Lady Bunny Interview --
The Lady Sings the Beats
I should mention from the outset that I am mesmerized by Lady Bunny. I suppose for those who are unfamiliar
with her, she is most easily characterized as a drag queen. But that would be like comparing a Budget rental
van with the Partridge family's touring bus. The alchemy of her persona is something like two parts drag queen,
one rapidly increasing part singer, and three parts cartoon character. She is one of those people who, even in
the flesh, seem more fictional than real. And she also just happens to be nice, conversant, articulate, and loads
of fun to talk to. Describing her look requires language not yet created, but as a best effort, imagine quintupling
the volume of Dolly Parton's biggest hair, stylishly coiffed into insanely perfect wrap-around braids, dizzying falls,
twelve inch bouffants and wispy shags - sometimes all at once. Her trademark mascara appears to be carefully
and painstakingly applied with a paint roller. Don't misinterpret this to think that she's a mess - her hair and
make-up are precisely and exactly unbelievable. But her wardrobe is where I lose my shit - somehow she
owns clothes like powder blue macramé satin gowns with ten-foot trains and Elizabethan collars - and always
PERFECTLY tailored. Agog. I am perpetually agog. I suspect that on clear days, she can be seen from the
international space station.
She is perhaps best known for organizing New York City's now defunct annual Wigstock event. But if she gets her way,
she'll soon be known for music. She has written the music and lyrics for several tracks that she's sung as well as singing
and writing lyrics for tracks composed in collaboration with DJ Disciple. The tracks are mostly vocal house with an updated
Studio 54 disco feel. All but one of the songs on her demo use well chosen and placed samples, which keep it from
unadulterated boogie nostalgia. This isn't massive big room club music, and she isn't interested in moving in that direction.
"I don't understand big floor music. It's uninteresting. I hate it."
Getting involved with DJ Disciple was a long and circuitous route. Eight years ago, when Lady Bunny was in Santa Fe,
she picked up a mixed CD by DJ Disciple. What she was doing in Santa Fe boggles the mind - I was too afraid of the
answer to ask: I pictured her in a rodeo cow-girl outfit with suede fringe on Daisy Duke cut-offs, a red checked gingham
shirt tied just below her ample bosoms and a teeny tiny little cow-girl hat perched somehow securely on the side of her
enormous and platinum hair. Anyhow, more recently she ended up calling the label on which DJ Disciple's CD was
recorded, then called his manager, then called her gynecologist (but I'm not sure that had anything to do with DJ
Disciple) and finally she got in touch with him and they decided to work together.
My favorite track has a sound distinctly different than the rest of the disc: "Wear U Out" has a tasty Parliament funk
vibe combined with breathy lead vocals that recall Chic, and backup singers earning every bit of their money. It
works -- and it demonstrates that Lady Bunny's song writing is not limited to a single sound. Disco-fever, new millennium
style, dominates much of the rest of the disc. "Let's Get Jumpin'" has kicky orchestral hits that would have given Steve
Rubell a chub. The track, "You Got Me" sounds, well, like Lady Bunny looks - it has a groovy, smooth flavor. Very
Philly disco -- you can almost imagine Jacqueline Suzanne playing this at a pool party while she making the rounds with
a pitcher of Harvey Wallbangers in one hand and a Hickory Farms cheese log with Triscuits on a platter in the other.
"The Samba is Waiting" and "Beep Me In Rio" take disco south of the boarder. "Beep Me In Rio" has a funny and
clever twist that will suit anyone with a penchant for "The Osborne's" - explicit lyrics were liberally scattered throughout
the song and then bleeped out so frequently that the bleeps become part of the music. "Is It Her?" is the best composition
in terms of layers and instrumentation. Horns, guitars and electric piano take this song to a jazzy rare groove not
heard as notably on the other tracks. The remix of "Is It Her?" is punched up, more electronic, in a Casio sort of way,
and less groovy -- as if Foxy (of the disco track "Get Off") did the post-production. For reasons I don't quite understand,
this version sounds very glamorous - it should have been the soundtrack for Halston models walking down the catwalk in 1977,
confident in their modern wedge haircut, mustard culottes, cream angora cal-neck sweaters with oversize shell pendant
necklaces and suede avocado square toe and heel knee-boots. If that's not disco glamour, I don't know what is.
At times, Lady Bunny's voice reminded me of Sylvester's. Initially I thought this was strange, but then I did the
math. All the lyrics are uplifting and positive. Fun, love, sex and dancing dominate the subject matter. Compared to
some of the shrill drag queens I've known, Lady Bunny is a treat - just don't tell her that she's not a bitch. An
incredulous "You think that about ME?" was her response. She mentioned the joke was now that Wigstock is done,
many of the drag queens who once were buddy-buddy with her no longer come around. "I'm sure you'd find plenty
of people in New York who think I'm a bitch." Stating this seemed to reassure her, but I'm not sure I buy it.
Even if so, Lady Bunny's doesn't seem to be bothered by the name calling because she's focused on taking her music
career seriously. She also has her sights set on learning the technical side of music production. "Singing is the only thing
I've wanted to do." She mentioned that she is taking voice lessons but added that in other areas, lessons are completely
unnecessary, "I can do many other things with my throat, and I'm not talking about eating." I can say with every bit of my
journalistic integrity that I believe her.
Don't expect any duets in her future. While there is potential of working with Lady Kier and Parliament, when I asked her
whom she would most like to sing with, she replied, "No one. Or maybe someone who can't sing at all and would make
me sound and look great. Like Mimi from 'Drew Carey'."
As we were finishing our conversation, I asked her how people could get their hands on a copy of her disc. I appreciated her
straightforward honesty: "Fuck me." She then conceded that once the disc is released on the label Catch-22, fucking for
music would still be available but optional. Lastly, I wanted to know what she felt was the most misunderstood thing
about her. "That I'm a man."
Lady Bunny keeps it real.