Bob Bolyard Dishes on the 100th Episode of Drag Queen Amber LeMay’s Web Series, 'Amber Live!' | Comedy | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Bob Bolyard Dishes on the 100th Episode of Drag Queen Amber LeMay’s Web Series, 'Amber Live!'


Published March 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of Bill Knight
  • Amber LeMay

A couple of weeks into lockdown back in 2020, Bob Bolyard decided to take his longtime character, Amber LeMay, to the wide world of livestreaming. A founding member of the House of LeMay, a long-standing Vermont drag troupe, Bolyard said to himself, "What the hell. I've seen other people do stuff online. I've got a computer, I've got a camera — I can do that." And a new era for the House of LeMay was born.

Traditionally, the group was something to be experienced live. Its musical comedy shows, often holiday-themed, included songs and sketches showcasing the antics of three sisters living in the Hot Dam Trailer Park in the fictional Vermont town of Beaver Pond.

Pre-pandemic, they were ladies about town, too, often seen holding court at social events and festivals. The LeMays also host the annual Winter Is a Drag Ball at South Burlington nightclub Higher Ground. Originally scheduled for February, this year's ball was moved to May 14 due to COVID-19.

On March 22, 2020, Bolyard launched his weekly web series, "Amber Live!" Originally called "Ask a Drag Queen," the talk-variety show initially featured local guests, such as state Rep. Brian Cina (P/D-Burlington) and formerly local drag persona the Rev. Yolanda. But it soon branched out to include pop culture icons, like "Queer as Folk" star Hal Sparks, "Letterkenny" hick K. Trevor Wilson, TikTok queens Madge and Bisket, and patron saint of big cats everywhere Carole Baskin, who became an icon through the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King."

As the show grew, Bolyard and his producer, Russell Dreher, began expanding its content. In addition to interview segments, it now features prerecorded sketch comedy. Characters, including hard-drinking Vermont good ol' boy Rusty Peen and queen of the kitchen Lucy Belle, regularly serve up laughs.

Streaming on YouTube, "Amber Live!" celebrates its 100th episode on Sunday, March 27. The special will feature clips from past interviews, plus new video clips and live appearances from state Rep. John Killacky (D-South Burlington), drag queen Emoji Nightmare, WCAX newscaster Darren Perron and more.

Seven Days caught up with Bolyard via video chat.

SEVEN DAYS: How does "Amber Live!" continue the legacy of the House of LeMay?

BOB BOLYARD: Well, I mention Beaver Pond a lot. That's our hometown. And we have commercials we've done with the Beaver Pond players. And I have Lucy Belle come in and do her "Bitchin' in the Kitchen With Lucy Belle." And so I think it just brings more attention to our legacy.

SD: Assuming that the pandemic ends at some point, do you ever see taking "Amber Live!" truly live, like with an audience?

BB: I have thought of that. But the logistics, you know — right now it's very easy for me to just take my laptop down to my basement, only dressed from the waist up.

SD: I was going to ask about that! Have you ever repeated an outfit?

BB: I'm sure I have.

SD: Who are Amber's style icons?

BB: I don't have style icons. I always say, "I'm your favorite aunt or drunk neighbor — or your drunk aunt or favorite neighbor. I'm a suburban, fun woman."

SD: Where do you get a lot of Amber's looks?

BB: Dirt Chic! And Goodwill. Amber's thrifty! That's why she drinks Platinum Vodka.

SD: That's not a Russian brand, is it?

BB: No! No, it's American.

SD: If you could resurrect anyone from the dead, whose zombified remains would you want to bring on your show to interview?

BB: I think Johnny Carson, because I always enjoyed his interviews. And I'd like to find out some of his — not secrets, but how did he approach an interview. I always found him entertaining.

SD: You've certainly had a slew of interesting guests. I mean, Carole Baskin alone. Like your show itself, she's forever tied to the pandemic, given that "Tiger King" came out about a week into lockdown.

BB: That was my first major get.

SD: I love how you both wore animal prints. She always does, right? That's kind of her thing?

BB: Yup. I said, "I'm gonna look like her." She appreciated that.

SD: Charles Busch is another guest who stood out to me. Psycho Beach Party, which he wrote and starred in, is one of my favorite movies.

BB: I tell you, he couldn't have been more gracious. He spent two hours with us on a Saturday afternoon. He's covered so many different aspects of entertainment and gay life and history. He talked about not fitting in, doing his own thing.

SD: What other guests have excited you?

BB: I'm very happy with the political guests that I've had on the show.

SD: Right, like Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia). I remember his notorious, unhinged, anti-Republican rant on Facebook Live.

BB: Oh, my God. He was interesting. Very easy to talk to. Some of the first I had were former [Vermont] lieutenant governor David Zuckerman, and [Vermont] state Reps. Brian Cina and Taylor Small. Also, John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. On his balcony [at his Harrisburg, Pa., capitol grounds office], he has the rainbow flag and the marijuana flag. He's not allowed to have any flags flying from his balcony. So the cops or whoever comes up and takes them down — and he puts a bigger one up.

SD: Lastly, any news about Drag Ball?

BB: I think it's gonna be wacko. It's the same weekend as Saint Michael's and Champlain College's graduation, and Waking Windows. So the town's just going to be busting that weekend. I know people from New York City, Connecticut, Poughkeepsie and Albany already have their rooms reserved. So if there's that much interest outside Vermont, it's going to be a pretty crazy day.

This conversation was edited and condensed for clarity and length.

The 100th episode of "Amber Live!" streams at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, on YouTube.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Look Who's Talking"