Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lea Delaria: She's Got Nothing to Hide

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lea Delaria: She's Got Nothing to Hide

Article excerpt

IF anyone knows how to throw caution to the wind, it's Lea Delaria. The lesbian comic from Belleville, Ill., caused a gigantic stir earlier this year when she bluntly talked about being gay during an appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show." Network officials went haywire.

"The lawyers told me I shouldn't have used the word dyke," Delaria said, during a recent phone interview. "But my whole routine is about how I label myself."

So Hall came to her defense.

"He told them, `If she wants to call herself a dyke, that's her business.' "

Now, after years on the so-called "lesbian circuit," Delaria is taking her act into mainstream entertainment. Undoubtedly, she has been helped by her appearances on "Arsenio," but she also received tremendous exposure in an episode of "20/20," and as the mistress of ceremonies at the 1993 Gay March on Washington.

"I was on C-Span during the March on Washington," she said, and then laughed girlishly. "Rush Lindbaugh talked about it for days. He really hates me."

Delaria's entrance into show business was no fluke.

"It's the only thing I ever wanted to do," she said. "Besides, I had perfect training to be a comic. I went to a Catholic elementary school - St. Mary's in Belleville."

On Dec. 3, the comic will be the host of a TV presentation called "Out There," to beaired on the Comedy Channel.

"It's the first-ever lesbian comedy special," she said.

More in the mainstream, Delaria has just signed a development deal with TV producer Fred Silverman.

"I'm filming an episode of `Matlock' in January, and at about the same time, I'm scheduled to make another appearance on `Arsenio.' "

And does the development deal involve a network show about lesbianism?

"No, no, no," she said, and laughed again. "No one is ready for that yet. We're just talking about forming some sort of series around me."

Delaria will make her St. Louis debut when she appears in concert at The Sheldon Friday night. Her guest spots on "Arsenio" indicate that her act is manic and largely sexual.

"I sing, too," she said, not bothering to deny the implication.

"My father was a jazz pianist, so I've been singing my entire life. Because my act is all about my being gay, people can only take my screaming dyke at them for so long. …

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