Born and raised Los Angeline, and local Drag King extraordinaire, Landon Cider is nothing short of a force to be reckoned with. Incredibly talented and dedicated to art, particularly the art of drag, he is one of the most popular and notable Kings in Southern California. I had the chance to sit with him and find out how he got started and what makes him tick.
I used to go and watch all the drag shows before I’d even considered doing it myself, and I loved the theatricality that it gave to the queer community, and it allowed for this improv that I really enjoyed participating in as an audience member, and after some fucked up things happened in my life I realized I wanted to get back on stage again, I hadn’t been on stage in a few years, despite being on stage all my life, so I wanted to get back into it and I remembered how fun the drag shows were so I figured, let me do that.
Having a stage background and an artist’s mentality makes Landon the perfect candidate for a career in drag, which demands you find new and different ways to captivate an audience from week to week.
My influences are from everywhere; I’m inspired by everything, so I’m influenced by everything. It could be a bird in the sky, it could be a building, it could be a song, a character. I feel like art is everywhere, as long as you look with the right glasses. I’m fortunate to see beauty in places where other people can’t, so I find influences maybe where other people can’t too.
Obviously having the ability to source a creative outlet each day is a huge perk of the career of drag for someone like Landon, and more so, beyond the performance, lies the love of the transformation of drag. The ability to explore the many different aspects of oneself.
One of my favorite parts is people having no idea what’s really underneath it all, and letting them keep guessing. I’ll come out as this hardcore gangster, then this cowboy, all these different characters so that they don’t really know what to expect. And that’s the best part for me, the most fun.
As well known and beloved in SoCal as Landon is, Queens still rule the scene of the drag world. I wondered, if it was a struggle to gain the amount of respect, within the community, that a queen might get from fans, venues, and other performers.
I feel that I do get the same amount of respect within the community, but I had to work for it. It wasn’t given to me right away, I did come into this business as a hobby, but I came in with the perspective of trying to bring my musical theater background and that transformation. So, at first there was a lot of naysayers, or people who said that kings don’t work as hard as queens, I slowly have been proving otherwise. Locally, all of my sisters and venues hire me and pay me the same as they do everyone else, and I’m slowly beginning to see a lot more nationally, my travel gigs. They’re recognizing me at the same or similar level to the most notable queens as well.
What people often don’t think about is that drag is much more than jumping on stage to perform a number. It often takes hours for performers to get into drag, and the efforts can be extremely physically demanding.
There’s no oxygen in my lungs, my skin is fucked up, slashed and permanently scarred from half a roll of duct tape every day, but I’m so fulfilled within my artistic soul, my human soul, connecting with people. They might have walked in with some bullshit on their shoulders, and if I can make them smile or move them with an emotion due to my performance, that is what makes my day.
Physically hard but rewarding, for Landon the art of drag isn’t simply about making money or getting to perform, but also about sharing something, an emotion, an experience, with his audience. Of course, it helps to keep yourself happy and engaged as well. I wanted to know what some of his favorite numbers to perform are.
I don’t have favorites anything. Food, drink, color, I can never choose a favorite. So when it comes to performances, it’s cyclical, it comes in waves and… I really, really enjoy my more androgynous, or what I like to call my “glam-drogynous” numbers. I feel those are more… who Landon is, and that’s where I get to bring out the fluidity between genders, that I find within myself. I’m a cis-gendered female lesbian, but I’m also androgynous in my everyday presentation, so I bring the flip of that with Landon, where I still make sure that I look characteristically male, but I make sure to bring a lot of femininity into celebrating the feminine gay man. Because I feel it’s important to celebrate them too. And that’s where I feel the most comfortable as Landon. So, probably performing my androgynous numbers, but I love the challenge of impersonating and embodying different characters, whether they are those that I created or cosplays or celebrity impersonations. I like it all.
Now if you’ve read this far and haven’t made the connection yet – and don’t feel bad if you haven’t, it took me literal years to realize – Landon Cider is a play on words. Say it slowly now… it’ll come to you….
I LOVE WHEN PEOPLE DON’T GET MY NAME. I wanted a play on words because when I first started out, I went to the Google machine (as one does) and I typed in “How to be a Drag King” because didn’t know what else to do, and I didn’t have any other drag kings around me and they queens were like ‘I dunno!’ so, I had to figure it out on my own. I kept seeing that drag kings had sexual innuendo names and it was popular in the 90s when I first started. I came up with a few – I don’t remember the other ones – but I liked Landon as a name in general. So I just went with Landon Cider. And it was a sexual play on words, Land Inside Her, but it was also reflective of the feminine female within myself too. Making sure to connect with the divine feminine as well as just the sexual part of it too.
