Saturday, July 29, 2017

Electra Cute: Strange Doll Haus's Goth Cougar Mom

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

Photo by Flaming City Photography

1. Who is Electra Cute?

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

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

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

3. When and why did you begin doing drag?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. How did the Strange Doll Haus start? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Electra Cute:
Instagram: @electracutesillusion 

Strange Doll Haus:
Instagram: @strangedollhaus 

Photo Credit:
Erik Michael Kommer: @lad_of_leisure on instagram 

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

The Drag Enthusiast
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @DragEnthusiast

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fox E Kim: Chicago's Strange Doll Haus Cosplay Queen

The Chicago based cosplay queen named Fox E Kim started off doing drag during a marathon and hasn’t put her brushes down yet. If you haven’t been able to catch her at her many booked gigs including Geekhaus at Berlin and LiquidBrunch at Scarlet Bar, you’re missing an unique performer who can lip sync in a wide variety of languages and with six alter egos to boot.

 1. Who is Fox E. Kim?

The ruiner of days, the harbinger of sorrow, it's Fox E. Kim! But seriously, I'm a party girl who enjoys anime, manga, and a lot of final fantasy.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

I started doing drag about four years ago. One day, a good friend of mine asked me to get up on stage during the Chicago marathon and dress like a bridesmaid to support marriage equality (it wasn't legal in Illinois at the time) so I did and loved it and it's sort of been a giant party ever since.

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

My drag name is actually a sort of anagram/rearrangement of my actual name. So, Michael Foxworth is my first and middle name and for the most part people were calling me Foxy/FoxyMike for the longest time. I'm also a linguist by day so I wanted my name to be somewhat clever. The E. Kim in Fox E. Kim spells Mike backwards so Fox E. Kim turns into Fox MikE. or FoxyMike. Get it? Clever, right!

4. Where does your inspiration come from?

I describe my look as a party girl ready to fucking GO. Like, I'm really into showing off my naturally big Sicilian thighs. A lot of my non-cosplay drag comes from It's interesting however, because I do a lot of cosplay, which doesn't allow me to go too far off the beaten path. With cosplay, if you aren't recognizable, you're sort of missing the mark. The balance between the two is probably the most challenging aspect of my drag but also what drives me to constantly improve.

5. What would you say is the most unique thing you have to offer?

I crochet. No, actually, I would say my ability to lip sync in a variety of languages (Japanese, Romanian, French, Spanish, some Afrikaans) opens a lot of unique doors for me and removes a lot of limitations for my performances. It also allows me to pull in original material (for example, anime looks/performances) that may not always be available to some performers.

6. What is a big future goal you've set for yourself?

I want to bring my cosplay to Japan. I love visiting there and to be able to showcase some of the anime inspired looks I've created based on Japanese culture would be amazing.

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

My favorite thing about drag is the transformation. It's really an escape from reality and going from frump to fab makes my day. Sometimes, I'm not feeling my fantasy but it is a fantasy that I created and at the end of the day, I'm proud of it. My least favorite thing about drag is how much 'regular' performers, hosts, etc. get compared to Ru girls. Drag race has become an end all be all for some girls and that saddens me. It's a perfectly good goal to have, but there is more to drag than just ONE TV show.

8. What does drag mean to you?

Drag is transformation. It is going from one persona to another. I'm really obsessed with the idea of having multiple alter egos (I have 6) and what it means to fully realize each one. Drag is a beautiful way of completing an alter ego that can readily be showcased to the world.

9. What is your advice for younger performers who are just starting drag?

You don't get what you don't ask for. Seriously. You're never going to get through life with just having things handed to you. Also, if you aren't being told 'no' you probably aren't asking for things big enough! Take risks and be unapologetically you. If you aren't you, people will catch on. It's just drag--have fun with it!

10. Where do you see yourself in a few years regarding your drag?

I'd like to be touring a bit more with my 'haus'es. Right now I'm doing *a lot* but I think I can reduce the total number of gigs but improve the quality and performances over all.

11. In your drag journey, what are some obstacles you’ve faced? How have you overcome them?

I've been somewhat of a lone wolf in the Chicago drag scene. I love my sisters but at the end of the day, I've always done me. This has probably caused me to miss some opportunities. I also feel like I started the game late, which has forced me to be in a constant state of playing catch up in the drag scene. To think where I would be if I started drag when I was 20 or 21! I would be so much further along my journey.

