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Lea DeLaria seems to have achieved overnight stardom with her two time, Screen Actors Guild Award winning, stand-out role as ‘Carrie ‘Big Boo’ Black’ in the Netflix hit series “Orange is the New Black.” However, DeLaria’s multifaceted career as a comedian, actress and jazz musician, has in fact, spanned decades.
Lea holds the distinction of being the first openly LGBT comic on television in America. She’s received Obie & Theater World Awards, and a Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal as ‘Hildy’ in the Public Theatre’s revival of On The Town, an Ovation nomination for The Boys From Syracuse, and has played both Eddie & Dr. Scott in the gender-bending Broadway musical The Rocky Horror Show.
I was in Provincetown, Massachusetts in early May, where DeLaria’s highly anticipated new entertainment venue and restaurant, The Club, is about to open. The beach community was so excited for the grand-opening that I had to connect with Lea and get caught-up.
Modesty aside, how would you describe yourself?
Lea: Generally, I describe myself as Butch... a really talented sex machine of a butch.
You have had an illustrious career starting with stand-up then on to film and television, with roles in classic movies such as ‘First Wives Club’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and most recently playing the iconic role of “Big Boo’ in ‘Orange is the New Black.’ With all your success, do you feel like you are on top of the world?
Lea: OK, first of all I wasn’t in Pulp Fiction. I was in a spoof of Pulp Fiction called Plump Fiction which starred Julie Brown in a fat suit. Secondly, nobody who looks like me and talks like me, who ran out of fucks to give when Sonny was with Cher feels on top of the world. Let’s just say, that I lead a charmed life, and I know it.
Lea Delaria sitting in a booth. Photo Credit: Tina Turnbow
How do you reflect on your career so far and having been the first LGBT comic to appear on late night talk show, ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’, in 1993?
Lea: I was the first openly gay comic to perform on television in America. It wasn’t just late night TV, I was the first ever in the USA. As you can see, that milestone is something I am very proud of. Mostly, I reflect on the change in society and people’s perception of what it is to be queer and especially in my case Butch. Back then the power figures in show business thought it was career suicide to do what I did. However, the reality of my choice is that for me there was no choice. I mean… Look at me. What am I gonna do, walk out on stage and talk about my boyfriend?
You grew up singing alongside your jazz pianist father and have sung throughout your career. Most of your fans know about your music career, including being on Broadway and all your successful albums. You also released a new album, ‘House of David’, last year. Will you be doing more singing in the near future?
Lea: As a matter of fact yes. I have recently purchased a nightclub in Provincetown Massachusetts. It used to be a dance club called the Pied Bar. I along with my partner, Frank Christopher, have turned it into a performance oriented space. I will be performing there when we open on June 21. I will also be doing a 5 week run there, starting August 8. If you haven’t ever been to Provincetown you must come it’s a magical beautiful and queer little resort town
Tell me about your fans when they recognize you in public.
Lea: Well, the teenage girls scream and shake and cry like I’m a Jonas Brother.
Men ask me for a selfie saying “it’s for my wife” or “my girlfriend who watches Orange” ... like straight men don’t watch orange, or any of the lesbian sex scenes in the shower?.
Gay men love to talk to me about Broadway and if they are of a “certain” age then it’s ‘One Life To Live’ and ‘Edge of 17’.
Straight women tell me The First Wives Club is their favorite movie, my response to that is, “Really? Mine’s Rebecca.”
And finally, lesbians give me a firm handshake and ask me if I like cats, unless they are in their early 20’s then they flirt ruthlessly. #daddy
You are about to open your own jazz club and restaurant, ‘The Club’, in Provincetown, MA. Tell me about the concept, how it came about and what people can expect from an evening there?
Lea: Class without snobbery is The Club’s motto. You will be able to see world class entertainment, Rosie O’Donnell, Alan Cumming, Janis Siegel... ME, in a sexy atmosphere while enjoying excellent food and drink surrounded by a gorgeous view of the Bay.
Our late night features The Club House Band which plays for free from ten until close. So you can sit, eat and drink on our huge deck with comfortable patio couches, chairs, love seats and fire pits, look at the pretty water and enjoy the vibe until 12:30 at night.
Lea DeLaria's Dad Had No Idea She Was Gay | CONAN on TBS youtu.be
What is your favorite charity/cause?
Lea: The Ali Forney Center for homeless gay youth. In fact they are in my will.
Which living person(s) do you most admire?
Lea: Oprah Winfrey... yeah I said it.
