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Lea DeLaria
Born May 23, 1958 (1958-05-23) (age 51)
Belleville, Illinois
Occupation Comedienne
Jazz musician Official website

Lea DeLaria (born May 23, 1958) is an American comedienne, actress, and jazz musician.[1][2][3] The "famously controversial" DeLaria was "the first openly gay comic to break the late-night talk-show barrier" with her 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show.[4]

Called "every inch and ounce a star," by The New York Times,[5] DeLaria has performed stand-up comedy for over 25 years and is an extremely prominent figure in the world of lesbian stand-up comedy, she is noted for her raunchy persona and inflammatory, irreverent political commentary, which have proven controversial inside and outside the gay and lesbian community. She began her career billing herself as "That Fucking Dyke"; she states "I called myself that because I would walk down the street and people would yell (it) at me. But after two years of performing I would walk down the street and people would yell (it) at me and I wouldn't know if they were a fan or not!"


Early life

The Italian American[3] DeLaria was born in Belleville, Illinois,[1][2] the daughter of Jerry, a homemaker, and Robert DeLaria, a jazz pianist and social worker.[2] She attended kindergarten through 8th grade at St Mary's Elementary School in Belleville, and has referenced her Catholic upbringing in her performances.


Of her watershed 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, as the first openly gay comic to appear on a late-night talk-show, DeLaria said "It's the 1990s ... It's hip to be queer, and I'm a bi-i-i-i-ig dyke!"[4] In December 1993 she hosted Comedy Central's Out There, the first all-gay stand-up comedy special.[4]

DeLaria is also known for her touring "musical comedy about perverts," Dos Lesbos (1987-1989) as well as Girl Friday, a comedy she conceived, wrote, directed and starred in, and which won the 1989 Golden Gull for Best Comedy Group in Provincetown, Massachusetts.[6]

DeLaria has released two CD recordings of her comedy, Bulldyke in a China Shop (1994) and Box Lunch (1997). She has also written a humorous book entitled Lea's Book of Rules for the World.

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."[7] Entertainment Weekly said "a star is born with Lea DeLaria" of her "showstopping" performance as Hildy Esterhazy in the 1998 Broadway revival of On the Town.[5][8][9] DeLaria subsequently played Eddie and Dr. Scott in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show, and can be heard on the cast recording.[10]

DeLaria has also appeared in a number of films, including Edge of Seventeen and The First Wives Club.

DeLaria integrates musical performance into her stand-up comedy, focusing on traditional and modern be-bop jazz. She has even said at her shows "It is my personal goal to bring be-bop jazz back into the gay and lesbian community." In 2001 she released a CD of jazz standards called Play It Cool. This was followed by the album Double Standards in 2003,[11][12] and by The Very Best of Lea DeLaria in 2008.

In 2001, DeLaria was the voice of Helga Phugly on the short-lived, animated sitcom, The Oblongs. In 1999 DeLaria played the recurring role of Madame Delphina on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, returning in 2008 as both Delphina and Professor Delbert Fina.[13]

In 2008, Warner Records released The Live Smoke Sessions, DeLaria's first recording focused on "timeless pop standards" such as "Down With Love," "Night And Day," "Love Me Or Leave Me" and "Come Rain Or Come Shine." She noted, "I styled this CD on the old school live recordings ... It is my hope that this CD will take you back to 1948 and the Village Vanguard. So please let me invite you to mix a cocktail and enjoy a smoke while you sit back and soak up the swing."[14]

In November, 2008, Lea completed a tour of Australia, playing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane.


Comedy Albums

  • 1994: Bulldyke in a Chinashop
  • 1997: Box Lunch (Rising Star)

Jazz Albums

  • 2001: Play It Cool (Warner/WEA)
  • 2005: Double Standards (Telarc)
  • 2006: The Very Best of Lea DeLaria (Rhino/WEA UK)
  • 2008: Lea DeLaria - The Live Smoke Sessions (Ghostlight Records)

Guest Vocalist

  • 2005: Din and Tonic – Janette Mason (Fireball Records)
  • 2006: Drawn to All Things – Ian Shaw Sings the Songs of Joni MitchellIan Shaw (Linn Records)
  • 2009: Alien Left Hand – Janette Mason (Fireball Records)

Broadway and Film

  • 1999: Edge of Seventeen – Music From The Motion Picture SoundtrackBlue Skies (Razor and Tie)
  • 2001: The Rocky Horror Show – 2000 Broadway Revival Cast (RCA Victor Broadway)
  • 2005: Hair – Actors’ Fund of America Benefit Recording (Ghostlight)



  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Frankie (2009) (TV)
  • Fat Rose and Squeaky as Fat Rose (2006)
  • Mercury in Retrograde as Betsy Brick (2002)
  • Homo Heights as Clementine (1998)
  • In Through the Out Door as various characters (1998) (TV)
  • Rescuing Desire as Sadie (1996)
  • Saved by the Bell: The New Class as Miss Hearst (1995) (TV)
  • OP Center as Captain White (1995)
  • Matlock as Det. Pat Jordan/Det. Pat Poletti (1994) (TV)


