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And that recording now one must not get one's knickers in a twist. I'm trying. These are the stories your granny never told people loved by everybody. I was raising a car and 56 until I slipped up on some stoop news on the road and put my motorbike. Hello again, my Gurney's, it's your host, Nikki, and this is stories your granny never told a monthly podcast where I interview older folk about the unexpected stories from the youth. Once again this month, I am bringing you a remote interview recorded from my closet.
So you'll have to forgive the audio that sometimes cuts out and things like that. But still, overall, it sounds pretty good and I think it's worth it. This month I interviewed Gypsie Haq, who was so fun to talk to. He offers us a voyage into old Hollywood, starting from when he was emcee of the carnival in Palm Springs and also his appearances in multiple films. He's also the world's oldest working drag queen and recently starred in a Miley Cyrus music video, which is how I found him in the first place.
And I promise you, he's awesome. We talk about living through Stonewall in New York and the AIDS pandemic and somehow surviving all of it. I mean, Gypsy has his own sorrow in Palm Springs on the walk of fame. How cool is that? So without any further ado, Gypsy hope we can start with whatever you want.
Maybe at the beginning of of your career, however you'd like to start for. Maybe just introduce yourself. Sure.
Well, it's a wonderful thing to be above ground at 88, and it's even more wonderful when you get a chance to talk about a journey that other people haven't taken. And yet it'll be interesting to see as you travel along. So you'll be in a train car with me and we're going up the tracks and we're going to get a look at the scenery that goes by us.
The scenery will be us. That is a great metaphor.
At the age of 18, I graduated from high school in Morristown, New Jersey. An hour later, with an open call, I became my first professional dancer. I got the name Gypsy because dancers in chorus and Broadway musicals and big companies are called Gypsies because they go from show to show. Singers and choruses are not called not only dancers.
OK, so to introduce you, you're James Gypsy Heikal, is that correct? Hok do you prefer if I call you Gypsy or if I call you James or it doesn't call me Gypsy.
Nobody else. No one's called me James or two people that are still alive from high school.
OK, will do. And do you prefer the term a female impersonator or drag queen or so.
This is a very interesting thing because I've gotten in trouble with a lot of gay people because I never considered myself a drag queen and I took that as a personal thing. It wasn't theatrical. I considered drag queens people that are beautiful. Yeah, because I've always thought of drag queens as being beautiful. The root cause of the world of people that I worked with all these years. Thirty years. I've never been beautiful. I've always looked fabulous from the neck down.
I never wore boots and I never wore wigs and I just wore fabulous hats and fabulous dresses. Shall I put a picture up from behind me? Would you see it discoloring?
Yeah, I would see it, yeah.
The listeners won't, but I can certainly describe it or show it later on. And you see this. Yes. Well I think you do look beautiful. Wow. That's a fabulous gown.
This was taken in Lake Tahoe when I opened at the horizon. It's in a resort in 2000. This is a Roberto Kovalik. Oh, it's magnificent. That's what I look like. It's not bad at all.
I hope to look that good at seventy.
Honey, if I look, I would work a day in my life.
Oh, well, I wish that were true or anything.
My career started from nineteen fifty one to nineteen sixty nine between some Broadway musicals. And then I was on the road with a big group in New York, Colbourne Kaigama dancers.
So you were a dancer mainly. Yeah.
Well what I was with a group like we would go on the road, we were at Dancing for Famous. OK, long before your parents were born. Yeah. Arthur Godfrey had a famous show, Arthur Godfrey and his friend.
And some of the stars to me show an Irish singer by the name Carmel Quinn.
I've met some folk who say I'm a dreamer. Became famous and then she would go on the road and we would have two boys and two girls dancers and I would be part of that group. So I did all of that and Broadway musicals. And, of course, I became very close with Chita Rivera.
Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Chita Rivera. I've got no contact, no, you got no memory here and the complaint from Guys and Dolls, Gina and I are still friends and I hear too often, but when she was in Palm Springs, I finally get to see each other after 30 years. Oh, wow. What a reunion. So then I opened my own nightclub in New York. I was too old to dance. I was in my late 30s.
Yes, I heard you did. I'm calling you from New York, actually. So that's a nice connection.
I'm 58, the first right by the fifty nine street bridge. OK, sure. Yeah. One side of the bridge was the Eileen Ford Model Agency then, and I was on the other corner and Gypsys was cabaret and we had a gay bar and Frank entertained and introduced singers. OK, Jane Oliver got her start there and Christine Eversole got her start there. At 19, she was a waitress in a restaurant while she was going to the academy and a lot of people got to start their careers.
