Friday, January 19, 2018

Regina Blake-Dubois: Houston's Hidden Gem

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

Houston, TX is very well known for an out of this world drag scene with well rounded performers of different genres of drag. Regina Blake-Dubois is a queen that gives a little bit of everything and shes taken the Houston drag scene by storm. She hosts her own show, "The Broad's Way", at Michael's Outpost every week. She recently brought the Houston community together and raised thousands of dollars during the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey for hurricane relief over Facebook live. She spends her time uplifting her community and she has a blast while doing it. Regina deserves more recognition than shes given and she was ecstatic to do this interview. Enjoy!

1. Who is Regina Blake-Dubois? 

Regina is that sarcastic aunt that helps you with your homework while also teaching you how to smoke out of an apple, all while endless showtunes play in the background. She's also this badass suit of armor that protects my sweet squishy interior when I'm out.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

I started 3 and a half years ago, at the end of my freshman year of college. My roommate and I had been watching season six of RPDR, and we would turn to each other and say "hey we can do that!" He quit a few months later, and I'm still stuck swirling in this hell-hole and loving it!

3. How did you come up with your drag name? 

So the show "Once Upon a Time." This show fucked me UP. The evil queen in it was EVERYTHING. A sassy, powerful bitch that commanded attention when she walked in a room, took no shit from anyone, and had the most amazing wardrobe. She was all I wanted to be as a drag queen, and her name was Regina. Thorne comes from "Revenge," another ABC show that I eventually stopped watching. The main character was on a crazed path to avenge her father's death, but was also a sophistacted socialite in the Hamptons, and her name was Emily Thorne. DuBois (du-bwah, not du-boys) is a family name, given to me by our family mother Irene DuBois about a year and a half ago.

Photo by: Andres Garcia/Dulce Strutts

4. What would you say is your most unique quality? 

Im a Broadway queen, through and through. For almost 10 months, 95% of my performances have been from a Broadway show. I'm a very dramatic person, and that translates well in my drag. Not only do I DO Broadway, I can SELL Broadway. In Houston (in most of the South tbh) most popular drag requires a pageant title or a sickening dance number filled with death drops. I don't do that. I take a Broadway number, dissect it, figure out the emotion behind it, and spill all of into my performamces. Oh, and I'm always 100% on my lip sync. 

5. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about drag? 

My favorite thing is how drag is the best example of all the artforms coming together. Fashion, makeup, and hair are all given, but drag also includes sound design, painting, sculpting, dancing, singing sometimes, playing instruments sometimes, it can literally be ANYTHING!
My absolute least favorite thing is the drama. There's a reason they're called Drama QUEENS, y'all! I do a good job of avoiding drama at shows, or drama on Facebook, but you see it everywhere. I don't understand why this small section of an already targeted community spends so much time arguing about petty shit backstage or in facebook comments.

6. What should people expect when coming to your show "The Broad's Way"? 

Lots of puns, dad jokes, and horrible segways. Also, lots of awkward tales about things that have happened to me. 75% of my comedy is self-deprecating. But also, TBW is unique because we have both drag entertainers AND live singers at every show

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

7. How would you say drag changed your life? 

2 ways. I'm finally confident, and I'm finally happy. I think that says everything.

8. What is something you haven't told anyone but you think people need to know about you? 

I hate going out. Between my day job as a stage manager and working multiple bookings each week, I don't have the time or energy to do it. And when I do go out, I normally latch on to the friend who invited me, and if we get separated at some point I'm basically useless. So if you see me out when I'm not in face, take a picture. It's  a rare sight.

9. Do you have any hidden talents...if so, what are they? 

Deep-thr... um.
Actually I'm pretty solid at video games. Everyone's got a vice!

Photo by: Andres Garcia/Dulce Strutts

10. If you could pick 3 other artists to show appreciation for in the Houston drag scene, who are they and why should we show appreciation towards them? 

#1 is always Dessie Love Blake. I don't know a more polished, professional queen. She's helped launch the careers of so many queens in Houston through the 12 different drag races that she has hosted. I can also say that she works more and harder than any other queen I know, she's got a wonderful business head towards drag, and I look up to her more than anyone.

