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We touched base with Poppy Champlin before she would return to San Diego for Pride comedy night presented by HRC. If you missed her show at the Celebration Under the Sky, Stepping Stone’s 2010 gala, check out her latest Showtime Special: "Pride", and the Logo Special: "One Night Stand-Up" to get a feel of what’s to be served at Stand Up for Equality! No shows are alike.
Poppy Champlin will be joined by Suzanne Westenhoefer and Guy Branum and this year’s show will be emceed by D.J. Pierce, aka Shangela from the quirky TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race. D.J. will be appearing as himself. Look for him in the upcoming television movie "Mann’s World" playing Snip, a gay hairstylist from New York. Showtime is Friday, July 15, 8:30 pm at the Birch North Park Theatre at 2891 University Ave, San Diego, CA. Tickets are available at hrc.org/sandiego.
Brady: You recently moved from Los Angeles to Rhode Island. Why R.I?
Poppy: Well, I am originally from Rhode Island. I left in 1988 to go to Chicago where I studied at The Second City, and then went on to LA in 1996. I like LA but was yearning to be back in the country. My Dad left this earthly plane last winter and left me the house in the woods with my brother. So I was tired of just making the rent to live in West Hollywood and then…I met a woman in Ptown in July and she lives in Tarrytown, NY, and that was it. I packed my bags and left LA in about two months. Not quite the U-Haul but close enough.
Brady: When did you realize you made people laugh?
Poppy: When I was an adolescent I was able to say the right thing at the right time to make the group laugh. I could make the adults laugh. That was power and acceptance. But it was in college when it began to make sense that this was a viable way of making a living.
Brady: What drives you?
Poppy: What drives me? Hmm hopefully my girlfriend drives me at least once a week, but that is rude. What drives me is an inner desire to achieve. A struggle that is insatiable. To compete and be as good and better than men. This unfair world that is set up for men to succeed and women to facilitate their success, I want to prove that women are just as capable as men to succeed. Also, a sadness that was created when my sister died in 1978. I have a desire to win in spite of some setbacks and prove something to the world. That is a bit dramatic. I am very competitive in scrabble. I want to win. I may have to downshift once in a while, but I am still on the track.
Brady: How was your coming out experience?
Poppy: I was so excited to finally kiss a woman and I loved it over the top like a religious experience. But then she left the next day to Indiana –left alone to find a girlfriend. I went to the PE dept at my college and had a girlfriend within weeks. My mother was very upset with me and went through the seven stages of grief right in front of me the night she met my girlfriend. Sent me to therapy. I went and the therapist told me I was okay, it was my mother who had the problem. Always felt ashamed though –I was shamed by her. Took me a long time to come out on stage- not till 2000 – and I was gay in 1976.
Brady: What inspires you to work with the Human Rights Campaign?
Poppy: I love being able to contribute to a cause that is fighting for me. That is fighting for the rights of those that have been shamed. I never needed to feel ashamed but I spent a lot of time and energy that way. How can you contribute your god given talents to the world if you think the world is saying “you are not one of us”? We are part of this big beautiful world and need to shine and contribute and be accepted equally. That is our right, that is a human’s right. I love to contribute my time and my talent to making it so.
Brady: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Poppy: Hmmm – well I have a few books I think I want to write. I have a girlfriend I think I want to live with and I don’t know where that will be. I like my life traveling with both Olivia and Atlantis cruises, I hope to continue that – I would like to get some more television – Joy Bahar, maybe a comedy news show. I wrote two of these in my life so far and it seems I really want to do that – so maybe I can have my own show being a comedy news anchor. I still travel and produce the Queer Queens of Qomedy all over the country, I would like that to blow up and start selling out some major venues. I want to have a dirt bike. I want to have a healthy body that is lean and mean. I want to find the thing that lets me feel like I am giving back to the world. I know comedy is and I’m so fortunate to have been given the gift that I can give away over and over and over again.