Photo by Peter Palladino
Celebrated as a monologist, singer and actor-actress, Coco Peru (né Clinton Leupp) has plans to return to our fair city for a special weekend encore of the nationwide hit Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls. This show holds acclaim as the drag legend’s seventh sold-out solo performance at the Center’s Renberg Theatre, and it’s one you will not want to miss. We recently chatted with Coco Peru about what she has in store.
This encore of She's Got Balls is your seventh in a string of sold-out solo performances at the Renberg. What keeps you coming back to the Center?
I love the Center! The first time I walked into the Center I knew that I had a found a safe place. I feel supported and appreciated by the staff and volunteers and I get to work with a really professional team of people and perform in a gorgeous theatre. Also, when I do a show there it helps raise money for the homeless youth program, and knowing that the money raised helps keep LGBT youth safe and feeling loved keeps me coming back. It really feels like a home away from home. And there is free parking!
I understand the show was inspired by some advice from your mother.
I’d say that this show is my most “in your face” show. As a drag queen who tells autobiographical stories, one might expect that I have no fear of “exposing” myself. However, I often censor myself for fear of what others might think. So recently my mother, Helen, who is elderly, said that “one of the great things about getting older is that you stop worrying about what other people think of you and so, in a way, you finally have the balls to say whatever the hell you feel like saying.” Wonderful Bronx wisdom! And so I ask the audience, “Why wait?” Why wait until we are old to say what we feel like saying? And it’s from this point of view I start the show and talk about some things that perhaps a few years ago I might not have had the balls to. It’s a very liberating show for me, and the audience seems to be walking away having that same feeling.
She's Got Balls has you reflecting on quite a few topics. What can our readers expect?
I really don’t like giving anything away or taking things out of context, but my stories range from my love/hate relationship with Facebook to my childhood wish to be a famous stripper to my fantasies about the Creature from the Black Lagoon to my summers spent in Spain on a naked beach! Trust me—it all makes sense when you see it.
I hear you’ve wrapped shooting on the much-anticipated sequel to Girls Will Be Girls. Any secrets you can divulge for those of us awaiting the sequel with bated breath?
I think the editor is having a hard time making Varla fit on the screen, so that is holding things up. We filmed it so long ago that all I can remember is that it is about the end of the world. But I must say that Evie’s taxidermist did another brilliant job in making her look alive. Of course, she is again safely wrapped in sheets and moth balls and stored under her bed until the next gig. Oh, I just remembered something else from the sequel—I’m really very good in it.
In addition to your solo shows, you're also known for your popular Conversations with Coco series. What can you tell us about your upcoming guests?
Well, I can say that my next guest is an old friend of mine from NYC—Liza Minnelli! I cannot believe it! She’ll be out here doing a concert that weekend at the Disney Concert Hall, and she agreed to sit down with me and chat. All of the conversations I have done have been amazing, but on a personal level these opportunities to sit down with my idols like Bea Arthur, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and now Liza Minnelli are like little signs from the universe that when I made that outrageous decision to dedicate my life to doing drag and trying to make the world a more beautiful place, I made a good decision! My mother always said I had some pair of balls!
Miss Coco Peru: She’s Got Balls