2 min

Gettin’ Lippy

East Van’s 24-inch drag sensation cuts a swath across town

East Van Cross: The iconic East Van cross has been a proud symbol of counterculture in this part of the city for decades. Word has it that Catholics like it, too. Ken Lum, the artist who designed the monument at Clark and East Sixth Avenue, calls it “an expression of hope and defiance.” Well, Kenny, here’s hoping my outfit defies gravity. Credit: Robert-John Farrow

“This summer, take a little walk through #EastVan with me and have a look at it from my perspective . . . no strings attached.” Thus began Lippy Willow’s East Van Summer, an educational, fashion-forward, social-media adventure hosted by the city’s newest culture commentator and grrl-about-town.

At just three months of age, Miss Willow is as precocious as she is prolific. If her Facebook page is to be believed — and why would we question irrefutable photographic evidence on Facebook? — she tramped across the entire city east of Main Street, stretching from the Burrard Inlet to the Fraser River. This is a particularly astounding achievement for a woman just 24 inches tall.

“East Van has got so much beauty. You can look in the tiniest places and see something interesting,” she tells me, somehow sounding both modest and self-referential in the same breath.

“I don’t think all your readers are familiar with the area, the secrets of its every crook and nanny, and it needed to be explored. It was a study in land-usage-pattern changes over the last 100 years — coordinated with beautiful outfits.”

While it would be easy for a lesser journalist to pass this over as the mere publicity-seeking stunt of a tiny would-be celebutant with an outsized ego, it is clear that Lippy has not only a scholarly interest in the neighbourhood, but a political agenda as well.

“I live and work here — I like to hang out on Franklin Street with my girlfriends and make a little cash — and I’m a little choked about the homelessness issue,” she says.

Although she emphatically prefers Vision Vancouver’s slate over the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) in the run-up to the Nov 15 municipal election, she is nonetheless critical of some of Vision’s policies. “I’m literally living out of a suitcase lined with the pages of Mayor Robertson’s affordability plan while developers and foreign investors take over the housing market,” she gripes.

While her paternal lineage remains something of a mystery, her mother is the notable entertainer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Pussy Willow. In a brief phone interview, I ask Pussy if she is proud of her daughter.

“What type of question is that? I’m not a monster mom, for Christ’s sake. Of course I’m proud of my darling Chiquita. She’s the fruit of my loins. She’s learned to stand tall and take on the world on her own. With no strings attached.”

When asked about Lippy’s father, the senior Miss Willow demurs. While names like Troyer, DeVito and Dinklage have been bandied about in the media, she is more philosophical about her daughter’s DNA.

“Lippy is the flesh of every man I’ve ever slept with, chewed up and spit out and moulded into a somewhat disproportionate little person.”

I ask Lippy if she and her impressive creative team — Tim Old (manager, photographer, wardrobe consultant and personal trainer), Robert-John Farrow (photo editor, field assistant and fluffer) and hair stylist Preston Buffalo (Union Salon) — have plans for future neighbourhood-specific enterprises? Having thoroughly enjoyed her summer adventure, Lippy says she’s now ready to venture farther afield and invites everyone to follow her new West Vancouver Fall Colours Tour (though she may go a little incognito to dodge her legions of fans). 

Follow her on Facebook and check out the slideshow above for highlights from her East Van adventure.