Love Connie exercised her way into gay America's hearts Thursday on RuPaul's Drag Race. The surprise coach in the VH1 reality show's mini-challenge helped the drag queens perfect their "Galisthenics" workout routines — in the style of Jane Fonda, naturally.
While A'keria Davenport ended up winning the mini- and maxi-challenge of the Draglympics, Connie stole the spotlight as one of the most hilarious guests in recent Drag Race history.
But who is Love Connie, and where can fans find more of her? The Advocate reached out to the man who portrays her, John Cantwell, an actor (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, The Riches) known for one of the most memorable lines in Legally Blonde and movie history: “Oh, my God, the bend and snap works every time!”
The Advocate: Who is Love Connie?
John Cantwell: She’s a bayou-raised, inbred, hirsute dancing phenomenon with a love for Farrah Fawcett flips.
What inspired the character and her name?
Connie was always just "Connie" since college. Just a name we’d use to describe any of the many southern beauty queen–type girls we would imitate and pretend to be. My roommate in the '90s in New York came up with her last name — it is not a play on words; I wanted a rural-sounding last name. Connie’s last name was almost “Finger” because my roommate went to a school with a girl named "Candy Finger." How’s that for a drag name? "Candy" turns up as Connie’s nemesis occasionally.
What is the root of her obsession with exercise — and Jane Fonda?
Well, aerobics was John’s obsession and job for 30 years, so it was natural that I would [add] that in because it’s something I’m good at. And no pads needed, thank God.
How did Connie end up on RuPaul's Drag Race?
I’ve known [RuPaul's Drag Race executive producers] Fenton [Bailey] and Randy [Barbato] for over two decades — since I was with the sketch comedy group the Nellie Olesons. I met Ru probably 15 years ago and he has attended most of my shows in L.A., and that meant the world to me. They have all always supported my art. We always have wanted to work Connie onto Drag Race but it’s tricky figuring out how best to use Connie. That’s been the story of my life in show business from the very start. No one ever knew what to do with me.
What was your favorite part of your experience on the show?
My favorite part of any show is the crew. And the RuPaul crew is a bunch of hot straight guys who I had rolling in tears of laughter and well, falling in love with me. And you know us old-school gays are still suckers (literally!) for straight guys. And to make a straight guy laugh until he cries? That is heaven. It defuses everything, makes us feel safe, and tears the walls down so that we can just be our crazy normal selves (however abnormal) and enjoy each other’s company.
After meeting and exercising with the queens, is there one you're rooting for?
I always root for underdogs. I thought Scarlet Envy was absolutely beautiful — dorky and goofy as fuck, and I love that, but just beautiful, in my honest opinion. I like flaws. I’m a punk. I also think Silky Ganache is a trip. I love food humor and fat jokes, and I think she is fabulous in a production number and is as beautiful as a Jackson sister. I think Nina West is a sweetheart and should be Miss Congeniality.
Would Connie ever compete as a Drag Race contestant?
I don’t even lip-synch. Well, except to Olivia Newton-John or Lisa Hartman. Very few songs work on my [character[ as lip-synced. But those two artists do for some odd reason. I also don’t speak in my live shows, so that was also a barrier that I didn’t think would translate to Drag Race's format. But I will be speaking in Connie-wood, my new web series coming from WOW Presents Plus. When Connie doesn’t speak she can be anything for anyone watching her. When she speaks she just becomes “Jame Gumb” a.k.a. “Buffalo Bill” in Silence of the Lambs. It terrifies me. I want to run from her — might as well be a clown with a butcher knife, I’m out of there.
Fame: it tastes as good as it smells Wood you do anything to make it in Hollywood? Connie wood. Connie Wood, our new series with @realloveconnie, coming soon to #WOWPresents Plus. A star is born. pic.twitter.com/szNhXAPocw
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) March 8, 2019
What exercise tips would you have for our readers?
I retired last year. It hurts my butthole now. I’m old. I only exercise when a camera is on me now. But I could tell you some great stories about gym life and etiquette back in the day. It was so great. The best pickup joint ever — especially in the steam room.
Where can fans see Connie perform?
I’m always around L.A. and regularly at The Cavern Club. I’m accepting offers, bookings, and awards. I’d love to come perform for anyone who wants to experience the love of Connie.
What's next for John Cantwell?
I need a job. And a new asshole. This one has a hole in it. Actually, my Aunt Sue always told me that joke when I was a kid and I love using it. I am very excited to present Connie-wood to everyone. It’s John Waters–esque guerrilla filmmaking at his rawest. I do feel very lucky. But I’d still like to make rent, so y’all contact me!