Interview

RoyalTea: Rebel Kings of Oakland

First or third Wednesday of any month and you and your friends found yourself in the North East Bay with nothing to do?  Hop on the 6 and head on down to the White Horse, the oldest continuously operating LGBT+ bar in the United States. There you’ll find a packed venuw filled with cracking pool balls, the happy buzz of friendly people, and… someone thrusting their fanny pack at you.  You look around but the eye contact is unavoidable.

You just met VERA, one of the members of the Bay Area’s largest drag king collective – the Rebel Kings of Oakland.  From there, you’ll be eagerly ushered to the back portion of the bar where a large mass, small horde of patrons are gathered around a stage adorned which rainbow flags.

After that– who knows what you’re gonna get.  From live singing to kings lobbing candy into the audience, burlesque, gender-fuckery, and more, Rebel Kings brings an open platform to performance artists of all shapes and sizes for what always promises to be a night of humor, intrigue, and quite probably some nudity. …

RoyalTea: Jota/Emjay Mercury

Howdy folx and welcome back to RoyalTea: the only drag interview segment that puts the lotion in the basket.  This week, we got to wrangle with the sexiest duo to ever grace one body – Jota / Emjay Mercury, a performer who puts puts the “cheese” in Machismo.  Jota is a Bay Area Based Xicanx performer who’s performed across international stages.  He wasn’t always wooing the ladies and crooning the night away though…

 

RoyalTea: Bus(s/t)y R. Keaton

Hello, all – and welcome back!

RoyalTea is back and piping hot with the newest kids on The Block.  This week, RoyalTea rolled up a jazz cigarette, threw on our flapper dress, and Charlestoned all the way up to the Hudson Valley – home of the dazzlingly dapper Bus(s/t)y R Keaton.

Bus(s/t)y has been performing in New York for almost two and a half years – both as a burlesquer and, more recently, as a drag king on the rise.  Er, um — pardon — drag CLOWN. Giggling and galavanting his way into our hearts, Queeries got the rare chance to pick into the mind of the peculiar Bu(s/t)y…. and we’re still not sure if he’s one of the murdering clowns or not —

TW: slurs, clowns

RoyalTea: Nitrix Oxide

Welcome back, you spooky ghouls, to RoyalTea: the only drag interview segment that is slowly transforming into an alien chat show.  This week, we got a chance to sit down with Nitrix Oxide, a performer who is here to christen you in mouthfuls of blood.  Nitrix is a Gore Queen, with a penchant for the ooky, kooky, icky, and sticky who has been terrorizing San Francisco for close to a year.

 

 

Queeries: People’ve described you as everything from a club kid to a monster queen; why do you think your drag is labeled so many different ways?

Nitrix Oxide: I think it’s probably because I try to do all different things with [my drag] and I’m always experimenting. When I first started a year ago, I found out about drag through [RuPaul’s] Drag Race but I started doing drag because of Dragula.  I started watching Dragula, where I’d see the more alternative side. That gave me the hint that “Oh, there’s more to drag than the typical pageants or what you see on Drag Race.”  There’s definitely a darker side to drag.

I started experimenting and doing more alternative, more punk drag.  I’ve always been inspired by Leigh Bowry, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, people like that.  That all lead to my club kid drag.  I’ve had people call me one of ‘the’ club kids of San Francisco, which is very flattering.  I love going out, experimenting with different looks, building head pieces, all that.  I’m really trying to push the envelope.

Q: She’s quite the crafty queen, too!  Could you walk us through the basic steps of making one of your headpieces?  

NO: Yeah!

Q: About how long do they take?

NO: It depends on what it is!  If I have a Saturday, it takes maybe one to two hours?  Doesn’t take that long!  Of course, I’ve had some that’ve taken me three or four.  What I do is I get a regular headband and I take an embroidery hoop.  That goes on top with some cardboard, glue it all together, wrap tape around it: that all goes on as my base.  Once I have the base done, I build something off of that.

 

 

Q: You’ve performed all over the Bay Area; ever wanted to travel to perform?

NO: Yeah, I’ve thought about it.  Recently, I started going to Oakland more which has been great; I’ve wanted to go there for a while.  I love the drag scene there.

