Cinema Arts Centre - Cinema 1 Fri, Sep 22, 2023 7:30 PM


Winner of The Sundance Best Performance Award for DIE MOMMIE DIE with his new book LEADING LADY: A MEMOIR OF A MOST UNUSUAL BOY

Friday, September 22nd, 7:30 PM

Featuring a screening of Die Mommie Die, interview, audience Q&A, and book signing reception with live music

Film & Discussion Only: $28 Public | $23 Members
Film, Discussion, & Copy of the Book: $43 Public | $38 Members

Surprise Gift, Limited Supply, First Come, First Served: For everyone who buys his memoir, Charles Busch has generously offered a complimentary CD, featuring his cabaret and banter act at Michael Feinstein’s Manhattan club! Only available to the first 50 people who purchase a copy of Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy.

As his many fans know, Charles Busch is an award-winning actor, prolific Tony-nominated playwright, and groundbreaking theatrical drag legend, with a unique and hilariously satiric affinity to the stars and plots of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  He wrote and starred in the play and film, Die Mommie Die, for which he won the Sundance Best Performance Award. His The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife played 777 performances on Broadway, garnishing an Outer Circle Critic’s award, a Tony nomination for Best Play, and is the longest running Broadway comedy of the past twenty-five years. Also record-breaking was his early, outrageous Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, one of the longest running plays in the history of Off-Broadway. He starred in the stage and film version of cult-favorite Psycho Beach Party, while other critically-acclaimed plays include The Divine Sister, The Lady in Question, and The Confession of Lily Dare. For two seasons he appeared as Nat Ginzburg in the HBO hit series OZ. He has also appeared as a guest programmer and in numerous documentaries for Turner Classic Movies, and has conducted master classes at NYU, Harvard, UCLA and Amherst College. Charles Busch has been honored with a special Drama Desk Award for career achievement, and was given a star on the Playwrights Walk outside the Lucille Lortel Theatre.


Following the film screening and discussion, Charles Busch will be signing copies of his lauded new memoir, Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy - offered at half-price by special arrangement with the publisher! The reception will feature a live piano & vocals performance by Lydia Sabosto. Charles Busch will be interviewed by Dr. Jud Newborn, CAC Curator of Celebrity Events.

DIE MOMMIE DIE is an outrageous post-modern send-up of Film Noir, Douglas Sirk and other plush Hollywood melodramas of the 1950’s. Die Mommie Die won Charles Busch the coveted Sundance Film Festival’s Best Performance Award. Following retired hit-parade singer/film star Angela Arden--surviving member of a twin-sister vaudeville act--is married to ailing producer Sol Sussman while pursuing a wild affair with handsome young tennis instructor Tony Parker (Jason Priestly, Beverly Hills, 90210). Impossibly gracious but secretly desperate, Angela plots to poison Sol, who, refusing a divorce, cuts off her allowance. Daughter Edith - (Natasha Lyonne) - also Tony’s lover - suspects foul play and wouldn’t mind if Mom got the Chair--but son Lance (also Tony’s lover) will doing anything to protect the mother he adores. Devotees of byzantine movie plots may think they know the outcome--but the surprise ending will knock your socks off! (USA, 2003, 90 min.)

LEADING LADY: A MEMOIR OF A MOST UNUSUAL BOY is a poignant, deliciously anecdotal account of a talented artist's Oz-like journey in the worlds of Off-Broadway, Broadway, and Hollywood - featuring 24 lush color plates.

Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy
 has received advance rave reviews by such stars as Sarah Jessica Parker, Alan Cumming, Bette Midler, Jim Parsons and Margaret Cho, as well as by Library Journal.

By turns comic and moving, Charles writes how ever since his mother's death when he was seven, he has sought out surrogate mothers in his life. In his teens, Charles moved to Park Avenue in Manhattan to live with his Auntie Mame-like Aunt Lil, who encouraged and nourished Charles’ talents and dreams, and eventually he discovered his gifts for writing plays and performing as a male actress.


Busch also shares his colorful and sometimes outlandish interactions with film and theatrical luminaries including the hilarious comedian Joan Rivers(who became a mother figure to Charles after Aunt Lil’s death), Angela Lansbury (who attended her first Passover seder with Charles), Rosie O’Donnell, Claudette Colbert, Valerie Harper, Kim Novak, and many others. Full of both humor and heart and featuring rare photos, Leading Lady is for readers of entertainment books as well as anyone who enjoys real-life stories of artists who break the mold, ditch the boundaries, and find their own unique way to sparkle. 

Fascinating, elegant, frank and unputdownable. I devoured this book with a glee that could only be surpassed by watching Charles Busch perform live! – Alan Cumming
A magical tale of how Charles brought drag into the present by celebrating the glamour of the past. – Sarah Jessica Parker
Witty and whimsical, this book is a deep meditation on the divine feminine, a love letter to the lovers of movies and memories. – Margaret Cho
Leading Lady” is both a page-turner with name-drops and a book depicting the thrill of creation– Jim Parsons


This joyful, upbeat, and witty memoir will likely capture the hearts of theater and movie buffs. – Library Journal

I have loved Charles Busch since I first clapped eyes on him. – Bette Midler

Special thanks to our event sponsors:


Lydia Sabosto, Piano and Vocals

Christopher Appoldt, Professional Portrait Photography