And there she, of course, brought in Fred and John Canter and they broke in a lot of songs from their different shows. And in 1978, when Studio 54 and all that kind of movement was going on, Cabaret became obsolete. Mhm. So my club people were not going there, so I decided I wasn't 50 yet. Almost. I went to L.A., checked in with some friends of mine that I made over the years and then I just retired.
But a strange thing happened on the way to the forum in nineteen seventy nine or eighty a film from Paris called Kaiser For Opened and with Michelle Sarah. And we'll go to Los Angeles. And it caused a stir and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film that year. But a producer from New York decided to open a restaurant and nightclub with a show called La Cosa Paul and Right to do it before there ever was a musical, ever was anything. There was that in Beverly Hills on La Cienega Boulevard.
I came out of retirement. I wasn't even born yet. And it's almost, almost so much for early retirement.
I was almost 50 and of course, it became internationally famous.
So you went to dance for like hydrofoil know, became the host. Oh, you were the emcee. I never got dragged before 1980.
So that's the first time you did drag and you were about 50. I was 50 in 1982. But the show had already opened for you.
OK, how did that transition work? Did they just say, hey, do you want to do drag now? You're just like, why not?
When the night club opened, they didn't have a star. And that night the owner said, We'll have a star by tomorrow. And I was on the guest list with Billy and Blaine. And Connie Stevens was my blind date. So that's how Connie and I became so close. And so we went to the opening night and then the owner said, I know who you are. You're Gypsy from Gypsy. As I said. Yes. And the being plays are you're going to be your new host.
I never had a dress. I never had anything so big in black. Took me the next day, her limousine picked me up. We went to sex in Beverly Hills. She bought me twelve gowns, twelve shoes and makeup. And that's how the history started, you know.
So you just dived right into it. Well, I just decided to not take myself seriously. When I put on the gowns, we're became synonymous with me. Beautiful gowns like the ones you just saw.
Oh, yeah. I could I could see that happening for anyone, like putting on a gown like that. And you just all of a sudden like. Yes.
And then I talk like this.
I love it. I mean, I don't know I don't know if I'm qualified to say who's a drag queen or not, but I don't see why you wouldn't be.
I mean, you know, it isn't that the shows that I benefit from, like kind of fall to Jan Gore from the shows in Palm Springs and the shows he had in Lake Tahoe. And Gore always called his shows celebrity impersonators.
Right. Because it sounds fancy. You know, what happens is if you come out and you look glamorous. Hmm. But you don't look like a. A woman then you are a glamorous during the drag queen from Prince. OK.
OK, so you became a drag queen around, what did you say, 48? And, you know, I can't even imagine walking around in heels all day at my age. And then you went on tours. How how do you do it?
Because I never took it seriously. What I had to put in my head that there's nobody going to think of me as a real woman. And I just I wasn't dressed like that as a lifestyle. That's for fun, because I had to do two things.
I had to entertain the audience and then I had to transport them to a place where they actually thought they were going to see Tina Turner, you know what I mean? Mm hmm. So I then I had to do me, even though I was dressed in that and I changed clothes. In fact, how many at. Well, usually in the old days from Diane's original shows, anywhere between 12 and eight changes show.
How do you get the energy when you have a dress, sweetheart?
Oh, like this. Like a scarecrow.
And you just stand and then they dress. You just cover me. OK? Still seems like a lot of work.
Well, it was a lot of work, but then of course, what are you going to do? And of course I had a resurgence because of Dangar and the shows. I like that we opened in Palm Springs. I retired from Palm Springs and about had to go when I moved in with my niece. And it's been absolutely a wonderful ride. But the great thing is I never lost myself in the shows. I was always myself. But now had I been born beautiful or gorgeous, I might have been a different piece of work.
Yeah, because you might not have to work as hard to perform because you just pretty you don't have to be funny or whatever.
My gowns are pretty and my face never looked as good as that.
Roberto Caballe addressed a thing is that you have to understand from the time look, you fall in 1980 to the time I left can cause show at Oscars and Palm Springs. Our audiences were mainly straight. Wow. That doesn't mean a people didn't count. They did in Palm Springs. But it was mostly a straight audience because it wasn't like if you go to drag shows, you know, and it's wonderful because these performers just get so into the audience and they put dollar bills down there.
I've done it. It's wonderful.
