Not long ago, I was introduced to a New York socialite who caught me by surprise. Her Royal Highness, Lady Vera Parker. Not only is this New York icon a total blast, but she clearly has the heart to Make A Difference wherever she goes. Committed to fighting urban poverty and AIDS, she takes a public stand to raise awareness.
Lady Vera Parker has recently made Chicago her home. In honor of that, she is throwing an open bar party for all of Boystown at Hydrate Chicago on July 28th. Joining her will be New York City transsexual fashion icon Amanda Lepore.
Recently I was able to chat with Her Royal Highness about her mentors, move and upcoming plans.
BP: (Bill Pritchard) How did you get started in the business?
LVP: (Lady Vera Parker) When I was 5 years old, I was trying on my mothers make up and dancing around in her bathrobe. But for me, Lady Vera Parker is really a venue for me to express my rage at people who told me all my life, don't be a show off, don't be this, don't be that, don't be feminine, don't question society. So I went and created the most over the top, hilarious, ridiculous personality. I started dancing at the age of 4, and all through my childhood, I was in theatre in New York. Ballet, tap, Opera, I did it. But I just never felt cast in the right role. For me, Lady Vera is the right role.
BP: Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
LVP: I want to influence the community. I am interested in the performance aspect, but a lot of that can also get a bit away from my message. I love to entertain. I LOVE a good show. I want to craft my talent, I want to meet more people, and I want to be the best entertainer I can be. But my #1 goal is to influence the community. I have several causes that really keep me up at night: urban poverty and AIDS. Anything I can do to help with that will be a job well done.
BP: You just moved to Chicago. What do you plan to do here?
LVP: Well, in my other life, I'm planning on medical school next year. Behind this wig is a person that loves blood and guts. I want to figure out my exact specialty, but I think Psychiatry. For entertaining, I want to keep doing shows and be the best performer that I can be.
BP: Other than me, who is your greatest inspiration?
LVP: Silly! Well for performance, a bunch of people. Khris Francis, for his comedy and wit, for sure. I love how quick he is. For female impersonators, there are many girls I admire. My drag mother, the Divine Spice, basically taught me everything I know for makeup and clothes. For performance, I've learned a lot from Mizery in Boston. For pure talent, Lypsinka, I think.
And of course, my dear Pineapple, Chicago's own Miss Foozie. Those people really make a difference for me.
BP: Does being Lady Vera Parker keep you busy?
LVP: Yes and no. It comes and goes. It can be a lot of work. When I really get into it and get dressed up, my makeup alone can take 2 hours. In July, I'll be in 5 or 6 shows in Chicago, plus one show in Las Vegas, so this is a very busy month. Next month, it slows down a bit. But I love it.
BP: What is it about our community that keeps you so involved?
LVP: I love the fact that I can influence people's lives. When I first started performing as Lady Vera Parker, I was upset the first couple of nights, because I would walk into a bar, and nobody would speak to me. But I soon realized that if I waved or smiled, people would come running up. I think the big hair and rhinestones intimidated them! Last week, I had my radio show on blog talk radio, and after the show, this kid e-mailed me and said how my show had helped him decide how to talk about being gay with his folks. To me, that's really amazing. It gives me goose bumps.
BP: In all of your travels, what has been your favorite place?
LVP: I actually adore London. But I have to say, San Fran is up there too. I love a place that has a bit of magic to it. Also, both of those places have some very special memories for me. London was where I had my first kiss!
BP: What is your favorite drink?
LVP: Nothing gets me roaring like a gin and tonic. But, I love those Martinis at Minibar that you’ve got me addicted to!
BP: What about Chicago do you love the most?
LVP: Probably the Lake; and of course your body! But I love that there is a beach in the middle of the city---how funny is that? I love the people here, too. I am a New Yorker, but I hate New Yorkers. Everyone is mean there. In Chicago, people keep it real.
BP: Where does the poodle thing come from?
LVP: The poodle thing actually comes from my best friend, Mike. He would throw the term out in casual settings, and we always would call each other Poodle. When I came up with Lady Vera Parker, I took a little bit of everyone, and that was Mike's contribution. It fits well with Lady Vera, I think.
Be sure to join Lady Vera, Amanda Lepore, and all of Boystown’s best