The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011
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Hedda Lettuce opens her mouth.


We had SUCH a blast doing this interview. It's over 3,500 words long and it took almost 4 hours to transcribe it and yet, the actual interview only lasted about twenty minutes. The girl is rapid-fire when she talks and the jokes and asides come flying at you so quickly, she's already moved on to ten other topics while you're sitting there thinking "Did she just say that?" She's blogged extensively (here, here and here) about her experiences on the show and her writings were so funny and so bitchy that we had to hear more. Oh, and she's running for President. Hey, we could do worse.

First off, “Hedda Lettuce.” How did you get that name?

Well, the name was God-given. I come from a long line of Lettuces, as you know.

You were the six-time HX “Drag Queen of the Year.” That’s amazing.

I think it was seven, actually. I can’t keep track. I think it’s now called the “Hedda Lettuce Drag Queen of the Year Award.” I wish they would take me out of the running now. I’ve been nominated, I think, every year for the last 15 years.

That’s quite a compliment, with all the fierce competition in New York.

I guess that’s true. It is a compliment.

You deserve it. You’re a comedian, an actor, a singer –

- Spokesmodel and mother.

Of course, for us, your most memorable turn was as Samantha’s former boyfriend-turned-drag queen on Sex and the City. How was that experience?

That experience was kind of surreal. The interesting part was actually going to the table reading two days before, which was a really casual affair. Everyone was sitting there in t-shirts, light makeup and hair pulled back. There wasn’t a lot of love in the room. SJP was so skinny, when I walked into the room I thought she was doing a handstand but those were her legs, not her arms. But her skin was really pretty. On the set was interesting too; the energy was really crazy, but Kim Catrall was so sweet. We had a great conversation at the craft services table. And Cynthia Nixon was a doll as well. They were just very engaging and interested. Sarah Jessica Parker, couldn’t care if you lived or died. She was all business. And the brunette – who, I will not speak her name – was the c-word. She was really nasty. So nasty.

Really?

She was shooting me daggers through most of it. She wasn’t very lovely. She wasn’t lovely at all.

You said on your blog that Project Runway was one of the most influential shows on TV today. How did you wind up on PR?

Well, you know, every time you say PR I think “Puerto Rican.” “How did you end up on a Puerto Rican?” Hang out on the subway in New York, that’s how you end up on one. No, I got a cold call from one of the producers one day as I was luxuriating in a bubble bath and they said “Hedda, this is so and so from … um, “PR” and we’re interested in doing an episode with the drag queens of New York City and we have to send you a confidentiality agreement and we’ll get back to you on this because we have to make sure everything is hush-hush.” And I was sort of excited … but detached. Things like that don’t always happen. People don’t always follow through. But then a few days later they called back and said it was a go and I was very excited about it because it’s sort of the Sex and the City of right now in terms of the popularity. It has that same vibe within the gay community. And not just in the gay community but in the straight community too. I’m in Provincetown right now performing, and it’s very mixed here and the day after it aired when I was on the street and tons of people came up to with me with different….sexual orientations. Ages too. From like 15 to 70.

The thing is, I forget – and this is my naïveté about television – this is the kind of show they play in gay bars all across the country. They have their Project Runway nights, much like they had their Sex and the City nights or their Desperate Housewives nights. This is one of those shows that resonates with the gay community in a way that only certain shows do. Will & Grace was one of them, and then in the old days, there was Dynasty and then the Golden Girls. So, this is one of those kinds of shows that gays across the country are watching. I got emails from Alaska. My blog got 4000 hits the day after the show aired. Sometimes I forget how important a program like this is. Especially now for the drag community because if a show like this is putting drag artists on the show, it makes it a lot easier. The door is opening more and more. And I’m glad that I’m still young enough to enjoy it. I still can benefit from it and not be like, the trailblazer that was doing it and then someone younger takes it over.

Now, you know Chris March, right?

Yes, Chris March designed a wig for me when I was doing Christmas with the Crawfords in San Francisco. He’s big and famous now. Well, he was always big, but now he’s famous.

Actually, he was the liaison on the show. I have a lot of gratitude toward him. He was the one who made it possible. I believe my name was already in the loop but he really pushed for it.