#2 would have to be Tatiana Mala-NiƱa. This is a queen that I have watched perform since I was just a little gay boy watching amateur drag shows in awe. She's worked her padded ass off to get to where she is now. I remember her being one of the first queens I saw go from amateur to supporting themselves completely on their drag. Plus she's fucking hilarious, the master of spoken word, and one of the strongest women I know.

#3 would be my younger drag sister, Roofie DuBois. I give her lots of shit, all the time, but I'm incredibly impressed by her. I was there for her first performance, she did Miranda Sings and looked HORRIBLE. Over the next year and a half though, she refined her brand and has become one of the youngest queens to build a large following in the city. She's more accomplished than I give her credit for.

11. Recently Houston dealt with Hurricane Harvey and you decided to spend days at a time in full drag on Facebook live to raise money for hurricane relief. How did you come up with the idea and how much money did you raise altogether? 

Thankfully my apartment didn't get flooded or damaged by Harvey, but we were still trapped inside for almost a week. And after 3 days of not doing anything except watching the news and seeing the damage elsewhere,  I decided to get off my ass and help. With assistance from my neighbor Jessica and our friend Allison, we put together a mini-studio in her apartment and 4 hours later we were live. I decided to ask people to tip performamces that happened during the stream, and all proceeds went to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Between those tips, and contributions from Dessie Love Blake and Rumors Beach Bar in Galveston, we raised $3000 in 9 hours. Our second broadcast, we were live for another 12 hours and raised an additional $1800.

12. Do you have a most embarrassing moment from when you were onstage? If so, what is it? 

I once performed Tove Lo's song "Like Em Young." However, my concept was a slutty teacher going after her students, and it wasn't picked up by the audience. Plus I kept tripping on my heels and the stage, my outfit kept malfunctioning, and Willam (my #1 fave) was in the audience. I walked off stage, started crying, grabbed my bag and ran out of the club.

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

13. What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a drag performer? 

Being the host of a show made me realize that hosting a show is a skill that's very specific, and not everyone is good at it. I, however, am bomb as hell at it. Becauee of that, I get to first-hand watch audience members show up and experience the performances. As the show continues, you can literally see people's moods improve (and not just becauee they're drinking). Drag brings people joy, plain and simple.

14. If you could pick one place to travel to for a booking, where would you go and why? 

NEW YORK CITY! Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, I want to work anywhere in the place that will inevitably be my home. If you're from NYC, you should book Houston's PREMIER Broadway Queen to come perform!!

15. What is your best advice for performers who are just starting drag? 

I've got lots here so let me just advice-vomit.
1) Keep your drama off Facebook. I've put people on a ""Never Book Him/Her/Them" list because they start shit online.
2) You never know who's watching. Be polite, be professional, be personable.
3) Always be looking for the next step. Don't keep performing at amateur nights for 2 years if you're serious about drag. Go to other shows, meet show directors, express interest in working on their show. If you don't speak up, they probably won't hire you.
4) Asking to borrow bobby pins/hairspray/nail glue/etc once is ok. But asking a second time, at a different booking, is unprofessional and means you're unprepared.

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

Follow Regina:
Instagram: @reginablakedubois 
Twitter: @ReginaBDubois 

The Drag Enthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Twitter: @dragenthusiast

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anka Shayne: True Dedication At It's Finest

Originially from Denver, but currently reigning from the nightlife scene of Colorado Springs, CO, Anka Shayne admits that drag changed her life by ridding her of her internalized homophobia. She is known for changing up her looks and is most definitely not a one trick pony. Her dedication and love for the craft is untouchable and certainly hasn't gone unnoticed in the ever changing drag scene. She dreams of eventually performing in cities such as Chicago and sharing her work with a wider audience.

1. Who is Anka Shayne?

It’s hard to say! It really depends on the day. My style goes from fishy queen to literal fish. I love everything from to glamour to trash to old Hollywood to horror. Since I am able to transform myself into something or someone else, I try to change whatever I’m transforming into every time.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

The end of May is Anka’s third birthday. I’ve always been a creative person and have tried every artistic medium I could find but nothing ever held my attention for too long. I started drag because I loved the art form. If I start getting bored with one aspect, I can change my focus to keep me going. Hair, makeup, costumes, music, performing! Drag is endless.

