Spirited Sapphire

100 WOMEN WE LOVE 2008

Lea Delaria


“I went to Catholic school and figured out fairly quickly that if I could make the nuns laugh, they would stop hitting me with the ruler,” says London-based comedian and jazz singer Lea Delaria of her comedic calling. In 1993, she became the first openly gay comic to perform a set on network television when she appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show. That breakthrough gave rise to her first world tour, which led to more television and film appearances, as well as her first Broadway gig as Hildy Esterhazy in a revival of On The Town, for which she received Obie, Drama Desk, Theater World and Fanny Awards. Her debut album, Play it Cool, was named 2001’s Best Jazz Album by The London Times. “Now,” says Delaria, “instead of being a comic who sings, I am a singer who is funny.” In addition to her comedic crooning career, Delaria has been on the front lines of the queer movement for over 25 years, having emceed the marches on Washington in 1993 and 1986. –CL



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