Well, they had to choose you, I mean come on.

Well, you say “had to” but y’know, I thought a lot of the choices on the show were odd. I didn’t really think it represented the New York drag scene as I know it. I’m grateful that they picked some of the people that they picked because it made me look, well, a little more special. Not that I wouldn’t have looked special regardless of who was on the show, but there were people on the show that, though I think are talented and interesting – y’know, I can’t even say “talented” because I don’t even know what they do – I just think there were other queens out there on the scene in New York who would have bumped it up a notch even further.

Lady Bunny didn’t want to do it, right?

Well, she didn’t want to be seen out of drag, which I’m very grateful for.

What else can you tell us about the show?

I’ll tell you this much, when the reality hit in, and they said I couldn’t tell anyone – they said I could tell my parents, so I told them. But otherwise, I couldn’t tell a soul, so in that sense you’re so excited about something that’s going to happen but you can’t tell anyone. They have high-powered lawyers that can sue you faster than you can say “you’re out.” This particular episode was a very different one for them and they wanted to keep it under wraps.

When we got on set, it was a lovely shoot. With all the queens backstage, we had a lot of laughs. A lot of the laughs and a lot of the fun happened backstage, honestly. We were laughing most of the whole day. And there really wasn’t any bitchy attitude backstage with any of the queens. It was rather smooth, actually.

The only thing, of course, was my…situation with Suede.

We’re getting to that. You said after you saw your garment during your fitting, you wanted to grab your purse and hit the road.

I wanted to call it Project Run Away because once I saw it; I looked like Godzilla meets the Andrews Sisters. Which, like I said on my blog, would be cute if I was at the Beijing Olympics.

He didn’t really apply what I said to him and create a garment that I was confident wearing. I sold that piece of shit like you wouldn’t believe. I could have gone out there with hunched shoulders, dragging my feet, but at one point I thought to myself “You know what? It’s my image too. I want to go out on that runway and have fun.” That’s what I really thought. I think the fact that I sold it so well, the judges overlooked a lot of the problems that it had. I think they thought it was resolved when it really wasn’t resolved; I resolved it with myself.

We have to say, those gloves were hideous.

The gloves were hideous and the thing is, the thing that really shows where Suede is coming from as a designer and an egomaniac, if you’re going to put gloves on someone, you have to measure their hands. He never measured my hands for the gloves; he measured his hands for the gloves. They were too long and the fingers were curling over like Witchy Poo. I had to cut the fingers off and I had to cut the gloves in half.

Now, did you call him lazy?

I did call him lazy.

You’re a bitch.

I don’t think that’s bitchy. I think it looked lazy to me. The outfit looked like he was lazy. There were no sleeves. What queen doesn’t wear sleeves unless she’s like, ten pounds?

The thing about drag queens is, they’ve perfected their look and they know what works and what doesn’t.

And we’re not known for our soft-spoken ways. They should have designed clothes for nuns if they wanted amiable people sitting there saying “Oh thank you, Lord Jesus, for this.” You know what? I have a mouth, I’m a person, I’m a fully developed human being. I’m not just this character, y’know? And I was like, wait a minute, I’m not happy with this and I’m not going to just sit there and pretend that I liked the fact that I looked like Godzilla. I didn’t realize that my comments – if you look at the show again, they’re not really mean. It was just off the cuff, which is what I do.

You felt that you were the client.

And they weren’t treating me like the client. It’s like calling a woman in a high-powered position a bitch because she likes what she wants and knows what she wants. It’s the same sort of thing being applied here. Oh, I’m the queen, the drag queen, and oh, I’m being concerned about my looks, so I’m being “difficult” now. And I really wasn’t being particularly difficult.

So the next day, after I said a few comments; the “Godzilla” comment, the “lazy” comment, the comment that I hated gloves; he was sitting – ugh. The more I think about it, I just want to smack him in the head. He was sitting there at his sewing machine, trying to play the victim to the hilt. But I’m sure the producers also fed into it. They really pumped up the role.

