Friday, April 22, 2016

Cherry Lemonade: Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Photo by Mat and Ash Photography 

When one is on the lookout for an entertaining drag queen, they might like for what entertains them most. Cherry Lemonade is everything wrapped into one. Sugar, spice, and everything nice. She has had the major opportunity of being able to showcase her singing talents on American Idol and made it to the Hollywood round, which she considers her biggest accomplishment thus far. She loves to make people smile and forget about their every day problems even if it's for a few minutes while she's onstage and tells a few corny jokes. And most of all, she's absolutely addicted to the flavor of Cherry Lemonade food, beverages, and scents (which is how she came up with her name). 

1. Who is Cherry Lemonade?

Cherry is like the modern-day version of the madame of a high-rollers-only bordello in an old movie. She was always dressed the nicest, but she still had edge and swagger; she'd flirt like you were the only person in the room, all the while finishing your cigarette, your bourbon-rocks, and your pool game in one swift motion. And you'd let her, 'cause you knew it was her way or the highway. She's one part Old Hollywood glamour, one part Fleetwood Mac roadie, two parts WWE Diva, a dash of Missy Elliott backup dancer, pour over ice and garnish with a pack of Marlboro Light 72's and a couple of unwrapped Now & Later's.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

Six years ago today, believe it or not! It's Cherry's sixth birthday! The story starts a lot like other drag queens, I'd imagine. My local gay haunt was hosting an amateur drag competition, and there was a cash prize, so I threw on crap from my girlfriends and swept the competition. It led to a paid booking with a group called the Short Bus Divas, which eventually led to me being asked to join the group. We'd do all these weird shows, like once we threw a Mother's Day thing and rewrote scenes from Mommie Dearest to be more absurd then they already were. My drag mother, Razy B., cut up an old wig while it was on my head, but she accidentally laced up her hand with the shears and bled all over everything. She had to finish the rest of the show putting pressure on her cut with a bar rag.

3. Where did you get your drag name? 

When I was in sixth grade, we were doing fundraisers to raise money for us all to go on a whale watch. There were a bunch of students walking around school with these giant boxes of those gourmet lollipops, and I decided to try a cherry lemonade-flavored one. I immediately hunted down every single one of the students selling them, dug through their boxes, and bought them out of the flavor. Ever since, I've been addicted. It's kind of a problem; I'm always taking the red and yellow Starbursts and chewing them together, or giving bartenders specific instructions on how to make the boozy version properly. So when I needed a drag name post-haste, I sat on it for a minute, wracking my brain. I looked to my left and saw a cherry lemonade-scented Yankee candle, and it just snapped into place.

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

My favorite part about drag lately has been hosting. People will legit pay me to stand with a microphone and a cocktail, and just talk until people stop laughing? Sign me up. I had a show the other night that was standing-room-only, and I ended up going on a tangent about why fart jokes are funnier than dick jokes for a solid four minutes. I wish somebody got it on tape; it was just me making crap up until I felt like I'd been on stage for too long, and they ate it up. I felt like I was on fire. It makes up for the less favorable parts of drag, which include shaving, tucking, and not having real eyebrows out of drag anymore. My absolute least favorite thing about drag, though, is when patrons think that because you're dressed as a gorgeous Amazonian goddess, that suddenly means they have the okay-go to put their hands wherever they want. I've gone all "Save the Last Dance" before and grabbed ahold of a dude's junk in front of the whole bar, yelling "oh, I guess you've GOT it like that, huh?!" Don't fuckin' touch me, you crusty weirdo.

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

Making it to the top 124 of American Idol's fourteenth season in full makeup was a pretty amazing thing. The process was grueling, but worth every minute of it. I wasn't allowed to say anything to anybody, but when I got the call to go to the producer auditions in Kansas City, I had to scramble to come up with the money to swing it. I put together a GoFundMe account called "Cherry's Super-Secret Road Trip", stating everything that I was able to say about why I was randomly heading to the middle of the country for seemingly no reason. People got the hint and we raised a few grand to go, I made it through the celebrity auditions, then later got flown out to Los Angeles, where we were simultaneously treated like royalty and cattle. I got to perform at the Orpheum Theatre as Cherry Lemonade in front of some of the music industry's biggest names, and got their nod of approval. It was amazing and humbling.

6. Where do you want to take your drag career in the future? 

My next big project to launch further into is effects makeup. I want to be the first drag queen to get noticed for having fully-realized, large-scale SFX looks. I'm talking full-body pieces specially made for my body that are covered in scales and tentacles, looking like Face Off's answer to Ursula the Sea Witch while singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls". Sharon Needles said it best: "When in doubt, freak 'em out." I love the idea of having head-to-toe concept pieces walking into a gig. Sometimes, I get bored with regular ol' drag. I need something to spice it up more, and learning how to do face and body prosthetics will be so next-level, and nobody will see it coming.