One of my favorite places to go to is Club BnB: they have a really good happy hour show on Wednesdays.  sometimes they ask me to do two or three numbers. Three numbers sounds like a lot but it gives me a chance to experiment, do some songs I might not normally do.  They had me do an R&B tribute; I had never done a Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin song in a Leatherface mask but- Now I have!

As far as traveling outside the Bay Area, I’d love to go to San Jose and perform.  I’ve seen shows at Splash, the Renegades’ Bar– there’s a queen called WooWoo Monroe who has The Circus Show.  

I love San Jose; it’s a smaller town that has a really great drag scene.

Q: Is it more comparable to Oakland or San Francisco in size?  Or even smaller?

NO: It’s just a little bigger than Oakland.  However, I think Oakland has more small bars.  I’ve seen a lot more variety in drag shows there.  But, then again, I haven’t worked San Jose too much, so there might be stuff I haven’t seen yet!

I would also love to go to Los Angeles and perform.   I was there for Drag Con(vention) in May and got to meet a lot of Dragula girls- I’m very grateful to have met them and know some of them a little more personally now.  There are bars there like Precinct, Eagle, Red Line– there are so many great bars there and I would love to perform in some of their shows.

Q: Are you thinking about going to DragCon this year?

NO: I won’t be going to New York but I know, next year, I’ll probably go back to Los Angeles Drag Con.  I would love, in the future, to go to New York Drag Con-!

Q: You’ve been performing for nearing a year now; is there anything about the performance world that’s different than you thought it would be?

NO: I’ve been going out to shows in looks for about a year but I started performing in May; I did a talent show for my first performance.

I also do a lot of stunts in my numbers: wings, fake blood, all kinds of stuff.  If you’re adding a prop into your number, it’s probably gonna go wrong and you have to plan for that.  I’ve had reveals get stuck, zippers get stuck, forgotten which pocket props are in- you have to be prepared to switch up your number.

So, I had planned out this whole number but once you get up there, it’s all different.  You don’t factor in the rehearsal room that there’s actually an audience, there’ll be people giving you tips, all that.  There’ll be a lot of things you can’t predict once you’re actually in the space.

 

 

Q: Anything you wanna leave with the kiddies before we go?

NO: Huh- the kiddies.  That’s interesting!

Q: Yeah, our little Kiddie Kats-

NO: Well, I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately: “How do I get started? I really want to do drag-!  How do you do your makeup? Where can I perform?”

One: If you’re a new performer, before you message a producer, asking to be in a show, think “When was the last time I went to their show supporting?  Did I buy drinks? Did I tip performers?” Don’t expect to get into a show if you have not gone in support of that show. (If you can’t go, put it on your social media!)

Two: Anyone can do drag.  “I could never do drag-” yes, you can.  My makeup took me two and a half, three years to improve.  I practice by sitting at home in front of the mirror and doing my face.  There’s even still things I need to fix and performances I have where things don’t work out well or I could have pushed them even further.  You’re always growing, evolving, and changing.

 

 

You can find out more about Laughing Gas herself from her website and can find her turning l e w k s most Sundays at Big Top at Beaux.  With a lot to say and a loud voice to yell it in, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from Nitrix very soon-

As always, if you know or are a performer who would like to be profiled, feel free to reach out (@madsleighfaire on all platforms).  Until next time, this has been Mads interviewing Nitrix Oxide for RoyalTea!  Y’all stay outta trouble now, alright?

 

RoyalTea: Katarina Mirage

Hey, everyone, and welcome back to RoyalTea: the only interview segment to host blood orgies under the full moon.  This week, we sat down with The Countess, the reigning sovereign of Peach Castle, and Little Miss ‘So The Drama’ all in one!  When Katarina Mirage‘s not slitting throats with her diamond-studded talons, she can be found performing all throughout the New York Hudson Valley and Capital region and kicking her friends asses in Mario Party.  RoyalTea got a chance to sit down with her and let us tell y’all- she’s a fine-tuned machine.

