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Lypsinka on Her Return to Wigstock, Thierry Mugler & Her Favorite Drag Stars

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Photography courtesy Steven Menendez
drag queen lypsinka
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From walking the runway for Mugler to starring in and writing her own off-Broadway productions, legendary drag star Lypsinka (aka actor John Epperson) has done it all. And this weekend, on September 1, she’ll join a lineup of America’s top drag talent to perform at Wigstock in New York City. The glamorous queen, known for her flawless lip sync skills and elaborate performances, joined us for a chat on what to expect from her upcoming Wigstock performance, her secret to the perfect lip sync and who her favorite drag stars are.
 
You’ve performed at earlier Wigstock festivals, but what’s it like to be back? And what should fans expect?
LYPSINKA: I really don’t know what to think. I have not seen the venue. New York has changed so much, even since the last Wigstock on land, which may have been in 2003. 

But I’ve been traveling and didn’t have time to create a new performance for Wigstock. My travel was planned long before Wigstock 2018 became a reality. And, as you may know, Wigstock 2018 was announced only recently. I will perform alone. The producers have kindly allowed me to perform for nine and a half minutes. It takes that long for my performance to tell its story. I promise to deliver something the audience will enjoy. 

How much time goes into, say, the editing and producing of audio for something such as your “Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed” show? An elaborate production such as that must take quite some time to put together.
L: It’s hard to say, since I could spend years thinking about that material before I found a way to use it. Creating the soundtrack itself for “Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed” took several weeks of organizing, recording and editing. Your readers can experience some of that show on my YouTube channel.

I don’t know anyone who can lip sync better than you. What’s your secret to the perfect lip sync? And do you have a go-to lip sync song?
L: A gift for timing, concentration, rehearsal, audio monitors nearby. I enjoy Loni Ackerman’s rendition of “What About Today?”

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a video of you walking the runway for Thierry Mugler in 1992. I think for drag, at the time, it was a huge cultural moment, no?
L: To clarify, I was in the Mugler show twice in 1991 (Paris and Tokyo) and once in 1992 in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles appearance is on my YouTube page. Looking back, you may be right, but at the time I was too in the middle of it to think that way. I had a dream about Thierry (aka Manfred) last night. I have not seen him for probably 15 years.

Do you still have that fabulous dress you wore?
L: The museum quality ensemble belongs to the Mugler company. Unfortunately, I never did a controlled photo session while wearing it.

Does the resurgence of drag mean anything to you? Does it suggest a cultural shift that wasn’t there before?
L: I don’t know what it means except perhaps the same thing it could have meant in the 1980s and 1990s: the need for fantasy and heroes. 

You’re mostly a solo act, but I wonder if there’s anyone you find complementary to your own performance style, whether on stage or behind the scenes?
L: I am not always a solo act. Look at my YouTube page to see me with Jay Rogers and Stephen Pell in a show called “Lypsinka IS Harriet Craig!” Jackie Hoffman and I work well together. A few years ago we did Once Upon A Mattress. I would enjoy working with all of them again. There’s also footage there of me with Lily Tomlin. Elvira and I have performed together. Pee-wee Herman and I always intended to. 

There’s a rumor that RuPaul is considering a season of Drag Race that features only legends in the industry. If he asked, would you participate?
L: I think that’s only a rumor. 

Are there performers nowadays that impress you? What sort of thing do you think someone has to have to be successful in the entertainment world?
L: Sasha Velour is very impressive. Bunny and Flotilla and Charles Busch keep me entertained. One needs discipline. Woody Allen said show business is 90 percent showing up. 

What’s next?
L: I am doing some appearances with Sasha Velour, including one at RuPaul’s DragCon in NYC for the first time. 

To find out more about Wigstock or to purchase tickets, visit out.com/wigstock.

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