John Epperson, May 2007
April 24, 1955 |
Hazlehurst, Mississippi, U.S.
|Occupation||Drag artist, actor, pianist, vocalist, and writer|
John Epperson (born April 24, 1955) is an American drag artist, actor, pianist, vocalist and writer who is mainly known for creating his stage character Lypsinka. As Lypsinka he lip-synchs to meticulously edited, show-length soundtracks culled from snippets of outrageous 20th-century female performances in movies and song.
Epperson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. He took lessons in classical piano from an early age. After high school he enrolled at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from Belhaven he got a job playing piano in Colorado, but in 1978 he moved to New York and became a rehearsal pianist for the American Ballet Theatre.
He began doing drag performances at nightspots such as Club 57 and the Pyramid Club. Epperson quit his job with the American Ballet Theater in 1991 in order to perform full-time as Lypsinka. He returned to his position at American Ballet Theater.
Lypsinka first appeared in late 1988 when Epperson's act was a late-night addition to the bill of Charles Busch's Vampire Lesbians of Sodom at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York. She has appeared in evening-length solo shows Off-Broadway, including The Boxed Set and As I Lay Lip-Synching, both of which were produced by TWEED TheaterWorks. According to Epperson, the prototype for Lypsinka was singer Dolores Gray.
Epperson is a frequent performer at Wigstock. Epperson has also performed an autobiographical solo cabaret show, Show Trash (2004), out of drag, talking and singing in his own voice. In Winter 2004, in a different drag role, Epperson played the Wicked Stepmother in the New York City Opera's revival of Rodgers-Hammerstein's Cinderella in a cast with Eartha Kitt, Dick Van Patten and Renée Taylor.
Epperson played Mrs. Wilson in the movie Another Gay Movie. Epperson provided a commentary track for the 2006 Special Edition DVD release of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, along with Charles Busch. The second disc of the set also contains a short feature about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, titled Blind Ambition, with contributions from Busch and Epperson.
In 1999, Epperson appeared in a non-drag role in the critically acclaimed verbatim play Messages for Gary written by Patrick Horrigan and produced by Paul Lucas. Epperson appears in a speaking role in the 2010 film Black Swan as a rehearsal pianist for a New York City ballet company.
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For his show Lypsinka! The Boxed Set Epperson won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Sound Design, the LA Weekly Theater Award for Best Solo Performance, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Non-resident Production in 2003.
- "I don't like the term "drag queen," because it describes an amateur. Why not call me an actor? I suppose drag artist would be okay."
- "Epperson has commented that, "It's so easy to do misogynistic drag humor" but that he has "deliberately tried to avoid that". He adds that, "A lot of women, when they see the show, felt liberated and empowered." (...) He intends his own work as "a commentary of performance in general and drag performance specifically." However outrageous Lypsinka may be, she is always at heart affectionate toward the women to whose work she performs."
- Rapp, Linda: Profile, An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture online (ed. Claude J. Summers), 2005; accessed November 26, 2006.
- Hernandez, Ernio (August 8, 2003). "Lypsinka Drags New Show AS I LAY LIP-SYNCHING to New YORK". Playbill. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
- Pela, Robrt L. "'Kind of a drag': Lypsinka is much more than a drag queen", Phoenix News Times, April 8, 2004.