12. How long does it take you to get in drag and what all goes into your preparation?

If I oversleep, I can wear a wig with a heavy bang and paint my face in about 45-60 minutes. Usually I give up to 2 hours for makeup and 30 minutes for changing. I think it's a super valuable skill to get your 'go to' face down to about 1.5 hours. If I'm doing something more complicated (Marie Antoinette face, Goldar, prosthetics, etc.) I budget up to 3 hours. My glitter shapes also take about 90 minutes to apply so I don't always do them.

13. If you got on RPDR, who would you play for snatch game?

Easily Mary Kate Olsen. Have you watched Very Mary Kate? It's genius. I've never identified with a character so much.

14. Marry, Kill, Kai Kai, Kiss: Strange Dollhaus edition. Lexi Pro, Electra Cute, Mikki Miraj

ohhhh nooooooooooo. Okay. Kill Mikki. Marry Lexi. Kiss Electra. I'm not Kai-kai'ing with any of them ha!

15. What is your favorite part of doing charity/benefit shows?

I host Proud to Run yearly and they raise thousands of dollars for local LGBT charities. Like, this is THE reason I think people should do drag--for the community. It brings me such joy to see organizations receive the help they need and deserve to do better in the world.

16. Favorite Cosplay to date and why?

My favorite cosplay is my Yuna series from Final Fantasy. I do a reveal from FFX to FFX-2 mid performance and it wows the audience every time. To see people's faces and smiles during it reminds me why I do drag.

17. What are some future goals that you’ve set for yourself?

Stone at least a fourth of my wardrobe. Also apparently I should get a gas mask for the E6000 fumes. I know it seems like a silly goal, but it's important to freshen up your wardrobe every now and then. Also, I'd like to do ONE international performance in the next year even if it means Canada! That counts, right?

18. Dream cosplay/performance venue?

I would love to do a huge Final Fantasy show in the Akihabara district (anime area) of Tokyo. The energy, the community, everything would just be so perfect. It would truly be a dream come true.

19. What is your favorite part of being in a drag haus?

We truly do support each other even if we don't act like it. I'm an only child in real life so I haven't really had siblings before. It's been interesting being the 'oldest' daughter because I've had to set a lot of examples while still making sure to support my sisters. Despite what it may look like I do have everyone's best interests in mind, even Mikki's :-P

20. How has having a drag haus changed things for you?

It's created some amazing opportunities for me that would not be available on my own. We've started several shows in some venues around Chicago and have gotten out of town gigs together and now tour regularly. It's been an amazing journey that I wouldn't have been able to do on my own.

Follow Fox E Kim
Instagram: @foxekim

All photos used were captured by Joe Lewis Creative:

Strange Doll Haus Facebook:

Interview Done By Eich Ivy

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chicago's Strange Doll Haus Harajuku Fairy Mikki Minaj

This tiny Harajuku Fairy will captivate your heart and put a spell on you. Mikki Miraj is taking Chicago by storm. This beautiful theater loving queen takes her love of video games and burlesque and incorporates it in her shows. With her own new show Dream House she's casting a spell all over Chicago and soon the world.

                                                               Photo by Jason Kaplan

1. Who is Mikki Miraj?

Mikki Miraj is the local Harajuku Fairy Princess Doll of Chicago!

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

I started drag May 1st of last year-- I fell into it through a musical theater job I had the previous winter. In the show I was playing a drag queen and I took my character research pretty seriously. I brushed up on my drag herstory and started watching Drag Race. The first time I put on a face and hair and looked in the mirror my breath was snatched away! I saw myself and I literally thought "DAMN. I am pretty! There's a future for me here." I then made the decision that drag was the element that had been missing from my act as a performer all along.

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

So my name is sorrrrrt of misleading. The obvious pun is on Nicki Minaj. BUT. My middle name is "McKenzie" and my online persona/handle has always been Mikki-- so I knew that that HAD to be my first name. I needed a last name and Miraj popped into my head right away! It's campy and cute, a little funny, and my fantasy illusion is my whole brand so it stuck.

                                                               Photo by Dutchesz Gemini

4. Where does your inspiration come from?

I'm inspired by so many sources! Video Games and the Metaphysical are what drive the core of my character--with fashion/aesthetic inspired by anime, Harajuku, and my own wild imagination. Topping all of that off is my love for musical theater and storytelling through music/performance and you have my recipe card in full.

