Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kalista Stage: A Full Production



Los Angeles is filled with an enormous variety of talented and well rounded drag performers. One of the many is Kalista Stage who believes in making a true connection to her audience through the production of her performances. She draws her inspiration from many different people and is very eager to learn new things. Her fascination of performance started when she was a child ruining her mother's towels and continued into high school where she cross dressed in jewelry, makeup, heels, etc. Kalista is a true force to be reckoned with and is gaining popularity and notoriety very quickly.


1. Who is Kalista Stage as a performer?

Kalista Stage is an explosion of stage presence and beauty, or so I like to think. All of my years of being a performer really brings out the theatrics and love for the connection with the crowd. I think thats why showmanship, creating a production comes naturally for me. The crowd loves to feel the up and down, the journey from the beginning, middle, and all the way to the end. That’s my style of performing. I like to bring a concept to life. Whether it be an idea, a color, a person, I’m all about the production. The connection with the audience comes naturally. 

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

I’ve always been a drag queen. Even as a kid I loved putting on shows with towels wrapped around my head as hair. I even sprinkled a bit of glitter with old school liquid Elmer’s Glue on them. Momma stage wasn’t so happy about that, the ruins of her towels I mean. Other than that, I cross-dressed all throughout high school! She wore heels, skirts, jewelry, makeup, and the works. The idea of drag never came to mind because for the most of my childhood, what drag is, was what i was already expressing in my everyday life. I remember on many occasions I would imagine myself on stage as some of my favorite divas, putting on an entire show, lip-syncing the words while I listened to every song. I guess what I’m trying to say is it wasn’t a choice to do drag. It developed slowly as a natural progression of who I am. Sure, nowadays I have the wig, the padding, and the song to lip sync to, but I’ve always been a drag queen. It really is a huge part of my life.


3. Where did you get your drag name from?

Kalista came to me in a reoccurring dream. I couldn’t shake the idea of this absolutely breathtaking woman I saw, and as self-indulgent as this sounds, I became her after trial and error in the makeup chair.
As for the last name “Stage”, I wanted something that was representative of me, my background, where I’m most comfortable. The stage is my happy place. It’s where I can go, and not one person can take that away from me. Unless, their name is Kanye West. 



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

My favorite thing about doing drag is never feeling like I am content or at ease with who Kalista is. I am always growing, always changing and learning. Therefore, Kalista continues to evolve and that is the most exciting part. I will never run out of things to create and share with the world. My least favorite thing about drag? I don’t really have one? I enjoy every part of the process, but if I had to pick one, it definitely would be the sweating in full makeup; possibly even the tucking and padding process. 


5.  What would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far?

Making it on Reddit? Just kidding. I want to answer this in two parts. 
A. Gaining residency at two venues in West Hollywood. That was a pivotal point in the rapid progression of my drag character. I’ve learned so much from the girls I work with, and the boys I work with too. 
B. Aside from the residency, I think just branching out to different places and letting my introvert take the backseat has been great for everything I’ve accomplished thus far.  



6. What has been your favorite performance that you've ever done so far?

Oh my goodness. There are so many! I don’t like to repeat numbers, but I really want to do my Cruella De Vil number again. That one keeps coming up in my mind, so that one is my favorite. 



7. Who is your biggest drag inspiration?
I don't really draw my inspiration from other queens. Sure, I've studied the greats and I learn from them, but the word inspiration is a broad term. The drag world has had a long journey, and so many ideas, outfits, songs have been done over and over, but at the end of the day anyone can create or recreate a look and still be stunning, regardless of anyone else doing it before. I draw a lot of my inspiration from theatre. To personify an entire world of creativity, she was my first inspiration.


8.  If you had the opportunity to travel and perform  anywhere, where would you pick and why? Also, what would you bring to the drag scene there?

I would love the opportunity to go all over Europe. So much originated from there, and I'm sure the drag scene has something amazing to offer too. I see so many of my international sisters killing the game over there. As for what I would bring, I would bring an overwhelming amount of will to learn and better my aesthetic, my art, my passion. 


9. If you could change something about the drag scene, what would you change and why? 

I would change how a lot of queens interact with others. There’s an overwhelming sense of “let me take her down” or “there can only be one”, as if there is only one person allowed to succeed. I guess I feel as if there’s not one way to do something correctly or to the best possible standard. Come on, art is subjective. The why behind it? Well, I get being competitive comes naturally, but I’ve seen some people straight up quit because of how they were treated. They had so much potential. 

Then again, I could play the Devil’s advocate and say, “The drag world, let alone the entertainment industry, is not for the faint of heart.” Can you tell I like to look at all sides of the argument?



10. What would you say is your best quality?
 
I would say my best quality is my nose contour. Just kidding. I really like to smile and enjoy life. It's infectious. I like to keep a uplifting outlook on life and any situation. 


11. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

Someone once told me to keep doing whatever I was doing. To just keep going and continue being the lovable, relatable personality who can be the girl next door one second and the show-stopping diva the next.


12. What is the most bizarre thing anyone has said to you while you were out in drag?

Ugh! The list goes on and on. I live in Los Angeles. The amount of bizarre things I could hear from someone is inevitably infinite. Hmmm, possibly "Will you give me your number? I want to have it for when I'm up in heaven. You're an angel and I'll be calling." (The entire time she never broke eye contact, and her husband didn't either.) They must have been swingers!