You know when we had that fight. A lot of stuff was cut out of that fight. He was like “I’ve been in this business for 16 years!” And I was like “Well, I’ve been in this business for 17 years.” I said “Would you treat J Lo like this?” If there was one of these hot ass celebrities in here you’d be licking their ass. You wouldn’t be saying “How dare you call me lazy.” I mean, you don’t even have a name. Unless of course if you’re Dolce & Gabbana, but I don’t think you can get away with that. If I was wearing Dolce & Gabbana -- whatever they gave me, I’d wear it. If it was a turd, I’d put it on my back and say “It’s Dolce & Gabbana; I’m wearing it.” But he’s fucking “Suede” with his blue butt plug on top of his head. He’s not anybody that’s anybody. Unfortunately, that’s how certain things work.

And we really had to roll our eyes at the whole “my grandfather’s garden” bit.

Oh, I thought that was a crock of shit. I didn’t understand. I was like, “Grandpa?” “The garden?” Your grandfather had a garden and that’s why you picked me, because my name is Hedda Lettuce? You can do a little better than that.

And also when they called me -- what was it they called me? “Soggy Lettuce.” If you’re going to read me, do it right. “Wilted Lettuce.” Soggy? No one calls lettuce “soggy.” You call bread soggy.

Now when you put that thing on, you knew you weren’t going to win, right?

Oh, I knew the moment I saw the fabric. He has no sense of style or taste. The moment I saw the fabric I thought ….mwah-mwuah. LO-SER. But I really wanted to be the ultimate loser. I really wanted to get on the runway and have them ask me why I hated the outfit so much. And I wanted to say “Well, fashion usually makes me horny and this just makes me limp.” I really thought that. Because you get more airtime too, if you’re in the bottom or the top. But I was just average! I was completely average.

But we had our fight and then we had our obligatory hug because I didn’t really want to deal with all his issues at that point. I was like, I just wanted to shut this person out.

Did he promise you a dress?

Yes, he did promise me a dress and you know, quite frankly, I don’t know if I want it.

Did you guys get paid?

Of course they paid us.

The models don’t get paid.

Well, darling, we’re more than just models.

This is true. Who do you think had the worst outfit?

There was a LOT of bad outfits. I mean, I don’t think any of these designers are particularly talented. Except for Sweetie’s (Korto's client) outfit, which I though was great. I think Sweetie’s outfit should have won, because first of all, designing for a large sized girl is much harder than designing for someone who’s thinner and to make them look fierce and in proportion.

It was gorgeous, but we thought the hem looked a little fucked up.

You were looking at the hem? You were looking at the god damned hem? Oh my god!

It’s our job to look at these things!

Oh, okay. “The hem.” I really didn’t see the hem, I wasn’t looking at the hem, I was looking at the sprouting flames coming out of her head.

And Varla?

Well, the thing that made that more successful was that there was one tone from head to toe. It wasn’t very creative. It was a theme, though, which was great. He wasn’t playing with different fabrics or anything. So, in a sense, it was easy. I think Sweetie’s designer tried harder and was actually much more creative. Actually put some interest in this.

Sherry Vine’s (Keith's client) outfit looked like she was attacked by a pack of wolves. Or shredded paper. I don’t know what the hell – and she looked so depressed on the runway. I’ve never seen a sadder model in all my life. I don’t know if she was hung over; I love her to bits, but I just don’t know. It’s one thing to wear a sad outfit, but it’s another thing to look sad while wearing it. But ultimately we are models and the job of a model – see, this goes back to me – is to present the outfit in the best light possible.

A lot of people on the internet think Terri should have won with Acid Betty’s outfit.

You know why she didn’t win? Because Acid Betty’s not really a drag queen. She’s like David Bowie. It’s a different kind of – y’know, I take that back. Maybe she is a drag queen. You know why it didn’t win? You couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. Even though it was done nicely, there was a lot of stuff going on. It was distracting and Acid Betty in her own way is also very distracting. Her look is very out there, so you couldn’t really focus on what was going on in the dress as much.

What were the other ones? Throw some names at me and I’ll tell you what I think.

Farrah Moans (Kenley's client).

Oh, oh. Boring. I thought it was the most boring outfit in my entire life. Once again, not very creative, one toe from head to toe.

It was like a cliché of what a drag queen wears.

