1. Who is Lexi Pro Cute?
Lexi is a bearded bombshell. She’s kind of like a punky pin-up who’s let her hair down. Or, more like a stripper who forgets her whole routine and makes it up as she goes. She’s sultry and she never smiles for photos (I tried it once and hated it!), but she’s really a total ditz.
2. When and why did you begin doing drag?
I’ve always loved playing with makeup—wearing a smoky eye and slightly more-than-nude lip out to the club. I was getting my hair done by my drag mother, Matthew/Electra, for a couple of years; and the more we connected about drag, the more he encouraged me to try it for myself. Each year, Slade’s Barbershop puts on a fashion show and in Spring 2015, Matthew put me in drag for the first time wearing the most gorgeous hairpiece. I walked the runway and even got featured on the cover of Windy City Times—nip slip and all!
3. How did you come up with your drag name?
I’ve been on antidepressants since I was 13. Ideally, I’d like to make people smile some when they see me perform.
4. Where does your inspiration come from?
Conchita. Duh. No but seriously, my drag is heavily influenced by my sexuality. I like to show off as much skin as possible, and bearded ladies like Grace Towers really inspire me to push a nonconventional aesthetic even further. Of course, smooth-faced, hyper-sexual queens like James Majesty definitely do it for me, too. I love how James is always playing with a new face. I really admire that versatility.
5. What would you say is the most unique thing you have to offer?
My beard and my fur, for sure, but also a certain shamelessness. Once I get going, I make it a point to really move my body. I’m always working to refine my performances, but I think there is something captivating about the sheer amount of energy I exude onstage.
Photo taken by Joe Lewis
6. What is the Strange Doll Haus?
Strange Doll Haus is one of the larger drag families in Chicago. Currently there are 4 core queens who perform together a couple of times a month—plus our Milwaukee sisters Aubrey Del Mar and Omëga. We are close friends, and that comes with a lot of love and plenty of sisterly shade. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
7. How long have you been a member of the Strange Doll Haus?
I’ve been a member of Strange Doll Haus as long as I’ve been doing drag—so just over 2 years now.
8. Is there an "image" that is meant to be projected or upheld, being in the Haus?
I think we are diverse queens as far as aesthetic, but we have a similar performance style. We are “in your face” and strive to interact with the crowd as much as possible. We take over a space and try and work every inch—on and off the stage.
9. What does the Strange Doll Haus mean to you?
Strange Doll Haus is a sisterhood. We are a drag family sure, but we are also a collective of artists. We bounce ideas off one another. We understand each other’s strengths and struggles. And personally, I lose my shit when I see one of my sisters push herself in a performance—or maybe borrow something from the group that is out of her own comfort zone.
10. You are a bearded queen. I've seen pictures of you with and without it. Is it a matter or preference or does that have anything to do with your aesthetic?
When I first started drag, the beard was a preference. I freaked out at how fast my five o’clock shadow came in the first time I was in face, and so really you could say it was a matter of convenience. Still, I was aware that I was covering something up.
But lo and behold, with the power of a good coral-colored concealer and about a year’s worth of practice, I tried out full fishy face for a few weeks—and then again for a month more recently. I loved contouring my tits and really got a knack for witling down my man-jaw, but I didn’t feel entirely like myself. The beard now is more of a chinstrap: I joke that it acts as great jaw contour. But really, it informs my aesthetic from the neck down. It’s freeing.
11. How has having a beard affected you as an entertainer? Have you ever faced discrimination because of it?
Definitely. I have some gorgeous, fishy friends and going out alongside them was tough at first. I don’t “pass” in the same way, and I wasn’t having drinks bought for me from multiple (albeit sometimes sketchy) guys at the club. In fact, I lacked some of the confidence that I had out of drag as a bearded man. I think that’s kind of the opposite of queens who really come into their own and discover their inner diva when they first get in the geish.