13. How is drag in LA different from drag everywhere else?
I feel as if LA drag has a bit of everything. The drag scene here is a product of its environment. We have so many different kinds of individuals living here. It’s only safe to assume the drag scene would reflect that. 


14. If you ever had to come up with a catchphrase to describe you as a drag performer, what would it be?
 
"An ocean of possibilities, beautiful and serene offstage, but a wild juggernaut of captivating gravity onstage." 


15. If you ever won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do with your money?  

The first thing I would do with the money is buy my family whatever they want. Then a donation to the MAC AIDS fund. After that, I’ll invest in various avenues of revenue, then savings and finally the frivolous spending on anything I want. 
I really should just take the money to an accountant first, but you got the breakdown first! 


Instagram - @Kalistastage
Facebook - Kalista Stage 
Snapchat - Liamdean 
YouTube - Kalista Stage


Photo Credits:


The Drag Enthusiast
 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Luxe Trapp: Variety at it's Finest



 Photo by Chris Fitzgerald


Luxe Trapp is a newer queen on the scene who resides in California. She has participated in numerous online drag competitions and recently got the opportunity to compete in a pageant. She didn't win, but she appreciated the opportunity to challenge herself. Luxe has proven that the art of drag isn't just one certain aesthetic, but instead a variety. 


1. Who is Luxe Trapp as an artist?

As an artist I feel like things come and go. When I started drag I wanted to pay homage to a lot of my favorite concept artists from the video game industry, Yoshitaka Amano being my favorite. I grew up playing a lot of video games, hell you could say they almost raised me. I really wanted to take the things that inspired me from them and put them into my drag, specifically the women. I saw a lot of strong, beautiful, independent girls in the games I played, and as genres that I feel aren't as explored as their counterparts, a lot of people miss out on these cool role models, so I want to show people things they haven't discovered yet. 



2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

Well as any cocky 20-something year old gay man, I watched RuPaul's Drag Race season 4 and I kept saying to myself I could do this, I could do this, better. Then reality hit after I started, this shit is HARD and the girls do NOT get paid enough. I started about 2 years ago as far as makeup goes and I have only been on stage a little under a year. My first performance was to Lana Del Rey's "Gods and Monsters", and my most favorite performance is either my Pokemon mix or my Mortal Kombat/Babymetal Karate mix! I get really weird. I also discovered that I like to perform with fan veils!



3. Why did you decide to start YouTube and do you plan on making more videos in the future?

So the reason I started doing YouTube was because I felt like there were never any real in-depth drag tutorials online and I wanted to change that. I feel like in order to see success for that I need to restrategize my multi-media marketing because I am not very good at advertising myself. I get distracted by pizza and shit. I do plan on making more videos and my makeup has changed since I started that so I'll probably start with a brand new full face tutorial and then break them down into segments for people looking for something specific. I also have no problem helping people over Skype or Google Hangouts I'm just a text message or Facebook text away. Seriously, just approach me. 





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


So for the Luxe portion I was just looking for something that was unique and that no one really had and I came across the name online, I liked it so I settled with it. As far as the Trapp portion one of my friends that I was working with at a pizza parlor told me that I'm basically a trap, which is like an anime archetype kind of, basically means the boys want to sleep with you because they think you're a girl they don't realize that you have a penis! I thought it was funny so it stuck ever since.



5. What was your favorite moment about doing the pageant that you recently competed in?

Hands down my favorite part was that I got to compete with a bunch of my friends. What REALLY got me was the fact I got to cosplay as a female Scorpion from Mortal Kombat and lip sync to Babymetal's "Karate" with fan veils on an awesome stage setup! Too bad the lighting with a good cuz I would have video and pictures! I got told that my Lady Gaga impersonation was pretty good. I perform to "Marry the Night" and had a tear away I borrowed from a friend (thank you Echo!) and a lot of people liked that so I was pleasantly surprised. I never have done evening gown portions or anything similar to that so that was interesting to see myself in an evening gown made by Vegas Van Dank.



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

As far as the drag community, definitely the fans. The fans of drag race are some of the most disrespectful, discrediting people I've ever encountered in my life. There's no such thing as building people up in that community, only tearing others down. I think that they need to seriously take a step back and reevaluate what they're saying because I don't think they realize how detrimental to someone's confidence that comments can be. And I think telling the girls to not read comments isn't fair to them because they've worked so hard for this.



7. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is probably being able to have so much growth in such a small amount of time. I've had people tell me that for someone who's only been in the game for such a small amount of time, that I'm pretty polished. And I'm not saying that to toot my own horn. But if people are seeing these kinds of things I have to be doing something right. I did learn how to sew recently, kind of...not really...I'm getting there! I did make my Scorpion costume with no pattern, so that's progress! 



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

Basically or where I live kind of ruins drag for me because it makes it to where I have to constantly travel back and forth from my venue which is about 3 hours in total. When it comes down to the actual drag or getting ready, I don't like having to shave my arms it really bugs me and wearing heels fucking suuuuuuuucks, don't do it. Okay, no, I change my mind. The WORST thing about drag is the PGP's, also known as the pre-gig shits!!! I used to get really nervous and I'd have to use the bathroom before the show, this includes taking off my outfit, my tights, my pads, my tuck (hopefully I don't have nails on at this point) and then when I complete the deed (that's nasty) I have to get all that shit (no pun intended) back in order and make sure I'm on stage in time to collect your tips with my dirty bathroom hands (you're welcome)!



