drag king

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…

 

Oaklash: the Bay Area’s love letter to eclectic drag

Two PM comes around in a classic car showcase warehouse and it echoes –

“Everybody, welcome to the show!”

Alaska Thunderfuck’s ‘HIEEE’ fills Classic Cars West on an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon. The famous show-opening number draws a crowd around a set stage as the notorious WooWoo Monroe kicks off the second annual Oaklash drag festival.

Born in 2018, Oaklash celebrated its second year over April’s last weekend. It kicked off with an opening night party Friday at Eli’s Mile High Club where performers and live bands gave the Bay a small taste of what was to come over the next two days.

After Monroe’s lip-synced instructions of flash photography being absolutely mandatory and tipping these [performers], the day kicked off its first set. With about five performances clocking in at half an hour and a DJ set filling the next half, each eight-hour day allowed over 50 Bay Area local and visiting artists to grace the stage – the festival hosted over 100 performers, vendors, photographers, bands, and more.

Queeries got the chance to sit down with a myriad of incredible individuals all working with the festival in one way or another and, phew, does it take a village. …

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: 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: 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?