5. What would you say is the most unique thing you have to offer?

I think my versatility is probably the most unique thing I have to offer. My commitment to the many different masks I wear is the strongest part of my drag. One night I may be a sex bomb woman stomping the house down to a club banger, and the next I may be a Fairy Priestess weaving a spell of unity. Either way, you can always expect the unexpected with my act!

6. What is your most embarrassing moment?

Oh my goodness. Well, the drag I do can sometimes be high risk high reward given how skimpy my outfits usually are. Early on in my career I was still learning through trial and error and I remember I planned this great burlesque act with chair work. The wig came off, the tuck was out, and all I was wearing was a string thong at the end and I felt like such an idiot. The trade didn't seem to mind though.
                                                        Photo by Eric Michael Kommer

7. Who is Strange Doll Haus and what makes them unique?

Strange Doll Haus is a collection of dolls both campy and glamorous-- and always with an off the beaten path edge. I think we all have a similar commitment to appearing as both a beautiful toy and an edgy question begging to be answered at once. We're all known for our high energy no apologies performances and loud personalities!

8. If your drag persona was a superhero, what super power would you have?

Mikki Miraj is a Fairy, so her power is the manipulation of perceived reality. In layman's terms she can weave illusions. What you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel are never what you might expect in her presence. Now as for superHERO in the first place I'm not so sure-- I prefer to remain much more morally gray. (Perhaps she can fill the antihero role better?)

9. If you got on RPDR, who would you play for snatch game?

I'd to be someone totally unexpected like Kristen Chenoweth! She has such a bubbly, over the top personality and shes a theater icon! My backups would be someone equally outrageous like Glozelle Green.

Photo by Erik Michael Kommer 

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

My favorite thing about Drag is crafting a new story to tell every night. Every song I choose is there for a reason, and the look, down to the makeup is usually telling a new story. The thing about drag that I liked the least is navigating Social Media Land. I think social media narrows the extent we can have conversations quite a lot-and ends up being more harmful than good in a lot of discussions. Plus theres a good amount of Queens (though this isn't necessarily linked soley to drag) that LOVE to stir the pot to keep themselves relevant. I just disagree with that approach to lite--it bugs me espeically when you see talented people succumb to this urge. It's more rewarding in my opinion to rise up based on your own work and merit than by internet gimmicks.

11. What is the biggest misconception about drag in your opinion?

I think the biggest misconception about drag is that in order to be a "good drag queen" you must be EVERYTHING all at once. You must sew, and be a comedian, and be naturally beautiful, and dance, and death drop, and be out every night, and be a twitter master, and etc. etc. etc. The thing that makes us unique as individuals is the sum of our parts-- both our strengths and our weaknesses. That doesn't disappear when you are done with drag.

12. What makes the Chicago drag scene different then other places like Los Angeles or Atlanta?

I think what makes Chicago drag so amazing is all of the avenues for queens to come up and express themselves, and the abundant opportunities to create your own space out here. Competition is natural for the drag scene, but there are SO MANY well-respected ways to get your act on stage as a new queen-- and there are plenty of ways to carve out space for your art if you're a go-getter. In my first year I've started a monthly show I host so I can practice and learn, you don't get that experience everywhere! Also, no shade but bitches really are the whole package out here-- and still know how to get down and not take themselves so seriously when its time to party ;)

                                                                     Photo by Jose A. Rios

13. Marry, Kill, Kai Kai: Lexi, Fox E Kim, Electra

Omigod I have no idea... Erm, Kai Kai with Lexi because she's as big a slut as I am... Maybe Marry Electra because she'd take care of me best as my husband-wife... And Kill Fox E?  No but I don't want any of them gone because they're my favorite people in the city to pester!

14. What is a big future goal you've set for yourself?

I want to develop merch and take myself to that next level of promotion! My next big goal in drag is to make an appearance at DragConNYC and promote myself on that platform. I really want to show up and turn it out and spread a little #Fairydrag in the city that never sleeps.

15. Where do you see Strange Doll Haus in the next few years?

Lowkey on a trahsy reality TV spot living our best queenly lives.

                                                                Photo by Mars Cumpian

Follow Mikki Miraj
Instagram: @mikkimiraj

Follow The Strange Doll Haus:
Instagram: @strange_doll_haus

The Drag Enthusiast
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @DragEnthusiast

Interview done by Kory Lyn
Twitter: @oxkoryxo
Instagram: @oxkoryxo

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chicago's Strange Doll Haus' Very Own Lexi Pro Cute