A MAC, Bistro, and GLADD Award Winner, Miss Coco Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) burst onto the cabaret scene in the early '90s when he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his first show "Miss Coco Peru in My Goddamn Cabaret." Since then, Miss Peru has continued to entertain audiences with cabaret, film, and television appearances!
Miss Peru's other cabaret shows include “Miss Coco Peru: A Legend in Progress” (’92 MAC and Bistro Award), “Miss Coco Peru at the Westbeth Theatre” (’95 MAC Nomination), “Miss Coco Peru's Liquid Universe”(‘98 GLAAD Nomination), “Miss Coco Peru's Universe” (’99 LA GLAAD Nomination), “Miss Coco Peru’s Glorious Wounds…She’s Damaged” (’01 LA GLAAD Nomination) “Miss Coco Peru is Undaunted” (’04 GLAAD Award Winner, Ovation Nomination), and most recently “UGLY COCO.”
On screen, Miss Coco Peru is best known for her roles in Jim Fall's Fineline feature film, "Trick" (starring Christian Campbell) and Richard Day's IFC feature length comedy "Girls Will Be Girls." For this film Miss Peru shared the Best Actress Award with his two co-stars Jeffery Roberson and Jack Plotnick at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen as well as the Best Actor Award at Outfest Film Festival. Miss Peru appeared in the follow-up "Girls Will Be Girls" short films, recreating her role from that now cult film on the small, small screen also known as the internet: www.girlswillbegirlsonline.typepad.com/. Additionally, Miss Peru has appeared in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar," "Nick and Jane," "Straight-Jacket," and in the Disney animated feature, "The Wild" as "Mamma Hippo!"
Miss Peru's television appearances include "Arrested Development," "Twins," "Will and Grace," "New York Undercover," Showtime's "Rude Awakening," Bravo’s "Boy Meets Boy," Bravo’s "Sexiest Moments in Film," Bravo’s "Welcome to the Parker," and in an Orbitz commercial that was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award. Miss Peru also has her very own half- hour LOGO comedy special taped as part of the “Wisecrack” series. The episode airs regularly and is available on itunes!
Miss Peru was the Grand Marshall of the PTOWN Mardi Gras Parade in 2008, hosted the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's Gala, Lifeworks Comedy Night, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles 2009 Spring show "And the Award Goes to..." and the 2009 GLAAD Medis Awards.
Additionally, Miss Peru hosts an on-going live series of shows at the Renberg Theater in Los Angeles called "Conversations With Coco" in which Miss Peru interviews and celebrates the lives and careers of the GLBT community's favorite icons. Miss Peru's guests have been the amazing Bea Arthur, the sassy Lainie Kazan, drag legend Mr. Charles Busch, and the beautiful Lesley Ann Warren.
Miss Peru is celebrating 20 years of being Miss Coco Peru with a brand-new show called "Miss Coco Peru: There Comes A Time!" Come join the celebration from November 3-6 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street, at 9th Avenue inside The West Bank Cafe). Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Bea Arthur. Growing up my parents had a comedy album called "The Jewish American Princess" and Bea played the overbearing mother on it and as a really young boy I fell in love with her voice and comic timing. It was a love affair from that moment. By the way, I was so LUCKY to have later become friends with my childhood idol and I gave Bea a copy of that album and she had completely forgotten she had ever done it!
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Shirley MacLaine! She has been appearing in my dreams for years so I take that as a sign that we are meant to work together, become dear friends and spend one day a week meeting for lunch and laughing. And why? Because we can.
