In December 2008, Lea participated to the concert Broadway Sings for Toys.
In 2008, Lea presented her show Naked at the Sydney Opera House as part of the The Famous Spiegeltent show.
September 2008, a new album from Lea The Live Smoke Sessions was released, it was recorded at the jazz club Smoke in uptown Manhattan. The songs are arrangements in jazz of pop classics like Down With Love, Night And Day and Love Me Or Leave Me.
In 2004, Lea had the starring role of Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in the revival of Once Upon a Mattress staged by the 42nd Street Moon company.
In 2005, Lea co-hosted the Outmusic Awards with Jinx Titanic a rock personality hailing from Chicago.
Lea hosted Out There, a night of comedy with several comedians for National Coming Out Day in 1993 and for a second time in 1995. Both shows have been released on video.
Lea provided the foreword to the published screenplay of the movie Go Fish.
In 2001, Lea appeared in a revival of The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway. She played two characters: Eddie the biker and Dr. Scott, his uncle.
Lea won a Regional Emmy for The World According To Us.
In addition to her acting, performing and singing Lea is also an author with her book Lea's Book of Rules for the World. She wrote the book with her co-author Maggie Cassella.
In 1997, Lea starred as Hildy in the play On the Town for the Shakespeare-in-the-Park Festival. Her performance was appreciated by the American public and the critics alike.
In 2001, Lea's musical debut was the CD Playin' it cool; a jazz album. Her second album Double Standards was produced by Telarc in 2005; on this album she reinterprets modern rock songs by artists such as Green Day and Los Lobos.
(On mixing Comedy and Music in her shows)
Lea: I've always done that because my comedy is so loud, it's in your face, it's vulgar, it's screaming. And after about five minutes the audience is like, mommy, make it stop. What I found when I was much younger, when I first started, if I could sing a song, I could lull the audience into a false sense of security. And then I would start screaming at them again. And that really worked for me.
(On being the first openly gay performer on an American Network with her appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in 1993)
Lea: That's my little "change of the world" moment. I was the first openly gay comic on network television, and the comedy clubs saw that gay people could put money in their pockets.
Lea: What do you mean, you 'don't believe in homosexuality'? It's not like the Easter Bunny, your belief isn't necessary.
Lea: (On being a huge Blythe Danner fan) I'll love anything that Blythe Danner does. You're talking to the world's biggest Blythe Danner fan. When I did As You Like It with Gwyneth, everybody was like "Oh my God! You're doing a show with Gwyneth Paltrow!" And I was like, "I want to meet her mother!
Lea: (On not getting nominated for a Tony in 1999 after her role of Hildy in Our Town) You know, I've said it before and I'll say it again ... if the worst thing that has ever happened to you is that you didn't get the Tony Nomination you were supposed to get, then you're probably living a pretty gifted, wonderful life! You should be able to thank God for that. I've won plenty of awards in my life ... I'm sure somewhere down the line I'll get a nomination for something.
Lea: (On not encountering homophobia in the jazz world like Fred Hersch and Gary Burton have) I think it's probably harder for them because they are men. As a woman I get nothing. The worst I get is… Peter Washington who is one of the best bass players around, he'll say things to me like: 'Why do you always get cute girls? Damn it Lea, you always come in with the cutest girls…it ain't right!!' So that's the closest thing I get to homophobia!
Lea: (On her first television crush) I think I was four years old, and I had a crush on June Lockhart on Lassie. And then she had to wear that tight spandex outfit on Lost in Space and I was in six-year-old heaven. Totally. I think that's how I knew I was gay because I got that exposure to Dr. Zachary Smith, who was the first queer character ever. You know he was gay because every time Will Robinson would bend over, the robot would go 'Warning, Will Robinson. Warning.'