7. If you moved to a different city, what would you say that you would bring to the drag community there? 

I'm from a small city, but a city nonetheless. In Portland, Maine, everyone is nice to everyone else, even strangers. The positive attitudes and the acceptance different lifestyles permeates the city. I've had the distinct honor of being able to cross over to a large straight audience by performing at venues other than gay bars. It's changed my perspective on drag, really, because my exposure to a lot of the cattiness and bitchiness that can happen when you get a lot of queens in a room together has been very little. When I move out to Los Angeles (shooting for August 2016), my perspective is going to be that of a professional performer, not an ignorant bitch out to prove something. I'll let my performances speak for me, all the while staying humble and appreciative. An esteemed trumpet player, who's name is escaping me at the moment, once gave a good friend of mine this sage advice: "Practice every day, and be nice to everybody." You're there to do a job, which is to entertain. Letting that other bitchy garbage cloud your vision is a good way to not get any bookings.

8. What is a makeup product that you can't live without? 

The beauty blenders from Sephora are the best makeup investment I've made, but my face doesn't feel complete without the following: 301's, MAC's Vanilla pigment, and the Makeup Forever flash palette. Ooh! And there's a new thing I found that everybody should know about: Maybelline put out a felt-tip eyeliner that is fat, like those markers from elementary school that smelled like different things. It cut my time and effort on my eyes in half. I think it's called the Master Graphic pen or something like that. Go get one! They're cheap, and worth every penny!

9. How has your family reacted to the fact that you are a drag performer? 

While I'm from Maine, my family is from Nassau County, New York. There's a certain way things are done there. There was a good long while where the women of my family (mom/sister/niece/cousins) were all 100% on board, while the men kept their distance from it. I decided that it was important for me that everybody was very much aware of my lifestyle and career, but that I'd let everybody absorb it and approach it their own way. For instance, when you introduce two cats to each other, their natural reaction is to keep their distance but never take their eyes off of each other. Gradually, they'll get closer and closer and investigate what has entered their space at their own pace. My dad took a minute, but it was important to me that he take interest in my drag on his own accord. He came to my big show the other night and left saying that he'd had a blast.

10. Do you have a most embarrassing moment that you experienced while performing? If so, what was it and how did you deal with it? 

I did some go-go work back in my early twenties, which included a lot of pole tricks. There was one show where I was really feeling myself, and I did a dope spin on the pole, landing on all fours on the ground. Boom! Nailed the move perfectly! It looked so dope! Wow, I'm KILLING it right now! Keep it going! Be sexy! So I decided to swing my head all exotic-like, and I whacked my temple right off of the goddamn pole. I had a giant egg develop on the side of my head, and they gave me the rest of the night off 'cause I was having trouble seeing straight. I guess we probably should've considered that it was probably a concussion, but hey, I'm still alive! All is well that ends well!

11. Who has been your favorite person to work with so far and why? 

The producers at American Idol were awesome, because I got to see first-hand what a reality competition show looks like from all angles. I learned so much about professionalism from them. As far as drag queens go, though, Mimi Imfurst is absolutely wonderful. She got such a shitty edit on RuPaul's Drag Race, and only people whom have seen her live know how truly special she is as an artist. My favorite drinking buddies have been Jujubee and BenDeLaCreme. Those two know how to rage, and they're sweet as all get-out.

12. If you ever auditioned for Rupaul's Drag Race and you got to do Snatch Game, who would you choose to impersonate?

I've thought of this for hours on end. Both of the people that I impersonate have been done. I do Amy Winehouse as a live show with a full band a couple times a year, and I've played Ke$ha in a few gigs, but I'm much better impersonating characters from movies and shit like that. I don't know, I've considered the idea of being Edward Scissorhands, and not answering any questions because I can't pick up the pen. Instead, I'd just walk around and try to fix the other girls' hair, or walk around the set exploring while they play the game. Risky, but I'd totally make myself laugh. That, or Pee-Wee Herman.

Photo by Matt and Ash photography 

13. What is something no one knows about you? 

We live in the Information Age. That term should mean that we've got the technology to discover anything we set our minds to, but instead I think it's called that because everybody volunteers every personal detail about themselves on the internet. It should be the Too Much Information Age. Accordingly, my life is an open book, but I guess my deepest, darkest secret that I'm willing to share is that I'm irrationally trypophobic. DO NOT LOOK IT UP, OR ELSE YOU WILL BE, TOO.

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

I give myself four and a half hours from shave to taxi. I like to take my time, relax, and get in the zen of makeup. I'll throw on an old jazz record and just zone out. My makeup typically takes me two and a half hours, and then about twenty minutes to a half hour to go from boy to ladyboy. Then I have to pack up my suitcase, load up my purse, call the taxi, zhoozh up my wigs and clean up my makeup area. And somehow, even with all of that time, I'm still five minutes late for everything.

15. If people come to see you perform, what should they expect and where can they see you onstage? 

If I'm hosting, expect to laugh. Expect that you'll hear me sing. It has become my calling card, so I tend to do it at least once per show. Expect that I'm going to stop what I'm doing to say hi to you after the show, even if I'm busy doing other things. Expect that I won't remember your name, and please know that I'm super sorry about that; my brain is like an old laptop, and I have to keep deleting things in order to fit in new information, but it doesn't mean I don't like you. It just means that I drink too much. Expect to have fun. And above all, expect that I'm only going to bring you the highest caliber show. You work hard, and you choose to spend your downtime watching me dance around like a doofus. At the very least, I'll strive to be the best doofus you've ever seen in order to help you escape from your everyday worries.

Photo by J. Robert Photography 

Follow Cherry Lemonade:
Instagram: @cherrylemonade207 

Photos by: 
Mat and Ash Photography 

J. Robert Photography 

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

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