Lea DeLaria is most recognizable for her role as the brazen Carrie “Big Boo” Black on the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” However, DeLaria’s career as a comedian and jazz musician as well as actress has spanned decades—in fact, she holds the distinction of being the first openly gay comic to perform on American broadcast television with her 1993 appearance on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Beauty Editor Tina Turnbow shot the star in Los Angeles, and Untitled got an uncensored scoop on her upcoming Australian Concert Tour, her thoughts on Donald Trump and how she deals with the double standards of the entertainment industry. Read on for our exclusive interview.
Untitled: You’re both a comic and a musician. How did you originally get into stand-up and music?
Lea DeLaria: I started out as a child singing with my jazz pianist father and his quartet in the various night clubs where I grew up until work dried up. So I had this skill, you see? When I decided to try standup in San Fransisco in 1982, I discovered that my loud, vulgar, in-your-face style of comedy was too much for people to handle for more then 15 minutes. I decided to incorporate music into my act, and found that singing some jazz standard was a marvelous way too lull people into a kind of false sense of security before I started screaming “dyke,” “fuck” and “cunt” at them again. It worked, and has worked for 35 years.
Your birthday is coming up! In an industry often overly focused on youth, what’s it like working successfully in entertainment at 60?
This industry is mostly focused on the youth of women. Let’s face it, men get to work until they die. Men get to have love affairs at the age of 60 with women in their twenties. In show biz, older men are distinguished while older women are sexless grandmas and hags. Having said that, the fact that I work at all at the age of 60 without ever once having been in the closet or pulling any political punches—with zero fucks to give as to what the industry thinks of me—and looking like I do and always being who I am is just plain remarkable.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your career?
Rotate your tires.
You’re outspoken in your opposition to Trump. How are you involved in the fight against him, and what organizations or causes do you recommend readers consider supporting?
I am involved by remaining outspoken. I would encourage everyone to stand tall against this fascist, sexist, racist, homophobic pig of a POTUS. The best thing about being American is our constitutional right to disagree and vocally express criticism of our government. On this note, I have a question: everytime I post anything on Instagram that is anti-Drumph I lose 1,000 or so followers. No problem; I always get more to replace them. The question is, why are they following me in the first place? How is it possible for anyone to be an avid admirer of “Orange is the New Black” and also a supporter of that asshat?! It appears to be further proof that the “Make America Hate Again” movement is just plain clueless.
Can you tell us about your upcoming Australian tour?
If you insist. Three major cities: Melbourne on June 7th, Sydney on June 9th, Adelaide on June 11th, then San Fransisco Jazz Fest on June 13th. That is quite an itinerary. I need to fire my agents.
One of your major roles is as Big Boo on “Orange Is The New Black.” How did you get involved with the show?
Well, it does take place in a women’s prison so… look at me. Really. LOOK AT ME.
Do you have any other projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I am touring. You can go to my website for info. Also, I am appearing in a new play by Jen Silverman entitled “Collective Rage.” Previews begin August 16th with the opening scheduled for September 12th.
Makeup & photography: Tina Turnbow
Hair: Bethany Paul of Graceland
Shot on location at Three Diamond Door bar