Looking for a fun and fabulous way to support a great local gay organization? The Friends of the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival brings infamous New York drag queen Hedda Lettuce to the area on July 18 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of cult favorite Mommie Dearest.
But be warned: This will be nothing like any movie-going experience you’ve ever had. With Lettuce’s hilarious running commentary on the film, audience members encouraged to shout out iconic lines and dress as favorite characters, and a piano player underscoring major parts of the film, it’s more like a unique cross between Mystery Science Theater and Rocky Horror. Lettuce puts it best: “Expect the unexpected! It is not a movie, it is a religious experience.”
Lettuce regularly hosts similar events in New York City, giving other cult films — Valley of the Dolls, Showgirls, Xanadu — the same over-the-top treatment. But her talkback presentation of Mommie Dearest is infamous. “[It] is one of the great camp classics of all times,” she said. “The costumes, the dialogue, Faye and Joan. Need I say more?”
The comedian, singer and six-time Drag Queen of the Year Award winner (from HX magazine) has received national acclaim for her ultra-candid, biting wit and satirical songs. In addition to her stand-up, cabaret and off-Broadway performances, she’s appeared in a variety of TV shows and films. Most notably, she had a cameo as Samantha’s ex-boyfriend-turned-bingo-hosting-drag-impersonator on Sex and the City and is probably best-known for her turn as a model/client on Project Runway — in particular her fierce feud with designer/competitor Suede during a challenge in the fifth season.
Creative Loafing recently got to speak with the side-splitting “Queen of Green” via email about what she’s been up to.
Creative Loafing: What are you looking forward to most while you’re in town?
Hedda Lettuce: I’ve been to Tampa several times. I love the gays in Florida. They are appreciative and they are also heavy tippers. It costs a lot to look this cheap, so I will take all they can give.
As the self-proclaimed world’s first eco-friendly drag queen, how did you become interested in green living? How has that inspired your performances and persona?
I have always been interested in environmental issues and I thought I could reach the masses on how to save our planet with humor. When people laugh [at me], they remember. We must always remind ourselves that we are part of this planet, not separate. I have a bi-weekly program on The Derek and Romaine Show on Sirius Out Q/Xm every Wednesday at 7 p.m. which deals with this glorious planet.
What inspired you to become a performer? Where did the name Hedda Lettuce come from and how did this character evolve?
What inspired me? Well, the fact that I have no skills in any other area. If I could only type, things would be so different today.The name came about in a dream. I was trying to figure out a good drag name and that night the name Hedda Lettuce popped up in my dream. The next day, I told my primary fag hag, “I know what my drag name is going to be — Hedda Lettuce!” She told me the name stunk, to which I replied, “Yes, it may stink. But it is catchy!” I am glad I did not listen to her.
Of all your film and TV appearances, which was most memorable for you?
I enjoyed Project Runway. It was fun to play the bitch.
June, Gay Pride month, just passed. What are you personally most proud of from this past year?
I am proud that I downgraded my breast size. Those big boobs were hurting my back. I am perhaps the first drag queen that has ever had a breast reduction.
Hedda Lettuce will be hosting a showing of Mommie Dearest at The Palladium Theater at 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg on Wed., July 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door. VIP tickets are available for $25. In honor of Lettuce’s eco-friendly way of life and the iconic Joan Crawford, bring wire hangers to be recycled for a free raffle ticket.