Just in time for the Sundance Film Festival, Utah is being overrun by drag queens.
On Jan. 15 the ladies of San Francisco’s Trannyshack, formerly a night club of the same name, appeared at Gossip for a wild performance — though one absent of many of the naughty antics that gained them fame in California. One week later, the same club will play host to Lady Bunny, comedienne, recording artist, actress and, of course, a drag queen famous for gigantic wigs that are one part 1950s beehive, and four parts camp.
Lady Bunny expressed surprise, and indeed mild outrage, that the Trannyshack drag queens had beaten her to Utah’s stage, including founder Heklina.
“Not that rotten bitch, Heklina!” she gasped while hacking through a mild head cold. “Oh, God, I was choking before, now I’m going to lose my lunch!”
“No, she’s one of my best friends,” she laughed. “But that doesn’t mean she’s not a hateful hag! There’s no one like Heklina. Thank God.”
There is also no one quite like Lady Bunny. The Chattanooga-born drag queen has been performing across the country since the 1980s when she got her start as a go-go dancer in Atlanta, Ga.’s prominent night club, the Pyramid Club alongside no less than RuPaul, who was then her roommate.
“She still owes me $10,” she quipped.
From her beginnings at the Pyramid Club, Lady Bunny went on to organize Wigstock, an outdoor drag festival that got it start in New York City’s artsy East Village and which ran continuously until 2001, with a few encores throughout the rest of the decade. Named after the iconic 1960s rock festival Woodstock, Wigstock was, in Lady Bunny’s words, a “who’s who of drag” during its 21 year stint, and attracted not only prominent drag performers but recording artists as diverse as Boy George, house/club group Deee-lite and John Cameron Mitchell, the creator and original performer of German drag queen Hedwig from the smash hit stage musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
“That ate up most of my youth,” Lady Bunny said of the festival, of which a documentary was made in 1995 (and in which she appeared). Aside from her iconic drag performances, Lady Bunny currently acts: she has appeared in bit parts in the TV series Sex in the City and the cult drag film To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and is currently in rehearsals for a play called When Joey Married Bobby, in which she plays a fairly “daffy” wife of a Southern Baptist minister. She also writes a snarky, “worst of the week in celebrity outfits” column for Star Magazine.
Despite her travels, however, Lady Bunny has never been to Salt Lake City, though she has visited the Sundance Film Festival before.
“I’m so excited to have the whole Mormon Tabernacle Choir back me up!” she joked.
While, unfortunately, the Chattanooga-born drag queen will not appear onstage with anyone remotely connected to the prominent LDS choir, her show will nonetheless include a generous helping of music.
“I do a lot of song parodies which are fairly dirty, and I like to incorporate new songs into those and will often sling a bunch of this together into a medly,” she said of her show. In between jokes, talking to the audience and singing, she also parodies an infamous dance routine from the 1960s comedy series _Laugh In_, in which the cast frolicked between jokes and skits.
“It’s basically an excuse to go-go dance between one liners,” she explained.
Overall, she is curious to see what a “Salt Lake City gay bar audience is like.”
“Please come in drag and remember, wigs do keep your head warm!” she said.
Lady Bunny will perform at Gossip, 79 W 200 South, on Jan. 22.