If you’re reading and thinking ‘Well duuuuuhhhhh, I got it right away.’ Congratulations, you are smarter than I am.
Now many super-fans of Landon, or at least those who already follow him on Instagram, may already know his bizarre dislike for the sweet, sweet food of the gods… Avocado. Now, I know what you’re thinking, what kind of self-respecting Californian doesn’t like avocados?! Like Oprah, I was on a mission to find out…
(Big laugh) I SO dislike avocado! I don’t like the flavor. I’m not a texture person, I can deal with any kind of texture, it’s just the flavor. I don’t like the flavor of avocado, I can barely tolerate it when it’s in guacamole. And even then I’m like, bleh.
Interesting. However, he makes a valiant effort by eating avocado at least once a week, so we here at WERRRK.com have decided to forgive him this sin. Once I cracked the case on Avocado-gate, I wanted to get back to the real issue at hand, drag. Is it harder for a King to “break into the biz” than it might be for a Queen?
Yes and no. I did have to work very, very hard to sort of gain the respect with the amount of work and transformation and performance diversity that I’ve brought to the table. And no in the sense that I’m in a niche market, and once I gained the respect, the doors opened for me more quickly than maybe other queens that were maybe doing the same thing because I was a unique… novelty. I’m that novelty item. There are kings out there who are working really hard; there are many who are making waves right now, especially on social media and Instagram. They’re coming up out of nowhere, and I like to reach out to them and offer my congratulations and encouragement, to tell them to take advantage of this roller coaster you’ve been thrown onto, because there’s some crazy talent out there and I’m glad to see it, I’m glad to see they’re doing the same for their community by being that niche as well. So, come out, come out wherever you are!
Being a working drag performer can come with a few perks, including a loyal fanbase that can range from your hometown to across the nation – and sometimes even internationally. But most performers don’t do it for the “fame and fortune” I wanted to know what was Landon’s favorite thing about being, well, Landon.
The power of a microphone – not just on stage, but on social media – having a following that grows every day. I feel like I have somewhat of a humanitarian responsibility with the platform I’ve been given, I see the world not just through the eyes of an artist, but understanding my privilege when it comes to having electricity and running water, being raised to appreciate what you have and not focusing on what you don’t have. People with so much less are so much happier, so I remember that every day and I try to appreciate everything. Whether it’s saying thank you to an audience member after a show, or just being in my own space connecting to the universe, when things happen that move me, having the ability to jump on a microphone and raise money for a cause or movement, being able to be a funnel of generosity for people. Them trusting me with their hard-earned money, not just tipping me a dollar, but entrusting me to donate that and be a funnel on their behalf. More recently when I’ve been able to take up the power of that microphone I’ve been more fulfilled because I feel like I’m giving back more than just “look at me.” When you come to shows, we ask the audience to follow a few rules and those are tip us, hopefully, but also if you can’t afford to tip us, at least give us energy. And that’s love, so when you go on social media and you’re asking people to like you, tap that “like” button, which is in the shape of a heart – the thing that fulfills me the most about being Landon is being able to give back that love to people who don’t even have the privilege of knowing this show even exists, because they don’t live in a world where this building exists. So, yeah, the power of that microphone.
Thus far, Landon has used that microphone to raise money for various causes including Unidos por Puerto Rico, OXFAM, Toys for Tots, victims of the Guatemalan volcano disaster and reuniting immigrant families. It’s clear to see, even after a short conversation, that beyond the stunning good looks and beautiful smile of Mr. Landon Cider lies a heart of gold and a pure, giving soul. I wanted finish by giving even the super-est of super fans a piece of information they didn’t already know about Landon.
I played clarinet in high school? Um, what else? I feel like I’m a pretty open book, I talk about personal things… enough… if you’re some “super fan” you may know more about me than I even realize I’ve told the world. (Pause for thought) I have two half-sleeves and they are in memory of my mom. I have a pair of hands on each bicep, and they represent her holding me, I can hold her whenever I want, and she’s guiding me through life.
I know. Take a moment to reflect on how beautiful that is, I did.
So, where can you find Landon?
I bounce around SoCal every week, with residencies in San Diego at Urban Mo’s Dreamgirl’s Review. I am a Brunchette, performing on Saturdays and Sundays at various Hamburger Mary’s locations (Long Beach, Ontario and WeHo) I also host Drag King Explosion at Hamburger Mary’s Long Beach on the second Saturday of every month and Hamburger Mary’s Ontario the first Friday of every month. And I am fortunate to be a guest performer in many shows all over SoCal, from WeHo to Palm Springs, San Diego to Long Beach. AND coming to a town near you, if you ask your local club to book a bitch!
Follow Landon on social media at:
Facebook: Landon Cider