Like to Cairns or other places in Palm Springs and in New York and Paris and London, but in a in a structured theatrical show, that doesn't happen because they're in the audience having dinner and drinks. And when I come out, I'm the only one that breaks that code, because then when I scooped them from the craziness it made, the women want the dresses and the heels and the men just want to say what in the world is going on with that?
I just never worked on. And that kind of confusion is so wonderful for an audience because they don't have time to think, yeah, that's how you kind of get them to escape.
You just take them by surprise.
I guess you just take them to a place and then at the end of can show what's wonderful. We all come back out without makeup. We do it all within this time. We're all in tuxedos, all the actors. Lovely and it's fabulous. Remember, I have not done a film or a television show except for one thing in the last 20 years. I mean, I've done boatloads of films. I've been in some very famous films, and I've done lots of TV.
No, I wasn't married with children.
And I honestly, I go, oh, you look great. And you, my darling, I could sell you.
Lots of stuff and little bits or big it's, you know, like to be or not. See, that's the interesting thing. Two years after Lacaze opened in Beverly Hills. Yeah, every major star and director in the world came in to see the show. It was the top show in Beverly Hills for years.
And I heard it was very popular in the beginning because it was so controversial. It was because Reverend Falwell and his group would kick it in front and tell all the famous people like Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor and people that came in to see the show not doing it because they were all going to catch disease.
And they're like, we're going now. Rock Hudson, not one of his little disciples out. Well, they touched him as he was coming in with Elizabeth. So he just coldcocked him and then came. Right. And we never had trouble after that.
Yeah. There you go. That's good. Like good bad publicity as well. But anyway, so two years after the show opened, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, his wife, came in to see the show and Marvin and they saw me and they were just about ready to principal shooting out of me. But they were costarring together. And one of their films culture, Peter, not to be OK. And I had never done a feature film I'd never done.
I did know nothing. And they signed me to the fourth grade. I had a starring role and I played Sasha and Anne Bancroft coached me herself through the six months.
And really, wow, that's fabulous.
And I filmed all in the daytime and then I went right on stage in the evening.
And because you seem to have so much energy, I'd be exhausted. And I was 50 years old when they signed Damn opened in 83.
How was that experience? Working on a film set and making a movie?
It was hysterical because I was petrified because my opening scenes, my first day of filming, I played Anne Bancroft dresser in that film, and she was a famous star of the stage in Poland. It was Poland and the Nazis in 1939, OK, it was I didn't know what a reverse shot was.
I don't either. Well, you and I are talking. If we were being filmed right now, this is our major shot. But then the reverse would be the camera would go behind your shoulder and shoot me, OK? We'd repeat the same dialogue we're doing now. Then it would reverse and go behind my shoulder and and have you repeat it again.
OK, that's strange. That's completely different to theater, I guess.
But my opening can see that me doing her hair, looking in a mirror. Huh.
So it was really something. But then I went on to do it because of that. Went on to do lots of films.
That's a great career bump in Florida. And Jeff Bridges in the morning after Kelly Long and through Beverly Hills. I need to watch all of these.
I've always wondered, do you get stage fright when you're doing a movie, even though there's no not really an audience?
No, it's different. No, I'm more frightened of the camera. I at first I was my biggest problem was not feature films. My biggest problem was when I went on married with children. And we have five cameras that made me go.
But Katie Sergo got me through that one because there are so many cameras and you just didn't know where to look or the sex, you know, and it was wonderful.
It sounds it sounds like a whirlwind of crazy events. Did you notice a difference in your audiences in the states and abroad when you were on tour?
Yes, sort of. But I think it depends on which country you're in when you're in Helsinki. They were much more amenable, we did very well there. This was a different show, the dance.
But in Russia, you know, no, they're not very pro LGBT. And this was a long time ago. Yeah, I go back to Stonewall.
Right. And speaking of that, talk about that a little bit and maybe how things have changed, especially being in New York, I suppose, at that time.
Well, at that time, there was a woman by the name of Trudy Heller and she had a flower shop in the village. She also had a nightclub, three Hellers. And a lot of people sang there. You know, Craig Russell, the matter of fact, I don't know if Barbara did it, but she was in the ball club. I saw Barbra Streisand when she was 19 or 20 at the most in the village. Well, what about Trudy Heller called me up and said, Gypsy, we got to go to Stonewall because big things are happening.
There's a big riot going on. So I actually was there at the riot and with the riots were going on and they raided the place and the people were killed in the fire. What actually happened?
So was it the police or were it just like people that were anti-gay that raided this club?
