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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Star Peppermint Talks Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Peppermint wants back on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She famously was runner-up in Season 9 when Sasha Velour took the crown after her iconic rose petal-filled finale lip sync.

“I would love to go on ‘All Stars,’” Peppermint tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. She was asked to compete in 2018 but was already booked for the Go-Go’s Broadway musical, “Head Over Heels.” “I will happily go onto the show if they invite me,” Peppermint says. “It is quite expensive and quite an investment, but I do think it could be worth it.”

Peppermint will next be seen in “A Transparent Musical,” opening May 20 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. She plays Davina, a role originated on the “Transparent” television series by Alexandra Billings. Peppermint recalls having “two-person watch parties” with her music producer when the series first premiered on Amazon in 2014.

“The story is about a white Jewish family, which I don’t necessarily identify with, but… I was able to connect with it, and at that time, it was probably this one major television series that felt like it was telling my story,” Peppermint says. “That both highlights the lack of stories that are actually out there that are inclusive and diverse, but it also definitely shows that this could be of great importance and significance to a lot of people. I’m just really grateful for the original TV series. It brought me a lot of joy and all of the feelings.”

The original “Transparent” starred straight cisgender actor Jeffrey Tambor in the lead role of Maura, a trans woman who transitions later in life. In a “perfect world,” Peppermint says, an actor’s sexuality or gender identity shouldn’t define what roles they should or shouldn’t play.

However, at a time when the LGBTQ community is under legislative attack and anti-queer hate crimes appear to be on the rise, Peppermint believes it’s important that trans artists are given more opportunities to tell their own stories. “People are only putting characters and stories out there that will make them money,” she says. “People are only trying to make money off of stories that are relevant or in people’s consciousness and we are only in people’s consciousness because we are being attacked and persecuted, and our rights are literally being stripped away — written out of existence –state by state.”

In turn, Peppermint, explains, “We should be able to benefit from that in some way, shape or form. I’m not saying reparations for the trans community. I’m saying, ‘Can you hire a transgender person to do this? Because you’re certainly willing to interview them and take their story.’”

Peppermint recently co-hosted “Drag Isn’t Dangerous,” a telethon that raised more than $500,000 to help support efforts to defeat anti-LGBTQ legislation. “I never thought that I’d ever be doing a telethon,” she says. “I was like, ‘This feels very Jerry Lewis, first of all’… I do remember watching Jerry Lewis with my grandmother and thinking how much fun it must be to be up there with those celebrities and everybody calling, because you never usually get a chance to see such a wide array of people coming together in the same space. That aspect of it I thought would be fun. It definitely was electric and fun. But obviously, as recently as probably three years ago, I didn’t think that we’d ever have the need to put together a telethon.”

And, speaking of drag, congrats to my friend Aaron Jay Young on “Queen,” his gorgeous new coffee table book featuring 125 portraits of our favorite queens, including Peppermint. A percentage of the pre-order sales go to the ACLU’s Drag Defense Fund to fight anti-LGBTQ legislation.

You can listen to the full interview with Peppermint above or download “Just for Variety” wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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