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

So there's a few places I would love to travel to perform. Right off the bat I want to list Chicago because Chicago's weird, Chicago's artsy, it doesn't matter what the fuck you do, people are going to like you for you and I like that. New York is another destination I would love. I've always wanted to visit Seattle, Australia would be great too, and I would be so fucking happy to go to Tokyo. I'm actually going to Hawaii in November for a week, purely recreationally though. 

Photo by Cody Kiniry

10. If you could work with anyone, who would it be and why?

Miss Fame is from Templeton, which is only about an hour north of me. She used to hang out with my boyfriend about 10 years ago almost and the fact that someone as successful as her, in my field of work, is from where I am, really inspires me to keep doing what I do. And if we're going based off of just talent, definitely India Ferrah who I might actually get to meet at our pride which is in 2 days(technically tomorrow from the time I'm writing this).



11. If you could pick one person that you would say is your number one drag inspiration, who is it?

It's hard for me to pick just one because there's so many different people who do it, and do it so well. I'll just go ahead and say Trixie Mattel because she doesn't conform to what she thinks she needs to be for people to like her. She just does what she likes and feels good about it and I really admire that confidence. Confident queens really move me. 



12. Where do you see yourself taking your drag career in the future?

Honestly I would love to become a house mother of sorts or just a really genuine drug mom to Queens wanting to get a start in the scene. I was lucky enough to come under the wing of two amazing people in my life. Nathan Louis and Deja Re. Nathan taught me everything about how to carry myself and how to treat others with respect, because respect is something that gets you very far in this industry and being polite is nothing to be ashamed of. Deja gave me my stage if it wasn't for her I don't even know where I would be right now. She gets me off my ass and she gets me going and I aspire to be everything that she is as a woman and an Entertainer. So if there's anything I could be in the future, I would want to be the presence that they are in my life for someone else.

 Photo by Chris Fitzgerald

13. What is the biggest misconception that you've noticed people have about you?

People like to think I'm a bitch! I'm really not! People also like to think that I'm two faced just because I like to listen to both sides of a situation and if I feel like I can mediate a problem, I will. People read that as me trying to play both sides of the fence when in general I just want people to chill the fuck out and get along.



14. If you ever tried to get on RPDR, who would you pick to do for snatch game and why?

I'm going to tell you right now, I don't know! I'm still trying to discover things I can do and my limits when it comes to drag and I'll be honest, impersonation scares me. I think it's because I feel that trying to be someone else is ingenuine to myself, so in doing so I feel as if I'm crippling my own growth as a performer, it's a stupid mentality. 



15. If Luxe was a superhero and had one super power, what would it be? 

Horse Girl! A woman with a face as long as a horses and a dick just as long as well. She gallops at the speed of sound and if easily startled will run into a wall. Her hobbies include eating oats, letting flies crawl on her eyelids, and having the shit scraped from her hooves. Her only Kryptonite is if she breaks her ankle, for then she will be shot in the neck for being lame and sent off to the glue factory! 



Follow Luxe Trapp:
Instagram: @luxetrapp


Photography credit:


Cody Kiniry: 
Instagram: @codesmajodes

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let's Have A Chat About Phi Phi O'Hara



Rupaul's Drag Race is one of the most popular television shows to hit LOGO TV. As the show gets more and more popular, the fanbase becomes more and more intense. So intense, that they don't look at the contestants of the show as human beings, they look at them as game pieces. And it's taken so seriously, that some fans will go as far as sending death threats to contestants over a reality tv show that is known to be heavily edited for entertainment purposes. 



Phi Phi O'Hara is a prime example. She said some nasty things during the competition in season 4 of the show and she has never really denied saying those things, but for some reason it's hard for people to wrap their heads around the situation these queens are put into when filming. They go almost a month without any contact to the outside world, locked in a hotel room unless they are filming in the studio, and there's $100,000 at stake. Not only that, but most of the girls who get on the show have gone out of their way to struggle with their art. Some of them will sacrifice taking care of themselves just so they can perform. It's serious to them, and it's a huge opportunity for them to showcase what they do and live their dreams so they don't have to financially struggle any longer. As someone who spends my free time with performers behind the scenes, I have gotten to see the sacrifices some people make.

That being said, I don't know Phi Phi O'Hara personally. Every interaction I have had with her has been online, and I have never met her in person. But what I do know, from many people who have worked along side her, I have heard nothing but positive things about how she treats people. And the negative things I do hear about in person encounters are very rare. All I'm trying to say is, the threats need to end. If you don't know someone personally, and you have never met them, why would you base your judgement off of a TV show that is known to provoke situations and get the most dramatic footage possible? Even if you don't like the things she has said on camera, you have absolutely no right to send her death threats. You can disagree with her, and you can say you don't like her, but being in this community people need to understand that we shouldn't be sending such vile and disgusting things, because all of us know what it's like to feel broken down.



Earlier this week Phi Phi sent out a tweet saying she locked herself in a room and broke down. And later announced she wouldn't be at the Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars reunion because she feels like she's being picked on. Did anyone ever think that maybe she's just sick of being treated like a game piece? Does anyone think of her feelings? No they don't. Because she got in a fight with their favorite performers while filming a competition where she is obviously competitive and at her wits end, and no one cares about her. Does anyone understand how petty and immature that sounds? To hate someone from a TV show so much that you have to send them death threats and condemn them for not liking someone else...? Everyone is ugly at some point. And I can 100% guarantee that every queen that gets behind that camera has said something petty at some point during filming, but the network chooses the most dramatic footage possible. Phi Phi happened to be more dramatic. So they painted her to be a villain. But in reality, they could've made anyone the villain. Be real. 



