Bella Lemay Is “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen”

Photo by Samantha Marie Photography

Hi there Bella Lemay! I’m glad you were able to take a few minutes away from shining up your new crown to talk to me tonight! Did you enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend?

Hi Chiffon! Thanks for having me. I did! But I also spent a great deal of time indoors just SLEEPING! *Laughs*

I knew I liked you! So how it sunk in that after all these weeks you are the New York’s Next Top Drag Queen?

It’s definitely still surreal! All of the other girls are really, really talented, and they came out swinging every week, so it’s just wild that I was crowned. I still sort of can’t believe it!

Swinging? I thought this was a drag competition, not Ultimate Fighting! You must be tougher than you look gurl!

Do what you gotta do – you know, contrary to popular belief, sometimes drag IS a contact sport! I think I hear the Rocky theme playing in the distance…

We don’t have to run up steps now do we? These heels were not meant for steps!

Oh, god, no! I walked about three avenues in heels the other day for the first time and I about died. I can’t imagine running up stairs! *Laughs*

Its no joke when you factor in the pot holes and the subway grates.

*Laughs* I normally change into flats, but I was feeling my look after the finale and my legs are now paying for it. So sore!

You’re not doing drag if you’re not sore……or is that prostitution? I get them confused sometimes.

Who says they’re mutually exclusive? *Laughs* “What I Did For Love” starts playing…

Certainly not Craigslist….I’ve heard. So let’s go back to the very beginning. Where are you from originally?

I’m from Fort Myers, Florida!

Photo by Samantha Marie Photography

What was your earliest memory of drag you can recall growing up?

I think it was actually in high school, when I got into a costume storage room for the first time. It was like my personal Gay Christmas! Haha. We were doing Hairspray that year, and I tried on all of these wildly colorful and campy dresses, along with Edna’s boobs that totally dwarfed me. I’m sure there’s a photo somewhere! But I remember that being a lot of fun! I definitely didn’t see it as a career at that point, though.

I feel like one of Edna’s boobs would almost be as big as you were.

Yeah, it was certainly a sight. I didn’t understand proportions yet. *Laughs*

Well based on the fact that my ass is the size of a Volkswagen, I still haven’t learned that lesson but no one has ever accused me of  being that bright….or pretty but I digress. So were you always a bit of a theatre geek?

Oh, absolutely! Ever since I discovered theatre, it’s informed and impacted my life in every way.

So once you came out of the closet….I mean costume storage room, how long to it take for you to  dip your toes in the drag pool again?

*Laughs* Well, a year or so later, a local community theatre was doing Chicago, and I was cast as the understudy to Mary Sunshine. And that’s actually how I met my drag mother, Alyssa Lemay! She taught me so much during the run of that show. I went on for her a couple times when she was injured. I remember her putting me in face for the first time and just thinking, “oh my god, this is amazing.”

What was the appeal for you?

The transformation. It, to me, was the ultimate role. Portraying a character so completely separate from everything I was really cool for me, along with the fact that I could take it all off and just be Ben again at the end of the night. Plus, the glamour of it all didn’t hurt! Haha!

You said you went on for Alyssa when she was injured…..I’m not accusing you of anything but this wasn’t a “Showgirls” situation, was it?

Well…*Laughs*, no, no!

I think the statute of limitations has expired in case you need to get something off your chest…..

Alright, well here’s the exclusive.. *Laughs*, just kidding! I could never! She’s so lovely.

Photo by Samantha Marie Photography

How did you wind up here in the Big Apple?

Well, like every other drag queen to ever exist, I came here as an actor looking to take my bite out of it. I actually only moved here last August!

Right off the bus at the Port Authority with two dresses and a shake and go wig in your suitcase and a sparkle in your eye?

Exactly! I just started singing Not For the Life of Me from Millie in my living room. *Laughs*

So now comes the million dollar question, what did you study in college?

Now, I don’t want to shock you too badly, but…musical theatre.

And there it is kids! The streak continues! Virtually every NYC queen I talked to went to school for musical theatre. Time for a public service announcement kids. If you’re talking with your guidance counsellor and musical theatre comes up, just save the money, buy a good girdle and a lacefront, move to NY and become a queen because that’s what that major is going to do to you eventually.

It’s so funny because it’s true! You used to always hear that going to school for theatre would make you end up waiting tables for the rest of your life. Nowadays it’s more like you end up wearing dresses for the rest of your life! *Laughs*

From your lips to Gaga’s ears honey!

Can I get a gay-men? Praise! *Laughs*

You used to be able to but they shut down Rentboy last year.

*Laughs*

Photo by Samantha Marie Photography

But wait if you only moved here last August, that is quick even for this city to quash your dreams and force you into a dress, no? Has the timetable moved up?

Yep. All it takes is a week. No, no! *Laughs* I’d been dabbling in drag all through college and a little bit after, so once I moved here and saw how vibrant the scene was, I absolutely wanted to be a part of it. I did Sutton Lee Seymour‘s Drag Virgin Show back in October, and that was my first intro to New York drag. I decided after that that this was definitely a performance art that would 100% match up with my talents. I met up with her in December and she pointed me in the right direction.

Pointed you right back to the Port Authority because you can’t go twelve feet now in this city without bumping into a queen?

