Lea DeLaria: A Brief History of a Bad Ass Butch Lesbian


It was Pride in Portland this last weekend but, instead of going out, I found myself getting lost in a Lea DeLaria k-hole. I think we all know which of those options was most likely to end with my finding a boo anyway. As an avid fan of Orange is the New Black, I can only assume that everyone else already watched Season 2 three times. If not, even amateurs know that Boo’s one-liners can often times steal the show. What you might not know is that DeLaria’s career spans over 30 years, her performing stand-up comedy for 25 years. Full of twists, jazz albums and The Time Warp, her resume is a Pandora’s box of vulgarity and hilarity. Here’s a little throwback, Big Boo-style.

"Orange Is The New Black" Season Two Premiere - Arrivals

Lea DeLaria helped to create San Francisco’s gay comedy nights and New York’s People Who Are Funny That Way, garnering her enough notoriety to emcee the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

"This Is Your Song" Benefit for Elton John AIDS Foundation

As host of the 1993 March on Washington rally, her joke about Hillary Clinton in which she said, “Finally we have a first lady you could fuck,” caused a major backlash.

Becoming ostracized by mainstream television and clubs, DeLaria’s continued to build a fan base through the college and alternative performance circuits and in 1993, the debut of her aptly-titled comedy and music act Muff Diva sold out.

"Nothing Like A Dame" Performance

DeLaria, who once billed herself as “That Fucking Dyke,” was the first openly gay comic to appear on a late-night talk-show, with her appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. In an interview with Vulture, she recalled, “I said the word dyke or fag or queer 47 times in the nine minutes I was on the show. That would be during the four and a half minutes of stand-up and five minutes on the couch. “

In December 1993 she hosted Comedy Central’s Out There, the first all-gay stand-up comedy special.

Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Presents "Nothing Like A Dame 2005"

DeLaria released two EPICALLY TITLED comedy albums, Bulldyke in a China Shop (1994) and Box Lunch (1997).


She wrote a humorous book entitled Lea’s Book of Rules for the World.


In 1995 she played Miss Hearst on Saved by the Bell: The New Class which means I have an outline for that school girl/Big Boo fanfic I’ve been meaning to write.

In the second season of Friends, there is an episode titled, “The One with the Lesbian Wedding.” If ever there were an episode to feature DeLaria, this would be the one.


DeLaria appeared as Jane in the 1998 Off Broadway production of Paul Rudnick‘s The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, a “a gay retelling of the Bible.”

Like any true soap opera star, DeLaria played not one but two recurring roles on ABC’s One Life to Live in 1999, returning in 2008 as both Delphina and Professor Delbert Fina.

She went on to play male characters Eddie and Dr. Scott in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show.

26th Annual Night Of A Thousand Gowns

Apparently there is a short film called Mercury in Retrograde (2004) where DeLaria is the first billed. First one to hunt that down wins the holy grail of getting to watch it.

She has released FOUR jazz albums. (I know, right?) One minute with a screw driver, the next giving Frank Sinatra a run for his money. Her albums include Play It Cool (2001), Double Standards (2003), The Very Best of Lea DeLaria (2008) and The Live Smoke Sessions (2008).

American Songbook Series Presents: "Lance Horne: First Things Last"

In July 2010, DeLaria’s version of “All That Jazz” was used on So You Think You Can Dance.

And in 2013, Big Boo came into our lives and we will never be the same.


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