And it's not just her, this has happened before to a few other girls as well. But the funniest part is that the network doesn't come to anyone's defense. Why? Because they're focused on the drama and making money off of it. And if you're too blind to see that, then you need to take a step back and remember that it's a TV show, and they're solely focused on making money off of the drama, because let's be real, no one wants to watch a reality show where everyone gets along. Drag queens have big personalities, and they will get incredibly competitive...especially put into the situation at hand. I'm very well aware. And this is why I personally don't hate any of the girls. We should be focused on their talent and the beautiful work they do.



And you know what else? Phi Phi O'Hara is very talented. One of the most talented queens that exists...and if you are going to deny her talent because of things she's said on Season 4 and her argument during the most recent season of All Stars, then you shouldn't call yourself a real drag fan, because that's saying you are going to discredit someone's obviously phenomenal work over a stupid dramatic TV show. You don't have to agree with the things she's said, but don't you dare discredit her work and pass it off as trash when your only knowledge of drag is from TV. 



The whole reason this page exists is to bring attention to the different types of artists that exist and for people to connect with drag performers and make new connections. This page is focused on the art. Which is why I, as the person who runs this blog, will never discredit anyone's work, even if they have said some questionable things in the past. For the record, I think a lot of people don't like Phi Phi because she's honest. A lot of the things I see her say, not completely all, but a lot, are pretty accurate. I also think it's funny how people will be so quick to attack Phi Phi for back talking World of Wonder but everyone will defend Willam in a heart beat and she has done the same exact thing. These queens are human beings. They are artists. And they should be treated as such. They are not game pieces. They don't deserve such hate. They don't deserve death threats. You can disagree all you want, but appreciate their art at least, because that's why they put themselves out there in the first place.

All that is being asked is to stop the hate. Stop harassing someone you don't know on the Internet and sending them death threats. And if you do so, you are no better. In fact, you are more vile and disgusting than the person you're attacking over drama on TV. 

That is all. We love you Phi Phi. 



Check out Phi Phi O'Hara's new song:

Follow Phi Phi on social media:
Twitter: @PhiPhiOHara 
Instagram: @phiphiohara 
Facebook:

The Drag Enthusiast:
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Tumblr: dragenthusiast.tumblr.com

The Vixen: Not Beyoncé, But Close Enough


Looks? Check. Energy? Check. Attitude for change? Check. The Vixen has been using her multiple talents to captivate Chicago nightlife for quite some time now. One of her biggest influences is Beyoncé and not only can she completely slay a stage with full on dance performances, she also desires to use her platform to speak out about different issues happening in our society. She has been winning hearts not only in Chicago, but other areas as well.


1. Describe The Vixen as a performer.

The Vixen is a Power House! I like to bring alot of elements to each number. A little fashion, some drama, and a ton of energy. I want you to feel like you've been to a five minute concert! 


2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

I've been performing in women's clothes forever so it's hard to say when it became drag. I started lipsyncing in a drag show after seeing the first Beyoncé superbowl show. I just wanted to feel like her for 12 minutes.


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

I love pinup girls, and the idea of owning your sexuality as a woman. One day someone said "is it Vixen or The Vixen?" I decides right there. "THE" 


4. How did you learn to do your makeup? 

I took stage makeup classes in college. They went over drag for one day but it changed my life!


5. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment? 

I always wanted to be an activist. I thought that was over when I started drag because queens aren't/weren't encouraged to talk about issues. Using drag to bring awareness to real issues is what makes me proud nowadays.


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

My favorite is growing as an artist. Queens require so many skills to get dressed and I like to put as much art as I can into my details.
My least favorite thing is being so involved with my own image and networking, pushing my brand. It's all so fake. And it takes me away from quality time with my loved ones.


7. If you had to drop everything and move somewhere else, where would you go and what would you bring to the drag scene there? 

I'd move to Puerto Rico! They have amazing queens and the shows there are so elaborate. I think I'd really fit in there more than anywhere. I look up to those queens! Hopefully I'd bring an aspect of activism to the stage.


8. If you could work with anyone in particular during your career, who would you choose and why? 

I really wanna teach Beyonce to deathdrop. I just want her to have all my skills and hopefully gain some of hers so we can see each others shows and just gag!


9. Do you have a most embarrassing moment? 

My wig used to fly off a lot. I take alot precautions now but If I feel like it's sliding I'll tone down my performance by 100%...too risky.


10. What's your favorite makeup product to use?

I have metallic liquid eyeliners in 4 different colors and they are the perfect finishing touch. I use them to draw lines in my brows and it's so cute!


11. If you could change something about either the Chicago community or the drag community as a whole, what would it be and why? 

Chicago community is a great mix of talented radical artists. I just wish we had more ClubKid specific events. Alot of queens who are great at looks and style aren't necessarily performers or interested in being feminine. Which is fine, but don't call that drag. Drag is performing gender in a lot of ways. There are standards to it that I don't think should be broken. Club Kids can break all the rules and I live for it. But to call it drag, which is an age old tradition that has become so refined...seems insulting.


12. Where do you see yourself taking your drag career in the future? 

I wanna travel. I'd love to tour with a Vaudeville show and learn more tricks like silks and hula hoops, stripper pole, unicycle. I wanna be a one woman circus.


13. Do you plan on making anymore music?


Hopefully I'll put a whole album out at the beginning of next year. Stay tuned.