You know, it's all that awful thing that they would do. Harassment of all gay bars, just walking you out. You're arrested just for being there, doing nothing. But they fought back. That's what caused this drop. And then if you fast forward to the early 80s in L.A., you have the AIDS thing building up. So by 1982, 83, there were people that thought by even going within a block, you would catch it. We're now we're sitting in our homes.
I never thought I'd live through all of those things. I keep thinking about Stonewall. I can't think about looking forward to AIDS and all those things that I've experienced. And it's almost mind boggling that I've been around this long and have gone through those tragedies. But it gives me hope. We got real strong stonewall. Yeah. How did Stonewall change things after Stonewall? That was a long time building, but they couldn't harass gay people in bars. That's how they changed things.
It just showed that we're not weak anymore.
We were not a group of gay people, that we were very diverse.
We could do other things, but we couldn't fight back. It's really powerful. Yes. And that's what's going to happen now. I hope so. This country and the people are going to be slightly different when this is all over.
Yeah, I mean, I don't want to talk about the whole pandemic too much as I'm trying to have, like, happy episodes, but I do try to look at the silver lining and look at the societal differences that we're going to see on the other side. And I think there will be some positive changes, at least I hope so.
There'll be lots. There'll be lots. And of course, now we're living in a day and age when people that are my age at eighty eight, well, you're considered very elderly, but you're not considered on the cusp yet. You know, in my mother, my mother died in 1955 and she was sixty five and she was considered very elderly. So they've created all this wonderful medicine and they're going to create this one. Don't do it. Oh yeah.
It'll come eventually I'm sure of that. And actually, by doing this podcast, I realized that I wasn't ageist before anything. But the last interviews I had, I think one lady was eighty nine. Last episode was my grandpa was seventy six I think. And you are eighty eight. You're all super lively and like have all these great stories.
Just because people are old doesn't mean like they weren't twenty five once and doing cartwheels down Main Street you know like.
Well of course I think that has never changed. Yeah. If you think about when you first started school in kindergarten or first or second grade when you were there, you'll have bits and pieces of memories. Yeah. Anybody that was a teacher was considered true. Your teacher was, you know, so if everything comes around, comes around. But I've been very lucky. The few things that I've had have an artificial heart valve and I've had that for four years.
But I'm lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky. Because I have Paula, I have her husband and I have this beautiful house. They have two dogs and I have my little dog. So we have what kind of dogs? Well, I want to see mine. Yes, I want to see them.
I know it's not like, oh my God, it's so fluffy. Oh, I love her and is right here.
You're a star. It must be so nice to have them around these days. Yes. So Colin has not only adopted me, but she's stopped now. Oh, yes. Only one way to do this. And let's do it together. Yeah.
One of the reasons that I found out about you, because I was just Googling like older drag queens and because I love drag queens.
You did a video with Miley Cyrus. I did. This came up out of nowhere two years ago, and I was just appearing in the show in Palm Springs. And Miley decided to write a song called Younger Now. And because she had had a conversation with her mom about what it was like, what do you feel like? You feel old or whatever. So she wrote this really great song. Yeah, I love it.
I listen to it's great. You're just up there, like, kicking ass.
Yeah, and then she decided not to hire anyone young, that she had five little kids that were five years old and she tried to do the progression. So what she did was there was the famous show for many years in Palm Springs called the Palm Springs Follies. And these were older people that were fabulous women in their 70s and 80s in costumes and dancing. And so some of the dancers from there in their 60s, 70s and 60s and 70s, she had us that group that danced OK.
We had a separate group that she wanted to be her gang, like David Bowie did with the poodle skirts.
Was that is that one? Yeah.
Yeah. So then she wanted to have nine people that were in their 80s and so she picked eight, but she had already signed me. She wanted me to be her dominatrix so that I was in a better dress and a leather jacket and a beret. And so we danced, we did it and then we interacted. So that's showed.
And then you were live at the VMAs, where it was at twenty seven. So that was the CMA Awards. After I did the video, I went nuts. I don't you what I did was and a funny part of it was Miley detractors there. They all exited the car on one side. I was the only one by myself that exited the exit and waving in the exit was pink waiting to go on because they were just finishing the dance and they all went back.
But I left first. And so he stopped and says, Jesse, you look gorgeous. I said, thanks, but I don't look like you. She said, No, you do not. So what we done then, Brianna was coming on after her. She had all her bodyguards there and she not just a gypsy. What are you doing here? I said I'm here to do your numbers. I know. So I had a resurgence.