RoyalTea: Apollo Infiniti

Hey folx!  Welcome back to RoyalTea, the only interview segment to have been graced… by space!  This edition, we have the King of Space, the Prince of Punishment, drag king Apollo Infiniti.  A proud representative of the House Infiniti, Apollo uses his drag to promote and support underground LGBTQIA+ spaces by working with organizations such as Project No Labels and UndHERground.  He also uses his status as a king to speak out and up for performers of color, as he himself is Mexican and Native American.  Apollo can be found on the roster for some super secret state-funded projects (drag show hosted at the Nevada Testing and Training Range (Area 51), but you didn’t hear it from us) so make sure to keep an eye out for that, as well!  Alrighty, let’s blast off!

RoyalTea: Andramada & Show Ponii

Welcome back to Queeries, the only interview segment guaranteed to give any reader severe second hand embarassment.  Strap in and strap on folx, we’ve got a doosy for you!  Two bodies, one kindred alien spirit here to lay glitter eggs in your chest, only for them to burst forth five to seven business days later.  Today, we burrow deep into the minds of Show Ponii and Andramada, find out what makes them tick.  Besides the alarm clock Show Ponii swallowed in pursuit of a certain pirate captain-

   Andro-  Andramo- Miss “I actually can not spell my name” Andramada is a Hudson Valley-based drag queen whose performances dazzle and amaze, all while encourage body positivity and representation.

Show Ponii hits hard and fast, like a punch to the gut.  He has a lot to say and has too much to do to let heteronormative drag representation get in his way.

RoyalTea: Medulla Oblongata

“That might sound a little pretentious.  Medulla’s a little pretentious, though. You can put that in.”

 

Hey all!  Welcome back for the newest installment of RoyalTea, where we corner and pester the drag performers you should be following! Performers who can thrash and bash, who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and who DO NOT smoke cigarettes, thank you very much.

Welcome to her channel: this week, we got to interview local Hudson Valley queen, the aptly named, Medulla Oblongata (The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End).  When you’re in her trance, she is a cone-shaped neuronal mass responsible for your autonomic (involuntary) functions ranging from vomiting to sneezing.  We sit down and discuss the chaotic and unpredictable whirling entropy that shrouds Medulla’s life.

RoyalTea: Maxxx Pleasure

Photo Credit: Reverse Images

 

Howdy, friends!  Welcome to the first installment of RoyalTea, an op-ed where we get in touch with the drag performers you want to be following.  Performers who work for the community, whether it be through gathering and hosting, delivering important political messages, or just really making ya smile; these are people who not only know how to rock an audience, but roll your hearts.

Not roll, like actually- more like rock n’ roll because this month, he’s a rock star- You know, two time winner of the Market Market PansySlam (2016+2017)?  First Runner Up of the Miss/Mr. Berkshire Drag Pageant 2018?

 

Photo Credit: Tommy Venus

 

Well, this month, I had the pleasure of getting to chat with Brooklyn-based drag king, Maxxx Pleasure!  Recently crowned Brooklyn Nightlife Award’s Drag King of the Year 2018, Maxxx took a few moments to sit down with Queeries this week to talk about his breakthrough into the drag scene and how he got to where he is now, hosting his own show and appearing on nationally recognized stages.

 

Queeries: So, would you call what you do drag* at all?  There are so many titles out there now, I just wanna make sure we’re speakin’ the same language!

Maxxx Pleasure: Yes; what I do is definitely drag. I also call myself “a nightlife performer” when I want to sound impressive and “a performance artist” when I gotta be vague! [laughs]

 

Q: Tell us a bit about your origin story; how did Maxxx Pleasure come to be? Did you have any awareness of drag kings before you started performing?

MP: I started doing drag when I was in college at SUNY Purchase. That was the spring of 2014 so it’s been a while! [laughs]

I was f*cking awful when I first performed – I didn’t have a vision and I had yet to peek outside of the box of toxic masculinity. It took time for me to step back and be like “Wait, this is not the man I want to be,” and to start asking myself who that man was.

I was only exposed to the other kings at my college and, although they are all very talented and good at what they do, I didn’t see the kind of persona I wanted to be in them. It was a very inward/soul searching process from there.

I decided to try drag at school as a way to feel more involved with the queer community there – it wasn’t until I did it, that I was like “Wait- I actually love doing drag, I need to do this!”

 

Q: How do you describe your drag style?

MP: I love a good two to three minute lipsync with some rock n’ roll flair!  I’ve also been getting more into the idea of telling personal stories through my drag… my Duran Duran “Save a Prayer” number was the first act that I did that felt really cathartic to do.  Stay tuned for more of that-!