It’s taken awhile, but now I see my drag as a “fuck you” to anyone who doesn’t get it. I recently found myself in bed with a guy who couldn’t believe I did drag: “But you’re so masculine,” he said. Well, we hadn’t done much talking. I’m furry, sure, and I’m also unabashedly femme. Owning that femininity as a bearded queen and re-evaluating my privilege within the gay and queer community has been a deeply personal experience.
Photo taken by Donna Jean
12. Describe the Chicago drag scene and how you've found your place in it. How has it shaped you, if at all?
With all that being said, I don’t often feel discriminated against by the drag community for my beard or body hair—at least not that I’m aware of. There will be the odd comment, and I do have to explain myself at times; but I feel like I’m judged on a more meaningful set of criteria. In fact, when I shaved for awhile there were queens who didn’t even realize it at first. The scene is smart and extremely diverse, which means you really must push every unique aspect of your drag to stand out.
13. What are some of your favorite things about the Chicago drag scene?
For all the competition, the drag scene is supportive and collaborative in Chicago. There are many opportunities to perform in high-profile shows if you put yourself out there. And off-duty performers come out to support, too.
14. What has been the most discouraging experience you've faced as a drag queen?
Getting Lexi’s Facebook profile shut down. It’s super frustrating because it’s a great way to communicate and to promote shows, but I don’t know how to prove I am a bona fide bearded lady!
15. What is something you would like for people to know or simply understand about you?
There is something slightly wrong about Lexi, and I’m learning to revel in that. I think I’m my own worst enemy: I tend to get in my head a lot, and beat myself up when things go wrong during a performance. Now, I’m not saying it’s ok to settle for being a “messy queen.” Polishing your technique is important, but I do think we could stand to take ourselves a little less seriously. The fact is that no one wants to hang with a nervous, self-conscious drag queen.
16. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start doing drag?
Doing drag is incredibly specific to you. From your tuck to your makeup technique and every trick in between, you can’t always compare yourself to other queens. I am, for instance, a sweaty beast and I’ve learned to accept my boy brows popping when I draw them high and dance too hard. So I’ve experimented with new ways to draw in my brows. You have to find your own way to feel beautiful, and I’m still finding myself. Be patient.
17. Of the many crowds you entertain, are there any people or situations that stand out? Good or bad?
Strange Doll Haus often performs at bars that aren’t traditionally “Gay” or “Drag” bars. We have a monthly show at Slippery Slope in Logan Square, and I really enjoy that crowd. There’s usually a teaching moment or two, but overall there’s a sense of wonder—maybe not as many “yas kweens” as we’re used to, but a lot of smiles nonetheless. A lot of those folks haven’t been to a drag show before, but they are open-minded and appreciative of a new experience.
18. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I work in PR and Marketing when I’m not performing, and I have a mind for how my drag might influence my career. My dream would be to work for a beauty or cosmetics company. Just think of all the free make-up!
19. How does drag affect your personal life? Do you find it difficult to find and keep genuine relationships of any kind?
I am very upfront about being a drag queen, and to date it hasn’t affected my relationships. But if I take on that second question independently of drag, we could be here all day…
Seriously, though, I had an ex—years before I started doing drag—who lit up at the smallest things. I got into a serious dance-off at a New Year’s party and when I made it off the floor he was waiting with a rose, and told me how he was bragging to everyone that I was his boyfriend. I’d like to find someone like that, in or out of drag. But like, if they can hold my purse and collect my tips, that’s clutch. In the meantime, I have a kick-ass group of friends to support me.
20. Who or what has influenced you the most in your drag career?
My drag mother, Electra Cute. The amount of love and the lessons she’s taught me are astounding. I don’t think it’s a common relationship among drag queens. Sure, we talk about drag pretty constantly, but we are also best friends. We look out for each other when we are out in the scene, and we make each other better people all the time. At this point, we won’t settle for less.
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Interview done by Brandi Lynne
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