  • Ptown Diaries (2009)
  • Outlaugh! (2006)
  • The Award Show Awards Show (2003) (TV)
  • Cabaret Live! (2001) (TV)
  • We're Funny That Way (1998)
  • Out There in Hollywood (1995) (TV)
  • Camp Christmas (1993) (TV)
  • Out There (1993) (TV)


  • In Through the Out Door (1998) (TV)


  1. ^ a b Lea DeLaria profile - Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Lea DeLaria Biography -
  3. ^ a b "You & A Guest" Interview: Lea DeLaria - July 15, 1999.
  4. ^ a b c Cagle, Jess. "Stand-up Kinda Gays." Entertainment Weekly. December 10, 1993.
  5. ^ a b Canby, Vincent. "THEATER: An Exhilarating On the Town Spreads Some Joy." The New York Times. November 29, 1998.
  6. ^ Post, Laura. Lea DeLaria profile - Allmusic Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  7. ^ Cagle, Jess."The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told." Entertainment Weekly. April 23, 1999.
  8. ^ Cagle, Jess. Stage Review: Little Me/On the Town. Entertainment Weekly. December 4, 1998.
  9. ^ Wontorek, Paul. "Handicapping the 1999 Tony Awards." Entertainment Weekly. June 4, 1999.
  10. ^ Lea DeLaria profile - Internet Broadway Database Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  11. ^ Reynolds, Nick. "Lea Delaria: Double Standards Review." November 3, 2003. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  12. ^ [Lea Delaria: Double Standards -] Retrieved September 28, 2008. Double Standards was first released in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2003 and in the U.S. in 2005.
  13. ^ Murray, Jesse. "Madame Delphina Sees All." July 1, 2008.
  14. ^ "Lea Delaria: Live Smoke Sessions To Be Released 9/9". September 9, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2009.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Lea DeLaria (born 1958-05-23) is an American comedian and jazz musician.


  • My idea as far as comedy goes has always been to push the limits of what's acceptable for a woman to do or say or be. My hero in that would be Lenny Bruce, who teaches us that words have no meaning. It's the intent behind them that is what's important.
  • Oh please...As a standup, I tried to change the world. As an entertainer, I try to entertain. And as a lesbian, I try to pick up the prettiest girl in the room. Not necessarily in that order.
    • ibid.
    • When asked if she thought of herself as a performer, or as a performer with an agenda.
  • Never point at anything beige and call it cool.
    • Lea's Book of Rules for the World (May 2000) Rule # 4
  • Learn all the rules... then break them.
    • Lea's Book of Rules for the World (May 2000) Rule # 10
  • He looked me right in the face and said, "You fucking bulldyke!" And I thought to myself, "Oooh, what a smart man! Why, I'll bet he took one look at me and knew I was white, too!"
    • Bulldyke in a China Shop
  • Did you read [Holly Near's book]? Let me save you the trouble. This is the most exciting sentence in the book: ..."I feel like a lesbian when I'm making love to a woman." Gooooooooood, Holly! Well, the major difference between me and Holly Near is that I feel like a lesbian when I am BREATHING!
    • Bulldyke in a China Shop
  • What do you mean, you "don't believe in homosexuality?" It's not like the Easter Bunny, your belief isn't necessary.
    • Box Lunch (liner notes)
  • They are preserving the sanctity of marriage, so that two gay men who've been together for twenty-five years can't get married, but a guy can still get drunk in Vegas and marry a hooker at the Elvis chapel! The sanctity of marriage is saved!
    • Box Lunch
  • I'm at West Virginia University to do a show, right, and they've done all this fucking publicity about when I get to my show, who's waiting for me but five hundred Christian protestors with great big signs. "Lea DeLaria is going to hell." Not generic "gay is not good:" "Lea DeLaria is going to hell." Which is what I need five hundred strangers to tell me, like twelve years of Catholic fuckin' school wasn't enough, right?!
    • Box Lunch
  • You know the people I'm talking about, you see them at every pride rally, they get up on stage and go, "We're just like everyone else! We are like them and they are like us. Straights are like us and we are like them! We - are like - EV - eryone - else!" And then a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall drag queen walks by with three feet spangled platforms and he opens up his butterfly wings, f-f-f-f-f-f-f! Oh, we're just like everyone else, all right! We have our own culture and our own way of doing things and we should celebrate that and stop licking straight ass!
    • Box Lunch
  • "I mean, what the fuck is it with you guys? I thought this was supposed to be a lesbian party. Lesbian? Perhaps you'd like me to tear it off so you qualify." Guido protests. "I have a right to be here, this is the United States, you know, you can't discriminate." "I can't discriminate? Oh, that's ripe, coming from a straight white man. What's the matter, baby doesn't feel like he belongs? Well, why don't you try a place that was set up just for you? Like the world!"
    • Lea's Book of Rules for the World


  • My mother said to me, "Why do you have to call yourself a dyke? Why can't you be a nice lesbian?" "Because I'm not a nice lesbian, I'm a big dyke!"

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