Epperson was born 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. He has since returned to his position at American Ballet Theater.
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. According to Epperson, the prototype for Lypsinka is Dolores Gray.
John Epperson is a frequent performer at Wigstock. Epperson has also performed an autobiographical solo cabaret show, Show Trash (2004), out of drag, talking and singing in his own voice.
by David Shankbone
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.
Epperson also played Mrs. Wilson in the movie "Another Gay Movie".
Epperson provided a commentary track for the 2006 "Special Edition" DVD release of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, along with Charles Busch. The second disc of the set also contains a short feature about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, titled 'Blind Ambition', with contributions from Busch and Epperson.
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).
In 1999, John appeared in a non-drag role in the critically acclaimed verbatim play "Messages for Gary" written by Patrick Horrigan and produced by Paul Lucas.
Epperson appears in a speaking role in the 2010 film Black Swan as a rehearsal pianist for a New York City ballet company.
For his show Lypsinka! The Boxed Set Epperson won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Sound Design, the LA Weekly Theater Award for Best Solo Performance, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Non-resident Production in 2003.
Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS (Unnatural Acts: Theorizing the Performative) by David Roman
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Indiana University Press; 1St Edition edition (February 22, 1998)
Amazon: Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS
Acts of Intervention examines the ways that gay men have used theatre and performance to intervene in the AIDS crisis. It discusses dramatic texts and public performances—from cabarets and candlelight vigils to full-scale Broadway productions such as Angels in America and Rent—that have shaped, and been shaped by, the history of AIDS in national, regional, and local contexts. Román examines mainstream as well as alternative and activist forms of theatre, including solo performance, community-based projects, mixed-media events, activist demonstrations, and AIDS educational theatre initiatives.
Acts of Intervention traces the ways in which performance and theater have participated in and informed the larger cultural politics of race, sexuality, citizenship, and AIDS in the United States during the last fifteen years. The book discusses not only how the theater has provided a forum for gay male response to the epidemic but also the degree to which those responses have in turn shaped the ideological formulation of AIDS. Román offers a new method for mapping the relation between AIDS and representation by combining interpretive strategies from performance theory, gay and lesbian studies, critical race discourse, and cultural studies.
This book is dedicated to writing the history of theatrical interventions in the AIDS epidemic, including performances whose official history has been largely neglected or forgotten. Because many early performances about AIDS left little or no documentation, the task of constructing an AIDS theatre historiography confronts immediate problems and limitations.
Acts of Intervention argues that the history of AIDS performance is located at the juncture of memory and disappearance, of mourning and survival, of representation and its impossibility in the context of epidemic loss.
Performance in America: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the Performing Arts by David Román
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 23, 2005)
Amazon: Performance in America: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the Performing Arts
Performance in America demonstrates the vital importance of the performing arts to contemporary U.S. culture. Looking at a series of specific performances mounted between 1994 and 2004, well-known performance studies scholar David Román challenges the belief that theatre, dance, and live music are marginal art forms in the United States. He describes the crucial role that the performing arts play in local, regional, and national communities, emphasizing the power of live performance, particularly its immediacy and capacity to create a dialogue between artists and audiences. Román draws attention to the ways that the performing arts provide unique perspectives on many of the most pressing concerns within American studies: questions about history and politics, citizenship and society, and culture and nation.
The performances that Román analyzes range from localized community-based arts events to full-scale Broadway productions and from the controversial works of established artists such as Tony Kushner to those of emerging artists. Román considers dances produced by the choreographers Bill T. Jones and Neil Greenberg in the mid-1990s as new aids treatments became available and the aids crisis was reconfigured; a production of the Asian American playwright Chay Yew’s A Beautiful Country in a high-school auditorium in Los Angeles’s Chinatown; and Latino performer John Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show Freak. He examines the revival of theatrical legacies by female impersonators and the resurgence of cabaret in New York City. Román also looks at how the performing arts have responded to 9/11, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the second war in Iraq. Including more than eighty illustrations, Performance in America highlights the dynamic relationships among performance, history, and contemporary culture through which the past is revisited and the future reimagined.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Persistent Voices
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