3. How did you come up with your drag name?

I came up with Anka first. I have always been really drawn to very Eastern-European sounding names, they’re soft and feminine but also have a strength and (for lack of a better word) harshness to them. I love the contrast. So, I came up with Anka by just searching for Eastern-european baby names! I added a last name later, “Overkill”, but that stupid minion movie came out and the main character and I had the same last name! Not wanting to associate myself with minions, obviously, I started wracking my brain for a quick replacement. Rose McGowan’s character in Jawbreaker is one of my all time favorites, I tried on her character’s last name and it worked. I only realized after i decided that Anka Shayne was sort of punny. My tucking skills are pretty impeccable so being Danke Schoen without the d just works.

4. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about doing drag?

I LIVE for the moment when a look is finally completely put together and its just like “I did that!”. I… despise… padding. I like how my body looks with or without pads and I switch it up often. I don’t know if for some reason the tights just cause me more pain than normal or if I am just a complete baby but I find padding to be excruciating. I regularly (and unintentionally) cause myself to bleed while doing drag, I have bruised ribs and gone so hard that I have to limp back to the dressing room but none of it compares to padding. 

5. How has drag changed your life?

Before drag, I had A LOT of internalized homophobia and a general distaste for men. I had NO gay friends and NO male friends. The only gay or male people I would have in my life were people I was dating. Drag has forced me to deal with all of this. I finally have people in my life that I can actually relate to. Nearly 30 years is a long time to go without that. 

6. What would you say is he biggest misconception about the drag community? 

That we’re all bitches. I was terrified of drag queens even after starting drag until I got to know people in the community. I used to be afraid to even speak to a queen when it turns out that most of us do really love to hear from fans. I’m just playing dress up and while I will be proud of my art, I’m always a little taken aback when someone else likes it too. 

7. What is your most unique quality?

As a queen… my obsession with glue. I nearly always have something (beyond lashes, nails and wigs) glued to me when I’m in drag. Anything from actual stickers (and nothing else) as a costume to fake vomit to prosthetics and everything in between. Locally, I’m sort of known as the glue queen, people regularly reach out to me to ask what sort of glue they should use for different things. It’s such an absurd thing to be known for so I’m completely here for it.

8. What is something that no one knows about you?

Good question. I drink too much and talk too much to really have any secrets. People are generally surprised to learn that I’m kind of a rabid football fan and crazy dog lover, though.

9. Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

It truly depends on the individual look or performance. I will get inspired by a song, or a piece of fabric or a picture or a word and then piece everything together from there. The most common thing I get inspired by is themes. Themes for certain shows, or nights at the club or just following along with competitions have inspired some of my personal favorite looks (like my crystal castle and hairless cat looks)

10. What are 3 makeup products that you absolutely cannot live without? 

1. Kryolan Supracolor in clown white. 
2. Ben Nye Lumiere in Ice.
3. ABH Dipbrow.

11. If you could describe your drag persona in one word, what would it be?

If I could, I would but I don’t think I can. Trash seems so predictable but if I HAD to choose… trash.

12. If you could change something about the drag community, what would it be and why?

I would love to see drag open up to a world beyond bars and nightclubs. The late nights and partying can be fun but it can also be exhausting. I’d love to have more options which would give the art more exposure. 

13. If you could travel anywhere to perform, where would you go and why?

I am absolutely dying to perform in Chicago. I can just feel that scene calling me name. I love all the queens from there that I’ve met. An overwhelming majority of the queens I look up to are from there. I think I could be embraced but also pushed there.

14. What is a big goal you have set for yourself for your drag career in the future?

Performing in Chicago is definitely up there. Of course, RPDR would be amazing. However, filming an episode of Transformations with James St. James is a HUGE goal for me right now.

15. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Hibernating in my room during the few weekdays that I’m not doing drag. 

