Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Abhora: The Classy Trash Queen

Many performers take their inspiration from something beautiful. Abhorra is a different story. She finds her best material when taking inspiration from the ugliest items you could possibly find. A lot of her inspiration comes from icons like John Waters and Divine, and she never fails to stand out in a crowded room. She says one of her goals is to be the most interesting looking trash queen in the room, and from the looks of it, she doesn't seem to ever disappoint.


1. Who is Abhora?
Abhora! No Arrohba! When people add that last bit it makes me lash out at the WORLD! Thanks, Facebook, for the kindergarten name policy!

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?
 I started doing drag as petty revenge. I wanted to show the world how quickly I could flourish in it and the world showed me it'd be a little harder than throwing on a wig and memorizing a bubblegum, Mickey Mouse bee bop, doing a split, a windmill, and a hi kick ka ka kow.

3. How did you come up with your drag name?
When I lived in Miami, there was a legendary queen named Adora. She was funny and bright, and positive and lit up the room. I wanted to do the same thing, but I knew the way I wanted to go about it was the flip side of that coin. I chose to show my ugliest sides, but to do so with the same, overly joyous punch! I miss her! 

4. Where does your inspiration come from?
I take inspiration from John Waters and Divine and I seek out the ugliest parts of being human. When I find something that truly unnerves me, that's when I have the biggest success. I put it on myself like a mask and I explode it to the biggest proportions that I can! A lot of times, I'll take a trip to Goodwill and find an ugly antique and put it in a new light. I also love to morph things that are innocent into vulgarity, blasphemy, and silliness. I also have a lot to say about gender variety and human rights, but I don't think it's come through in the character yet.

5. What would you say is the most unique thing you have to offer?
What sets me apart from other "trash queens" is my dedication to a clashing higher aesthetic. I think having worked in the demanding field of costume design and party performing with WILDCHILD WORLD prepared me to be resourceful, and to never leave myself unprepared. I owe a certain lot to Sean Fountain, CEO and owner of WILDCHILD WORLD, even if some feelings got hurt along the way. When I tackle delicate subject matter, I make sure to do so in a respectful way. I've seen how hard it is to make art that is powerful without crossing the line into something that would be, say, be profiteering from tragedy. I think if I didn't donate every single dollar I was tipped for my PULSE angel number, the day OF THE TRAGEDY, there would be something very wrong at the core of what that performance was meant to me. And I wanted to share with my audience.
As for my latest performance, where I laid an egg as Jesus Christ, I took a chance on alienating the largest audience on earth, but it embodied everything I believe in American culture. I guess I also try as hard as I can to live purposefully. I'm always afraid of doing a number that isn't meaningful, or telling a joke that doesn't make the listener think. I guess I just need to get over that.

6. You referred yourself as a "trash queen". How would you define that?
A "trash" queen is typically a new queen who doesn't have a lot of money and relies on the sloppiness of their look, to carry some sort of punk attitude for them. I identify with the genre to an extent. I like the defiant ugliness in an environment where beauty is the ideal.
7. What are the most common misconceptions about your aesthetic?
I run into the assumption that my drag is weird for weird's sake, I guess. I'm often told it's a refreshing surprise to talk to me and find out I'm not a screeching creep like my persona. Everyone thinks my drag is dumb because it is.

8. How has The Other Show impacted your career or just you as a person?
Being on cast at The Other Show is a high honor and delight. (Don't tell Edie I said that!). Being considered up to par with the talent that has been showcased there is a huge ego boost. BUT, it's also motivating because you wanna be the BEST.

9. Do you find it more difficult to get gigs as compared to non "trash queens"? Why?
I'm not the first to be reached out to, but I think that's a feeling most performers have. I do find that I have to be a lot more polite and positive in the dressing room because of the outward appearance, being so abrasive, looking and sounding.
It was harder in the small town of Asheville to get ANYONE to give me a chance! The scene was so small and the bars were always so empty, they didn't want to risk anything on a girl that wasn't a pageant title winner. But I find booking is 99% asking. You have to get yourself out there and not wait for somebody else's  permission. 

