Gay flight attendants don’t come much sassier than Bernard, Nathan Lee Graham’s acerbic character on Fox’s L.A. To Vegas. The loopy new sitcom follows a budget airline flight crew on their regular weekend runs to Sin City.
But while Bernard has attitude to spare, he’s more fleshed out than the token gays who inhabit much of prime time. Besides his in-the-air antics, L.A. to Vegas delves into his personal life when fellow flight attendant Ronnie (Kim Matula) crashes at his apartment.
Graham’s a scene-stealer himself, and a Grammy-winning performer who has appeared in Zoolander, Sweet Home Alabama and The Comeback, as well as The Wild Party and Priscilla, Queen of The Desert on Broadway. Back home in New York after wrapping L.A. to Vegas’ first season, he joined us for a hot minute.
What will Bernard get up to the rest of the season?
You’re going to see his apartment more than once. There’s a huge birthday party coming up for Bernard and we may get some letters for that episode—it’s called “Fashion of the Christ.” You’ll see my apartment again and again because Ronnie has some problems with her apartment and moves in.
Bernard’s sassiness is easily triggered. What does someone have to do to get a helping of Nathan Lee Graham sass?
I don’t really know if I need any triggers to make me sassy—I just live in that place! But I’m not an unkind person and that’s a big difference. I attempt to be more witty than catty, and usually if I’m being catty its because there’s a whole gaggle of cats around and we’re shooting the shit and I’ve thrown back a few. A couple of cocktails and the tongue is loose.
What have you learned about airlines that blows your mind?
That flight attendants are really there for your safety and not to serve you. You think of them as waiters and waitresses in the sky, but they aren’t. They are there in case of an emergency and thank God Bernard isn’t flying in real life because he might save himself first. He’s a little selfish!
Have you ever been on a flight from hell?
I haven’t. I’ve been on landings from hell, especially at LaGuardia. It’s a small airport and the landing and launching pad is basically the same. And because all the weather converges there, it’s a hell of a time landing! I’m usually flying from L.A. and thinking, ’I made it all the way here and I’m going to die in the last two minutes?’
Are you a member of the Mile High Club?
Oh my goodness gracious, I would never kiss and tell! I will tell you that sometimes you sit next to someone cute and you take a look. A little side-eye.
If you could hook up with a celebrity on a flight, who would it be?
I do have a crush, a non-stalkery crush, on Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek. If we were trapped on a plane I wouldn’t mind it for a moment. (Laughs)
You played Lisa Kudrow’s wardrobe supervisor on The Comeback, and offscreen you have quite the fashion sense. Who is your favorite designer?
Tom Ford is just a classic for me. If I see something, I just get it. I wear a lot of Ted Baker on L.A. To Vegas.
Red carpet wise, Tom always wins for me. I’m also an All Saints fan. I love what Gucci is doing right now. I wish that Karl Lagerfeld was designing for men again—I would love to wear the first Chanel mens’ suit.
Was there anyone from the Oscars you would’ve maybe helped up their style game?
I adore Frances McDormand, but I wouldn’t mind styling her. I would keep her in a style she is accustomed to, but find some different highlights in the head and dress. That hair has to be redone and we have to find a different color for the dress. They both can’t be the same!
Alison Janney and Meryl Streep looked so amazing—they were age-appropriate and yet not dowdy. I find that some people dress too old or too young. Nicole Kidman always looks great but I found her dress to be literally hard. Like construction paper.
Are you a Drag Race fan?
I should be a judge! Ru is a friend and even comes to see my shows in New York. I would be a great judge. Let’s make that happen!
Do you have a drag name?
Something old Hollywood and current. That’s basically who I am, a classic doll. So… Classic Doll!
You’ve performed concerts of American composers like Gershwin and tributes to Judy Garland and Eartha Kitt. Who would you love to cover next?
Well, I’m working on my first album, a jazz album called NLG NYC Le Jazz Classique. Most of the composers on it, if not all are, gay—Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Hart, Billy Strayhorn, Noel Coward. I love all of those guys, that American classic style. My idol, Eartha Kitt, taught me so much about music and lyrics. We worked together on The Wild Party on Broadway. I’m going force myself to finish the album this year.
You’re back in New York. What Broadway show are you eager to see?
My friend Amir Talai, who plays a co-pilot on L.A. to Vegas, told me to see In & Of Itself. I’m also looking forward to seeing Boys in the Band, Torch Song, Angels In America—I have friends in all these shows.
I’m jealous I’m not in Boys in the Band, so I’ll wear something fabulous to the premiere and look as good or better than anyone in the cast.
Below, check out another exclusive clip from L.A. to Vegas, airing Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.