Follow Anka Shayne:
Instagram: @anka_shayne 

The Drag Enthusiast:
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Twitter: @dragenthusiast

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Thots & Shares": Chicago's Brand New Podcast

Most major cities have a drag scene that is booming, including different YouTube channels, drag blogs, and podcasts to go with it. NYC has "Grizzly Kiki", LA has "UnBEARable", and Colombus, OH has "Drag Cast" with Nina West. Most recently, though, the Chicago drag scene has garnered tons of attention and is known for being one of the most diverse and accepting drag communities to ever exist. It for sure has different outlets, but there was yet a need for a podcast. That's up until now...with "Thots & Shares".

"Thots & Shares" is the podcast that has been started by Chicago mastermind, Dakota Conduct. Every Tuesday, a new episode will appear online and it will cover the Chicago LGBT scene and how it is evolving in today's turbulent world and will feature some of the many incredible musicians, drag performers and sexy thots the Chicago LGBT community has to offer.. It was created to start positive dialogue not only among the Chicago community, but those who support Chicago's ever fast growing scene.

Who is Dakota Conduct?

Dakota Conduct is new to the Chicago drag scene but has already left her mark on the city. As a corporate strategy professional by day, and drag queen by night, Dakota Conduct not only slays on stage but has a knack for marketing, networking, and media production. She has been featured in music videos, a full-length documentary, been the subject of artists at the Lillstreet Art Center, and has performed all over North America, from LA to New Orleans to Montreal. She is originally from Washington DC, lived in New York City, but now calls Chicago home and the best city in the world.

“We live in politically turbulent times,” Dakota Conduct says. “I started drag as a response to the Trump presidency. This is my way of resisting. And under this administration we have seen such a lack of dialogue through social media platforms and the spread of fake news. This show, while bringing the underground scene of drag to light for those unfamiliar with it, is also dedicated to having conversations on topics that matter to the Chicago community. We want to get debates out of the comments section and into actionable, positive dialogue.”

So, why exactly did Dakota start "Thots & Shares", you ask?

"I'll come out and say it: Chicago has THE best drag scene in the world. We are home to some of the biggest and best names in drag, to some of the most talented kings and queens, and we showcase variety like no other city. We welcome bearded queens, big girl queens, club kid name it, it's in Chicago. But we don’t have a place to have raw dialogue on what is going on in the city and how drag is evolving. I am setting out to create that space." -- Dakota Conduct

Scarlet Bar, located at 3320 N Halsted St in Chicago, will be hosting an official launch party on Sunday, November 12th, from 1-3pm. It will feature a drag show with performances by Kat Sass, Veronica Pop, Melee McQueen (from Milwaukee), Electra Cute, Blonde Benet, and Auntie Heroine.

Follow Dakota Conduct:
Instagram: @dakotaconduct

Listen to the first Episode of "Thots & Shares" featuring Chicago's very own Lexi Pro Cute:


Follow Thots & Shares on social media:
Instagram: @taspodcast

The Drag Enthusiast
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @DragEnthusiast

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Electra Cute: Strange Doll Haus's Goth Cougar Mom

Mother of the Strange Doll Haus, Electra Cute is determined to set up her drag family for success and navigate the drag world while staying true to who she is as an artist and also encouraging her family to grow with confidence. She's very well known for her style and audience interaction during her performances and she also takes her role of a mentor quite seriously. A mixture between goth girl and cougar mom, she definitely doesn't disappoint. 

Photo by Flaming City Photography

1. Who is Electra Cute?

Electra Cute is first and foremost the mother and founding member of Strange Doll Haus, Chicago’s premiere drag family. When she's not nurturing talent she can be found performing monthly all over the city such as Logan Square, Uptown, Andersonville and Lakeview. Electra’s aesthetic falls somewhere between the goth girl in high school all the boys secretly wanted and your friend’s hot cougar mom. Her electric performance style is high energy, powerful, sexy and known for her audience interaction. I feel like a lot of Electra comes from different parts and layers of my personality. 