3. How did you come up with Miss Coco Peru and what have you learned about yourself from being a performer? As Coco I never wanted to pretend to be a woman, I wanted to simply be myself with this layer of drag that allows me to say and do the things I might not say or do as myself. Being a recovering Catholic and having grown up an effeminate boy in the Bronx, you might say I had some "issues." Later, I trained to be an actor in University and the one note I kept getting from my professors was that, if I was ever going to be a working actor, I needed to "butch up" and "lose the Bronx accent." I knew these two things were never going to be possible for me, but I also had a sense that part of what made me funny as a person was my Bronx accent and my "gayness." However, I was depressed that it seemed to mean that I would never work. Then one day I had a calling to do drag and my life changed in that moment! I just had a sense and experienced a liberation that gave me the sense that, even with all my fears, everything would all work out. Three months after that decision, I performed my first show in a popular NYC cabaret club and immediately became a cult figure in the NYC drag/cabaret world. Part of my mission back then was that I wanted people to watch my show and forget that they were watching a man in a dress, and instead relate to the story. If they could do that, then perhaps we could all remember that what matters in our relationships with others isn't really what's on the outside, but what's on the inside. Of course, that was all when I was very young. Nowadays, my mission is to pay my mortgage!
4. What excites you most about your upcoming show "Miss Coco Peru: There Comes A Time" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing it? I am celebrating 20 years as Coco. 20 years! I love this new show because it is about celebrating change, reflecting on the past and looking to the future. I think it is my most mature show and I am talking about things that I really want to talk about. I’m really proud of this show and I’ve been thrilled by the reaction audiences have had to it so far! Since I am from NYC and I created Coco there it is especially exciting for me to bring this new show to where it all started!
5. In your on going series "Conversations with Coco," what did you enjoy most about interviewing Charles Busch and what did you learn from him? Charles was my fist inspiration to do drag. I saw him in his show "The Lady in Question" and I was blown away by his work. Later, after I created Coco, Charles became a supporter, which for me was an amazing experience, so getting to do this Conversation with him all these years later was a wonderful way to celebrate him and his career and our history together. What I have always valued about Charles, besides his enormous talent, is that he is a professional, respectful and kind human being. These are qualities that I look for in others and in myself.
6. You performed with Jeffrey Roberson, whom I just recently interviewed for "Adaumbelle's Quest." What was the best part about working with Jeffrey and might there ever be a joint venture between Miss Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman (Jeffrey's alter ego)? I remember the first time I saw Jeffrey perform in NYC. We were both performing in a benefit and I was completely in love the moment I saw Varla. Since then we vowed to work together and we finally had that opportunity with Girls Will Be Girls. We got to work together again recently when we filmed the sequel to that movie. It is always a pleasure to work with Jeffrey because we respect each other and I believe that comes through when we work together. Sadly, we’ve never had the opportunity to work onstage together, but you never know!
7. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together and where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I find it terrifying to sit in front of a blank screen but once I move past that fear and begin to write I do love those moments of inspiration where you begin to see it all coming together. I also listen to a lot of music to inspire me and to help me find the right emotion and rhythm of a monologue. I usually just sit at my desk and write but I always keep a pen and pad with me because you never know where you might be inspired. Having said that, I still remember the days before my personal computer when I wrote my shows longhand on yellow pads! Now that’s terrifying!
8. Favorite way to spend your day off? Watering and talking to my plants in my yard, swimming in my pool, and picking lemons from my tree. Throw a crossword puzzle into that mix and I’m in heaven! I’m getting older, so it’s all about the simple things now!
9. Favorite skin care product? Noxzema, it reminds me of my childhood.
9a. Favorite kind of shoes? I love any shoe that actually fits and has a two-inch heel. I am not a size queen when it comes to my heels!
10. Favorite website? www.misscocoperu.com Duh!
11. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman…best song for a series and you get to spin! However, if we’re talking about sex here, then definitely the man of steel.
12. What's the best advice you've ever received? Respect your elders.
13. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson…I know, it’s disturbing but I can’t help it. I’m also into Ryan Buell, that guy from Paranormal State. Wrestlers and ghost hunters and Shirley MacLaine? Oh my!
14. What do you get from performing your own show that you don't get from performing in film/television? Drunks.