MAY 23 - LEA DELARIA
Over twenty years ago in 1993, Lea DeLaria stepped on stage at The Arsenio Hall Show and blurted out, “It’s the 1990s … It’s hip to be queer, and I’m a bi-i-i-i-ig dyke!” She became the first openly lesbian comic to appear on a late-night talk show, and shortly after, she hosted the first all-gay stand-up comedy special on television.
DeLaria recorded two comedy albums in the mid-nineties before shifting her career toward stage-acting. She starred alongside Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson in the 1998 Broadway revival of On The Town. In a review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote that DeLaria left audiences numb with pleasure, comparing her “big, assertive stage personality“ to a young Ethel Merman. Both praise and talent combined led to a role as Eddie and Dr. Scott in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show.
Beyond Broadway, DeLaria has recorded several vocal jazz albums, once stating that it’s her “personal goal to bring be-bop jazz back into the gay and lesbian community". Her 2008 album The Live Smoke Sessions can be streamed on Spotify.
Though DeLaria has done film work in The First Wives Club, Edge of Seventeen and Ass Backwards, she is perhaps better known for her time spent on television. From 1999 to 2011, she had a recurring role as Madame Delphina (and Professor Del Fina) on the soap opera One Life To Live. She voiced the character Helga Phugly on the short-lived animated sitcom The Oblongs and held small roles on Matlock, The Drew Carey Show, Will & Grace and Californication.