Charles Busch

Actor, Playwright, Gender illusionist
Following in the footsteps of the late Charles Ludlum, founder of New York's Ridiculous Theatre Company, which honed camp and cross-dressing into a comic art in the 1960s and 70s, self-described "gender illusionist" ... Read more »
Born: 08/22/1954 in New York City, New York, USA


Actor (16)

One Life to Live 1967 - 2010 (TV Show)


Lipstick Jungle 2008 (Tv Show)


Garbo 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)


A Very Serious Person 2005 (Movie)

Jan (Actor)

Totally Gayer 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)


Die Mommie Die! 2003 (Movie)

Angela Arden (Actor)

Frasier 2002 (Tv Show)


Oz 2000 - 2001 (Tv Show)


Psycho Beach Party 2000 (Movie)

Captain Monica Sharp (Actor)

Trouble on the Corner 1998 (Movie)

Ms Ellen (Actor)

Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


It Could Happen to You 1994 (Movie)

Timothy (Actor)

Addams Family Values 1993 (Movie)

Countess Aphasia du Barry (Actor)

Light Years 1988 (Movie)

of Gemnen (Voice)

Dragtime (TV Show)

Writer (6)

A Very Serious Person 2005 (Movie)


Die Mommie Die! 2003 (Movie)

(from play: "Die Mommy Die") (Source Material)

Die Mommie Die! 2003 (Movie)


Psycho Beach Party 2000 (Movie)

("Psycho Beach Party") (Play as Source Material)

Psycho Beach Party 2000 (Movie)

(Play) (Source Material)

Psycho Beach Party 2000 (Movie)

Director (2)

A Very Serious Person 2005 (Movie)


Personal Assistant 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)



Following in the footsteps of the late Charles Ludlum, founder of New York's Ridiculous Theatre Company, which honed camp and cross-dressing into a comic art in the 1960s and 70s, self-described "gender illusionist" Charles Busch drew inspiration from movie and stage divas of yore and created complex female characterizations, not just a cabaret drag persona, to place at the center of his trashy spectacles. In 1984, he formed Theatre-in-Limbo with a group of friends and began performing his wonderfully-titled plays like "Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium" and "Kiss the Blood Off My Castanets" at NYC's Limbo Lounge. "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" became such a hit there that it moved in 1985 to the historic Provincetown Playhouse, where it played for five years, becoming one of the longest-running non-musicals in Off-Broadway history. A 2000-year-old lesbian in that one, he also scored as Chicklet, a teenager with a multiple personality disorder, in "Psycho Beach Party" (1987), which he would retool for his first screenwriting credit in 2000.



also influenced him and his writing


first generation from Russia her style was a big influence on Busch

Eric Myers

Busch has refered to their "marriage" and to himself as an "opera widow"


Northwestern University

Evanston , Illinois
met his future director and co-star Kenneth Elliott

High School of Music and Art

New York , New York 1972



Joined the cast of the ABC daytime serial "One Life to Live" playing Peg Barlow


First screenwriting credit, adapting "Psycho Beach Party"; too old for the lead role of Chicklet, he portrayed adult femmes Captain Monica Stark and Mrs. Forrest


Wrote "The Tale of the Alergist's Wife" (his most accessible play yet) for Linda Lavin; did not act in it; opened to successful Off-Broadway run in the spring; transferred to Broadway in fall; earned Best Play Tony nomination


Had recurring role as an inmate on HBO's "Oz"; his character suffocated Italian mob boss Antonio Nappa


With composor-lyricist Rusty McGee concocted the Off-Broadway musical "The Green Heart", based on the same Jack Ritchie story that inspired Elaine May's "A New Leaf" (1971); did not act in it


Conceived "Queen Amarantha" as his (Sarah) Bernhardt vehicle; portrayed a drag actor playing a woman (Amarantha) who's conflicted about her gender and dresses as a man; rejecting his usual "camp" style, he successfully addressed a serious subject ending i


Performed his one-man show "Flipping My Wig", subtitled "An Evening with Charles Busch"; directed by Elliott


Portrayed Ms. Ellen, the resident, fortune-telling drag queen in "Trouble on the Corner"


Co-authored and appeared in the Off-Broadway musical "Swingtime Canteen"


Played a gay man in his "You Should Be So Lucky", his first play featuring Jewish humor, as well as gay humor


Uncharacteristically played a male role (Timothy) in Andrew Bergman's "It Could Happen to You"


Appeared as Countess Aphasia du Barry in "Addams Family Values"


Portrayed Mary Dale, a well-meaning Pollyanna of a Hollywood star who names names at the McCarthy hearings, in his "Red Scare on Sunset"


Wrote and performed in "The Lady in Question", playing an American concert pianist and Nazi hunter in World War II Europe; moved from Limbo Lounge to WPA Theatre and finally to the Orpheum Theatre in 1989


Adapted Guy Bolton and Eddie Davis' book for a new production of the 1955 musical "Ankles Aweigh" at Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, Connecticut; first thing he had written that he did not perform in


Provided the voice of Gemnen, a two-headed monster, in the animated sci-fi feature "Light Years"


Played the lead in his own "Psycho Beach Party"


Wrote and performed in "Times Square Angel", a touching Christmas tale of a tough cookie with a tender heart, starring Busch as Irish O'Flanagan


Off-Broadway debut, "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom"; ran five years, becoming one of the longest-running non-musicals in Off-Broadway history


Formed Theatre-in-Limbo with a group of friends (including Kenneth Elliott) and began performing plays at the Limbo Lounge, where the hit "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" originated


Wrote and performed one-man show "Hollywood Confidential" in Greenwich Village

Raised by his Aunt Lillian in Hartsdale, New York after his mother died when he was seven

After college, worked for two years in Chicago with a small company of unimaginative actors who resented him writing and starring in all their shows

Toured the country with one-man show, "Charles Busch Alone with a Cast of Thousands"; seeing this piece, Charles Ludlum provided him with the space to perform "Hollywood Confidential"

Bonus Trivia


"All my plays are about someone trying to piece together their identity and who they really are. In this one ["The Lady in Qustion"], a very selfish character learns to get out of herself by giving to others. I was concerned with people who use New Age thought to justify selfishness. I'm sure there's a kernel of truth in it, but a lot of people distort it to meet their own needs and that's dangerous. 'Lady' satirizes that while also using the movie thing." --Charles Busch to TheaterWeek, August 7, 1989


"I realize that a good man is hard to find, but you can usually find a reasonable facsimile before the bar closes at four." --from Busch's "Whores of Lost Atlantis"


About the days prior to the success of "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom": "I had to supplement my income by working as an office temp, a receptionist in a zipper factory and a quick-sketch artist on the sidewalk. To make matters worse, the theaters that I had relationships with all seemed to be burning down, going broke or didn't want me anymore. When I looked at my future, all I saw was temp work."All of a sudden, the East Village was hot, and the media was focusing on performance artists, so I thought, What would I like to see if I were coming down here? The answer: something campy, dirty, outrageous, with a little nudity. We started putting on shows that had those elements and performed them at the Limbo Lounge (on 10th Street between Avenues A and B). And that was the beginning of my career as a drag diva." --Busch to James Ireland Baker in Time Out New York, January 9-16, 1997


"The actresses that I admire were comediennes who were also glamorous, like Lucille Ball or Rosalind Russell. They were these clotheshorses who could also do pratfalls and be outrageous." --Busch to Gerard Raymond in Out, April 1997