2. How did you come up with your drag name?

Well when I first started drag my name was Samantha Darko (after Donnie Darko's sister and I happen to have dated a lot of girls named Samantha) but as I started going out I realized I was just getting called Samantha and I didn't think it had enough energy for me and when I mentioned that to my boyfriend Zach he suggested Electra Cute and I feel in love right away and never looked back.

3. When and why did you begin doing drag?

The very start of my drag had to be cosmetology school and falling in love with the beauty industry, then I found Drag Race. If anyone remembers they showed the first season or two on VH1 and that was my girlfriend Sam and my favorite channel at the time and I’m not ashamed to say that I was absolutely inspired by Drag Race and the artistry it presented. Fast forward like a year and a half and insert learning good makeup skills. Shortly after I started going out I was introduced to my eldest drag daughter, Fox E. Kim, and started to teach her what I knew about drag makeup and our friendship quickly blossomed and so did both of our drag. A little later we ended up at FABITAT...Lucy Stoole's show where Fox E was asked to perform on a whim and absolutely slayed me and inspired me to start performing myself. Lucky for me, Lucy Stoole reached out and gave me my first performance opportunities...thus my entrance into the drag community. She kind of showed us the ropes a bit and gave us encouragement.

4. What is something that sets you apart from other performers?

My energy and stage presence and ability to work every damn corner of the stage or floor or what have you without being much of a dancer. My first performances were mostly just crazy energy practically moshing myself onstage to a song I liked ending up shoeless and wigless on the ground. I have since refined that while keeping a similar in your face attitude with how I approach a crowd. As a drag haus something that sets us apart is the spaces we take over, like our regular show in Logan Square at Slippery Slope is a total takeover of a not typically seen as queer space and I think spreading drag to all types of people and places is really important and extremely fun!

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world to perform, where would you go and why?

This is an easy one! Literally everywhere, I haven’t done a lot of international travel in my life and would cherish the opportunity to experience that...worldwide drag culture is exploding and the more of that I can experience the better person and queen I will be. I have however started to take my drag to a few other states with my drag family Strange Doll Haus...such as Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota and am always trying to get us booked in new places around the country.

6. What is one thing you would change about the drag community?

I'd say something that really stands out is how little drag is spread around the city and shows/events can suffer sometimes when its not at your typical venue or in a designated queer space. I do think this is something that is in the process of changing with the growth of the community and the ambition of all sorts of talented individuals trying to create a space for themselves. So, really, what I would change is more shows all over the city and to see people support even the most obscure events.

7. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about doing drag?

My favorite thing about doing drag is that feeling you get right when you finish your beat and then that feeling you get right when you step on stage and then letting all your feelings out on stage and seeing people live for it. That brings me so much joy and it showers all the other good and less than good things in drag with a really pleasing warmth. I also love the endless creativity that comes out of me doing drag. My LEAST favorite thing about doing drag would definitely be the mess. I’m already a less than organized person and adding an entire elaborate wardrobe on top of that is like an avalanche of mess.

8. What is something that sets apart Chicago drag from everywhere else?

I think being the 3rd largest city in america makes us feel like we have something to prove to the bigger cities that we can keep up and put out fierce drag and to the smaller cities that we can be just as much of a hub for talent as say New York. It makes us shine, and it's the drive to be something collectively great and have our space be known that has pushed the talent to the level its at now.

9. How did the Strange Doll Haus start? 

I have always been a close friends kind of person, relying on a base group for my general social needs. Getting into drag, I realized that not only was it a huge community, but also there are close families and that was an instant draw. The whole time I was teaching myself drag, all I wanted was friends to learn with...but my social anxiety really blocked me from making many friends and beginning to learn before I was 21 added a level of difficulty. So once I was of age and I had met my eldest daughter, Fox E. Kim, my social life grew and my confidence grew. I started to reach out to some of my particularly pretty clients that I thought would be good queens, it should also be noted that the first 3 members of Strange Doll Haus I met through my day job doing hair. Once there were 4 of us all together and we were starting to do stuff together, I added the house name Strange Doll Haus, which I think is really fitting for all of the queens that have been involved. Since then we have all grown close and challenge and inspire each other with just a little shade ;)

10. What would you say is your favorite quality about each of the other members of the Strange Doll Haus? (Fox E, Lexi, Mikki) 

I’m just going break this down one by one and in family age order starting with the youngest, Mikki Miraj- my favorite thing about Mikki is how much of a go getter she is. I was instantly blown away by her energy and charisma and her "take charge of her own destiny" no nonsense attitude. It has taken her far already and her growth is something really magical.

