(Photo: Don Spiro)
Since the 90’s, Murray Hill, tagged “The Hardest Working Middle-Aged Man in Show Business”, has performed in shows, comedy clubs, films, music videos world-wide, including The Murray Hill Show, A Murray Little Christmas, and the off-Broadway show This is Burlesque. His list of appearances and accolades is so lengthy, that you’ll have to check out his bio at www.mistershowbiz.com.
Hill spoke with Gay Life about how he got his start in showbiz, why he prefers “Mr. Showbiz” to “drag king”, and dreams of seeing his name in lights at Radio City. Hill will be on stage at Ottobar on January 30, with Miss Harvest Moon and Baltimore’s own Trixie Little and the Hate Monkeys.
How long have you been in showbiz and how did you get your start?
I was born into showbiz! I’ve been performing on stages (or boxes) in New York City since the 90’s. I’ve outlived every club in town. I’ve survived gentrification! I started my illustrious career on Avenue A in the East Village with a performance as the bloated, sweaty Elvis. Then I ran for Mayor of New York and eventually moved into comedy…which is really the same as politics! I’ve been performing every night since.
It seems you don’t like labels. Do you consider yourself a drag king, trans, both, neither…or do you prefer to simply be called an “entertainer”? Why the rejection of labels?
I’m Mr. Showbiz, and I don’t like anything to come before my name! There isn’t a word or a label to describe me. I’m what they say, one-of-a-kind, or D. All of the above! You see, when people say “drag king”, “trans”, it just refers to a slice of the pie, and Murray Hill is a big pizza pie with lots of toppings. Why be called a slice, when you’re the whole pie? You catch my drift? Or, let me break it down for you even more…labels are for cans not people.
Polyester seems to be a lasting trademark of yours. Why?
Kid, you just gave the answer in the question! Polyester lasts and lasts and lasts! I have polyester pants from the 70’s that still look like they just got back from the dry cleaners. Polyester is a miracle fabric! Never wrinkles! The material stretches too, which comes in handy after a night of a few cheeseburgers. For me, who is all showbiz, 24/7, I need a suit that can keep up with me.
You’re in LOGO’s upcoming Out in the City documentary. How did that come
about and what role do you have in the film?
The director, George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl, Dogtown) gave me a ring and asked me to be a tour guide through the streets of New York on a double-decker bus. It was a dream come true to be on one of those buses with a microphone. I give a verbal history of New York East Village queer nightlife on Avenue A and lead the bus to where the Stonewall riots happened in the West Village. The movie will be showing February 1 on LOGO too, so check the local listings! It’s on during the Super Bowl…how appropriate!
You’ve performed in such a wide array of venues. Which has been your favorite and where do you dream of performing that you haven’t yet?
I’ve performed in the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows…that’s what’s great about showbiz. One night, you can be in front of 5000 thousand people in a swank ballroom, and the next night, in a back room in a basement somewhere standing on a box telling jokes. I love it. My favorite haunts in the Big Apple are Fez and The Zipper Factory. I would love to see my name in lights someday at Radio City! That would be the big time, baby!
What brings you to Baltimore?
In these tough times, it’s really my duty to bring laughs and good times to the fine people of Baltimore. And of course, meet some of the locals! Showbiz!
Anything exciting we can expect from you in 2009?
You sound like my ex-wife! Ok, you’ll get a check this year.
For additional information about Murray Hill, visit www.mistershowbiz.com. To buy tickets to the show at the Ottobar, visit www.theottobar.com.