Who would have thought so? Like Pink Andriano. They just, like, casually knew who I was because Gypsy became synonymous with the casual fall, even though they're younger, you know. But people know and of course they know that I can connect it to these what I call celebrity impersonator shows. And all these famous people know now that they always had somewhere, somewhere in the world there is a drag queen that has actually imitating them. Yeah, no, I like it.
And some of them do not.
You know, what do you so we talked about Rupal earlier. What do you think about the sort of loopholes kind of dynasty and like modern day.
Well is very different. Wonderful story. I mean, after all, the first impersonator or first male dressed as a female that ever got a major makeup commercial. Yeah, yeah.
That was like very unique. And if you're unique, then that sets you apart from four or five other people. He's so unique. I'm a very different thing. I would never probably be asked to be. I don't think you would ever want me on his shows. No, ever.
Yeah. Maybe he has his own brand of, like, fabulous drag race. Those queens you run out of face before you run out of makeup.
That is a very good quote. I love that. How do you watch Dragoslav?
Well, of course, I've known Lou for many years. Oh, you've met Roy? Oh, yes. He came to see me several times over the course days or he became so famous. Yeah. And behind me, if you can see it. Yeah.
There's a framed star. Yeah, that's my star. I'm a star on the Walk of Fame and pumps seriously right outside Oscars. And that's it.
If I'm ever on that coast, I have to go and stand there and take a picture. That's amazing. Whose star are you next to?
I'm on the same line as what's your face? Lauren Bacall. And quite a few of them, yeah, I'm right there by Oscar's, which is where we did all the shows.
OK, I hope I get to go see it once we're allowed back outside.
You're such a star, Gypsy. Well, at one time I was. I think you still are. Well, you'll be a star forever, I guess. Yeah, because once you've been on film, you're history. That's it. Yeah, that's true. Apparently they did a documentary, Radical Age. OK, but that's interesting. There's five of us all in our ages and from different parts of the world in the country and all of us in Palm Springs have to look for that.
That sounds fascinating.
Yes, I feel terrible because, like, I don't know a lot of the celebrities that you mentioned, because it's not really of my generation like Lucille Ball.
I used to play backgammon on my day off at her house.
You think they could make a glamour girl out of me? Sure. Says right here we work miracles.
But of course, you know Jane Fonda. Of course I did. The morning afterwards. Her and Katie Seagal. Yeah.
So what's that lifestyle like? I mean, everyone says all celebrities are just normal people. What's your impression?
Well, I had two things most people don't get when they meet or know a famous person. All of the people that I met with very famous, all connected me to look casual. Yeah.
So you're famous to them? Basically. Notable. Notable? Sure. I had billboards all over the place except for Lana Turner, where we would have a special relationship. Our birthdays were a week apart and we would have a private cocktail somewhere where nobody knew but the other stars. We knew each other when I do a film with them and Bancroft always came after the movie was in a can and out, she would come to college, would bring her relatives from New York.
You know, Tina Turner would do that. Cheatham would come when she had a house on the West Coast, too. She would bring folks in. Elizabeth would come.
So you met Tina Turner as well? Yes. How is she like? She was wonderful. Anita Baker was so good she would come in. Lucille Ball had her own table. So did Frank Sinatra way in the back. He only came twice, but he came by, came Stevie Wonder, came to see the show.
All of these names I my mind is blown when I would come out to do my act. And between each number and I have a different outfit on, I would just cry. Stevie.
Stevie. Oh that's great. That's so much fun. The show was over because you had a big sell off, had a grand piano. Stevie Wonder came outside of the piano and did a free show for three songs.
Just because he loved your show so much. Yeah. Wow. When did you stop entertaining?
About a year and a half ago. So when you were eighty six and a half year.
Last film I did with Miley Cyrus is the music video in the beginning.
OK, and so you've been entertaining like since you said you started around eighteen, sixty seven years.
How, how do you have the energy to do so much every night, wearing heels, wearing gowns, even just dancing around. It's just because it's your passion.
Now, I don't think of myself in that role as a passionate person. I just keep thinking that I found it as amusing for me to be doing that as the audience found seeing me do it. So you just had fun? Yeah, I just became another.
And next to the audience, I did everything but clap for myself.
But if you could, you would. Oh, yes. And I was already standing outside. The operation was easy, hard core.
And how have you now adapted to not having that all the time?
