The Lady Bunny is a national treasure.
The Lady Bunny is what I call a drag queen's drag queen. Let me explain: there are drag queens and there is The Lady Bunny. To me, she represents what doing drag is: a thrift-store-meets-Givenchy wardrobe. Outrageous wigs piled up, overemphasized make-up and a devil-may-care attitude: bawdy and brassy. Punk rock with an attitude. Wit and grit. A persona finely tuned to the times and a personality to match.
There's nobody like The Lady Bunny. She's old-school drag. She says it herself. Her an Ru worked the NY bars back in the day, but only one became Supermodel of the World. But Bunny has kept working. She's a staple at many Pride celebrations (I saw her in Chicago a few years back: HILARIOUS) and of course, she was one of the queens who created Wigstock. If you don't know what Wigstock is (was) I recommend you watch the video I'm going to post below these lines. I think Wigstock is a documentary that should be showed to all gaylings when they're taking Gay 101, along with Paris is Burning and The Celluloid Closet.
So Bunny is back with a new documentary: Wig. And she goes on Build to talk about it. But just sitting with her is lesson on gay history: she takes on Cheeto and this country's penchant for electing stupid people to high places, she takes on the commodification of drag and the idea that reality TV and Cheeto are the product of the penchant of this country for voyeuristic spectacles. She bashes (and justifiably so) image queens that think that drag is contour and a tiny nose. She goes on the idea that a drag performer IS a performer, not simply a lip-syncher (I happen to agree) and that drag performers need to have an act, be more than just makeup and somebody else's song (see Lypsinka). She has one or two shady moments (Et Tu, RuPaul?) that are poignant and hilarious at the same time.
"Drag is an aggression. It's a heightened femininity because femininity IS the aggression"
But mainly, Bunny brings up what drag has always been about: about breaking gender barriers, about being anti-establishment and anti-mainstream. About being always semi-underground and known only to the glitterati and the initiated. By drag being code for fabulousness and pain. Drag is about the underdog, about the effeminate man who terrorizes the clones by donning a huge wig and heels and a thick layer of make up to laugh about life and society and the stupid rules they impose on people.
For Bunny, what's needed is TALENT, not expensive makeup or costumes. For years, drag queens have lived off their wit and their artistry to transform trash into treasure. Yes, now we have drag queens in Cosmo, teaching some girls how do do contour. We have drag queens peddling McDonald's. We have drag queens with makeup lines. But what I consider the REAL drag queens would not be on VH1: they're too bawdy, they're too lewd. They talk about sucking cock and about life. They talk about getting old and about starting new projects. Their acts are glittery but raw: they are The Lady Bunny.
I find Bunny infinitely interesting and I'd pay to go see her trash each and every pretty twenty year old drag queen with one million followers on instagram. Because that may be one side of drag, but a drag queen is an artist, first and foremost. A drag queen is someone who has cultivated and refined a persona and that persona breathes through the artist (I see you, Maddie, I loved your comment here about Bunny and why you think she'll never take over Drag Race!). I think it's great we have RuPaul's Drag Race. I've watched each and every episode (some sessions twice) and I have my favorites. But like Bunny says: Drag drag queens have an act. They entertain. And if you want to see drag queens entertaining, you can watch Wig. Or meanwhile, why not treat yourself to the original Wigstock (that was not the first one ever held, that one was not filmed because the drag queens who took part in it did not think it was anything out of the ordinary) or to a very old HBO special where you see some of the seasoned queens ( we now know and love) when they were younger.
And here’s what I’m talking about:
Drag is gritty, witty and funny. And that's why I like it. So go ahead and support your local drag artists. You'll see what I'm talking about.