10. Performing alongside the cast of The Other Show, have you ever felt that you weren't taken seriously? Is your craft appreciated?
My craft has always been taken very seriously by the cast of The Other Show. It was refreshing to to have a show director say, "We want you to maintain your vision, but we have an expectation of excellence" Which that has kept me going and wanting to push my ideas, instead of scaling them back. Now, I will say, that some of my ideas were too off the wall for the audience to grasp, and I can sense a disconnect. Ultimately, being at The Other Show, the scrutiny is higher, but not to, "HOW MANY GODDAMN RHINESTONES CAN YOU SHOVE ON A MAXIPAD...". Actually, I kinda like that idea.

11. What has inspired your signature mug? The shaped teeth and long, pointed nose, for example?
My face comes primarily from DIVINE. I've pulled inspiration from illustrators like Camille Rose Garcia and Michael Hussar. The nose was never intended to be so integral to my look, but it has won me some individuality and I'll take what I can get.

12. What is your getting ready process like?
My process has evolved over the years from screaming a lot, to now screaming very little. I think it's funny how I've started using something called the Ben Nye "bruise wheel" palette to "beat my face". Typically, makeup takes about an hour and a half. I've started to vary the style or look, based on the act.
My main motif is always blacking out some significant feature of the face; nose, teeth, neck, and ears. And also distortion is a major key to my face. I generally want to be the most interesting looking person in the room, so I pair my outfit with an obtuse headpiece.
13. What has been the most successful experience you've ever had as a drag entertainer?
I'd say that it's simply that I have gotten to work with my best friends. My favorite night is the one where I went BACK to Asheville, where I started, and I did a show with my SISTER, Priscilla Chambers, whom I started with, but, ironically, only performed alongside ONCE, because I was unbookable for a long time where she performed and she was banned and I took her place, all the week after our first show together.
We performed her curated night at the ODDITORIUM, which was my favorite bar back then because I used to do standup drag. It was very full circle for me. I even founf great onstage chemistry with a fellow performer I never really considered my friend. My friends are my greatest success.

14. Is there anything you'd like for people to know about you or just about drag in general?
I want people to know as little about me, except that I am truly sorry if you get in my way and get hurt!

15. Have you ever had interest in being a part of Dragula? Why?
HAHAHAHAHA Being apart of the Boulet Brothers' franchise has been my goal from essentially the start! I wasn't an established performer during the live campaign of the Dragula competitions and this Saturday, at Drag Con, it will be my FIRST! I want to turn it OUT HENNY.

16. Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Sadly, I don't see this going as far as 5 years. I really need to start focusing on my illustration career, and once I get back to it. I got started on drag a little late, I feel. At 24 is when I feel a lot of THE CASUAL LOT of them start to retire, but that's when I STARTED!

17. What is the most encouraging or discouraging thing you've ever experienced during a show?
Most easily, I was moved by the solidarity during my Pulse tribute number. I felt like we, the audience and I, were in sync and it was powerful.
The discouraging bits are are often me misreading the audience, and when there is a disconnect. I'm often disappointed when my message is not fully actualized or the interpretation is not something I'd intended, which is ultimately my fault. 

18. Have you ever traveled for a gig? Where would be your dream place to perform be?
I've traveled as far as 1 or 2 states away, but I hope to make connections in Chicago, New York, Berlin, London, Panama City... Dreams.

19. You're an artist in many ways. I've seen some of your artwork. What inspires you to draw?
I haven't really been inspired to draw anything serious in a long time. My other art forms are begging for some attention into drag because it feels right. But when I used to draw, it would, more or less, be of my friends.

20. When people hear "Abhorra" what do you hope people think about or say in response to it?
I would hope people get excited, a little apprehensive, and I love when people laugh. So, yeah, I hope people will be excited to see me, and also afraid for their lives!

Follow Abhorra:

Instagram: @theabhora

Photographs taken by:
Jon Dean and Aubrey Longly-cook

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

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