It was a cliché upon a cliché upon a cliché. They kept saying she looked like Marilyn Monroe and I love her lots but I don’t really see the resemblance. Just because a queen wears a blonde wig doesn’t make her Marilyn. But, in a sense, I think it was well done-ish. It wasn’t terrible. Who else?

LeMay (Jerrell's client).

That was horrible. She looked like someone from that bar in Star Wars, when they have all the crazy creatures. Or like, Deep Space Nine. You know, keep that shit in deep space. The collar was – you know what? I’ll tell you this: it wasn’t necessarily the dress so much; it was the fact that her undergarments weren’t good and it wasn’t giving her a good body. If she had a cinched waist and was wearing a higher heel, it would have looked better. She kind of looked like a sausage. She kind of looked like an uncut cock with the head of the thing popped up. I don’t know if you can print that –

Oh, we’ll print it.

She kind of looked like that. Like an uncut cock.

What do you think of Tim Gunn calling you mean?

He’s never called anyone mean before.

Were you hurt?

No, I’m actually honored. Once again, I think the producers pushed that. You know what I really think? Why would you call the client mean? I don’t think it’s very professional, whether you felt it or not. And then they were all ganging up on me. “We’re not gonna let her dictate…” Um, okay. I don’t think that was very professional. I think that was kind of mean. All of a sudden all these hens pecking. I was like oh my GOD. All the queens all atwitter.

What did you think of Heidi? Was she nice?

I don’t think when you think “German” you would think “nice,” necessarily. She’s very attractive; she was very removed, in her own way. She tried to joke with us as best as a German can. I don’t know. She seemed to be having fun. Like I said, we didn’t have much interaction with them. They didn’t come back and hang out with us.

And you didn’t really have a chance to talk to Nina or Michael.

Oh, I don’t really care. I mean, Nina. What? Okay, whatever. Michael Kors, I think he’s interesting. But you know. No biggie. And RuPaul, which we haven’t discussed yet –

Yes! That’s the next question. What did you think?

It was a bit of a shock, actually. She’s supposed to be the Queen of All Queens. That wig! I mean, where was the comb? It looked like it was underneath her bed for a couple of days and then she realized “Ohmigod, I have to shoot a show today. Oh, what’s this? Oh, a wig. Let me slap this on my head, put these store-bought beads around my neck and this blouse I got from Filene’s Basement and I’m gonna do my best Upper East Side drag.” I just don’t understand.

My problem with her is she’s sitting there critiquing people and saying they’re not fabulous and you look at her and she’s not fabulous. If you’re gonna call someone not fabulous, you better be dressed so fucking fabulous. She wasn’t very fashionable either! This is a fashion show! She should have had the most retarded, fashionable outfit on you could possible believe. She was going for this sedate, “I am the doyenne of drag, I don’t have to try anymore.” Honey, we have to try until the day we die. The test ain’t over just because you hit a certain level, y’know? This is a huge show and to be seen like that? I think it didn’t do too well.

People were actually questioning if she was sick.

Well, you know she’s very thin and gaunt, which is fashion. That’s fashion. But there’s a way of working that, like Farrah Fawcett does. You know the crazy kind of – big hair, tight dress. It distracts from everything else. The problem was, she wasn’t distracting.

We were talking about body types and drag is about distracting from your flaws and your weaknesses, and she was actually drawing attention to her weaknesses. And the way they shot her, if she was sitting in the middle it would have been alright but they kept shooting her from the side, at an angle.

And her comments weren’t really that fun except for the selling the hormones one, which I didn’t get, really. I got it, but I didn’t know if it had any place in the show.

I heard someone say John Waters should have been the guest. Because who knows more about drag than John Waters?

So what’s coming up for you?

Well, I’m finishing up in P-town. This is my last weekend here and then I go back to New York and I’m filming a comedy special for a gay network and then I have a movie night that I do in New York City every Thursday at the Chelsea Clearview Cinema, which I’ve been doing for seven years. I present some campy old movies and I do my standup at the beginning and it’s really got a huge audience. I’m doing a cruise with this company called Aquafest.

You’re a very busy girl.

Yeah, I keep myself busy.

Well, thanks for taking time out to bitch with us, doll. Luvya!


[Photos: Courtesy of Hedda Lettuce's MySpace Page]





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