Lexi Pro Cute-my one and only full drag baby. She was my client and I pushed her to do drag until she finally decided to let me put her in full drag for a hair show event and she never looked back. We get ready together probably 98% of the time and it's also one of my favorite parts of doing drag. So my favorite thing about Lexi is not a single's seeing her grow and change and adapt and learn about who she is as a queen and finding herself and her aesthetic. It's been an amazing process with her and she makes me so SO proud every day.

Fox E. Kim-I could say so much about her because she's done so much for me but I'll keep it simple….after I gush a little bit. Fox E is the fastest learner I have ever met. When I started showing her what I knew about makeup, I'd show her on one eye and then she would do it almost exactly the same on the other eye. She learned everything she could from me and has grown so much and created such a beautiful character its really amazing. I'd say my favorite quality though is her professionalism. She has a really fantastic work ethic and it's taken her so far in the community. I can honestly say I learned a lot about being a professional from her. and I'll always appreciate that.

11. Do you have a most embarrassing moment while performing? If so, what is it?

Well, to be honest, not really. My approach to drag has always had a level of trial and error so I expect myself to fuck up sometimes. I have fallen out of shoes, broken corsets, ripped off failing garment reveals, slipped on tips, spun too hard and lost my footing, lost wigs...and the list goes on. Of course I care and want to do a good job, but I really try and not be to hard on myself about my fuck ups because drag is hard. I think it's important to always try and improve though, never stop growing.

12. If you were stranded on an island, what are 3 things you would need to have with you? 

I hate this question because I’m a total realist with it. I'd want things to help me survive like 1. an extensive book on tropical plants and fish 2.lots and lots and lots of rope and 3. a really solid hunting knife. I think those things would be pretty essential to surviving on this imaginary island. Can I just say I want a huge box of survivalist equipment? I wanna live, not be pretty!

13. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Doing absolutely nothing occasionally in my free time. I love to binge watch TV and smoke a TON of weed and lay in bed. Not all the time but, hey that's a guilty pleasure right? 

14. What would you say is your favorite performance you've ever done? 

Hmmmm...this is a hard one because there have been so many with various feelings attached...but I think any group number I have done with my family with one or all have always been really special. Our very first family show we put together we named “sexy summer sacrifice”, and we did a couple large group numbers that told a story of us killing each other off and sacrificing our baby sister (Lexi Pro) by tearing out her heart...oh and I also cut a brain out of one of my daughters wigs so it was pretty epic. I'd also say a recent duet I did with my daughter, Lexi Pro, for the Harem of Oddities at Berlin where I shaved off her beard and threw her around on stage for a mommy dearest effect really shined in my mind, it was a really raw expression that will stick with me for a long time.

15. If you could give advice to younger queens that are just starting to perform, what would it be? 

DRAG IS A SLOW BURN!!! Don’t rush yourself or get ahead of yourself. Focus on now and growing at a comfortable speed. It can be really discouraging when you realize how hard it can be so don’t give up. Also don't be afraid to ask for things and create your own space in the community. there's not one “drag scene”in Chicago...everyone doing drag makes up a wonderful map of talent so push your pin in that map wherever you want. As a drag mother, I could go on an on because its in my heart to mentor, so I'll add one more humble and be nice, bitchy entitlement is never a cute look, so don’t wear it.

Follow Electra Cute:
Instagram: @electracutesillusion 

Strange Doll Haus:
Instagram: @strangedollhaus 

Photo Credit:
Erik Michael Kommer: @lad_of_leisure on instagram 

Interview done by: Natalie
Instagram: @urjustadrag_
Twitter: @urjustadrag 

The Drag Enthusiast
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @DragEnthusiast