14. If you could give advice to younger queens on how to make it on the drag industry, what would you say to them?

Pay your dues. Learn the basics. Once you can master the elements of drag, play with it and go crazy, but respect the craft. And don't kiss ass. Be your best self and stick with people who get you. Also, don't work for free. Figure out your fee, don't take any less. It makes it easier for us all to get paid. Even bad drag is expensive 


15. If you were stranded on an island and could only have 3 things with you, what would you bring? 

A journal. 
A barrel Cucumber Effen Vodka. 
Duct tape...Cause that solves all my problems


Follow The Vixen:

Twitter: @thevixenbitch
Instagram: @thevixenbitch


All photos used are by Marisa KM


The Drag Enthusiast:
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Tumblr: dragenthusiast.tumblr.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

May May Graves: True Passion and Success

Photo by Amanda Rebholz


Taking most of her inspiration from the punk scene, May May Graves is determined to create a community for the weirdos. She uses her platform to find people like herself who have big dreams and want to do the same thing. One of the most beautiful things when it comes to performing is when someone is passionate about what they do, it always shows. Whether it be onstage or just having a conversation, May May Graves is someone who is greatly passionate about entertainment and inspiring others.


1. How would you describe your aesthetic as a performer?

I've never liked the idea of being solely a "female impersonator" in a sense. I like to describe myself as a drag "creature" or the Monster under the bed. A fabulous trainwreck that you can't turn away from, all the glitter and carnage. When I was first trying to figure myself out as a brand, I was talking it out and said, "I want to be known as the Genderfuck of your Nightmares!" and it just kind of stuck. I'll have an emcee laugh when they read it from a cue card. Trash, fetish, glamour, and horror are my bread and butter you could say.



2. When and why did you begin performing? 

I've always loved the idea of performance and circus arts, etc. anything to get on the stage. I started my journey into drag while I was still preaching at an old southern Church of Christ. Something I fell into, but as much as I hate to say it, it really shaped my drag. Many of my looks have some kind of fucked up religious imagery. I guess one day I just snapped and shaved off my eyebrows. I really loved glam rock and industrial music at the time and wanted to be this androgynous punk rock superstar. So I started eating and breathing fire in this awful clown makeup on the street corners of East Texas. Once my brother, Jay Scarlet and I recorded an album together, we started hosting small parties in hotel rooms across the state, selling merch out of the trunk of our cars and playing gigs that earned us pennies. One thing led to another and I finally admitted to myself that I was a goddamn drag queen and things escalated from there. 



3. How did you acquire your stage name? 

Back in high school, people would call me May May for no good goddamned reason. It was a condescending name that I wasn't too fond of. I decided to keep it and turn it around. I think I started liking the name "May" after watching that film (the one with Anna Faris). It's a super yummy mindfuck. The name grew on me like a terrible cliche. So I kept feeding it and it never left. I go by that name in and out of drag. hell, my parents call me May. 



4. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your opinion?
      1. Being the one in my high school that didn't kill someone. (true story)
      2. Getting to travel and meet so many performers from across the globe
      3. Winning my first title last year, Evil Queen of Burlesque 2015/2016
      4. Creating some kick ass new projects for the coming months 
      In all honesty, I can't figure out what my favorite accomplishment is so far. I've achieved so much of what I've always wanted to do in the past few years. I've also survived so much in just the past year. It's really amazing. my favorite opiate is success. Everyone should try it. Holler. 




5. What was the experience like when you were the first drag queen able to perform at the 2014 Dallas Burlesque festival?
It was really an honor. I've performed every DBF since then and I absolutely LOVE the audience at the House of Blues. Now, let me tell you, my nerves done fucked me up that first show, girl. I started out as an Elvira Impersonator when I really got into drag. And I also didn't have a "no drinks before shows" rule at the time. Picture me sitting there, suddenly nervous that I'm performing in the same show as some of my biggest idols looking like a terrified puppy. My eyebrow to lip ratio was out of the world and I looked like Elvira got into a fight with her lipstick and the lipstick was like, "Girl, you'd look so good dressed as bozo. lets fix that." Not going too into detail, although I always like to have a good laugh about it, I was NOT laughing then. but, as I always say: It's Fine.



6. What can you tell everyone about your time at the Austin International Drag Festival this year since you were announced as the Dallas Ambassador?

I'm so glad I'm lucky enough to perform with some of the biggest names in drag for the second year in a row! I made lifetime family members with some of my favorite performers. I was actually reunited with my overseas twisted sister Dis Charge while she was on her HELLBENT TOUR (Check her out if you want to see some fucking ART) and we ran away to the San Marcos area to do a shoot in the middle of the woods (That's a whole other story!) I performed not one, but THREE showcases that weekend! April 28th, I had the honor of performing with none other than Cynthia Lee Fontaine from this season of Rupaul's Drag Race at Swan Dive Bar. I performed the Superstar Showcase on Friday, and I also closed the weekend at the Bye Felicia Brunch show on Sunday. I was EVERYWHERE dammit!



