In the 1970s, Madame was all the rage.
The sassy ol’ broad—accompanied by her puppeteer, Wayland Flowers—was a regular on Solid Gold. (Yes, that Solid Gold; she often chatted with the guest performers.) She was also a regular on Hollywood Squares, even taking over center square from time to time after Paul Lynde left. She was on Laugh-In. She even had her own show, Madame’s Place, in 1982-1983
She was a star. A big star.
When Wayland Flowers died of AIDS-related cancer in 1988, the puppet diva, of course, went into retirement. She had a brief comeback tour several years ago, and is today on the arm of a new puppeteer, comedy/commercials/TV veteran Gary Holland.
In other words, Madame is out to become a big star yet again.
Her biggest comeback gig so far: She’ll be doing “White Carpet commentary” during the White Party’s main event, on Saturday, March 30, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. During White Party weekend (March 29-31), presenter Jeffrey Sanker will deem Madame to be the “Dame of White Party 2013.”
Ticket prices for the White Party weekend events vary, and prices go up after Friday, March 15. For tickets and details, visit www.jeffreysanker.com.
In advance of Madame’s big comeback, the Independent was honored to interview her via email.
Other than a brief comeback several years ago, you’ve been largely missing from the scene since Wayland Flowers passed away in 1988. What have you been up to all of these years?
I’ve been up to everything, honey! I took some much needed “Madame-time” to find myself. I traveled around and met plenty of men, but I just couldn’t find the right hand to go up my dress. It was like a way-more-fun version of Cinderella. Itried many, many men on for size, and now I’ve found my prince—but that isn’t going to stop me from sampling the talent at White Party, of course.
Have you been to a White Party before?
Never! But everyone looks fabulous in white (but then, I guess, no one is really wearing much of anything at this party, anyway).
You’re providing “White Carpet” commentary at the White Party. What will you be looking for in terms of fashion?
The less, the better! This is Palm Springs in the spring at the White Party—shirts are not necessary! Even the burliest bears in town should let the air hit their fur. Fashion for this party can be tricky, of course; you need looks that can go from pool to night, which is not easy to pull off. Speaking of, you need something that’s very easy to actually pull off! All those fireworks just have a way of setting off sparks at the party.
Someone mentioned to me that you’d be doing commentary in a style similar to that of Joan Rivers. Do you think you and Rivers have much in common?
I love Joan, but I think I bring a younger perspective than she does. Though, who doesn’t? Joan Rivers is so old that her birth certificate is written in hieroglyphics. Joan and I both speak our minds; we don’t hold back. We both take the same all-in approach to our commentary that we do to our plastic surgeries.
What will YOU be wearing to the White Party?
My gown will reflect my personality: sparkling, expensive and loose as hell.
I am sure someone as fabulous as you are has been to Palm Springs before. What do you think of the town? Any likes or dislikes?
I’ve been coming to Palm Springs for many years. I love a town that sleeps late and drinks early. I like that Botox is delivered to your door along with the morning paper. Any time of day, you can drive by the Movie Colony and watch the gardeners trim the pool boy. The restaurants serve appetizers that resemble the local residents … crispy brown on the outside, and tender on the inside. I love hitting the bars, ’cause this is the desert, and one must simply stay hydrated!
White Party organizer Jeffrey Sanker is set to bestow upon you the title of “Dame” at the party. Do you know what in the world that means? And how do you feel about it?
This is the nicest time anyone has ever referred to me as a “dame.” I hope I can use my title of honor to be a beacon to the young and misguided. Any hot young thing in Palm Springs this weekend should just head over to my room if they need a little “guidance” from their honorable Dame! Also, if it’s good enough for Helen Mirren, it’s perfect for me.
Many of the younger White Party participants may not be familiar with your style. Describe yourself to them.
I love to go out and have a good time, and then laugh about it onstage the next night. I call things as I see them, and I don’t like to let anyone off the hook, especially celebrities. I’m a consummate entertainer at heart, and I really know how to put on a show. I will admit to lip-syncing, though, but unlike Beyoncé, I have a good excuse for it.
Twitter and Facebook are just the most wonderful things! I can talk directly to my fans from the comfort of my iPhone. I love that I can be anywhere just twiddling on my twitter … and also be using social media!
Finally, I need a drink. You recently appeared on Watch What Happens Live! and served up cocktails to Andy Cohen. What’s Madame’s fave cocktail?
I enjoy my spirits, and I’m not one to discriminate. Women always look good with a martini glass in hand, so martinis are at the top of my list, but sometimes, I need a good tequila to get my party started. I’m not a lady who will turn down a free drink, so I’d say my fave cocktail is the one sent by the handsomest gentleman in the bar!