Well, because I have such a wonderful niece and her husband that she's known my career for forty years. She's just hired me when she owned her own marketing company because she is a professor of marketing at USC. She would consider me one of her celebrities and I would do a lot of the functions that she would sit up late. You know, it's so fun.
We did kind of skim over the beginning. OK, and also let me know if you don't want to talk about this, but were you always openly gay? Because I don't know, back in the days how that must have been.
You know, when I started dancing on Broadway musicals and on the Road. One thing led to another, and I didn't come out until I was 26, and that was with another dancer, and then that's how that happened. It just happened.
That was your family, like strict or how did they take that? Well, my family was dead by then. Oh, that's a bit easier. Maybe. You know, my father both died with it in 1955 within the same year, and I was adopted, OK? And so I never knew who they were. And then my mother had two children. Your adoptive mother. Yes. After that. And so it didn't work out. My mother loved me.
The man who was the father of the other two children never wanted me. So when I was 14, going into high school, my mother moved me from our house to the neighborhood where there are two old ladies that owned a big house. So I lived with them all through high school and I never went back.
That seems like a really tough childhood, but also maybe for the best.
Well, you know, when you talk about were you ever nervous? No, because once you've been through that as a teenager, you know, because I was forced then when I went into high school to go into the shows to seniors shows and junior shows, and I sang and I danced. And in the summer I would get a job at a paper mill playhouse and Millburn, New Jersey, an equity playhouse. That's how I got into that. I just made believe that I had a wonderful wife.
And because you could because you're in the theater and that's nice. I could when I became an elderly person in my 70s, I considered that I would have some things that I would think about that would make me sad and being sad. Does it make you unhappy? There's a certain kind of sadness that you make you happy because you've survived. It didn't ruin your perspective on life and the people you meet. In other words, you can't take all that trauma and transfer it to other people's relationships when you just have to let it float away.
And also having that experience makes you who you are not it's not necessarily a good experience, but like you said, no, no, because it's not as hard to destroy you when things don't go right. Right.
Because you you know how strong you are, I guess. Yeah. Well, you know, if you can pass through that, you can pass through this. Hmm. That's why I think it's hard for people now going through what we're all going through.
Yeah. But it's going to happen. It's going to end. Yeah. Then everyone's going to have to probably take a breath and realize that there are some things that have to be done slightly differently.
Yeah. And we're going to be OK and we're going to be OK. We're OK now. We are.
Yeah. And I usually ask what's your advice for my generation? But you've given already so many pearls of knowledge.
Well, I don't think a person my age give anyone advice, but you can say this is how I feel. You know, like I've always wondered why, but I never understood a woman that felt she needed a man. I never got that because now is the Europe 2020.
There's no reason for a woman ever to feel that we don't need men.
Well, if you want one, wanting this wonderful meeting is not so easy.
I mean, yeah, we can do anything. It's nice to have someone there, but we don't need to lean on them, so to speak. No.
Well, a woman nine times out of ten will always be supportive of the important person in her life, whether it's a man or a woman or whatever, just so that person has to learn that you need supporting us. Well, that means that you're an individual and your individuality needs to be supported. It's a matter of learning if you don't already know it. When you look in the mirror, whether you're eighty eight and wrinkles and whatever, or you're twenty eight and you look in the mirror, if you don't like what you see, you're not going to like what you live with.
Yeah. And if you're like living with yourself, you're not going to like living with anyone. I like me so I think I'm pretty pretty.
I think so, too, and I think actually Rupal said it very well, if you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else because you've lost the habit?
Yeah, you need to take care of that first. And I talk about advice because you have so much more experience in the world and with people. And I wonder if you'd have advice for maybe younger gay people who are trying to just frigging survive.
Well, gay people in 20, 20 that are young are experiencing very different problems that are absolutely very different problems, except the one thing that never changes is what I just said. Learn to live with and love yourself. You live with you and you feel comfortable with yourself and with everything around you. Then that's going to shed your relationships. Will be that the stuff that happens outside now with this with this situation, we're all in young and old. It's going to change people's vision of themselves that will.
Yeah, because they have to live with themselves for a few months now and nowhere else to go. So I get out. Sister, it's a good time to take a look in the mirror for sure, because nobody else is going to be there with you.
You're right there. Yeah, that's I don't even know what else to ask, I mean, unless you have some other stories that come to mind, you might enjoy this shirt.
People have asked me, Gypsie, who is your favorite actress?