7. Which shows do you perform at regularly and what should people expect when coming to see you perform?

MY PLUGS: I'm performing all across Dallas mostly. Just scattered across the city. regularly though, I help with the producers of the monthly shows at the Historic Texas Theater called "Texas Burlesque Peepshow" (you can check out our themes and grab tickets at TexasBurlesque.com) I also am a part of Dallas's ONLY drag KING troupe "Mustache Envy" and their sister troupe "Panty Raid" every third Friday at Sue Ellen's. I perform and host the after-party Dance contest at Tuesday Tease @ Sue Ellen's. And occasionally I'll make it out to this cute little queer punk rock show called Glitterbomb in Denton.  A lot of my shows revolve around a mixture of Burlesque, horror and Drag. We have faux queens, drag queens, genderfuckers, and so much more! I really like to perform within a character. Sometimes, it's a character that I created or it's a fucked up version of a cartoon character. Sometimes I'm a terrifying werewolf. Other times, I'm a latex fetish clown, other times, I'm Cruella DeVil, skinning my "puppies" onstage. At times, I'll shock myself with how far I go. I'm working on this super terrifying Ronald McDonald number. without giving too much away, I'll say that it involves some fabulous onstage torture. there are times though, that I bring it back to classic. I have this very beautiful Ziegfeld Follies-type Ghostly Blue Showgirl routine. it's one of my most favorite routines. I've been doing it for years.



8. How long does it typically take you to get ready for a performance?

It depends on the night, I guess. Some days I'll have to give up an extra hour to just worry about loading and unloading my large props (I have red velvet benches, comically giant mallets, etc.) Usually, I've gotten it down to a science. 45 minutes for makeup, 30 minutes for costume dressing, and probably an hour for shaving (I have the genetic predisposition of a bear.)



9. What is a makeup product that you absolutely cannot live without?

Oh goddamn. I wish I was ever prepared for questions like these. Let's see. I'd have to say that I don't know where I would be without good ol' NYX and their Bettie black gel liner. Once you get the formula down, that shit can paint a whole damn face for monochrome filth! I use it for my liner, my brows, my lip liner, my nose contour, my cheek contour.... hell, if I need some quick brows before work, I live on that shit. Available at Target. 



10. What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming a burlesque performer?

I'd like to give some advice that I wish I'd had growing in this industry: 
      1. the first rule of Burlesque is that absolutely no one knows your routine. so when you fuck it up, ham it up even more. Play if off. You meant to do that. you meant to sit on your bench right before it collapsed from under you. you set that up goddammit.
      2. No one will give two shits about what you do until you're good. But that doesn't mean you should quit. Success is staying in the game long enough for you to prove yourself as someone who can triumph and create a decent product. 
      3. Take advice when someone gives it to you. don't use "That's just my aesthetic" as an excuse to not let yourself grow. The number one thing that young queens and performers do is come in thinking they have to claw their way to the top. You never peak, you always need to learn if you want to grow. Say thank you when given advice, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT.
      4. Commit to your ideas, but stay marketable. A hobbyist does it for themselves. But a professional puts the audience first. Don't call yourself "genderfuck" if you just don't feel like tucking. An audience can see when you're being lazy. Call yourself "genderfuck" because you spent hours of effort stoning a HUGE cock sock that says "here's my dick, audience. you're not allowed to look away because I KNOW you love it."
      5. Burlesque is like high school. When you first enter the industry, you may be surrounded with so many people that seem to throw themselves at you. DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY "NO". Walk away. Find someone who want to see you succeed. Gain a support group and give yourself some time to breath between gigs.
      6. Don't you dare forget to have some fucking fun!



11. In your opinion, what would you say is your best quality as a performer and why?

I really like myself, as most queens do. I would like to say that I have this great versatility, or my makeup is on point, or I'm oh-so humble. (Let's face it, we all love attention, darling.) But these are things that I would prefer to hear from other people rather than myself. I think my best quality in my opinion is how proud I am of myself. It took me a long time to really be able to say that I LOVE the performance that I do. I'm really putting myself out there, because I think I am ready to be seen. I was always beating myself up because I wasn't quite exactly like the performers that I admired. One of the funnest things to learn is that you will never be successful being anyone else but yourself. 



12. Who would you be most excited to work with in the future and why did you choose this person?

You know that I absolutely CANNOT choose one person! I'm actually planning a US tour next year and a Euro-Trash Tour in Berlin and Bristol later this year with this international collection of Trash performers called #GARBAGEFAM I cannot wait to get things started with these lunatics. Hell, I would love to tour with so many amazing people. One person that I have a personal vendetta of working with is the incomparable Peaches Christ. I have grown up a child of cult films and independent B-horror and she has this forever cemented place in history as THE leader dragon of the cult film. A damn genius. 



13. What can you tell everyone about the musical you're working on, "May May's Nightmares"? 

Girl! I would love to say so much about this project. So much is done and slated with it, but until casting and dating is done, it's still a fetus. What I can say is that It's not just like every other drag/burlesque show. It's a fabulous mixture of horror, drag, punk rock, and sex that has been in the works since I was a baby performer. I've been getting some help from amazing punk and industrial bands like Girlflesh and even Angelspit. Picture an immersive and interactive horror movie, where "Don't go in there!" might actually save someone's life! I'm planning on creating a whole world off of this project where viewers and fans of this can continue creating it all their own. It's gonna slay.



14. What would you say is your favorite thing about performing? 

I have always had this sick, disgusting obsession with the stage. I love the idea of standing on a blank stage and creating this world that only the audience and I can see. It's a secret world that, for only a small amount of time, can be seen. Aside from my monopolization of other people's stage time, I feel like I'm in service to a younger me. I remember going to these weird punk concerts and paying the little money I earned after school to buy a meet and greet pass and tell these artists how much they really have helped me and made me want to pursue my dreams. My goal, always, is to be that same artist. To be able to inspire that weird kid in the back of the audience to come forward and feel safe telling me that they have dreams that are just as wild as mine. I love that feeling. that's why I keep doing what I do. To find other people like me and help them find each other.I attended a workshop taught by the incomparable Peaches Christ (Joshua Grannell) entitled "Creating a Cult" where he described the very same idea. He said, "I grew  up thinking I was the only one who loved these weird things. So I decided to create a system where other's like me could find each other and bond over something we worshipped." (Paraphrasing, of course. All I can remember verbatim are Bible verses.) 



