Friday, January 19, 2018

Regina Blake-Dubois: Houston's Hidden Gem

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

Houston, TX is very well known for an out of this world drag scene with well rounded performers of different genres of drag. Regina Blake-Dubois is a queen that gives a little bit of everything and shes taken the Houston drag scene by storm. She hosts her own show, "The Broad's Way", at Michael's Outpost every week. She recently brought the Houston community together and raised thousands of dollars during the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey for hurricane relief over Facebook live. She spends her time uplifting her community and she has a blast while doing it. Regina deserves more recognition than shes given and she was ecstatic to do this interview. Enjoy!

1. Who is Regina Blake-Dubois? 

Regina is that sarcastic aunt that helps you with your homework while also teaching you how to smoke out of an apple, all while endless showtunes play in the background. She's also this badass suit of armor that protects my sweet squishy interior when I'm out.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

I started 3 and a half years ago, at the end of my freshman year of college. My roommate and I had been watching season six of RPDR, and we would turn to each other and say "hey we can do that!" He quit a few months later, and I'm still stuck swirling in this hell-hole and loving it!

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

So the show "Once Upon a Time." This show fucked me UP. The evil queen in it was EVERYTHING. A sassy, powerful bitch that commanded attention when she walked in a room, took no shit from anyone, and had the most amazing wardrobe. She was all I wanted to be as a drag queen, and her name was Regina. Thorne comes from "Revenge," another ABC show that I eventually stopped watching. The main character was on a crazed path to avenge her father's death, but was also a sophistacted socialite in the Hamptons, and her name was Emily Thorne. DuBois (du-bwah, not du-boys) is a family name, given to me by our family mother Irene DuBois about a year and a half ago.

Photo by: Andres Garcia/Dulce Strutts

4. What would you say is your most unique quality? 

Im a Broadway queen, through and through. For almost 10 months, 95% of my performances have been from a Broadway show. I'm a very dramatic person, and that translates well in my drag. Not only do I DO Broadway, I can SELL Broadway. In Houston (in most of the South tbh) most popular drag requires a pageant title or a sickening dance number filled with death drops. I don't do that. I take a Broadway number, dissect it, figure out the emotion behind it, and spill all of into my performamces. Oh, and I'm always 100% on my lip sync. 

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

My favorite thing is how drag is the best example of all the artforms coming together. Fashion, makeup, and hair are all given, but drag also includes sound design, painting, sculpting, dancing, singing sometimes, playing instruments sometimes, it can literally be ANYTHING!
My absolute least favorite thing is the drama. There's a reason they're called Drama QUEENS, y'all! I do a good job of avoiding drama at shows, or drama on Facebook, but you see it everywhere. I don't understand why this small section of an already targeted community spends so much time arguing about petty shit backstage or in facebook comments.

6. What should people expect when coming to your show "The Broad's Way"? 

Lots of puns, dad jokes, and horrible segways. Also, lots of awkward tales about things that have happened to me. 75% of my comedy is self-deprecating. But also, TBW is unique because we have both drag entertainers AND live singers at every show

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

7. How would you say drag changed your life? 

2 ways. I'm finally confident, and I'm finally happy. I think that says everything.

8. What is something you haven't told anyone but you think people need to know about you? 

I hate going out. Between my day job as a stage manager and working multiple bookings each week, I don't have the time or energy to do it. And when I do go out, I normally latch on to the friend who invited me, and if we get separated at some point I'm basically useless. So if you see me out when I'm not in face, take a picture. It's  a rare sight.

9. Do you have any hidden talents...if so, what are they? 

Deep-thr... um.
Actually I'm pretty solid at video games. Everyone's got a vice!

Photo by: Andres Garcia/Dulce Strutts

10. If you could pick 3 other artists to show appreciation for in the Houston drag scene, who are they and why should we show appreciation towards them? 

#1 is always Dessie Love Blake. I don't know a more polished, professional queen. She's helped launch the careers of so many queens in Houston through the 12 different drag races that she has hosted. I can also say that she works more and harder than any other queen I know, she's got a wonderful business head towards drag, and I look up to her more than anyone.