Aside from the highly anticipated opening of The Club, do you have other project(s) coming up?
Lea: Yes I do, but like all big things in my industry I am not allowed to discuss it yet.
Tell me a secret-make it a good one!
Lea: I am actually straight; the dyke thing is a career move.
For more information about Lea DeLaria and her projects, please visit LeaDelaria.com.
About the Author
Vic Geramiis journalist, media contributor and the Editor & Publisher of The Blunt Post. He spent six years at Frontiers Magazine, followed by LA Weekly and Voice Media Group. His syndicated celebrity Q&A column,10 Questions with Vic, is a LA Press Club’s National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award finalist. Vic was a contributor for Out & About Nashville, Q Virginia, GNI MAG, QNotes, Windy City Times, WeHo Times, GoWeHo, Los Angeles Blade, Asbarez, California Courier, Desert Daily Guide, Armenian Weekly, GED, The Pride LA, IN Magazine and The Advocate Magazine.
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.
This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.
When I was 14 years old, I surreptitiously made my way through the stacks in the local library until I came to the Psychology section. One after one, I took down the books whose titles I thought would provide an answer, went to the table of contents and, if there were any, I flipped to the pictures.
Eventually, I landed on one with a word I had never seen or heard: Transvestite. And on the next page there was a black and white photo of a man wearing a dress, looking like he had just crawled out from under a rock. I can still see the expression of guilt on his face.
Not long after that, the newspapers and TV broke the story of Christine Jorgensen, a former member of the U.S. Army who had gone to Denmark to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). Of course, the majority of the reports were always accompanied by some sort of joke, such as “Christine Jorgensen went abroad and came back a broad!”
America's First Trans Celebrity: Christine Jorgensen youtu.be
But those two events rescued me. I learned that I was not the only person in the world with this “affliction,” this sense that something wasn’t right. And I got a word I could apply to it and maybe even hope for a cure. But it was too early. I knew that to say out loud, even maybe, that I should have been born a girl, would mean being ostracized, becoming part of the joke, so I chose the path followed by most transgender people of my generation. I put all of my energy into making sure that no one knew.
And that wasn’t easy. For no matter what I did, I couldn’t match the image of the all-American boy, so I became the class clown. If I wasn’t the John Wayne male, at least I could be Lenny Bruce. It was my way of deflecting the mismatch, and, to some extent, it worked.
Others like me took varying escape routes, becoming athletes, businessmen, or whatever role they could slip into and hide behind. Most married, had kids, and did whatever was necessary to survive, with varying results, but never with happy endings.
Segue to the present. The scenario I described above is, to a great extent, still being played out, but now there are exceptions. Transgender kids today can find some consolation on the Internet. They can learn early on that they aren’t “afflicted.” They can make contact with others like themselves. And they can read about transgender people who are proud of themselves and what they have accomplished as well as hearing about transgender children whose parents accept them and allow them to be who they are.
But the information highway is not all smooth driving. And naïve youth can get lost on detours and take wrong turns, winding up as prey to the trolls, predators, and religious zealots—as well as various other kinds of bullies—who inhabit the virtual world.
So is it any better today for our transgender youth? Most still have parents who reject them and peers who bully them. Nearly half of transgender teens have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having attempted suicide  compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.
It’s far from a perfect world. But I believe it is definitely better than the one I grew up in, because it’s a world where the President of the United States has condemned “the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender”; it’s a world where the parents of transgender children have publicly supported their sons or daughters and stood up to schools that would try to discriminate against them; it’s a world where the medical and psychiatric professions have come to recognize that being transgender isn’t a disease. All these things were inconceivable possibilities on the day I sneaked into the library.
Nina Simone To Be Young Gifted And Black youtu.be
When I was a teenager, Nina Simone had a hit record titled “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” that has since been covered by artists as diverse as Elton John, Rah Digga, and Faith Evans. A portion of the lyrics say, “We must begin to tell our young / There’s a world waiting for you / This is a quest that’s just begun.” That same message applies today.
To be transgender is not a curse; it’s a gift. As Derrick Moeller, a graduate student in Education at Iowa State University and a transman explains, “Having to contemplate what your gender identity and gender expression looks like is a privilege that most folks don’t have to go through” . Rather than being rejected they will know that they have been blessed, so that their plea “Why was I made like this?” will be replaced by a prayer of gratitude: “Thank you for making me like this.”
 Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. *Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors* 37 (5), 527-37.
 Tiffany Herring, January 28 2015 Iowa State Daily [goo.gl/YSL3SC].