15. Where do you see yourself taking your career in the future? 

Success, as a good friend has told me, is a series of elevators. There will come a time when one elevator will go as high as it will go. You can stay comfortable on that floor, or you can take a chance at finding an elevator that goes higher. I've already come so far with achieving these great goals that I've set for myself. Titles, shows, music, making a name for myself. It's time to go higher! I want, in the end, to create an empire of these fucked up kids that have been too scared to chase their dreams. I want to create this haven for glam-punk drag to really come together. I have so many projects in the works, and it's hard to pick just one. Right now I'm focusing mostly on setting up my new show and a future tour. I've also buckled down this past spring to focus on a certain specific audition opportunity that literally everyone and their dog is always jumping on. I'm glad I'm confident enough this year to really say how confident I am in my art to really put myself out there like this. It's really exciting! I don't think I'll ever stop.

Photo by Amanda Rebholz


Follow May May Graves:
Instagram: @maymaygraves 
Official Website: http://maymayburlesque.com/

Amanda Rebholz: 
Instagram: @omgithasawatermark 

The Drag Enthusiast:
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Tumblr: dragenthusiast.tumblr.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Miss Taint: Tainted Love

Photo by Poo Poo Platter ATX (featuring Ruby Knight) 
 

As a 21 year old drag artist from Texas, Miss Taint is still growing and evolving as a performer. One day she got curious and tried on her mom's makeup and has never been the same since. A lot of the inspiration behind her starting her journey as a drag performer comes from Rupaul's Drag Race and being able to discover that drag can be so many different things. One of her biggest dreams is to use her platform to be a voice for those who struggle with being HIV positive and to bring awareness to the issues our community faces everyday. Find out more about Miss Taint below. 


1. Describe Miss Taint as a performer.

Miss Taint is a queen that wants a reaction out of you. 
Whether it's a laugh, a cry, fright, shock, or awe, I want to leave that stage knowing you'll remember me the next day and smile or cringe. 
I like my performances to demonstrate a part of me, whether it's my interests or something I find fascinating that I want to turn myself into. I do crazy stunts, like a lot of audience interaction, and love my two free drinks I get at the bar for every show I do. I like vintage 60's-90's wear, my infamous black hair, and heels that make you look twice. I have no limits in what I do, and have my own hashtag #fuckyourrules. I'd like to think of myself as a new fashion good ol' time. 


2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

I started the art form of drag when I was 18 years old in the summer of 2014. I had been to only one drag show I believe before I started, and I'm going to be honest I was bored.  It wasn't my taste, and it seemed very bland to me.  After watching season 5 and 6 of RPDR, I found some inspiration and thought, "Hey! not all drag queens are boring" One day when my mom wasn't home, I went into her vanity drawer and began playing with her makeup.  I love the art of transforming yourself into a completely different person to entertain people. Kind of like a clown. Honk! Honk!


3. Where did you get your drag name from?

Funny Story, me and my best friend at the time were at a discount store and he knew I wanted to start doing drag so we were coming up with names.  Before Miss Taint, I was "Feita Loca" which translated means little ugly crazy girl. I knew it didn't fit right, so that day we smoked a little bit too much ganja. One of my favorite bands at the time was "The Horrorpops" and they have a song titled "Miss Take". I was like, "Hey matty, how about Miss Take" and he turned around all high and said "What? Miss Taint?" and the rest was herstory! 

Photo by 
Alvaro Armendariz


4. How did you learn to do your face?

Well, when I first started, I had a drag mom and she helped me with the basics of the face. Gluing down the brows, contouring, the eyes, and so on. But I knew I didn't want a basic face. I wasn't happy with it. I took a small break of maybe about 3-4 months.  After seeing Trixie Mattel on television doing what she does (first queen I saw with extreme makeup), I found inspiration to come out again and do drag the way I wanted to. 
Over exaggerated lips, over drawn lashes and brows, etc. I never really watched any makeup tutorials, I always just played with makeup until I got my face the way I felt most comfortable.  It gained a lot of attention in my hometown of San Antonio, where there's primarily "Pageant Queens". Not many people liked it so they would talk, and that's pretty much how my name got out there. 


5. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

I'd say I have three biggest accomplishments throughout my drag career.
First would be being invited to perform in front of 300+ people at a SXSW event in Austin, Texas. That was the best and most fun gig I have ever been blessed with. From performing in front of 2 people and the bartenders at my home bar to that many people, boy was I in for a surprise. I did a Rob Zombie/Dead Silence Mix with the help of my sister, Siren LaCoast, and getting into a crowd of that many people was too much fun.
Second, I think my advocacy for HIV is another thing I've accomplished. Being able to be comfortable in your own skin is an amazing feeling.  I have been HIV positive (undetectable) for 2 years now, and being able to help others who are scared and newly diagnosed is a really amazing thing.  I've helped a lot of my friends stay on the right track, find the resources needed, and stay on their meds. It's important to address issues that gay people face, be the voice for others that don't have one. 
Lastly, being able to have and host my own "Freakshow", and give people a place of unity and acceptance in the gay community in which I live is another big accomplishment I achieved just this year. I have been given my own night to let performers here have a chance to express themselves in a show where you can do absolutely anything and won't get shunned upon by the closed minded people and queens. 

6. What is your most unique quality?

Being able to accept people for who they are, and not giving up on them.  If I see something in them, I make sure they bring it out to their fullest potential. I also like taking the time to get to know each of the people who support my art, and get to know them as friends and not just my "fans" . 

Photo by 
Maria Galindo


7. Do you have a most embarrassing moment while performing? 
 
The first time I ever performed, I was invited by my good Judy Sephwhora Addams 51. It was a play/drag show/brunch so there was a diverse crowd in the audience. I did my first number and it went great! I was backstage and another queen needed an extra in her number, so I volunteered as tribute.  Little did I forget I had taken off some of my tucking tape and while I was onstage, a little extra something fell out and everyone started bursting out laughing. There I was, doing my thing without knowing what was peeking out.  I looked down and saw, and looked back up and laughed and played a long with it! Give the people what they want, a show! After the show, I had many people come up to me and say that that's the most they had ever laughed and I needed to keep doing what I was doing. And here I am, two years later. 


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

My favorite thing about drag is being able to inspire people to be different and be comfortable in their own skin, no matter what kind of drag they do. I love it, it's what I live for! I like talking to people and encouraging them to go out and chase what they want in life. Drag gives me a platform to have a voice to inspire and educate others.

However... I HATE shaving. I can grow a full beard in a week, so shaving is the absolute worst. 


9. Who is your biggest drag inspiration and why?

I don't particularly have one I admire the most, but people who make a name for themselves and fight for what they believe in and stay true to their art and who they are, are definitely some of the ones I look up to. 
I really love the singer and legend, Peaches.  I love how raw and artistic she is, she's in her late 40's and is still on stage fashionably rocking it out. 
My mom is an inspiration on her own, and one of the biggest fighters I know.   I admire people who have seen a struggle and know how hard you have to work to get where you want to be in life.

Photo by 
Alvaro Armendariz


10. Do you ever get nervous before setting foot onstage? If so, how do you calm your nerves?

All. The. Time. Haha
It's normal to get nervous, I'd be worried if I ever wasn't nervous.  Each time I open the curtain I'm performing in front of a different audience, and that's what I love about it.  Usually before I step foot onstage, I say a little prayer and ask God to give me the confidence and the courage to make that performance my best. Doing drag has really gotten me closer to my faith, and I am thankful for that. 


11. What is your favorite number to perform and why?

I have a plastic surgery Twilight zone number I love to perform.  It's from the episode "Eye of the Beholder", I love the concept behind it that beauty isn't always what's on the outside. I also have a lot of fun performing my Dead Silence/Rob Zombie number. I love all things horror, I take a lot of inspiration from horror movies and playing their characters for people to see in real life.  


12. What is the biggest lesson you've learned while doing drag?

"Sometimes it's best to just walk away."  I have a very short temper, and have been in my fair share of confrontations and disputes.  Not everyone is going to like you, and that is OKAY.  What matters most is the people who are there for you, and who support the art that you do.  Fighting is not the answer, and that is something I just recently learned by a mother and her daughter that are really big supporters, and go out to every one of my shows.  You'd be surprised by the people who can teach you lessons. I love you Maria and Crystal. 



13. What is the most bizarre thing someone has ever said to you while you were out in drag?

Some older men try to ask for my number or hit on me in drag and I look at them like "Why?" haha Guess they're into freaks ;)
I've also been chased outside a club by a guy maybe about 5"2 that was laughing like a maniac clown, I ran in my 6 inch heels for my LIFE haha


14. Have you received negativity for being different? How did you handle it? 

To be honest, quite frequently.  I tend to handle it with a grain of salt.  As a performer, you're going to have people that adore you, but you're also going to have the ones who can not stand you. Those are usually the people who aren't comfortable with their own selves.  Always be nice to everyone, you never know who may be on their last straw until their breaking point, and you can be the one to save them. I don't let them stop me from showing my art to the world, and hope one day they can see past whatever they have a problem with, and be apart of the fun!


15. Where can people check you out and see you perform?

You can catch me performing at the Heat nightclub in San Antonio, Texas every now and again. Also at Stonewall Warehouse in San Marcos and local clubs in Austin, Texas. I also have my own show at The Thirsty Camel called "Glamour Kills" which is done monthly and is a tribute to the Club Kids movement.  I'm hoping to be in the Austin International Drag Festival next year, so hopefully I'll be seeing some of y'all out !


Photo by Camille Claire (Life's A Drag)

I'd like to personally thank my mother for supporting me in this journey every step of the way ,from loaning me her makeup to going and supporting my shows ; Eliaskayne Olvera and Matty Monstante for being the best friends and supporters a ghoul could have ever asked for ; Rey Lopez for all the opportunities you gave me with your Drag me to Fame Competition ; Heat Nightclub for believing in my drag and allowing me to have a stage to perform on ; and all my Freaks for coming out to my shows and letting me entertain you! 

You can find me on Facebook by searching Brian Hernandez (Miss Taint)
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: Miss_Taint and tumblr: MissxTaint
For booking Inquiries, please shoot a message to Bookyourtaint@gmail.com

The Drag Enthusiast:
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Tumblr: dragenthusiast.tumblr.com