The Exchange Rate
Oh, The Lady Bunny.
You know, we do have RuPaul and all that but I think Lady Bunny is much more my flavor. Mind you, I don't know Lady Bunny the way Maddie knows Lady Bunny, so if you want stories that talk about the person, you'd do better visiting Maddie's blog. This post is more about my perception of Lady Bunny and why I think that I'd totally watch her over any other drag queen in a talk show any time soon.
I first encountered Lady Bunny in something called Wigstock, years ago. Oh, you have not watched it? Do yourself a favor, pour yourself something to drink and do so. It's a view of drag that many people do not have right now. It was made way before RuPaul's Drag Race was a glimmer in the eye of the Glamazon. It's funny, it's witty, it's sassy and it was a view to an art that many had relegated to smoky gay bars on a Wednesday night. That's the reason it was mordant, and daring, and brassy and absolutely real. Just as I see Lady Bunny.
Oh, did I tell you Wigstock was a fantastic drag festival that happened regularly in New York in the eighties and that it slowly moved from one place to another and then it basically disappeared? It was revived by Lady Bunny (who else?), one of its creators, an Neal Patrick Harris in 2018 as Wig. And again, if you have not watched, go ahead and do so now. It keeps up with the irreverence and fantastic display of talent of the original, while introducing some veteran performers and some new ones to this generation of drag fans.
RuPaul was in the original Wigstock, in all her glamazon glory. And so was the Lady Bunny. You see, Bunny is the Ying to RuPaul's Yang. They are like two sides of the same drag coin. But Bunny, not having gone mainstream, and because her drag keeps more of that early, almost mordant sense of fun that identified drag in its 80's days, stays closer to my own aesthetics and sense of humor. RuPaul is Pop. Lady Bunny is Punk Rock.
I don't think Lady Bunny will ever have her own talk show and that's a pity. I don't think she wants one, either. From my point of view, she needs to breathe and needs that visceral, unfiltered response from the public that live acts get and that you can barely manufacture in a studio. Lady Bunny is brassy and trashy and absolutely hysterical. Her up to there blond bouffant, her make up, her clothes, everything screams Lady Bunny. But what makes her special to my eyes is that her razor sharp wit, her disregard for political correctness and her dark at times sense of humor, which send her to a place where few (younger) drag queens dare to go. Oh yes, we have Bianca Del Rio and Bob the Drag Queen, but Lady Bunny blew that door for them. And has kept going.
I've seen Bunny live only twice, once during Market Days in Chi and once during Pride. She is absolutely hysterical. Can she ever work a crowd. Rowdy and Bawdy she will make sure there's not a public figure, gender taboo, parts of the establishment or fellow drag queen she leaves standing. She takes on gay men and drag queens with the same gusto I take to a triple layer chocolate cake. And she's very New York: she does not hold her tongue at any moment. You could hear the big leather Daddies in the crowd do a gay inhale sometimes while Bunny made us laugh. She's that good.
So if you watched her with Monet X Change, or you've seen her live act you know why she'll never be 'mainstream'. She keeps the grit and the fun of what I'd call 'old school drag': the combination of song, dance, female fantasy and dark humor that I first saw in drag queens performing way before RuPaul would manage to make Drag Race the juggernaut that it is today. And I love that. I also love the art of Sasha Velour and Trinity the Tuck and Kim Chi and so many, many more, but I am partial to a queen who knows how to use her tongue.
P.S. Here's a little bit of what Wig means and some drag history with Lady Bunny: