Photo by Joe Lewis
Reigning the Chicago drag scene, C'est Kevvie has always wanted to inspire others to love themselves. She is very well known and respected as someone who is always pushing self awareness and body positivity and does even more than just that--she also is known for always recognizing other talent as well. She has an instagram account with the handle @ChicagoDragLegacy where she recognizes drag influencers in Chicago's past, present, and future. Taking inspiration from artists such as Divine, she works incredibly hard to be a conceptual drag performer and she always leaves everyone wondering what she's going to pull out of her bag of tricks next.
1. Who is C'est Kevvie?
C’est Kevvie is the body positive art hoe. I show off my body even if it makes people uncomfortable because it will help normalize the idea of plus size bodies being beautiful. I also call myself the Drag Docent because of my interest in art and museums. Several people have described me as the “internet troll” of Chicago drag because of my dumb sense of humor.
2. When and why did you begin doing drag?
My first time performing in drag was April 1st, 2015. While I was a student at Valparaiso University I was part of Alliance, their queer organization. One day another organization reached out to us and asked if we would co-sponsor a drag show, and since I was the only person in either org who knew anything about drag I was basically in charge of putting the whole thing together. I had wanted to start performing for a while at this point, so I figured that would be my chance. It was so much fun, and we had two hundred people in attendance!
3. How did you come up with your drag name?
“C’est Kevvie” is French for “It’s Kevvie.” I actually decided back in high school, way before I started doing drag, that my stage name would be “C’est Kevvie.”
Photo by Greg Scott
4. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about doing drag?
I love drag because it is a creative outlet for me. I have a very creative mind and drag gives me the ability to express myself rather than keeping all these weird ideas in my head. I also love when people get my references. Sometimes if I’m performing as a work of art or an obscure character, only a handful of people in the audience will appreciate it, but those people love it so much and it brings me joy to see their responses.
My least favorite part about doing drag is taking it off. I don’t consider myself to be unattractive, but when I wipe off my drag face I think I look frightening. I’d wear drag makeup all day everyday if I could, but I don’t have that much time or energy.
5. Who would you say is your biggest drag inspiration?
My biggest drag inspiration is art and museums. I love to walk around art museums and imagine turning the works of art into conceptual, wearable objects. My other biggest inspirations are Divine and Edith Massey. These queens were vulgar and sexy as hell, embracing their size and showing off their beautiful bodies. They helped me to see that my body is beautiful and should be celebrated.
6. What would you say sets you apart from other performers?
I am a very conceptual performer. I’ll usually start with a work of art or a horror movie that I like, and develop a look and a mix with that in mind. My drag often tells a story.
Photo by Jessie Gonzalez
7. What is your favorite thing about Chicago drag?
My favorite thing about Chicago drag is that when you go to a show you never know what you’re going to see. Chicago has such a large variety of entertainers with different backgrounds and ideas, so each performer beings something unique to the stage. Nobody has to fit a certain mold in order to be accepted; you fit in by standing out.
8. What is something you would like to change about the drag community?
One thing that irks me about the drag scene is that the way to get your foot in the door is through competition, yet the competitions are based on popularity rather than talent. I don’t know how many times I’ve spent weeks preparing a routine, but then my friends bailed on me or the audience didn’t get the reference. I’m familiar with the adage “don’t get bitter just get better,” but when I put in the work and still fail just because my friends didn’t show up to vote for me, I’m going to be salty.
Another disappointment I have with the drag community is that so many younger queens don’t know their history. Knowing the queens who came before you used to be an important part of drag culture, but now few queens know their history beyond Drag Race. Hopefully opening a drag museum will help revive people’s interest in the legacy they are a part of.
9. You recently stated that you wanted to eventually open up a drag museum. What exactly should people expect?
I am currently studying at UIC to get my Masters in Museum and Exhibition Studies. After I graduate I will put all the gears in motion in order to bring the drag museum to life. It will focus on the history of drag as well as the transformation process so that the institution will be accessible to performers, fans, and people outside of the drag community. Since drag is a performance art, there must be a performance space in the museum as well. The museum will host frequent shows where all varieties of drag artists could present their work in a non-competitive environment.
Photo by @certee (IG)
10. What would you like to tell people about your Instagram project (@chicagodraglegacy)? Why did you start it and what is it about?
@ChicagoDragLegacy began as a grad school project. For one of my classes I had to curate a fictional exhibit and write wall labels, a press release, and a social media strategy. I chose to make my exhibit about Chicago drag. Since the assignment was limited to ten objects, my social media plan was to make an Instagram account where I could post about all of the great Chicago figures that didn’t make it into the exhibit. After finishing the project it dawned on me that the Instagram idea could exist on its own, so I made a new account called @ChicagoDragLegacy. I use this account to share stories about historical figures in Chicago’s drag history as well as people who I believe are currently having an important impact on the Chicago drag scene.
11. You identify as transgender. Have you faced any sort of discrimination or have you mostly been loved and accepted as you are?
I haven’t had many issues within the drag community about being trans. Chicago’s drag community is quite progressive. I guess one issue I do have in the clubs is that out of drag I don’t “pass,” so frequently people don’t realize I’m transfemme. I get misgendered, even in queer spaces, painfully often.
While I love and accept myself for who I am, I feel like it’s harder to find love and acceptance from other people. Being a fat woman on top of being a queer and trans woman, I often feel like I’m perceived as bottom of the barrel. I’m 23 years old and I’ve never been on a date. The only people who seem to be interested in me are either chasers who fetishize my size and gender, or people who are too drunk to care or remember. Maybe I’m oblivious, or naïve for expecting people to express their feelings directly and openly, but as far as I’m aware I’ve yet to find someone who wanted a legitimate romantic connection with me. It can get pretty lonely sometimes.
12. What are your favorite makeup products that you can't live without?
I am obsessed with Sugarpill! I guarantee that anytime you see me in drag I’m wearing at least two different Sugarpill eyeshadows, most often Bulletproof and Frostine, often paired with a Sugarpill liquid lip color. I hope that if I wear them enough that someday they will send me free stuff, because if they sent me stuff I would promote the shit out of it!
Lately I have been really into turqoise lips. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is definitely the best shade I’ve found, so I wear it a lot, but I often feel pangs of guilt for wearing it because I do not like the person who makes it and do not want to endorse them. I’m praying that Sugarpill will come out with a turquoise liquid lip soon, because obviously it will be a better product and I could wear it guilt free.
There is a pretty new makeup brand called Vaughn Michael Cosmetics that I also really love. I always apply the Vaughn Michael primer before any drag look. They have gorgeous glitters and loose eyeshadows; my favorites are Candy Blades, which is a glittery red eyeshadow that other queens always comment on when I wear it, and You & Me, an extremely fine blue glitter with a green iridescence that has excellent coverage.
One last thing! My favorite eyeliner is L’oreal Silkissime. It’s a soft pencil that goes on very smooth and is incredibly pigmented. I use the black one for drag, and for daytime beats I’ll wear the silver or gold ones.
Photo by Colectivo Multipolar
13. What is one of your biggest goals for the future pertaining to your drag?
I really want to get some bookings outside of Chicago so that I can introduce myself to a wider audience.
14. If you ever auditioned for Rupaul's Drag Race and got on the show, who would you do for snatch game?
Edith Massey! She is my favorite ever. She has some of the most memorable quotes of anyone in the John Waters films. Her outfit in Female Trouble is fashion goals.
15. Marry, Kai Kai, Kill: Windy Breeze, Dixie Lynn Cartwright, Lucy Stoole
I would marry Windy Breeze because she’s my sister and I love her. I would kai kai with Lucy Stoole because she seems like a mama bear; she’d pound your ass to Mars and back and also be really nurturing. I’d kill Dixie Lynn Cartwright. I’d kai kai with her first because I’ve seen what she’s packing, and then I’d kill the bitch.
16. You recently released an original song titled “Food Horny.” What can you tell us about your debut single? How did the idea come about?
The idea for “Food Horny” came about one night when Estelle Shambles was driving my drunk ass home from a gig. Sometimes on our way home we’ll stop at White Castle, but this night we didn’t. Every food place we passed made me want to eat more and more, not because I was hungry, but because I wanted the pleasure of eating something delicious. I described this feeling as “food horny” and Estelle said I had to turn it into a song. So here we are!
I recorded it a couple weeks later when Estelle was driving my drunk ass home from a gig. We went through the White Castle drive through and I got my fave chicken breast sandwiches with cheese and the new mac n cheese bites. We pulled over and I recorded myself eating, and used that as my vocals. The song is produced by Ariel Zetina, who also produced Imp Queen’s new EP The Magenta Agenda. The song and accompanying music video are sexy, funny, and mildly disturbing. It’s a great representation of what I’m about!
Watch "FOOD HORNY" here:
Follow C'est Kevvie:
Facebook Like Page: https://www.facebook.com/CestKevvieDrag/
Official Website: https://www.cestkevvie.com/
The Drag Enthusiast:
Interview done by Natalie