After a long year spent in lockdown, drag long-hauler Varla Jean Merman has been paroled and is ready to stick it to you! Join everyone’s favorite non-essential twerker back at Fort Lauderdale’s Sunshine Cathedral Center for the Performing Arts (1480 SW 9th Ave)
on Saturday, February 12, at 8pm where she will vaccinate audiences with a double-dose of infectious new songs and viral videos. Varla Jean Merman’s Little Prick is the laughter-filled shot- in-the-arm booster that we all need!
It was a pleasure to sit down and talk with Varla’s Alter Ego Jeffery Roberson for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
What did you do during the quarantine?
I drank heavily every single day. Just like I did before the quarantine.
How excited were you to get back to performing?
I couldn’t wait to get back onstage, but I was actually kind of nervous that I had forgotten how to perform. Turns out it’s like riding a bike: It’s easier to do when you’ve been drinking heavily.
As a child, were you always a ham/performer or when did the bug bite you?
Wait, are you calling me a ham? Well, I admit I can be a bit overly theatrical and riddled with histrionics…all of which I owe to my mother. In fact, I think I popped out of the womb singing “I Will Survive.”
When was the first time you did drag?
In high school! Shocking right…that I went to high school. The school had a senior auction, where a junior could buy a senior and make them do whatever they wanted. So, I paid a girl to buy me and “make” me do drag in school the next day. Yes, I paid to do drag. Thank God I’m the one getting paid now.
How did you come up with the character of Varla Jean Merman?
I read Ethel Merman’s autobiography where there is a chapter entitled “My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine.” (They were actually married for a notorious 38 days) But when you turn the page, it is blank. So funny and so bitter! I thought that if she had a baby from that marriage, she would have gotten rid of it at birth. And that’s where I came up with the character of Varla, unwanted at birth, but with a celebrity lineage.
In your wildest dreams did you ever imagine she would have such longevity and be this popular?
In my wildest dreams I hoped I would be the most famous drag queen in the world. I think someone beat me to it. Ha! Seriously, I can’t believe I’m still doing this 30 years later.
Do you still do the Easy Cheese number?
I have not done that song where I eat Easy Cheese while simultaneously singing soprano coloratura in years for two reasons: I’m now lactose intolerant and a baritone.
You have a wedding ring on, how long have you been married and how did you meet?
Dewitte and I have been married 4 years and we met on an RSVP cruise in the gym! When he saw me, I had a full beard, and that night I shaved to do my show, and so then he couldn’t find me because he didn’t recognize me without the beard. He eventually found me.
When did you know he was the one?
When he marched up to me in the gym and said he was gonna marry me one day. I like a man who knows what he wants.
How does your hubby, Dewitte, deal with you traveling so much?
He’s retired so he comes with me most of the time!
Speaking of traveling, you have traveled the world. Is there a favorite city or concert hall you performed in and why?
I love San Francisco! And Palm Springs! And Fort Lauderdale! And those three cities have one special thing in common: old gays! My base!
Is there something Varla has not done yet that’s on her bucket list?
To be half nude and dressed as a giant hypodermic needle in a church! Oh wait, I’m doing that on February 12 in my show at the Sunshine Cathedral!
Describe Varla in three words?
Kooky, repetitive, and repetitive.
Tell me about your new show, “Little Prick” and why our readers should come see it?
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to see Varla Jean Merman’s Little Prick? Covid has caused a lot of people to go a little nutty, and Varla is no exception. So, come to see a crazy lady fall apart in front of you. Hey, the New York Times called the show “delightfully funny!” And who doesn’t believe the New York Times, besides half of our country! But seriously, the main reason to see the show is to see the song featuring my one-year-old mini golden doodle, Baby Jasper!
Is there something I didn’t ask you that you want to talk about?
Yes….. please come see me because I haven’t worked much lately and I’m flat broke!
For more information on Varla Jean Merman, you can go to her website VarlaJean.com or follow her on Instagram.com/VarlaJeanMerman
For more information or to purchase tickets for Varla Jean Merman’s Little Prick, go to: Sunshinecathedral.org/sunshine-cathedral-center-for-the-performing-arts/