Because you've been in films with so many famous people. You have. And I said, well, and Bancroft. Mm hmm. And not just because of her her art, but because this is a famous, fabulous actress who took the time to take a 50 year old man that they she and her husband just signed. And she spent six months every single day I was on set. She would teach me and she herself, nobody would do that. That's very kind.
Yeah. And of course, Mel, I'll always love it because he signed me to my first film and they would say to me, who is your favorite director you've worked with? Well, I've worked with some of the world's greatest directors, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, earning more from Dynasty. I think my favorite director is Sidney Lumet. He directed me in the Jane Fonda Jeff Bridges film The Morning After. It was a wonderful film. It was about a film of a woman who was famous at one time and became an alcoholic and a drug user and wakes up in bed with a dead man.
Oh, my God. Now I want to watch that movie. How is it like working with a director? What's that relationship?
Well, they were wonderful to me, Robert Altman, who had his own way of doing things. I've had no trouble with directors. Mel is very exact. You have to understand where he's coming from. His vision is always so clear and so cut. And you have to fit into that picture and then at all you just have to make it work.
It works wonderfully that way. Yeah. Robert Altman was just wonderful just to say this is how you're supposed to be. You don't even need a script. Just do it to scene.
That's nice. That gives you confidence. Yes.
And one of my best, best, best friends, I've done probably 78 or 80 television shows and talk show. Wow. And Merv Griffin with the Gores. And of course, he was very close with David Coppola. And so I miss him a lot because he was always wonderful and he was always sort of laid back. And Johnny Carson had his issues on many things people didn't know about. But when they were celebrating his 25th anniversary on his show, Freddy de Cordova, who was the producer, decided to do a surprise for Johnny.
So instead of going to his set, he hired this big hotel in Santa Monica, well, filled with everybody, including him, for his anniversary. And the show was the entire show from time you thought, oh, wow, he was interesting in many ways, yeah. Oh, one other story. Yes, people have asked me when you're on stage when you were doing the cause, what was your most memorable evening? That's a perfect question.
Right. And I had the perfect answer to show room and dining room was in one room. Then it had long poles that were lit up and then behind the poles was a big, big bar and then the piano bar. Yeah, OK. So we would come in from the side and it was all open so I would make my entrance. One night I made my entrance before I introduced the first part that always came in and did my stick and stuff.
And I listened and I lined up and got by. Lucy and the audience were all stars so they all knew scream and yell. I came out, I had not opened my mouth yet. And the whole audience screamed, stood up, clapping and yelling, Oh my God, my dresses. Because my dresses always made people crazy. But to say there wasn't that and I'm going like this. What in the world do you know why they did that?
Because you will remember her, just as I hope Milton Berle and Julie Bishop snuck in behind me after I focused on the audience and they dropped their pants and both of them were standing there with their boxer shorts on.
And you're like, it's my beautiful gown. And it was quite an evening.
But that was your favorite time? My favorite story.
That's hilarious. I love that you're you just performing because you're having fun, basically.
And that's why you kind of never retired until now.
I goes, yeah, well, yeah. You know, there's just I mean, you know, if you can see me now, I mean, to lick this face up, you need a forklift and a prayer book. I think for eighty eight.
You look very lively and gorgeous now, but they're not going to see me anyway.
It's just you. Yeah, it's OK, I'll I'll just sing about how beautiful you are and they can make the image in their mind and they're not going to see me either. It's just the voices so they can imagine all.
Thank you, darling. That's very, very sweet of you.
Do a lot of famous personalities have this kind of trait where they're always on?
I think their biggest thing that they do, they're able to cut it off like this, you can look in their eyes, you can be talking to them, you can see how they cut it off. They don't want to be involved.
So like you're talking to them and they're just like, no, get away. Yes. Without saying, well, some of them do something. Lana Turner was very exact cause no one was to come to the table except Gypsy. Lucy was the same way. Lucille Ball. She's a gypsy. I like the one that does make.
Do you think they're just fed up with having people at them all the time?
Well, to give you an example with Lucy. Hmm. Lucy said to me one time after one night she was there and before she left, she always had me to take on weekends and she'd say, Gypsy, do people ever try it on you? I said, For what she said, Lenny? I said, Well, yeah, I guess they do. She said, Here's what you do. She handed me a card. She said how these cards printed up get.
And when they ask you for money, you say, yes, more than happy to do it. You hand in the card and you just say, call this number. Talk to this gentleman.
He handles my money and then they just call to like a dead. No, no. They called her and I got that lawyer on the number and say, I'm so sorry, but this bill is not able to do it at this time.
