Charles Louis Busch is an American actor, screenwriter, playwright and female impersonator, known for his appearances on stage in his own camp style plays and in film and television.
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My short bio: CHARLES BUSCH is the author and star of such plays as The Divine Sister, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Tribute Artist and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, which ran for nearly two years on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for Best Play. He wrote and starred in the film versions of his plays, Psycho Beach Party and Die Mommie Die, the latter of which won him the Best Performance Award at the Sundance Film Festival. He is a two-time MAC award winner and has performed his cabaret act in many cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Paris and New York. His CD of his play Judith of Bethulia is available on Roven Records.
I love your work. Die, Mommie, Die is a great film. But my favorite is your novel Whores of Lost Atlantis. It would be a fabulous movie. I know many of the characters are based on real people; how much of Don Caspar and the furniture moving story is based on a true story?
Well, you've made my day. I still can't quite believe I wrote an entire novel. I'm very proud of it. Don Caspar was based on a few men in my life, and some of the most bizarre episodes are the most based on life! However, the furniture story is made up. But the scene where he took me to the apartment where the stolen furniture was stashed is 100 per cent true!
I recently saw you in Cleopatra and just loved it! I was also lucky enough to see you in the stage version of Die Mommie Die, one of my favorite movies. What do you have coming next for stage or screen?
I'm doing a lot of writing. A couple of new plays, a book. No dates on when I'll be doing them yet. However, I'm constantly touring with my cabaret act and I'm loving that. I have a bunch of dates coming up. My website Charlesbusch.com is up to date on all of them.
When I was a teenager there was a book of your plays in our drama class and I desperately wanted to perform excerpts from "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" in regional drama competitions but my teacher forbade it. Somehow though I was allowed to do a two person of "Psycho Beach Party." So I want to say thank you for burdening me with a fetish for surfers, for life. Fortunately there is plenty of surfer themed gay porn.
What do you think Angela Arden would say in response to what's going on in American politics in 2017?
That two person "Psycho Beach Party" must have been fun. Angela today? Well, you know, most of the stars of her era like Joan Crawford were fervently against speaking out about politics and religion. However, a lot of them were conservative Republicans. I like to think Angela, (really Barbara) who was so ignored and belittled, would have been more sensitive to the underdog.
Are you happy?
I'm ecstatic. Thank you for askin'.
Charles, what is your favorite Garbo film?
Without a doubt, Camille. I think she gives one of the greatest performances ever on film. I also like Ninotchka a lot.
I just finished a draft of a musical I think you might have some interest in. Would you read it?
BTW, I saw Red Scare On Sunset last month. First time I saw you perform live! 🤗
I'm very flattered to be asked, but it seems to work best for me when I act in my own plays. I loooved doing that reading of Red Scare. Wouldn't mind doing a full production of it.
Charles! I love your work. I've seen so many of your productions from Die!, Mommy, Die! at the Coast Playhouse and, most recently, Red Scare on Sunset. What first attracted to you to the screen persona of Norma Shearer and what was the first of her films that you saw?
I became besotted with Norma Shearer as a child when I first watched "Marie Antoinette" on TV. It was on the four thirty movie and shown in two parts. I was always attracted to elegant women on the screen. Might be because I was raised by my Aunt who had some of those dignified but embattled noble qualities.
Dear Charles: Hello. My name is Roman. We met at the Austin Drag Festival...two years ago or so? My query is: Have you given some thought to writing an autobiography? After all, you have met many wonderful individuals. I would buy it in a second.
Roman, I've been working on my memoirs for the last couple years! Started and restarted it several times. Wrote eighty five pages single spaced and I was still only thirteen years old. I have a clearer idea now of how it should be. Back on it again.
Mr Busch! I am in the cast doing Allergist's Wife in Cape May NJ! We open tonight and couldn't be more excited. Our questions are:
How many is too many colonoscopies?
Who is Lee inspired by in your life (if anyone)?
Do you commune with your doorman?
Good luck tonight! I'll be seeing the play in two weeks! Lee is pretty much a completely fictional character. Marjorie, Frieda and Ira and even Mohammed are inspired in some ways by real life people, but oddly enough not Lee. But I have certainly come across outrageous, worldly women who have a questionable relationship with the truth.
Hi Charles!! I have had the pleasure of performing as La Condessa and Marvel Ann in two of your fabulous plays. More recently, I have seen a production of Psycho Beach Party where no one performed in drag and I felt the play lacked in humor and lost a great deal of the camp. Question: Do you feel the drag should be mandatory in such works?
I don't think it should be mandatory. I'd rather have a wonderful flamboyant woman play a role than a miscast, lesser talented actor in drag. But it does generally seem to work better in the plays I've written for myself when a fellow is cast.
Charles, I remember years ago Phillip S and I saw your version of stage door canteen. Just wonderful. The time is ripe for a revival. Any thoughts?
I loved doing that show. So many great songs and I loved the whole concept of the women touring with the USO. I'd be willing to do it somewhere.
Mr. Bursch! You and Julie Halston awarded me a Best Costume Award at the Theatre for the New City Halloween event in 1980...and life has been, well, downhill ever since....can I still turn things around at age 64?
Absolutely. My friend Robert Osborne didn't become the host of Turner Classic Movies till he was sixty. And I'm counting on it!!!
Hi Mr Busch, I first saw you in the documentary "Dragtime" when I was 12. You spoke of your influences being ladies of the silver screen. How do you think the influences of drag have changed and do you feel younger drag performers adequately understand/appreciate the history of drag?
Thank you for your wonderful work and dedication to your craft.
There are always young kids who are fascinated by classic film, the American songbook etc. I was one of them. Naturally, I wish young people today would be more interested in cultural figures of the past, be it drag or singers or actors. With drag, since most contemporary actresses (of the past thirty years!) tend to be rather low keyed and not flamboyant, I think most young drag performers are influenced by bigger than life pop music personalities like Madonna and now Lady Gaga and Beyoncé etc.
I enjoy your YouTube videos in which you play Miriam Passman. Did a particular performer inspire you to create that character who pursues a singing career without much positive reinforcement from others?
Thank you. I first played Miriam Passman in a short piece that was part of a solo show I did in the mid-nineties called "Flipping My Wig". I think I was inspired by sifting through all of the postcards of performers playing at Don't Tell Mama. But no specific person.
Did you cast Thomas Gibson in Psycho Beach Party based on his role in Love & Human Remains?
No. Always wanted to see that movie. That movie was cast by the director, Bob King, in LA. I was in New York and he would run things past me.
What was something funny that happened during Oz?
During my death scene, the camera was supposed to slowly pan on my dead face. My eyelids kept twitching. I didn't even realize it. All of the principals were in the scene watching me. BD Wong told me the secret was keeping my eyes shut for ten seconds before they called Action. Tried it. Failed. Then Rita Moreno told me "I learn at Fox that the secret to playing dead is keeping your eyes wide open for ten seconds until they call action. Tried it. Failed. They had to move the camera quickly over my face.