned to Stonewall Inn’s intimate performance space. “We need to laugh,” says Bunny. “It is a toxic election, and everyone has been at everyone's throat. I think laughter is really important.”
However, there’s more to TRANS-JESTER than a drag queen using crass language to tell naughty jokes. “There's a theme with how we've gone overboard with political correctness,” says Bunny, “but there is basically a lot of poo-poo, pee-pee, penis, and vagina jokes in there too.” And for fans of show tunes, Bunny offers her versions of musical classics like Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here.”
The centerpiece of Bunny’s show is a rip-roaring monologue where she, in the vein of Joan Rivers, roasts everything PC. In one moment, Bunny unabashedly works her way through each letter in the LGBTQ+ acronym. Her inspiration? Donald Trump, and that’s not a joke. “When he gave that speech to the gay community and called it the LGBTQ community I was like, ‘Oh my God, I am less politically correct than Donald Trump! I thought it was still LGBT.”
Bunny also uses TRANS-JESTER to speak directly to the trans community. “I feel such a connection with the trans women I know. I revere trans women,” says Bunny. “But, I feel there are these militant activists who are shutting discussion down by insisting that everyone use certain words.” For example, Bunny feels that gender-bender shouldn’t be demarked as hate speech when it is a way to accurately discuss the art of Sylvester, David Bowie, Grace Jones, among others. “I understand that trans people do not want to be confused with drag, but honey, I'm you sister! I've been wearing women's clothes to work for 30 years. I'm not ever going to tell anyone not to experiment with their gender.”
Still, Bunny’s not completely ignorant to people’s sensitivities. “I have trigger words that set off deep emotional spirals of shame and self-destructive behavior. Two of mine are lemon and meringue.”
TRANS-JESTER runs at Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street) through November 5, 2016. For tickets and information click here.