July 15, 1999
"Every inch a star!" -- The New York Times
"A phenomenon" -- The New Yorker
"A star is born with Lea Delaria." -- Entertainment Weekly
...the first openly gay comic to appear on national television (Arsenio, 1993), she has now busted a move into the world of theater and cabaret! The stocky, cocky, loud-mouthed Italian lesbian stand up comic, musician, actor, singer and civil rights activist has performed her one-woman shows across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. She has been on Rolling Stone's "Hot List," been featured in articles in People, Time, Newsweek, Out Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly. She has played regular roles on Matlock and The John Laroquette Show and can be seen in several movies including The First Wives' Club, Homo Heights, and Edge of Seventeen. A native of Belleville, Illinois and a product of Catholic schooling ("mandatory training for stand-up comedy", she explains), Lea is not known for her demure demeanor. Her critically-acclaimed performance in the New York Shakespeare Festival's revival of "On the Town" last year prompted the New York Times to dub her "an Ethel Merman with attitude." Lea's one-woman show, "It's Delightful, It's Delicious, It's DeLaria!" is currently playing to sold-out houses in major venues across the country. When not performing around the world Lea makes her home in Los Angeles where she is active in the lesbian/gay and women's communities -- and occasionally has sex.
So ... thinking of coming out ... in a comedy club? Wondering how Lea conquered everything from society's stigmas to stage fright? Wanna know what Arsenio's like?
You asked .. she answered!
Shygrrl asks: "I'm a 15 year old lesbian in a small midwestern town who'll probably be disowned when/if I come out. I've always admired your candor about your own sexuality (and, well, everything else!) so I was wondering if you could tell me a little about your own experiences growing up/coming out. I feel like a big freak."
LEA: "I was basically disowned by my Italian Catholic parents when I came out. They didn't speak to me for 5 years. Over a course of time, however--mostly mostly through my rubbing their faces in it--they came around to a place of peace with who I am. After many more years, they actually accept it now. My experience has been that your parents love you and will eventually come around."
LEA: "Jodie Foster's bedroom. Or Sigourney Weaver's bedroom. No...wait...Uma Thurman's bedroom. No, Susan Sarandon's any room. And then Broadway. "
LEA: "John Coltrane. He spent a lifetime trying to sound unique and to have his own style. As a jazz musician I find it very important to find my own style-- which is why it's very interesting that whenever reviewers review me, they compare me to a laundry list of other singers. We're talking everyone from Bjork to Ethel Merman. When I sing a particular song I try to remain true to its style. Unfortunately, when people here a certain style of song they equate it to a specific singer. When you hear a belter, you think Ethel Merman. When you hear a scat singer, you think Ella Fitzgerald. When you here atonal expressionistic jazz, you think Betty Carter. Now I do all of these things, so they compare me to all of those people. The reality is, I sound like me. I'm just able to sing in a variety of styles. And that's how I try to find my own. "
LEA: "No, and it's gotten me in a lot of trouble! Once when I was in East Texas, it was during the Macarena craze and I was over it. I said, "Yesterday I played the Macarena backwards, and it said 'I killed Selena.'" I got so booed for that. And, of course, everyone knows about the Hillary comment...With me saying on the White House steps, "Finally we have a first lady you can f*ck." Congress passed a law against saying "f*ck" on the White House steps as a result. My idea as far as comedy goes has always been to push the limits of what's acceptable for a woman to do or say or be. My hero in that would be Lenny Bruce, who teaches us that words have no meaning. It's the intent behind them that is what's important."
LEA: "Oh please...As a standup, I tried to change the world. As an entertainer, I try to entertain. And as a lesbian, I try to pick up the prettiest girl in the room. Not necessarily in that order."
LEA: "Well, now that depends doesn't it? I mean, do you only do windows? And...are you looking for a mommy or a daddy? Because I definitely fall into the daddy category! Plus I like to cook my own meals. But I'll definitely let you do the bathroom. When do I get the phone number?"
Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb