Monday, February 29, 2016

Sara Andrews: Electric Pinup Girl

Beginning her career as a performer at the ripe age of 17 in Nashville, TN, Sara Andrews worked towards becoming an onstage sensation. She currently resides in the big city of Chicago, IL where she regularly charms audience members with her fun and upbeat performances and stunning costumes. Being a performer who is enchanting, versatile, and unique, Sara is definitely worth watching onstage if anyone is given the opportunity. 

1. Who is Sara Andrews as a performer?

What's a "performer"? Just kidding. I'm a little bit of everything all rolled into one... a jack of all trades and a master of none, if you will. I like comedy, though I'm not great at it. I like mindless bubblegum pop. But I LOVE anything overly dramatic, angry, or sad. Give me a stunning gown and some drama, and I'll give you a show! I guess you could say that I'm a quirky drama queen with a goofy sense of humor. I'm actually going through a Madonna-esque reinvention of myself at the moment. Amongst other things, I'm learning to play with color a lot more. And I've always had people tell me that I have that classic pinup girl look (even when I'm not really going for that). So the best way I can describe what I'm becoming is an "electric pinup girl". Classic... with a colorful twist! I'm pretty excited to flesh out this idea a little more this year. So stay tuned! Sara Andrews - soon in technicolor!

2. When and why did you begin performing?

I started performing in 1998. I knew that I wanted to be a professional drag queen from the moment I discovered it to be a career path. I can't sing. I can't dance. And I can't fashion. So prancing around a stage lipsyncing to other people's songs in tacky costume seemed like the best way to go!

3. How has drag changed your life?

If it hadn't been for drag, I might never have discovered transgender people until I was in my 30s and they started being all over tv! And I certainly wouldn't have had the opportunity to travel the country as much as I have and meet all the awesome people that I've been able to meet. My life would've been SO boring, I imagine!

4. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about performing?

My favorite thing about performing is seeing the smiles on people's faces in the audience. I know that's cheesy, but cheese make everything better in my opinion.

And my least favorite thing about performing? Duct tape.

5. How is the atmosphere different in Chicago compared to other places as far as the drag scene goes?

Well, I'm from the south where if you don't fit into a particular box, you don't really work much (if at all). But the diversity here is A-MAZING! Drag is so creative and outside the box here. I love it! It's really a breath of fresh air for someone who's mostly been exposed to pageant drag. It's definitely way more playful here too.

6. Do people treat you differently because you're a transgender female who performs in the drag world? How do you deal with it?

I've never really had a problem with being a transgender queen, aside from the occasional asshat trying to tell me that what I do isn't really drag. 

7. What is the most misunderstood thing about being a transgender performer?

Oh that's easy! That we don't put any effort into the artform or that we have an "unfair advantage". People think, just because we take hormones, our bone structure and features magically morph into that of a woman. People think we just wake up looking like we're wearing a pound of makeup, I guess. And that we grow 2 wigs worth of hair on our heads. About the only thing hormones did for me was clear up my acne. 

And, sure, some of us get work done. But so do plenty of gay men that do drag. Look at all the queens that have been on drag race and talked about all their work... Venus, Detox, Chad, etc, etc, etc. And just as many that had work and didn't talk so much about it. 

The only advantage we used to have were boobs... and breastplates have pretty much evened up that playing field. Look at queens like Trinity Taylor (a boy queen who utilizes a breast plate) and tell me again how boy queens are at a disadvantage.

8. There are many transgender individuals that struggle with coming to terms with themselves and coming out to family and friends. What is your advice to them as far as trying to live an open and happy life? 

Taking advice from me is like taking advice from the town sot. Just don't do it... unless you wanna know which bar in town will get you drunk fastest and cheapest. Then I got you, boo!

9. What is something not many people know about you? 

I'm such an open book, I don't know that there's anything left to tell. Hmmm...

OH! I'm a complete and total brat. And, I've been known to go limp when I've had a few drinks and I'm not getting my way. You know... like when a kid in a store refuses to leave until they get what they want, and they finally just go completely limp forcing their parents to have to drag them out of the store? That's me! Why anyone puts up with me, I'll never know.

(With Beverly Lately and Valentine Addams)

10. What is your view on Rupaul's Drag Race? Do you think it's helped or hurt the drag world and why? 

I love drag race. I think it's completely helped diversify the drag world to an extent. Certainly more queens are getting recognition that otherwise wouldn't have without the show. I really like that. It reminded us that drag is all about breaking the rules... not creating more rules that have to be followed.

On the other hand, it certainly hasn't been very inclusive of trans queens. So I guess you could say that it's more or less hurt the trans drag world. I really hope they do include trans queens eventually. But, alas, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

(And, by the way, girls who came out during/after the show do not count as being trans-inclusive. The fact of the matter is that they wouldn't have been on the show if they had already been transitioning. Every single one was introduced as boys, by their boy names. They weren't trans queens when they were on the show. And, I might add, Monica got the boot just as soon as she came out on the show.)

11. In your opinion, what is your best quality?

You'd have to find a quality first!

12. If you could work with anyone in particular, who would you choose and why? 

I've learned it's best not to meet your idols. To be honest, I've found that the people I idolize the most are my least favorite when I meet them. And those I overlook wind up being some of my favorite people.

That being said, I kinda wanna work with Tammie Brown. But I think I'd have to be REALLY stoned to really appreciate that experience.

13. Have you ever had a most embarrassing moment when performing?

OH! Just a couple of weeks ago actually. I walked out in a 2 piece skirt/top combo. And the velcro on my skirt gave way as I hit center stage, causing it to fall down around my ankles. Thankfully I was wearing panties. Sadly, they were white panties that desperately needed to be washed. 

14. What should people expect when people come see you perform?

A drunken tranny (it's ok... I can say that. I'm dating one!) stumbling around like a newborn goat? Let's just say... keep your expectations low so that, no matter what, you'll be amazed. 😉

Follow Sara Andrews 
Twitter: @misssaraandrews
Instagram: @misssaraandrews

Photo Credits: 
Erik Michael Kommer: 
Instagram: @lad_of_leisure

Adam Ouahmane: 

Kater Jayne Photography: 

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Crêpe Suzette: A Chameleon Drag Queen

Crêpe Suzette takes pride in knowing that she puts everything she has into her performances and tries encouraging others to do the same. She may not perform too often due to a tough work schedule, but she takes her art incredibly seriously. She mixes different types of performances to keep her audience entertained and loves to shock the people watching her show. 

1. Who is Crêpe Suzette as a performer?

As a performer, Crêpe Suzette is eclectic. I like to evoke the emotion of a song; so my performances range from high energy, campy, jazzy "dance" numbers; to erratic, creepy contortion; to live singing; hoop dancing; stripping; and gymnastic flips. I try to use every skill and style I can to compensate for the fact I can't really do any one thing amazingly. I always say, "I'm not a make up artist, I'm not a dancer, I'm not a singer, I'm not an actress; I'm a drag queen." I may not be the best in any one field, but I'm really good at adapting to new things and dipping my toe in every lake- I want to be a chameleon. I think, like many artists, I work through my emotions on stage, so I try to play with everything- anger, sadness, fear, joy, sex. Sometimes it can come off really strange and intimate, other times I just want to cartwheel and drop into splits and do reveals and be more traditional. I like to mix it up.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a fashion model. I was mesmerized by runways and outfits, especially the fantasy designs I would see in video games and high fashion photoshoots; I was really into shows like Project Runway and America's Next Top Model. My mom was also a designer and seamstress, so I was always surrounded by fabric and the sound of sewing machines (even though I never learned to sew...). Getting older, it was obvious my *biological* sex was going to be a hindrance to my fashion dreams, so I vented that energy into drawing. I was really influenced by video games (like Final Fantasy- Tetsuya Nomura was my first fashion idol) and ancient cultures, so I began doing character design and playing with silhouettes and accoutrements. I didn't think of it as fashion design then, but I was laying the ground work for what would become styling my drag looks.
Speaking of drag, I first was exposed to it when RuPaul's Drag Race season 1 came out. I was shocked- suddenly my dreams of being a model were a reality again. I spent years idolizing queens and watching the show religiously, until finally, on February 15, 2014, I got into geish for the first time. I went to a warehouse party with my friends and looked a total MESS. I had a jersey tube dress stretched over a lopsided pair of pads and smeared a layer of L'Oreal Queen Collection lip stick (in Spice) over my unlined lips. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't also skipped lashes and overdrawn liner... I didn't even cover my eyebrows! As booger as I was, I had crossed into the world of drag and I'm so glad I finally did. At first it was jarring. I was nervous and uncomfortable in the clubs; I always hated clubs as a boy. I don't like crowds and get bad anxiety, so I thought maybe it wasn't for me, maybe I wasn't "hip" enough to be a drag queen. I considered quitting early- stopping while I was ahead- but when BenDeLaCreme won the first episode of RPDRs6 with her Golden Girls look, it showed me that campy queens could be accepted into the mainstream. Jinkx was the reigning queen and this silly burlesque character was leading the new pack. Nearly two years later I'm still in it.

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

I wanted something campy and feminine. My favorite drag names are always puns, but nothing felt like *me*. I was very close to going with Jen Da'Benda, but I felt like it was trying too hard; it didn't feel natural. I was always interested in French culture and actually am a small part French on my mom's side (like when people are 1/16th Cherokee, *forced laughter*) so I looked at different words and foods. French desserts are really popular, especially in Japan (which is why you see them so much in anime) and after deciding not to go with anything TOO difficult to pronouce (framboise was no longer an option) but still exotic, I picked out crêpes. Classic, iconic, fun to write; I love accents, especially circumflexes (that's the little hat over the E), so it was a driving force. Suzette is already a name, so bing bang boom, I knew I had it. Plus, it gave me my (largely unused) tagline; because much like me, crêpes are thin, sweet, full of cream, doused in alcohol, and FLAMING! Oddly enough, I've never actually eaten crêpes suzette, but they have orange liquer so I bet they're tangy.

4. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

In terms of drag, or in terms of life? As a drag queen, I don't think I've really accomplished that much. I'm still putting in my dues, so my biggest achievements are simple things, like getting paid gigs, being known by people I haven't met, always doing my own styling and make up, and making my own headpieces. Oh! And I just made an outfit entirely out of garbage bags and duct tape, I'm really proud of that. However, I feel like my biggest accomplishment so far is committing to my own happiness in spite of my busy lifestyle and mental health issues. Like many people, I struggle with anxiety and depression and have a full time job (a night shift, no less, crippling my ability to go out and perform) and I would hide behind my drag character to keep from getting close to people. It wasn't working for me, drag felt like just another chore, and it was killing my fire. I knew something had to change, so I decided to make 2016 the year of growth and I started embracing my boy side, going to clubs out of drag, coming out as a drag queen in my personal and professional worlds, and being more open and honest about my issues and desires. I started exercising and tried to eat healthy and think positively. It really does feel like I'm happier and more authentic as a person, and I want to put that into my drag. It feels like a new chapter in my life, and that's an exciting feeling.

5. Do you ever get nervous before performing, and if so, how do you cope with it? 

I think everyone gets nervous, but for me, it can be really terrifying. Ironically, I have performance anxiety, so I'm always terrified of messing up. I try to leave my body, feel the music- get out my head. I've gotten a lot more comfortable, so at this point I just make sure I know my words, take a deep breath, and DO IT. If you trip (I do a lot), if your hair gets messed up (mine does a lot), if you flub the words, miss your cue, get stuck on your costume (you get the point), keep going. Your job isn't to worry, it's to perform. Wait until you're backstage to be a wreck, but while the spotlight it on you, remember you're a performer- your job is to entertain people. If something goes wrong, turn it into part of the performance. There are no accidents, just last minute additions! Ultimately, it's a matter of experience. If you get nervous, just keep doing it. You'll never not be nervous, but eventually, you'll stop freezing up or fumbling. It also helps to not be too hard on yourself... if you treat mistakes as lessons, they becomes positives. Every fuck up gets you a little closer to greatness!

6. What is your favorite part of doing drag?

The transformation. It's a big costume party! Bringing to life the characters I see in my head is always the most enjoyable aspect of drag. It's such a compliment when people tell me I'm always different, and in the first year of my drag I tried to completely change it up every time. The second year was more about "polishing" up my look, but I still put a big emphasis on the visual story... the pieces should all compliment each other, even if it's just because of how disparate they are. I also really like to shock people with my performances; I want the crowd to gasp! I like climbing on things, hanging upside down, twisting my body around; it's just fun to feel like you managed to leave an impression on an audience. Whether it's my look or my performance, my goal is to be memorable- for better or worse. Ain't no half-steppin' in drag!
Another thing I love about drag is the community. Being part of the machine, meeting other queens. I love being around artists and creative energy, so I try to bask in the aura of other styles and personalities. If you can get them to love what you do, it's just the icing on the cake. It really breaks down gender roles, too. Growing up I was picked on a lot for being feminine and weird, and generally NOT a "normal guy". The drag world lets me express myself authentically; it's a place where I'm celebrated for being different. It really taught me to stand by myself in the public world. Yes, I wear flower prints and neon pink baby tees. Yes, I speak differently than most people. No, I don't care much for cars and sports and guns. Don't like it? Oh well! I pay my own bills and buy my own heels, so I don't have time to worry about people who don't get it- I'd much rather spend time with people who DO get it. Get it?

7. What is something not many people know about you?

I once open mouth kissed a horse. Just kidding (unless you count my ex-boyfriend...) I'm not sure what people do or do not know about me; in general, I'm pretty open about things. I've been pretty vocal about my big family (6 siblings) and mental health issues (although I won't bore you with the specifics). Maybe that I'm actually a pretty shy person? It sounds sort of cliché, but I'm fairly insecure. I know a lot of people see me as flamboyant, sassy, and outgoing, but I really need to work on my confidence and nerve. If you study astrology, you know that even though your sun sign affects your personality, your moon sign affects you thoughts. I'm a double Leo with a Gemini moon, so I have all the passion and bravado of a Leo, but mentally it's all inverted. Many drag queens use their character as a way of overcoming insecurities, shyness, and/or fear. I'm happy to say that drag has done that for me. I still have a long way to go, but it gives me an outlet.

8. Who would you love to work with in the future and why?

I really look up to queens like Jackie Beat and Coco Peru. They were the first drag queens that I had ever seen, and they really epitomize the "whole package": they have a look, they have acting skills and a defined character and message, they've really worked to get where they are, and they're HILARIOUS! From Drag Race, I really connect with Jinkx Monsoon, Alaska Thunderfuck5000, BenDeLaCreme, Katya and Trixie Mattel. They have such iconic looks and personalities, and are the epitome of witty bitches. To me, drag is all about that over the top humor and impeccable comedic timing. Stylistically, they're all a lot of fun to watch, and they ooze confidence- even as they tear themselves apart for the sake of a joke! It would be fun to feed off their energy, and would be a good way to learn how to work a crowd.
Closer to home, queens like Ursula Major, Valentine Anger, Frankie Doom, Thursday Addams, Xochi Mochi, and Pinche Queen are goals af. Unlike my campy inspirations, these queens really push the envelope on the darker side of drag, incorporating elements of genderfuck, horror, circus performance, and really daring, over the top performances; yet they manage to entertain the crowd with big personalities and genuine personality. Whether it's Ursula stapling tips to her arms, Valentine juggling fire, Frankie disemboweling Thursday, Xochi bringing full clown face, or Pinche whipping out a strap on, you KNOW you're gonna be shocked and amazed at one of their shows- I wanna to be part of THAT show! Obviously there are many other performers who bring it (shout out to Foxie Adjuia, Missy Vee, and Robbie Osa for their polished dance numbers) and local celebrity inspirations (Psycadella Facade is fucking hilarious), but my drag crushes tend to be the freaks and creeps. Club kids to the front of the line.
Oh! If we extend this question beyond "drag queens", I would kill to work with John Cameron Mitchell. My favorite movie is Shortbus, and Hedwig is such a huge part of the drag continuum. His process is so cerebral and it would be awesome to be part of his work.

9. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration and why? 

I don't know if I could pinpoint one person... but obviously my mom is up there. She raised me basically alone, but never left me feeling like I wasn't provided for. She's supported and accepted me in everything I've tried, and taught me what I know about honesty, drive, and rolling with the punches. I'm really blessed to have someone in my life who gives me so much unconditional love and acceptance; not everyone, especially drag queens, have that gift. Hell, she gave me my first dress. She's the epitome of a strong woman, and my goal is to make her proud and pay her back. In my mind, she's an old woman living in an Italian villa, lounging by the pool surrounded by oiled, olive skinned poolboys in tiny speedos, feeding her chilled grapes, slathering her skin in expensive lotions, and fanning her with ostrich feathers. I probably won't be able to afford all of that, but maybe I can get a gogo boy to pick leaves out of a kiddie pool or something- it's the thought that counts.

10. What is your opinion on Rupaul's Drag Race? Do you believe it is helping or hurting drag and why?

Both. It made drag mainstream; one the one hand, it made drag more accepted, but at the same time, it made drag commercial. If I had to pick one answer, I would say it's helping more than hurting- now the entire world can enjoy drag and be part of the revolution. I wouldn't be a drag queen if not for the show, and the queens who get on have their lives changed forever. The problem comes when people think the show represents everything there is to know about drag. The show is a good representation of a some styles of drag, but it in no way encompasses all there is to the art of drag. Also, it doesn't give credit to the PROCESS of becoming a queen. Getting on the show turns you into an overnight celebrity, whether you've been in the game for a few months or for several years. It's a wonderful equalizing force for a SHOW, but drag is born from clubs. You need to pay your dues. I hope as the show progresses it gives more credit to bar queens and performance artists, and that those aspects of drag are more publicized in general. It's the fans responsibility to do their homework, though.
That brings me to the hot topic of the season: fans of drag versus fans of Drag Race. At the end of the day, it's a reality show. It doesn't show you what being a drag queen is any more than Project Runway shows you what being a designer is. I love it, but if the entirety of your references are limited to the race, you're leaving a huge portion of what drag is out of the equation. Do your homework, people- RuPaul is just one part of the herstory of this wonderful artform. Also, RuPaul didn't start out as a TV star- he fought and clawed and WERKED his way to this point. Dig a little deeper and you'll find a wonderland of crossdressers and visionaries, from the club kids of yesteryear to the pageant queens of today.
Tl;dr: I love the show, it's really put drag out there, it just made it too easy for people to *think* they're experts or that they're too good to pay their dues as a queen.

11. Biggest pet peeve when it comes to the drag community?

Everyone always answers "the cattiness". Of course I agree, but since everyone sort of knows that the drag community can be shady boots the house down, I'll go with my second biggest pet peeve. LAZINESS. When I do drag, I put a lot of effort in. Hours are dedicated to shopping for the right pieces and supplies, studying techniques and styles, learning songs and steps, stretching and exercising my body, working on my skills- it's not easy. There are stylistic exceptions, of course, but in general, I want to see lashes, nails, hair, LOOKS, darling, looks. If you're calling yourself fish, you better be snatched for the gods. If you're genderfuck, make me feel something with your look. If you're glamour, gag me with your eleganza. Whatever you do, whoever you are, put 100% into it, earn your crown. I've seen performers stand in one place and SLAY a performance; I've seen queens work every inch of a stage and look a hot mess. Ultimately, drag is about entertainment, so whether you're walking art or a dancing queen or a great hostess, be the best one you can be; otherwise why are you even doing it? Show me some passion, inspire me! Again, AIN'T NO HALF STEPPIN'.

12. If you could travel anywhere, where would you choose to go and why?

I wanna go where there are queens. I really want to go to France, just for the experience, but I would rather go to Manchester or Chicago or Seattle to see the talent there; I love what those cities are doing with drag and it would be great to experience it in person. I'm not really interested in city life, aside from drag shows, so it might be nice to travel the world to walk children in nature; I don't know, I never really think about travel much.

13. How long does it usually take you to get ready to perform? 

The actual drag usually takes three to five hours. I like to leave myself a good bit of time to shower, shave and eat before I start painting, just to center myself. Doing my make up takes about three hours, but I'm usually running late... I can do make up in 45 minutes if I need to, but I'm pretty slow with painting, and when I'm rushing it shows. Getting dressed can take 15 minutes to a half hour, depending on how complicated my outfit is, and putting together my look can sometimes take an hour on its own! If I'm good, I'll have my look planned and prepared a day or two in advance, but sometimes I'm just a chicken without a head; I really need to work on time management.
Performances are more than just the look, though, and I like to take a few days to a few weeks to learn my song and plan a routine. I don't really do choreography, but I like to loosely plan my performances, just to have a guideline. I like to be spontaneous, but I learned long ago not to trust my ad-libbing skills for the entire song- you gotta have a gameplan! I rarely repeat songs, so I spend a lot of time listening to music and seeing what speaks to me; almost all of my performances are organic. I'll hear something and get struck by inspiration and suddenly I *KNOW* what I want to do. It helps to plan ahead, though, so I try to keep a catalogue of young ideas for the future that I can clean up when I get a booking.

14. What is your most prized possession? 

My drawing notebooks. It's not one thing, but I would just die if anything were to happen to them! I have years of creative evolution between those pages, and they're the only constant in my life. No matter what changes I go through, my notebooks are representative of that part of me that has never changed. It's fun to just flip through old books and see how creative I was (or wasn't). It reminds me that I really am an artist. It's important to reflect on your accomplishments, but at the same time, it shows me that practice makes perfect! We all start somewhere. Maybe I'm not where I want to be yet, but if I keep working at it, I'll get better and better.
Also, I NEED my phone. I'm not proud of it, but I am totally addicted to it. I don't think that's a bad thing, though, because I use it to do research, keep in contact with friends, network... it's a wonderful tool when used productively. (I could spend less time on Buzzfeed, but at least I don't watch cat videos... that much.)

15. What would you say is your favorite piece of makeup that you absolutely cannot live without?

LIPSTICK. I never learned to do make up properly, so I just use what I think will work. I can do my entire face with lipstick- I use it as eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyebrows, foundation, countour... Eyeliner is pretty important too, but since a black lipstick makes a great eyeliner, I'm definitely going with lipstick. Is it dangerous to use lipstick on your eyes? I hope not, because I do it very often, haha. Plus, lipsticks have great pigment. You don't get the wonderful blending shadows can achieve, but I can't use shadows right anyway, so I like to use lipstick as much as possible, especially since I have so many bright colors. If I could only use one product for the rest of my career, it would definitely be good lipstick. Besides, my mouth is my money maker, so I better dress it up all pretty!

Follow Crêpe Suzette:
Instagram: @crepe_suzie

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Annie B Frank: Providence's Humorous Jewish Queen

Annie B Frank is a performer who currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island and has quickly garnered a name for herself in her local drag scene. She recently started hosting a club night of her own called "Genderfuq" while teaming up with another Providence performer, Pulp Friction. She believes that drag has mainly helped her bring out her artistic side which she never thought she had, and she also really enjoys the attention she gets while performing. 

1. Who is Annie B. Frank? 

Annie B. Frank is a mess.  All of my clothes come from thrift stores… or were gifts.  I have been told my eyebrows (which more often than not are made of glittery card stock) invoke feelings of pure ecstasy mixed with jealousy and a little gas.  Like many human beings (still no proof I am one) I have created defense mechanisms to help me deal with other people.  My biggest one is my humor.  I learned at a young age that if I can make people laugh it makes the world a better place.  Oh and I’m Jewish. 

2. When and why did you start doing drag?

I started doing drag a little over a year ago.  I’ve always been interested in drag, at 18 I was always at the club in DC early so I could see the queens perform.  I started watching RuPaul during the 3rd season, but quickly caught up on the other two. I always thought that I couldn’t pull off being a queen because I can’t dance, and because I’m so fucking hairy.  Then one of my best friends, Kiki La Roux, did drag for the first time for our school’s charity drag show.  I’ll be honest…. He got a lot of attention and I was pretty damn jealous.  I love attention.  So I finally had the drive to try it.  So my local club was having a talent competition and all the queens were lip syncing so I decided to try some standup.  I ended up winning and then getting third in the finals for my second time performing.

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

Well, I always knew my schtick would be that I was a Jewish drag queen.  So myself and a couple of my friends were trying to come up with a name and someone suggested “Anne Frank”.  Which of course I thought was too offensive.  So I decided to make it “Annie” and add the “B.” because I am a frank person. 

4. How has drag changed your life?

Well of course it’s let me meet so many wonderful people.  I’ve gotten to travel up and down the East Coast to perform.  It’s an artistic outlet, when I really didn’t think I was an artistic person.  It’s also added so much fun into my life, before drag my boyfriend would complain about going out twice a week.  Now it feels weird to be at the club for less than 3 nights a week.

5. Favorite and least favorite thing about performing?

My favorite thing is the attention.  Just kidding… Or am I? I love being able to make people laugh.  I love leaving a positive imprint on those around me.  The worst part is how nervous I get before hand.  A year into it and I still get butterflies.

6. How is drag from Providence, RI different from drag everywhere else?

Drag in Providence is…. amazing.  There are certain cities that do not have a lot of amateur nights.  This results in a lot of the same queens doing the same thing.  It doesn’t allow room for new queens to come and challenge the established thoughts on what drag is or could be.  Thus, the older or established queens are pressured to evolve or develop anything more than they have.  Providence doesn’t have this problem.  There’s an outlet for new drag artists at every club.  Providence is also really small and everyone knows everyone, which is both a blessing and a curse.  It creates this feeling of community where the different “generations” of queens are helping and teaching the younger ones, while also enforcing queens to take responsibilities for their actions and to remain politically correct.  However it also has caused some rifts, where bad blood between a few people affects everyone.  The one complaint I would have is this feeling that queens can’t bar hop.  Though that also could be because everything closes at 2am on the weekend.

7. On a typical night, how long does it take you to get in face?

It really depends.  Generally I have 30 people over at my house… Queens getting in face, twinks trying to learn, my roommate making sassy comments, etc.  So it gets quite distracting.  If I really tried I could get my face done in an hour and dressed in 20.  Generally the whole process takes 3 hours.

8. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment was actually my goal when I started drag.  I wanted to be able to host a night at a club.  Being the MC is the best job for me and I actually got it, less than a year doing drag.  I’m incredibly proud of myself.

9. What would you like to accomplish with your drag in the future? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to make a living doing drag? Isn’t that something every queen wants? That’d be great and my end goal.  But until then I really want to unite all of these amazing queens from all these cities.  I think we should start a queen exchange program.

10. What should people know about your night with Pulp Friction, "Genderfuq" and what should people expect from you two?

GenderFuq is the brainchild of Pulp Friction and I.  It’s still a baby and still growing but we are hoping it will be a force to reckon with.  GenderFuq wants to challange the standard “gay club” and “lesbian night” that you so often see going out.  We want this to be a space for anyone and everyone, no matter how you define your gender or sexuality.  We want a space where people feel comfortable being themselves and letting their freak flags fly! 

*****(Side note: Annie B Frank and Pulp Friction have put together a gofundme to get some money together to travel to LA for Rupaul's Drag Con 2016. Please donate and make their trip happen, or at least share! Here's the link: )

11. In your opinion, what is your best quality? 

My humility.  I’m so fucking humble.  I’m like the most humble person I know…. Yeah I don’t think anyone who writes this much about themselves can be humble huh? My best quality is my ability to find humor in everything.  Without it I don’t know if I would have survived middle and high school.

12. If your last performance were to be tomorrow, what number would you choose to do and why?

“Who You Are”, by Jessie J.  Mostly because I actually know all the words.  Also, because the song really speaks to me.

13. If you could work with anyone in the future, who would you work with and why did you choose this person?

Oh god.  I don’t know.  I want to work with everyone.  I mean, I get to meet so many of the RuPaul girls and it’s amazing.  I would really love to be able to work with local queens from other cities around the country.  I wish that we could bring girls in and it would draw in crowds.  So I guess my answer is everyone.

14. What is the most disturbing thing anyone has ever said to you? How did you react?

“Your Holocaust joke offended me, I had family die in the Holocaust”... Bitch we’re Jewish, we’ve all had family die in the Holocaust.  Calm down.  I’m all for respecting other’s feelings and political correctness but when you’re making fun of your own religion and culture it is different.  Some people claim that my name is offensive.  However, I always tell them the same thing.  The Jewish people have had it very hard for a very long time.  From being slaved, to kicked out of countries, to the Holocaust, to wandering the desert for 40 years, etc.. The way we always deal with this is with humor.  If you can’t joke or talk about something it holds power over you.  I’m a descendant of Holocaust victim and survivors and Anne Frank has become more than just a person, she’s a symbol.  This is why I am allowed to make light hearted jokes about the Holocaust and others aren’t.

15. Marry, Kai Kai, Kill: Phaedra Phaded, Complete Destruction, Ari Ola

Kill: Phaedra cause I’m sure she owes me rent

Marry: Complete cause I know she’s going to be famous and I’ll need that alimony when we get divorced

Kai Kai: Ari Ola, because she’s completely smooth down there like a barbie

Stalk Annie B Frank!
Instagram: @annieb.frank
Twitter: @anniebfrank

All photos used were taken by Ryan Welch
Instagram: @rywelchy 

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Toyota Corona: Sandwich Artist of Drag

Photo by Fausto Fernós 

Starting her drag career in Milwaukee, WI during the summer of 2014, Toyota Corona quickly gained notoriety in the local drag scene and eventually started performing in Chicago. She was the winner of the first cycle of Crash Landing which is a drag competition held at Berlin Nightclub in Chicago every other Monday and is hosted by Trannika Rex and Nico. She recently moved to Chicago and plans to take the drag scene by storm. 

1. Who is Toyota Corona as a performer?

Well first, you should put "performer" in quotes. Toyota is a nightlife personality, comedian, sometimes....unfortunately...a singer, a lip sync artist...kind of like the sandwich artist of drag. So she's kind of camp and sexy and "fish" but not like trout, more like beluga. Or mammals. Kind of like the half white half Mexican shark of Lake Michigan. 

2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

I started the summer of 2014 which is when I started doing drag regularly. I got started because my friend was moving away to Chicago and having a party, and I dressed up like her for the party. It was my first time buying a wig and I went out in public. A little after that I started getting more makeup and going out more regularly in Milwaukee. As far as why I started to do drag, I think I've always wanted to do it and I was always in my mom's shit when I was a kid (and I still am today) I've always been fascinated by it. 

3. Where did you get your drag name?

The parking lot at Denny's by the airport. I wanted my name to be funny and my real last name is Corona. It was just a random thing I thought of because I was doing karaoke that night and I needed a name to get announced. I thought it was a funny pun off of the car name "Toyota Corola" and my last name is Corona. Then I realized later that "Toyota Corona" is actually a car from the 1970s, so now people try to sell those cars to me on Instagram and Facebook and I have to tell them that I'm actually not a car person and that I'm actually just a drag queen. I'm thinking of changing my name soon though, I don't know for sure yet. It's not search engine optimized because if you type it into google, I won't show up. So I should really find a name that is not already out there in terms of brands. I don't want to get in trouble with taking the name of a brand. So if I somehow get to be popular (like ever) I don't want to have to do it later when I should just do it sooner. If in some way that I win the billion dollar lottery chance that I would ever be on Season 84 of a show called Rupaul's Drag Race, I don't think they would allow me to have 2 brands as my name. I think they would get in trouble for that. 

Photo by Timothy Schulz 

4. How did you learn to do your makeup?

Hahaha! When?! You mean how will I learn? Because I'm still not anywhere where I should be yet. My makeup help has come from completely mainly YouTube tutorials and looking at people's photos on Facebook and Instagram. I have also watched people paint. One time my friend Dita Von came over and we painted side by side and she gave me tips and stuff. Every time I watch people paint I always ask questions. I do a lot of experimenting. Nowadays I'm doing drag either to just go out or do a gig at least once or twice week so I get a lot of practice but I'm nowhere near where the pros are yet. 

5. What do you think you will be able to bring to the Chicago drag scene? 

Well I'm not bringing any new wigs, or outfits, or shoes, so we can get that out of the way now. I will bring in genuine humor and I will bring the big personality. Also being social and being the life of the party and showing the rest of the new girls how to do that. I'm not bragging but I'm more known for the humor and wit and a big personality. So I will be bringing that. I will be bringing more stand up comedy hopefully and I would love to have a stand up comedy show in the future. I would also love to have a drag choir and perform at shows with a small I have a lot of ideas planned and a lot of fun stuff that I wanna do. I feel like a lot of people in Chicago are down for the same things I am so I'm excited. 

6. Biggest inspirations?

Of course Rupaul, drag wise. When I got into drag, Rupaul was the the "hey girl come over here this is your family". My biggest inspirations are like big and/or funny. Like big personality wise. I would have to say that Latrice Royale is my all time favorite queen in terms of beauty and personality and showmanship and whatnot. Other inspirations are big comedy icons like Bianca Del Rio and Lady Bunny and Willam. Just the queens with big personalities and fun comedy are the ones who I draw inspiration from. Outside of drag would be like Chris Farley or Robin Williams who always have amped up comedy...that's kind of my personality with a wig on 

Photo by Jaynee Peterson

7. Have you ever had a most embarrassing moment during a performance?

Have you ever seen me perform? Well a bit ago I performed in Crash Landing Cycle 2 as a special guest and I got a bit too carried away and I poured out a whole gallon ziplock bag of powdered sugar onto the crowd and the stage and it was on the ceiling and the walls and everything. Then, if that was not bad enough, I also sprayed a whole bottle of champagne into the air, onto the crowd, onto myself. So the whole first 2 rows at Berlin Nightclub just left and walked off and I was still performer and it was the messiest thing ever. And Trannika wasn't mad but she seemed really confused. It was just really embarrassing. 

8. Favorite and least favorite thing about drag? 

My favorite thing about drag is flirting and boys...duh...that's the best part of it. You get so much more attention when you go out in drag compared to when you're not in drag while you're out. Not just from men but from women as well. I don't really have a least favorite part about drag. I mean the shoes hurt your feet but it's still fun. Also drag is really expensive. 

9. If you had your last performance tomorrow, which song would you choose to do and why?

It would have to be a megamix of some sort of all my favorite artists with like live singing and a bunch of props. Something spectacular. I would not go down without a couple animals and a buffet of sorts...with barnyard creatures. So I mean I don't even know. 

Photo by Erik Michael Kommer

10. If you could work with anyone in the near future, who would you choose and why?

Right now my drag inspirations in Chicago are Trannika Rex and Lucy Stoole. So if I could work with them on something that would be really cool. Like I've done shows for them but if I could actually work with them that would be great. On a bigger scale, I would of course love to work with Latrice, Alaska, and Willam. I would actually love to do like a drag comedy tv show in the future with some writers and a director but I don't know anyone yet so it won't be for a while. 

11. If you were to try out for Drag Race, what person would you do for snatch game?

I'm actually gonna do Kim Chi. I'm gonna start my makeup this year...I'm just kidding. I would probably do someone like Roseanne...but like older Roseanne from the 90s. It would probably be easy because all I would have to wear is a flannel shirt and a shitty wig and that's what I'm all about. 

12. What is something you wish would change about the drag community?

Well I need to have more bookings. That's priority number one. Honestly though I'm just happy to be a part of it. If I could change anything really, it would be that Milwaukee would have different kinds of drag because right now it's close minded. So I would love to just bring different kinds of drag to Milwaukee. 

Photo by Weston Rich 

13. What has been the biggest lesson you've learned pertaining to drag so far?

People can read sincerity. So I try to be as real as possible because people can usually see through it if you aren't sincere. Drag has allowed me to be who I am more personality wise and makes me more comfortable in my own skin. Be as real as you can because people dig it and if they don't dig it, you don't need to be associated with them. 

14. What advice do you have for newer queens?

I don't think I'm at a position to be giving out advice but since you asked the question it kind of ties to the last answer. Be real and be who you are. Watch and observe everything and don't necessarily listen to everyone's opinions and take all of it in. I think it's very easy to get up your own ass about drag and I have been there and I've felt that already. There's always more to learn. There's always more to improve on. There's always going to be another show that you can do better working on. As long as you're real and as long as you're appreciative and as long as you're sincere and as long as you want it then you'll be okay. 

15. Marry, Kai Kai, Kill: Trannika, Veronica Pop, Kim Chi

Trannika- Kill by giving her like 80 shots of fireball. (Just one more shot than usual.) I would be doing everyone a favor. 

Veronica- Kai Kai because she won't remember in the morning and it will be less traumatic for the both of us

Kim Chi- Marry because she likes to eat and she's beautiful and gorgeous and everything 

Photo by Jaynee Peterson

Stalk Toyota Corona: 
Instagram- @toyota_corona

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