Did people do that to you, to they just befriend you to get something out of your fame? And now I'll tell you why.
Lana Turner, many years would not autograph. And because she did that at one time and someone got an imprint of how I don't know and cashed your check for twenty five thousand. So she never did that. It's such a shame. Crazy stuff.
I never want to be famous because of stuff like that where it seems a bit toxic sometimes.
I'm not so sure that people are going to be famous in that way. Taylor Swift is about as famous as you can get. Yeah, she's she's not anywhere near like that. And they keep a certain lifestyle. Look at Miley. You know, she does her thing and did her thing. And of course, her house burned down in Malibu and the marriage went. But that's her thing. But she was sweet to me. She would come on set for rehearsals for the music video.
She always made sure she came to me personally. That's so sweet, Gipps. How's that going to course? A lot of the other people in the cast were not amused with that.
They were jealous. Well, I don't know if they were jealous. I think they were just put out. They had no idea what made me special ops and Scarecrow and Old Man, but, oh, they didn't know you.
Most of them did not know.
Is it like that that people are kind of fighting over attention?
A lot used to be me, because when you're not in films all the time, my doing that video and the CMA Awards shocked so many people.
I'm glad there's there's a thing about, like, big a badass older person and just dealing with it and being cool, I don't know.
Well, you're lucky to be my age and have something to talk about.
You have a lot of stories for sure. I do. Just out of my personal curiosity, what are some tips to doing? Drag.
Two years ago, I hit the Guinness Book of World Record. I was declared the world's oldest working drag queen. Nice.
Congratulations. Well, I'm sure there's others. No, I don't know.
They have to come and fight you for the title on a lip sync battle.
The question is difficult for me because I'd be the wrong type of impersonator to ask that, because my makeup is just, you know, I mean, I'm not asking because I want to become a drag queen.
It's more like I'm trying to get an insight. What is that preparation look like, really?
Nothing. Nothing. I just want a little base. Then I take liquid liner and make an eyebrows way up and then blue cold, make false eyelashes, lipstick. And then from the neck down, the dresses are too dark. Gowns and heels. Yes, six inch heels. I can't even walk. And it's just I have to wear a jailhouse a lot, OK?
And it didn't like mess up your ankles or anything. Well, no.
And during the casual fall days you get some more history with only three men that ever had their legs insured for a million dollars.
You didn't share your legs as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and me. Lloyds of London insured my legs for a million dollars.
Wow. Because if you broke a leg. Well, no, because my legs were so beautiful. Well, yeah, of course that's what they said. But they weren't just beautiful surgeries used to tell me. But my leg, I said, I know. She said my legs are short by nearly two centuries, was a great dancer and a great film star, and she had the most beautiful legs in the world.
But yours were. Are equally as beautiful, apparently, put it to you this way here, if my face was as pretty as my legs, I wouldn't even be on this program.
Yeah, you'd be somewhere up in the hills. I'd be up somewhere. Well, I'm I'm really glad that you came, though, because it's a fascinating story. And I've got a lot more films to see now. I'm just I really appreciate hearing this story. And you tell it with such positivity. And it seems like you had a great time and you're still having a great time.
Yes, I am. When I wake up in the morning, it's not when I wake up. It's if I wake up. Well, that's gone for the day. So I'll just get my walk, throw on the mask and the streets are all empty when I walk in the morning. So I don't see anybody. I don't talk to anybody and.
Well, thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. It's been great. I can hear you.
I think we'd better say bye bye because you're starting to stop moving and talking.
All right. Sorry about that, but thank you so much. Oh, I love you. Thank you much. So as you heard, we got cut off because of better Internet. But I think you get the picture. Gypsie was basically a badass dancer, slash actor, slash superstar. You can see all of the pictures now on my website. For each episode, I compile a little slideshow so that you can kind of get a visual of what the guests look like.
All the links will also be in the show notes. So if you like that and you want to hear more episodes drop on the 14th of every month, please leave a review. I post them every Sunday on Instagram when I get a chance. So if you want to get featured there, leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on social media for updates at stories your granny never told Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And also now newly on Pinterest, you can contact the podcast at stories your granny never told a Gmail come.
And if you're not technologically minded, the voice mails that through three to two or three, 259. So my grannies get some binoculars and, you know, look for birds outside your window if you need to keep busy. It's migration season. If you happen to see your neighbor sunbathing naked, it's not my fault. Don't call it. See you next month, remember, girl, you run out of face before you run out to make.