Where the Hip Go to Sip: Lea DeLaria Opens New Ptown Nightclub

by Jill Gleeson

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 11, 2019

Lea DeLaria has always been a Renaissance woman. The "Orange Is the New Black" star, who with her 1993 appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show" famously became the first out comic to guest on American television, has appeared on Broadway and in film, penned a book and crooned jazz standards on a series of well-received albums.

This summer DeLario added yet another line to her CV with the debut of The Club, a sophisticated and welcoming nightspot she opened in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she'll appear as Grand Marshall of the Carnival Parade on August 22. EDGE recently caught up with DeLaria to get the lowdown on the new venture, her love for Ptown, and her next big gig.

EDGE: Lea, you've always got a lot going on. Why take on this latest challenge?

DeLaria: I used to dream about owning a nightclub. Like, in my mind I'd go, "Wouldn't it be great if at the end of my career I retire and buy a little nightclub in a place that I like, and I'll sit at the bar, and if feel like singing I'll sing, and if I feel like doing some stand-up I'll do that."

And then my friends said to me, "You know, Lea, in show business we don't retire, we die with our boots on," and I would get really tired (laughs). But I always wanted to do this.

EDGE: Why Provincetown?

DeLaria: I've been a part of Provincetown since 1984, the first time that I performed there. It's probably the closest thing to a home I've ever had, and I've always felt there's been a need in that town for something like this, where you could have dinner and see a show. We also wanted to present people with a late-night hang, where people could have a nosh and listen to world-class musicians. We're trying to bring in bigger-name acts, like when we had me and Rosie (O'Donnell) appear July 4th weekend.

EDGE: How involved you were in the creation of the menu and interior?

DeLaria: I'll tell you how involved I was — I painted that deck! My business partner Frank Christopher (he owns Smoke Jazz and Supper Club in New York City) and I were in there constantly, painting and hammering and doing demolition. We wanted to make it distinct. That's why it's pink, which is one of my favorite colors, and black. We're also trying to evoke that 80s kind of style.

EDGE: There's a lot of seafood on the menu, which seems right for a place on the water. What else can people look forward to?

Our executive chef, Bex, worked for two Michelin-starred chefs. She's really good. We wanted it to be classy, but not snobby, with that silly sense of humor that I'm known for. So for example, "Lea's Breakfast" is basically my Bloody Mary recipe, and "Lea's Lunch" is a Coors Light and Casamigos aŮejo tequila, my favorite drink.

EDGE: What's the scoop on the parade?

DeLaria: I'm really excited about it! It's the first time I've ever been asked to be Grand Marshall, although I've performed along the route before. It's such a lovely parade. And I'll also be doing two shows at The Club that night. I'm doing a lot of shows there this month. It's making for really long days because I'm going back and forth shooting this new television show I'm on and coming to town to work. It's looney tunes, but I'm doing it.

EDGE: What can you tell us about the new show?

DeLaria: It's called "Reprisal." It's a hyper-noir show. Hulu will be starting their streaming with it. All 10 episodes are going to drop on December 6. I'm being asked to do more acting than I've ever done in my life. I loved "Orange," don't get me wrong, but essentially Big Boo was me, and it was a very easy part for me to act in that respect. In this, I play a character called Queenie, who runs a burlesque nightclub. And it's a f*cking amazing part. I'm SO excited to be playing this role.

EDGE: It's been a good year for you, hasn't it?

DeLaria: It's been a great year for me (laughs). I lead a pretty charmed life.

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.