#2 would have to be Tatiana Mala-NiƱa. This is a queen that I have watched perform since I was just a little gay boy watching amateur drag shows in awe. She's worked her padded ass off to get to where she is now. I remember her being one of the first queens I saw go from amateur to supporting themselves completely on their drag. Plus she's fucking hilarious, the master of spoken word, and one of the strongest women I know.

#3 would be my younger drag sister, Roofie DuBois. I give her lots of shit, all the time, but I'm incredibly impressed by her. I was there for her first performance, she did Miranda Sings and looked HORRIBLE. Over the next year and a half though, she refined her brand and has become one of the youngest queens to build a large following in the city. She's more accomplished than I give her credit for.

11. Recently Houston dealt with Hurricane Harvey and you decided to spend days at a time in full drag on Facebook live to raise money for hurricane relief. How did you come up with the idea and how much money did you raise altogether? 

Thankfully my apartment didn't get flooded or damaged by Harvey, but we were still trapped inside for almost a week. And after 3 days of not doing anything except watching the news and seeing the damage elsewhere,  I decided to get off my ass and help. With assistance from my neighbor Jessica and our friend Allison, we put together a mini-studio in her apartment and 4 hours later we were live. I decided to ask people to tip performamces that happened during the stream, and all proceeds went to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Between those tips, and contributions from Dessie Love Blake and Rumors Beach Bar in Galveston, we raised $3000 in 9 hours. Our second broadcast, we were live for another 12 hours and raised an additional $1800.

12. Do you have a most embarrassing moment from when you were onstage? If so, what is it? 

I once performed Tove Lo's song "Like Em Young." However, my concept was a slutty teacher going after her students, and it wasn't picked up by the audience. Plus I kept tripping on my heels and the stage, my outfit kept malfunctioning, and Willam (my #1 fave) was in the audience. I walked off stage, started crying, grabbed my bag and ran out of the club.

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

13. What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a drag performer? 

Being the host of a show made me realize that hosting a show is a skill that's very specific, and not everyone is good at it. I, however, am bomb as hell at it. Becauee of that, I get to first-hand watch audience members show up and experience the performances. As the show continues, you can literally see people's moods improve (and not just becauee they're drinking). Drag brings people joy, plain and simple.

14. If you could pick one place to travel to for a booking, where would you go and why? 

NEW YORK CITY! Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, I want to work anywhere in the place that will inevitably be my home. If you're from NYC, you should book Houston's PREMIER Broadway Queen to come perform!!

15. What is your best advice for performers who are just starting drag? 

I've got lots here so let me just advice-vomit.
1) Keep your drama off Facebook. I've put people on a ""Never Book Him/Her/Them" list because they start shit online.
2) You never know who's watching. Be polite, be professional, be personable.
3) Always be looking for the next step. Don't keep performing at amateur nights for 2 years if you're serious about drag. Go to other shows, meet show directors, express interest in working on their show. If you don't speak up, they probably won't hire you.
4) Asking to borrow bobby pins/hairspray/nail glue/etc once is ok. But asking a second time, at a different booking, is unprofessional and means you're unprepared.

Photo by: Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

Follow Regina:
Instagram: @reginablakedubois 
Twitter: @ReginaBDubois 

The Drag Enthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Twitter: @dragenthusiast

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anka Shayne: True Dedication At It's Finest

Originially from Denver, but currently reigning from the nightlife scene of Colorado Springs, CO, Anka Shayne admits that drag changed her life by ridding her of her internalized homophobia. She is known for changing up her looks and is most definitely not a one trick pony. Her dedication and love for the craft is untouchable and certainly hasn't gone unnoticed in the ever changing drag scene. She dreams of eventually performing in cities such as Chicago and sharing her work with a wider audience.

1. Who is Anka Shayne?

It’s hard to say! It really depends on the day. My style goes from fishy queen to literal fish. I love everything from to glamour to trash to old Hollywood to horror. Since I am able to transform myself into something or someone else, I try to change whatever I’m transforming into every time.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

The end of May is Anka’s third birthday. I’ve always been a creative person and have tried every artistic medium I could find but nothing ever held my attention for too long. I started drag because I loved the art form. If I start getting bored with one aspect, I can change my focus to keep me going. Hair, makeup, costumes, music, performing! Drag is endless.

