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John Epperson (born April 24, 1955) is a drag artist, actor, pianist, vocalist and writer who is mainly known for creating his stage character Lypsinka. As Lypsinka he is lip-synching to meticulously edited show-length soundtracks culled from snippets of outrageous 20th-century female performances in movies and song.
John Epperson was born April 24, 1955 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 Theater. In addition 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.1
Lypsinka first met her public 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.1 According to Epperson, the prototype for Lypsinka is Dolores Gray.2
John Epperson is a frequent performer at Wigstock. He has also performed an autobiographical solo cabaret show, Show Trash (2004), out of drag, talking and singing in his own voice.1
In Winter 2004, Epperson (in a different drag role) played the role of 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 fellow Wigstock veteran Renee Taylor.1
He has also written a play, My Deah, his version of the Medea tale transplanted to Mississippi which debuted at the June Havoc Theater in New York (2006).1
For his show Lypsinka! The Boxed Set Epperson won the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Sound Design, the L.A. Weekly Theatre 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."2
- "Epperson has commented that "it's so easy to do mysogynistic 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."1
1: Rapp, Linda. Epperson, John. glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Claude J. Summers, ed. glbtq, 2005. www.glbtq.com/arts/epperson_j.html Accessed 26 November 2006.
2: Pela, Robrt L. Kind of a drag. Lypsinka is much more than a drag queen. Phoenix News Times Apr 8, 2004. Interview with John Epperson on Phoenix News Times
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