’Undaunted’ Coco Peru Comes To Ptown
Back in 1992, Coco Peru performed in a show called "A Legend in Progress," and it’s a title that still applies to this evolving drag performer (aka Clinton Leupp.) Yet the more she changes, the more she stays the same -- physically, at least. With her trademark copper-toned flip hairdo and svelte profile, Coco brings to mind such mainstream figures as Kathy Griffin and Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross) from "Desperate Housewives;" but it was Coco who came up with this look 16 years ago, when she made her New York debut with "Miss Coco Peru in My Goddamn Cabaret," a show that ran for two years in a Greenwich Village cabaret.
Since then she has become one of the most recognizable figures of the New York drag scene and beyond, thanks to performing her one-person shows around the country and appearing in such films as "Trick" and "Girls Will Be Girls." This Friday, Coco makes her Provincetown debut as part of Carnival’s 30th anniversary celebration. She will be appearing at the UU Meeting House, UU Meeting House, 236 Commercial St. at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
Over the years, Coco has collected numerous awards for her shows, including the Manhattan Association of Cabaret (MAC) Award and a GLAAD Media Award (which she won after four tries.) Her television appearances include "Arrested Development," Showtime’s "Rude Awakening," "Will and Grace," and her half-hour television special for Logo. (It airs regularly as part of the network’s Wisecrack series.) For her performance in "Girls Will Be Girls," Coco shared the Best Actress Award with her co-stars at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, as well as the Best Actor Award at Outfest, L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
"If those gender-bending awards bespeak a certain duality in Miss Coco’s temperament," wrote an LA Times critic reviewing "Miss Coco Peru is Undaunted," "so does this show, which details how often Miss Coco has straddled the divide between saint and sinner, ladylike sweetness and stevedore crassness. Under the direction of Michael Schiralli, Miss Coco sings, sasses, and tells stories, usually about her own past. Wry and uncensored, the show is a hilarious exorcism, with music, no less. Hey, that’s entertainment."
We can only concur, having caught up with Peru when she made an appearance at a Boston nightspot earlier this year. Though there were problems with the sound system, Peru prevailed with an autobiographical show that was just plain hilarious. We also had the opportunity to speak with Clinton at that time while he was in Florida (Palm Beach to be exact) visiting his mother, who recently relocated there from the Bronx. "It’s a hard life," he said with a sigh. "I’m sitting on the porch in this beautiful tropical breeze and cutting up a papaya."
EDGE: Poor you ... It’s pouring here in Boston. Let’s hope it clears up by the time you come here. What will you be doing when you do?
Clinton Leupp (Coco Peru): I’ll be doing a one-person show. It’s a combination of three of my shows - ’Miss Coco’s Universe,’ ’Miss Coco Peru’s Glorious Wounds’ and ’Miss Coco Peru is Undaunted.’
EDGE: Was ’Miss Coco Peru is Undaunted’ the one you won a GLAAD Award for?
Clinton/Coco: Yes. Finally. I was beginning to feel like Susan Lucci.
EDGE: How would describe the show you’re doing here?
Clinton/Coco: It is basically banter with some songs. I’m known as a storyteller. I tell autobiographical stories. The songs have something to do with the stories. Everything is interconnected. I don’t pretend to be a woman. I talk about growing up in the Bronx. I talk about my partner, my parents, being an effeminate little boy growing up in the Bronx. Coco is an extension of myself.