Charles Busch on Acting and Writing

By Jake Smerechniak

Photo of Charles Busch

It’s difficult to compare any individual in theatrical history to Charles Busch, a seriously unique icon both on and off the stage. This year, the theatrical world is celebrating 30 years of Mr. Busch’s work, including The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife running Nov. 21-Dec. 20 at The Lyric Stage. Get Tickets Here

The Actress

One of Mr. Busch’s most defining features is that he prefers playing women in his plays. During an interview, he even stated that “the actress” was his alter ego. In all, Charles Busch (and much of this audiences) enjoys it when his unique style manifests in his work. He typically employs a rather campy tone to his stories and is able to draw attention to himself with thematic elements of his own life sprinkled throughout the components of the piece.


His motivation to write plays came from his inability to land any roles while in college at Northwestern University. It was not long, however, before people began noticing him for his new ideas and provocative subject matter within his works.

On the topic of drag, Charles Busch elaborated on it by stating that when he is dressed in drag, he isn’t “this shy young man but a powerful woman.” He sees the female roles that he writes for himself as liberating, giving him the means necessary to spice up the show.

Future Works

In this interview, Charles Busch outlines some of the reasons that pushed him toward writing for the stage. He also describes roughly what he still expects to create before his career is over. 


Busch describes his feminine approach to theatre very differently than “naturalistic” femininity. He supposedly takes on more of a “moviestar” persona, with characteristics of old-time movie actresses. You can see examples of this style he takes on here: