It’s well before Sunday brunch when I call legendary drag queen Lady Bunny. Although I’m still in my pajamas and she hasn’t brushed her teeth yet, she sounds ready for bottomless mimosas when she greets me on the phone with an exaggerated “Hellooooo!” and infectious giggle.
Performing since the 1980s, Lady Bunny brings her wicked humor and sky-high blonde wig to Greensboro’s Warehouse 29 on April 5. In our interview, Lady Bunny talks about growing up in the South and paints an image that will never let me see bagels the same way again.
Joanne Spataro: What can people expect from your upcoming show?
Lady Bunny: It’s a fast-paced, energetic, twisted comedy review. I perform in the South a lot. They will boo me off the stage if I try to do country material in New York City. They ain’t having it! I love a chance to do that kind of stuff down South and get back to my roots.
Where is home for you?
I have lived in New York City for about 25 years, but was born in Wilmington. All of my people are from Greensboro. Greensboro is where my parents went to school and got married. My father was a professor at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He took that job saying he wanted to be an eight hour drive from North Carolina so (his and my mom’s) parents could never just drop in. I said, “You learned me that lesson real well. Why do you think I moved to New York?”
If you are going…
Lady Bunny in Greensboro
Saturday, April 5.
Warehouse 29, 1011 Arnold St. Greensboro.
For more information, call (336) 333-9333 or visit
When did you know you wanted to be a drag queen?
I kind of lived in drag as a child, I mean not overtly wearing pinafores and stuff. I grew up in the ‘60s and long hair was in and I just happened to have long hair that was beautiful and blonde like the wigs I wear today, but not as big as that. I remember when my teacher said she was going to cut my hair and she had recently cut another student’s hair. They just trimmed their bangs. My father rushed over to the school and said, “You touch one hair on my son’s head and this will go to the Supreme Court!” My dad was like the town liberal.
You and Ru started out in the drag world together and are good friends. What do you think of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?
It’s great that the show is exposing different kinds of drag. There are drawbacks. “Drag Race” girls kind of eat up all of the bookings. The same thing used to happen before “Drag Race” with these pageants, where it was hard to get a booking if you weren’t Miss So-and-So. Queens ask me all the time how they can get on “Drag Race” and I’m like, you need to develop a talent. Then “Drag Race” may come calling, but if they don’t, you can (still) have a full career.
You should have gotten an Oscar for your performance in “Starbooty.”
(laughter) Oh dear! I would love to do that as a series. Maybe I should poke Ru about that.
Would you please? My best friend Fitz and I would watch it.
Ru and I really reconnected doing that. We were just reminded how much of a twisted sense of humor we have.
What’s the future of drag?
I am disturbed that Grindr and other dating apps are killing the business in gay clubs. I’m not going to begrudge anybody who wants to put a picture of their private parts on a dating app. I take issue with people being on Grindr so they are not going to clubs, because clubs were never just about hooking up for me. Clubs were for learning about fashion, dancing, conversation. As we see clubs drying up, I see a very important part of gay culture drying up.
Is there someone special in your life?
No. Not relationship-oriented at all. I can count the men I’ve had sex with on one hand, as long as that hand is holding a calculator. I don’t like the person I become when I’m in love — very needy and very irrational. I have wonderful friends, so my needs for companionship are met. My goal has always been to complete myself. I joke (that) at 70, I’m going to bust out and say I’ve resolved all my issues. My head is totally together, (but) my butt looks like a bagel. : :