When Orange Is the New Black actress Lea DeLaria isn’t playing the show’s ever-butch Big Boo, she’s often singing jazz. Her upcoming album, House of David, features her jazzy takes on the oeuvre of David Bowie, and when she stopped by Conan Tuesday, she gave the audience a sample of what that would sound like – with a little help from the talk show host.
“If I gave you a bass line to sing, would you sing it and I’ll sing over it?” she asked Conan O’Brien. “I can’t wait for you to sing a bass line, Conan.” After demonstrating a funky bass line, singing “bom bom bom,” the host gamely took it over and the audience began clapping the rhythm. Then she leaned back and gracefully belted the lyrics to the Thin White Duke’s 1975 hit collaboration with John Lennon, “Fame.” As they get into it, O’Brien pantomimes playing the instrument, wiggling his shoulders and feeling the funk, which prompts DeLaria to stand up in amazement and point at O’Brien at the end of the song.
Prior to the performance, though, the actress explained that the 1987 movie Labyrinth is a big part of why she loves Bowie so much. “I love that it’s a family picture that you sit down and put your children in front of it and the entire movie, I think, is about David Bowie’s crotch,” she said. “And his Eighties jump tights.”
DeLaria funded her House of David record, which is due out next week, via PledgeMusic. In addition to “Fame,” the record contains the singer’s renditions of “Space Oddity,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Let’s Dance” and “Boys Keep Swinging,” among others. One of the pledge incentives to fund the record was a T-shirt emblazoned with two crossed screwdrivers, referencing her Orange Is the New Black character’s ability to fashion the tool into a dildo.
In Rolling Stone’s recent Orange Is the New Black cover story, DeLaria – an out lesbian – spoke of how she liked the show’s ability to advance politics and push boundaries, especially how her character was so explicit about her sexuality. “Having me have sex with a dildo was, like, the greatest thing ever,” she said, referencing a scene in the current season. “Because when do you ever see that?”