Drag queen Lady Bunny’s cabaret-style show “The Greatest Ho on Earth” includes song parodies and stand-up comedy. (Courtesy of Steven Menendez)
Veteran drag queen Lady Bunny is well aware of the growing anti-trans and anti-drag sentiment in some right-wing circles and she agrees with one aspect of it.
“I think sometimes the drag queens and promoters need to be much clearer about what is going on on their stage,” the performer born Jon Ingle said during a phone interview from her Manhattan home. “I like dirty material, but I don’t want to spring it on kids.
“I’m no groomer. Look at my wigs, I can’t groom myself,” Bunny said with a laugh.
Bunny will bring her one-woman show to Minneapolis’ Brave New Workshop for two performances Thursday, and lest anyone not realize what they’re getting into, the evening is dubbed “The Greatest Ho on Earth.” (It’s only open to those 18 and over, and a note on the ticketing page adds: “This show is highly obscene and offensive, so leave the kids with grandma!)”
Once named “the oldest living drag queen” by RuPaul, Lady Bunny is probably the second-most famous drag performer around, after Ru herself. And at 60, Bunny is actually two years younger than RuPaul. The pair first met in Atlanta in the early ’80s and Ru was the first person to put Bunny in drag. They moved to New York together in 1983 and Bunny began to develop her drag persona – bawdy, self-deprecating and quite funny.
In 1985, Bunny co-founded the outdoor drag festival Wigstock, which grew in size and stature, eventually earning a reputation as an edgier, wackier version of Pride. Wigstock ran through 2005, inspired several documentaries (including, most recently, HBO’s “Wig”) and enjoyed a 2018 revival with the help of actor Neil Patrick Harris.
“The Greatest Ho on Earth” is a cabaret-style show with comedy and music. “I do a lot of song parodies, parodying everyone from Adele to Bruno Mars to Madonna. I do some show tunes, too. I broke my foot a month ago and I did my first show back this past Tuesday. I was in a boot – one pump and one boot. It’s quite ridiculous. It’s not the most glamorous, but hey, I’m in comedy. Nobody is judging me on runway.”
Bunny said she developed her act in nightclubs, away from the eyes of children. “I was encouraged to do the most outrageous stuff that I could, and that’s still the kind of drag that I enjoy,” she said. “More power to the drag queens who do PG drag. I’m not one of them.”
Anti-trans and anti-drag legislation, Bunny said, comes in part from Republicans chasing the evangelical vote. “The world didn’t explode as evangelicals promised it would when gays could get married or join the military. So now they’re hitting out at smaller groups since they can’t as easily attack mainstream gay people.”
That said, Bunny did credit the Republicans who helped pass the Respect for Marriage Act after Roe v. Wade was overturned and Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the loss of the right to same-sex marriage could follow.
Thanks to drag brunches, drag story hour and drag performer tours of non-nightclub venues, kids are more exposed to the art than ever, Bunny said. In addition to performers and promoters giving more thought to what they present when children are present, Bunny said parents – not politicians – should do the same.
“I don’t have kids, I don’t want make the decision about what is appropriate for kids. I don’t think any of these drag queen story hours are mandatory. If you think that’s right for your child, you take them. If you don’t, you don’t.”
‘Lady Bunny: The Greatest Ho on Earth’
- When: 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday
- Where: Brave New Workshop, 824 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
- Tickets: $45-$30 via flipphoneevents.com