No one plays a queen bitch quite like Leslie Bibb, who sharpened her claws in the cult series Popular and GCB. Now starring as the mother of Satan’s spawn in Hell Baby, a sinfully funny horror comedy from the creators of Reno 911!, the former fashion model couldn’t be any sweeter as she chats about her popularity with gay men.
The Advocate: Hell Baby takes place in New Orleans. I hope filming wasn’t all work and no play.
Leslie Bibb: Oh, there’s nothing more fun than shooting in New Orleans, especially with all the hilarious guys in this movie. On Friday nights they’d get these jugs of painkillers from the Rum House — it was a blast.
Did you make it to the gay end of Bourbon Street?
No, because I didn’t have any good gays to go with! I like to walk into a gay bar flanked by gay men. But one of my first jobs was a show called The Big Easy, which also filmed in New Orleans, and I had gay friends who took me to those clubs all the time.
What was your introduction to gay people?
I grew up in a tiny country town in Virginia. I’d go with my mom when she played tennis with her girlfriends, and sometimes these two men would play with them, and then they’d all drink wine afterward. I was 8 or 9, but I liked being around those guys because they were fabulous and they always made me laugh and feel pretty. Looking back, I told my mom, “They were gay!” She said, “Of course they were.” It wasn’t the normal attitude in a small Southern town, but my mom didn’t care who you slept with, as long as you were a good person. She instilled those values in me from a very young age, and I’m so appreciative of that.
How conscious are you of your gay fans?
Very. I did a play in New York this summer, Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Happy, and our theater was on Christopher Street, a gay mecca. All these sweet guys came to see me because they loved GCB and Popular. When the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage, I walked to the theater through the throngs of people celebrating in the streets, and it was wonderful to feel that energy and excitement. People handed me rainbow flags and equality stickers, and I told the other three people in the play, “You should take these to your kids. This is a big deal.”
Popular, Ryan Murphy’s first series, was a high school dramedy that ran from 1999 to 2001 on the WB and boldly dealt with sexual identity and antigay bullying. One student had a lesbian mother, and a teacher came out as transgender.
Yeah, Ryan wasn’t fucking around. It was like an early Glee, without the singing. He was so smart and provocative to tackle issues that kids were really dealing with. It wasn’t even that long ago, but people didn’t talk about those things on TV. Gay men and lesbians still come up and tell me how much the show meant to them. I’ll never fully understand it because I’m a straight girl who’s had a pretty charmed life — sure, people can be assholes to me too, but nobody calls me names or says I’m a bad person because of who I lay my head down with at night. I just feel so fortunate that I’ve been a part of two shows, Popular and GCB, with massive gay followings.