THAT YOU, AUNT ESTHER?
LAWANDA PAGE, THE GOLDEN YEARS
On Sanford and Son she was ugly Aunt Esther, the Bible-thumping nemesis of Redd Foxx. These days actress LaWanda Page is getting a lot more respect as RuPaul’s beauty salon-owning mama in his latest video, ”Back to My Roots.” The three-and-a-half-minute tress-for-success tale has Page playing the younger Mama, circa 1972, coiffing in her kitchen, then moving on up to her own salon by the video’s end. ”I loved making it. They treated me like I was Queen Elizabeth,” reports the actress, who’s not shy about revealing that she’s 72, ”tall, tan, terrific, black, and beautiful.” Page, who also narrated RuPaul’s last video, ”Supermodel,” was the first pick for Mama. ”LaWanda is the sassy black voice of America-funny, self- assured, sophisticated, and campy,” says the video’s director, Randy Barbato. ”When she gets going, she has the mouth of a truck driver.” Currently doing stand-up comedy across the country (”X-rated-that’s what the public likes”), she also has a recurring part on TV’s Martin, was in the recent feature CB4, and plays a supporting role in Robert Townsend’s upcoming Meteor Man. You might also catch her in Shakes the Clown (the 1992 movie that’s now a cult video), in commercials-for Little Caesars, Budweiser, and Tropicana Twister-or on an episode of In Living Color, again as a beauty salon owner. ”It makes me happy that I’ve paved the way for a lot of young comedians,” says Page, who lives in South Central L.A. Any retirement plans? ”Honey, I tried, but people won’t let me.”