 

Q: Maxxx Pleasure is a kick ass name.  How’d you come up with it?

MP: An ex-boyfriend came up with it! He just thought it sounded cool and I was like “Alright, word! I’ll go with that one-.” [laughs]

 

Q: What is Maxxx’s defining characteristic?

MP: I often get told by other performers and audience members that they love my rock n’ roll charm. (And how I look like Russell Brand!)

 

Q: What’s your dream gig?

MP: I’d love to do Sasha Velour’s Nightgowns again! She’s such a pleasure to watch perform and the House of Velour curates such a wonderful variety of drag performers for each show – it feels so special and I would love to be a part of that again.

 

Photo Credit: AJ Jordan Photography


Q: If Maxxx could travel to any other decade, past or future, what would it be? How about yourself?

MP: Listen… he loves his 60’s rock n’ roll but he’s definitely gonna have to say to the future! [laughs] I’m holding a little bit of hope for a future that’s more accepting for all types of gender identities and sexualities. Fingers crossed.

 

Q: You currently produce your own monthly* show, Guilty Pleasures.  Could you tell us a bit about running that and how that all came to be?

MP: I came up with the concept of doing a show based on the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ back in the winter of 2017 but didn’t have the guts to start putting it on until months later.

Once I decided that it was a good time to finally make the leap, I had to reach out to the venue (Gold Sounds Bar in Bushwick), find a host (Angelica Frankenstein – the hostess who’s the most stressed), find a dj (TenYards – also a talented clothing designer), and reach out to another producer with a show with a similar concept to check in and get her blessing (because that’s the etiquette – I highly encourage you to see Fancy Feast’s Maim That Tune when it happens again!)

And then after all that was done it was time to pull together a cast! Which is my favorite and also the most stressful part.

Doing Guilty Pleasures is such a rewarding experience – I’m really happy that I made the leap into producing and didn’t let the fear hold me back.

 

Q: Drag stories being told right now tend to put the spotlight on queens.  Why do you think it’s been different for drag king representation?

MP: I actually think that kings are starting to get a little more representation and a little less flack lately, which is so exciting to see!

Kings have been kind of in the shadows for so long because people are so dismissive and really not receptive of the idea of female/AFAB people performing “as a man”.  I could go on forever about the idea that performing “as a woman” is so easy for audiences to accept because femininity is taught to us by society as this inherently performative thing, while masculinity is not inherently performative so it’s harder for people’s brains to like comprehend the concept of a drag king, etc. so all I’m gonna say is- is that it really comes down to misogyny.

 

Q: Are there any misconceptions you’d like to clear up about performing in drag, as a king or just in general?

MP: You don’t have to adhere to the gender binary when performing drag.  It’s actually more fun and interesting when you play out of it!

 

Q: Has drag changed your life and if so, in what way?

MP: Drag has changed my life in so many ways! Doing drag has led me to question and adjust the way I perform my gender in daily life. I’ve met so many wonderful and inspiring artists through the drag scene. I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life if I wasn’t doing this.

 

Q: Any parting thoughts?

MP:  Nope!

 

Photo Credit: Eric Sager Photography


Short and to the point!  Not one for flowery language, you’d be better simply seeing what Maxxx Pleasure’s all about in person.  He’s got a few up gigs, always looking for new faces in the audience: Hot Face at Bizarre- Bushwick (6/15), Switch n’ Play at the Branded Saloon- Brooklyn (6/23), and back at Bizarre for Full Moons (6/23)!  If that show is anything like what I’m hoping, given the name ‘Full Moons’, you can bet your bottom it’ll be an audience full of werewolves-!

You can also follow him on Instagram at mr.mpleasure for more information on upcoming performances, behind-the-scenes extras, and never-ending style (I mean, damn just always lookin’ sharp-)!

Photo Credit: Travis Magee Photography

 

If you have an artist you feel should be profiled or are one yourself, feel free to reach out to me, @madsleighfaire (all held social media platforms).  Remember, when life’s a drag, we’ve always got drag-! Until next time, this has been RoyalTea with Mads Leigh-Faire, interviewing Maxxx Pleasure for Queeries blog; you make sure to have a great day, yeah?