Lea: (On her Stand Up being more than a way to make people laugh) I'm not just going to make people laugh. I can do that, I've done it and I have fun with that, but I really am saying things up there and trying to change people's perspectives. If you can do that, change even one person's perspective, then you've made a difference, you've made a change in this world. When I go into a college campus, and I do my show, these frat boys are watching me and they're laughing. They're going to think twice before they bash... They're not going to bash a ... so easily, because they related to me, and that's a big thing.
Lea: (On being offered the role of Hildy in Our Town by George Wolf in 1998) George really didn't care that I'd been going around saying I was a big dyke That's the big difference between Los Angeles and New York. In Hollywood they put you in a box and never allow you to stretch. In the New York theater world, they want to see what you can do.
Lea: (Talking about the song Philadelphia by Neil Young which she covers in her Double Standards CD) That's a real song, that's a true gorgeous song and it was a pleasure to do that song and to have Stephon Harris playing vibes on it is such a gift, he is such a brilliant musician. When I do that live now I do it with just a bass and piano and the bass is arcing, it plays with the bow, it's really lovely, it comes across beautifully live, I'm really happy with it.
Lea: (On taking on the role of Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in Once Upon a Mattress) It's just a part I always wanted to do. I've never done the show before in any capacity. And I've only seen it a few times...the Carol Burnett version on TV, the Broadway revival a few years back. But it's just one of those roles.
Lea: (Explaining why her album Double Standard was release in Europe before the United States) That all worked out because Warner Jazz, the label that originally did this went under, Warner Jazz UK had already done tons of publicity on it. So they decided to release the record in Europe anyway. The Warner Jazz label no longer exists in the United States, but there is still Warner Jazz in other countries.
Lea: (addressing herself to Chris Stafford who played Eric in Edge of Seventeen) For me, it's very personal because this is where I grew up. This is my generation. These are the bars that I went to. It was very hard for me to come out at the time that I came out. I totally felt an affinity for your character. And I had Wilson Cruz weeping, weeping at your performance and what you were going through. Because you're so real; it's beautiful the way you do it. It's very heartfelt.
Lea: (Commenting on how her role in a Midsummer's night dream became controversial, she played Bottom) Naturally, I have no experience of being mistaken for a man but it seemed like an interesting choice, although the really interesting bit was the people who were freaked out about the Titania/Bottom thing? Excuse me? She's having an affair with a fucking donkey? You'd rather she had sex with a donkey than with another woman?
Lea: (Remembering how music was a big part of her youth) There was always music in my house, and I soaked it up big time. It was a musician's household, so the music was playing 24-7. My mother was a big-band kind of person, she liked the bigger sound, and my dad was a combo cat. So we were hearing a lot of Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton, in that range, and then as my dad got hold of things, we heard a lot of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, like that. Jazz is my heart.
Lea: (On being called an icon in an interview with a fan) I don't know how to respond to the word. It seems silly. I mean, maybe it helps me get laid, but other than that! Who is an icon? Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Lily Tomlin. But it freaks me out. To be called that or a role model. I'm just an entertainer who has something to say. And I'm not afraid to say what I think. I think these days a lot of comedians want to get TV show so they suppress what they really think. It's easier to talk about meaningless stuff.
Lea: (On how gay people coming out get more recognition than the ones that were out from the beginning of their careers) You're sitting there and they give out artistic integrity awards to these people who have been in the closet forever. What was their integrity about? Because, my integrity was saying I was a dyke from moment one.
Lea: (Joking on how she would make a perfect gay man if she wasn't a lesbian) I cook, I clean, I know every Judy Garland movie ever made. I know every showtune and I love jazz, which is my first love. I guess inside this big old dyke body beats the heart of a vicious queen!
Lea: (On who she thought should really see the movie Edge of Seventeen) Kids that wouldn't go out and buy The Advocate, kids that are being told how they're supposed to live their lives and are scared to death about any feelings or impulses they may have about who they are.
Lea: (Commenting on the fact that she got a "best of" jazz CD for Warner's Leopard Lounge label) This is amazing. I mean, a "Best Of" series? There's Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Esther Phillips and me. It's just hilarious. Plus they're all dead. Except me.