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

I came up with Anka first. I have always been really drawn to very Eastern-European sounding names, they’re soft and feminine but also have a strength and (for lack of a better word) harshness to them. I love the contrast. So, I came up with Anka by just searching for Eastern-european baby names! I added a last name later, “Overkill”, but that stupid minion movie came out and the main character and I had the same last name! Not wanting to associate myself with minions, obviously, I started wracking my brain for a quick replacement. Rose McGowan’s character in Jawbreaker is one of my all time favorites, I tried on her character’s last name and it worked. I only realized after i decided that Anka Shayne was sort of punny. My tucking skills are pretty impeccable so being Danke Schoen without the d just works.

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

I LIVE for the moment when a look is finally completely put together and its just like “I did that!”. I… despise… padding. I like how my body looks with or without pads and I switch it up often. I don’t know if for some reason the tights just cause me more pain than normal or if I am just a complete baby but I find padding to be excruciating. I regularly (and unintentionally) cause myself to bleed while doing drag, I have bruised ribs and gone so hard that I have to limp back to the dressing room but none of it compares to padding. 

5. How has drag changed your life?

Before drag, I had A LOT of internalized homophobia and a general distaste for men. I had NO gay friends and NO male friends. The only gay or male people I would have in my life were people I was dating. Drag has forced me to deal with all of this. I finally have people in my life that I can actually relate to. Nearly 30 years is a long time to go without that. 

6. What would you say is he biggest misconception about the drag community? 

That we’re all bitches. I was terrified of drag queens even after starting drag until I got to know people in the community. I used to be afraid to even speak to a queen when it turns out that most of us do really love to hear from fans. I’m just playing dress up and while I will be proud of my art, I’m always a little taken aback when someone else likes it too. 

7. What is your most unique quality?

As a queen… my obsession with glue. I nearly always have something (beyond lashes, nails and wigs) glued to me when I’m in drag. Anything from actual stickers (and nothing else) as a costume to fake vomit to prosthetics and everything in between. Locally, I’m sort of known as the glue queen, people regularly reach out to me to ask what sort of glue they should use for different things. It’s such an absurd thing to be known for so I’m completely here for it.

8. What is something that no one knows about you?

Good question. I drink too much and talk too much to really have any secrets. People are generally surprised to learn that I’m kind of a rabid football fan and crazy dog lover, though.

9. Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

It truly depends on the individual look or performance. I will get inspired by a song, or a piece of fabric or a picture or a word and then piece everything together from there. The most common thing I get inspired by is themes. Themes for certain shows, or nights at the club or just following along with competitions have inspired some of my personal favorite looks (like my crystal castle and hairless cat looks)

10. What are 3 makeup products that you absolutely cannot live without? 

1. Kryolan Supracolor in clown white. 
2. Ben Nye Lumiere in Ice.
3. ABH Dipbrow.

11. If you could describe your drag persona in one word, what would it be?

If I could, I would but I don’t think I can. Trash seems so predictable but if I HAD to choose… trash.

12. If you could change something about the drag community, what would it be and why?

I would love to see drag open up to a world beyond bars and nightclubs. The late nights and partying can be fun but it can also be exhausting. I’d love to have more options which would give the art more exposure. 

13. If you could travel anywhere to perform, where would you go and why?

I am absolutely dying to perform in Chicago. I can just feel that scene calling me name. I love all the queens from there that I’ve met. An overwhelming majority of the queens I look up to are from there. I think I could be embraced but also pushed there.

14. What is a big goal you have set for yourself for your drag career in the future?

Performing in Chicago is definitely up there. Of course, RPDR would be amazing. However, filming an episode of Transformations with James St. James is a HUGE goal for me right now.

15. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Hibernating in my room during the few weekdays that I’m not doing drag. 

Follow Anka Shayne:
Instagram: @anka_shayne 

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