Earlier Manchester Pride caught up with actor, comedienne and jazz artist Lea DeLaria, to talk about her upcoming show at The Royal Exchange, the audiences who come to her shows and how she feels about the title 'That F****** Dyke'. The interview may not be for the easily offended, but we loved it!
So Lea, how would you describe yourself to those who aren't familiar with your work?
If Sandra Bernhard, Zach Galifianakis and Gordan Ramsey had a 3 way which produced an off spring that baby would be my act.
You are an actor, jazz performer and also a comedienne. How did the combination of the two originate?
You forgot actor... When I first started almost 30 years ago. I was a full of rage bald and pierced, hard core butch dyke. In fact, for the first 2 years of my career, I was billed as the F*****' DYKE. My comedy was and is direct and in your face. No one was doing anything quite like it and most audiences could only take about 5 minutes of it before bursting into tears and crying "Mommy make it stop". My father was a Jazz pianist, a good one. I used to sing with him in the clubs of East St. Louis when I was a kid. I added a trio to my act and began weaving standards into the stand up. I found this lulled people into a sort of false sense of security before I started screaming DYKE at them again.
Do you find you have different audiences for your music than you do comedy? Is it easy to bring both together into one show?
There is always a different audience for each thing I do. I have to tell you this story. About two weeks ago I was flying back to NYC to film One Life To Live. One Life is America's longest running soap. I have been recurring on it for 10 years. I was flying coach, and when the first flight attendant, a large black woman with a decidedly southern country accent, approached me she sort of freaked out as she recognized me from the show. Yes that is my fan base on the soap - people with aluminum foil on the antenna of their 24 inch black and white T.V. She and I talked over a free drink, then another flight attendant walked by, this one a very gay man, immediately knelt down and said "Miss DeLaria, I have a much more comfortable seat for you". He pumped me up to Business Class where he and the other flaming queen flight attendant fought over who was going to get to serve me. Those two went on and on about my Broadway stuff and my CDs. The gay boys LOVE my music. After take off, an absolutely stunning slightly older woman stepped up. She bent over so that I could almost see down her blouse. "Lea?" she asked. "Yes" I replied". Are you comfortable here or would you prefer First Class "Really?... mmm... " Miss DeLaria are you comfortable secretly fingering Natalie Portman in the corner or would you like a room at the Ritz and a dildo... and yes I just used finger as a verb. Up I go to First Class leaving behind a wake of disappointed fags. Once comfortably relocated with champagne in hand the cougar shoves... I kid you not... a Playboy in my face and asks me to autograph it! Brilliant! She was the Purser and a lesbian and she went on and on about my stand up. I learned a lesson from this. I had assumed that gay men ran the airline industry, but it must be dykes. And all this time I thought the only thing we were ever in charge of was marshaling Gay Pride Parade and Net Ball.
We read somewhere that you self-titled yourself as 'That F******* Dyke'. Is this reclaimation of a negative slur something you bring in to your performances?
No. I actually think Dykes are evil.
Have you played in Manchester before, and if so, how do you find the audience here?
I have done the Queer Up North Fest a few times and this is my second appearance at the Royal Exchange. How do I find the audience? Generally, I just show up at the theater and they are there.
What have you got lined up for the future?
I am working on this show THE LAST BUTCH STANDING looking for a run off broadway. I am in the Studio in the Spring recording my next Jazz CD for Warner HOUSE OF DAVID delaria+bowie=jazz. It is jazz covers of David Bowie tunes, which should be out about this time next year. I have been cast in Californication. AND I have written a jazz show for kids WELCOME TO JAZZLAND - Boom Boom's Bow. It stars myself and my trio.That I will be touring through out England next year, not certain when yet its being worked on... Yes,I am doing show for kids.
Tell us more about your upcoming date at the Royal Exchange and how we can get down there and see you perform
The Last Butch Standing. The chronicles of an olds school butch in a post Ellen Modern Society . This is a return to what it is I do. In your face queer comedy and sweet Jazz... and I have no idea how to get to The Royal Exchange. I don't live in Manchester.
To purchase tickets for Lea's show, The Last Butch Standing, see The Royal Exchange's website. The show takes place on November 22.