Exactly. She offered to help me pack. No, in all honestly, I consider Sutton my drag aunt because of how much she helped me once I decided to move forward with pursuing a drag career.

I love me some Sutton Lee Seymour…..I just hope she can make it back to New York from Puerto Vallarta before the wall goes up!

Girl, me too! Hopefully she’s limber enough to scale it if not!

That is the one flaw with the wall that John Oliver pointed out a few months back. It can be thwarted by what was basically mankind’s second invention, rope.

Yep. And, you know, airplanes. *Laughs*

I literally can’t talk more about El Presidente Fuckface so let’s talk more about you Bella. What made you decide to try the New York’s Next Top Drag Queen competition?

Yikes, me neither! Well, I first heard about NYNTDQ when I was contacted by Joseph Macchia, the producer. I talked with Sutton and Gilda Wabbit about it and decided to give it a go! I was nervous, but the fact that it was a live singing competition really attracted me.

Photo by Victor Giganti Photography

Do you think the live singing aspect is the biggest thing differentiating  NYNTDQ from other competitions in the city?

With the preface that I’m not SUPER familiar with the other competitions, I would venture to say yes. It’s also the fact that it’s a very intimate cabaret-style competition, which is very different from other types of performance styles.

So basically you’re saying you won the best competition in the city and all the rest of them are garbage? Is that what you’re saying?

Yep! No, not at all! *Laughs*

Oh….I guess I misread your tone then. *Laughs* So now that you’re following the footsteps of previous winners like Strawberry Fields and Shirley U. Jest, where do you go from here Bella?

Well, what I’m trying to do right now is run with the momentum that this has kind of kicked off for me. My WONDERFUL manager Lindsey Kay is getting me booked as a guest with a couple of queens and there’s several more in talks! I’m also on the hunt for a regular gig – but who isn’t? *Laughs*

Her assistant might have gotten in touch with our interns to remind you to plug that you will be in Rhode Island in July and on Fire Island in August.  I MAY have suggested the name, “Bella Lemay’s Island Getaway Tour”. Lindsey is trying to work gigs on both Staten and Coney Island into it as we speak.

*Laughs* having to be reminded to plug my own gigs…can you tell I’m new at this? Oh my gosh! But yes! That is all true, and I am VERY excited about it!

Just keep in mind though, if you DO use “Bella Lemay’s Island Getaway Tour“, I’m going to have to bill you a consultant fee.

Perfect. What percentage do you charge?

Enough to not have to worry about guac being extra at Chipotle.

Werk! *Laughs*

I think you mean WERRRK. *cough cough*

You’re right! I absolutely do!

So are game for a few LIGHTNING ROUND questions?

Yes, absolutely! Let’s do it!

Must have makeup item?

My Kryolan eye shadow palette. Life changing.

Drag role model?

Sutton Lee Seymour.

4am post drag food craving?

Buffalo chicken pizza!

Best part of drag?

Being able to pick from the entire Broadway songbook rather than just the male songs!

Worst part of drag?

Nails.

Most surprising thing about you people might not know?

I’m an award-winning playwright!

Guilty pleasure?

7/11 mini tacos. So bad. But so good.

Death row last meal?

Baked mac and cheese with bacon! *Laughs*

Netflix binge recommendation?

The OA!

Queen you most want to see on Season 10 of Drag Race?

Brita Filter!

Last one, most embarrassing song on your phone?

I have every Star Wars film score on my phone. #Geek

*Chiffon and Bella proceed to geek out over the new Star Wars “The Last Jedi” teaser trailer and debate who Rey’s parent’s might be for a good fifteen minutes.*

Okay, let’s finish up this up before we forget to! *Laughs*

*Laughs* yes yes!

So after the soon-to-be world famous “Bella Lemay’s Island Getaway Tour” concludes, what are you looking to do with drag, long -term? What is on your drag bucket list?

Doing drag on Broadway would be the ultimate fulfillment for me, sort of tying my worlds together! That’s on there for sure. But in terms of slightly more reachable goals, I’d like to continue working in the cabaret drag world. A show at the Laurie Beechman would be really cool! I just want to continue entertaining people as long as I can. I also want to get to a point where I can use my voice as a drag queen for change – socially and politically. Because we need big, persistent, voices right now, and I’d love to be at a point where I can lend mine to the cause and make a real difference.

So before we wrap up, I am going to casually mention this would be a great spot to tell people they can keep tabs on your career via assorted social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Farmer’s Only and more.

*Laughs* Of course! Well, I can be found on Facebook, YouTube, and ChristianMingle under Bella Lemay, and then @BellaLemayNYC on Instagram, Twitter, and Venmo!

Spoken like a true professional Bella! Well, I think it is just about time to wrap this up here. Condragulations again on your shiny new crown and I’m excited to see what else to future holds for you. Do you have any final words or wisdom to share with the WERRRK.com universe? 

Thank you so much, Chiffon! True to my fashion, I’ll leave you with a showtune quote: “Ok, fellas, keep your socks up: ’cause you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

About Chiffon Dior 478 Articles

Despite being a drag journalist for over five years, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

1 Comment

  1. As a VERY proud dad of Ben/Bella, I am so happy that his hard work and dedication to his craft has paid dividends. I was able to watch each week via Concert Window and loved every minute. I wish him the best as he pursues his career …. so far so good ! Love you !!

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