Chiffon Dior: Hi there Maddelynn. I’m really excited to talk with the 2015 WERRRK.com Drag Photographer of the Year. I hope the paparazzi haven’t been TOO overbearing since you won.
Maddelynn Hatter: Not at all, its been great.
CD: Let’s start from the beginning my dear, shall we? Where are you from originally?
MH: I’m originally from Massachusetts, Springfield/Northampton area, I moved around a lot.
CD: Which came first for you, drag or photography?
MH: They kinda came at the same time to be honest. I was always doing makeup, My mother taught me how to put my eyeliner on, you know? But when I got more into it, I got the camera to archive my make up and its because of those photos that Maddelynn the persona came to be.
CD: So that is why I can’t do eyeliner for crap! I never asked my mom how growing up! What started your interest in makeup?
MH: I like pwetty colorz! I was like 12? 13? I was a little (Marilyn) Manson freak growing up, a total angsty art fag!
CD: What was your first exposure to drag?
MH: I was sixteen and got into the gay bar in downtown Springfield and saw a show for the first time. I was terrified of everyone there and the drag queen was incredible. “A Woman’s Got The Power ” was the number she did but then it had just come out and was like this massive club stomper. So good! But it would be many years before I started doing drag full on.
CD: Did it influence the makeup you were doing at the time?
MH: No, I was more of a guy liner kinda kid when I saw the show, you know, compacts from Hot Topic and nail polish and death metal. I didn’t get into drag until I graduated from college.
CD: When did you start to develop your photography into more than just capturing your makeup looks?
MH: When I got to move back to New York City, so about five years ago. My photos were always more of a fun thing for me and while it still is, I’m finding it taking on more of a prominent place in my world.
CD: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
MH: School of Visual Arts here in New York
CD: How did that have an influence on you as a drag queen and a photographer?
MH: Almost completely! I learned about color theory and how light falls on the 3D surface from painting classes and drawing classes.
CD: What ultimately got you started in drag?
MH: All of it! The hair, the makeup, the dressing. its the ultimate art form really…. the combination of all art forms and I find that each look is kinda sorta like a snowflake in way. *laughs* As corny as that sounds but you never see the same look exactly twice. There are so many brush strokes to complete and entire face you know? So in that respect, each one is unique unto itself. Its that notion that made me want to archive every look as much as possible.
CD: Your looks are so distinct, and so larger than life, where do you find the inspirations for them in order to keep it fresh?
MH: I’ll draw inspiration from everything and if i had a bazillion dollars, it would be even more than what it is but I think ingenuity and confining circumstances force you to really push it. I also have a natural resistance to things status quo or the norm but I know what is beautiful and I know what is crazy and I know what can inspire nightmares. I try to use this to create a creature for you.
CD: Because these looks you create are so big, do you ever find it difficult to create equally big numbers to pair up with the looks?
MH: Nah! *laughs* I usually do slutty crazy numbers where I can either do a strip tease on someone or do a slinky, terrifying blood-driven number and covering the look in blood or something. Anyway, so yeah I just kind of go with it and what comes comes.
CD:You’ve become one of the best nightlife photographers in the city, How do you have this knack for consistently taking some of the best shots of the city’s queens?
MH: I think it resonates with other queens that a fellow queen is taking their photo to some respect. I can’t tell you how many times a gurl has looked at me and said “You just get it”. Its nice to hear a certain level of validation, not only about my photos, but about my craft as a drag artist as well. I also think that at the core of it, I did my first water color painting at four years old. Art is in me. Being able to create and portray something visually stimulating to the eye has always been whats driven me.
CD: Beyond shooting the queens of the city, what else do you enjoy taking pictures of?
MH: Porn stars! Love me some Boomer Banks! *Laughs*
CD: We love to do some shameless promotion here at WERRRK.com so if people want to work with you as a photographer, what is the best way to make that happen?
CD: Between drag and photography, which one nourishes your creative side more, or do they really go hand in hand?
MH: It would be rude to either to put one above the other. *laughs* To say one is more important or more nourishing would be wrong as it all plays in the same realm for me .
CD: Season 8 of Drag Race is starting up and there are three queens from the city on the cast this year. Each season your name comes up as one queen that fans would like to see on. What do you think of the show and do you have any interest in being a part of it?
MH: I think the show is fantastic. I think it has driven the art form forward in a way that has given every queen the opportunity to make a career of this insane art form, even if you aren’t on the show. I think there are places that only want Drag Race girls and there are places that only want local talent. I think in a few years its not going to matter too much and the local girls are going to make a name for themselves regardless because they can and they will just out of pure determination and talent. Mostly talent. Its going to come down to the girls that know how to WORK, like pound the pavement in a look everyday FOR YEARS to get the kind of recognition they want from the world! And as for me, I think if it happens, it will.
CD: In the meantime, you are working a lot on the road as well. What are you favorite places to perform outside of the Big Apple?
MH: ORLANDOOOOO!!!!!!! I love Southern Nights so much!!!! And The Abbey in West Hollywood! Holy shit the Abbey!!!! They treated me like a rock star and I got to kick it with my sister Rhea (Litre)!
CD: We love Rhea here at WERRRK! She’s another queen who is working all over the country. How did you first cross paths with her?
MH: She moved to the city a while back and we became fast friends! I really love that girl a lot. She’s so supportive of me and I of her.
CD: Looking ahead, what kind of goals do you have for yourself as a performer and as a photographer?
MH: Getting to the splits and finishing my FIRE TRAINING YAZZZZ!!! As a photographer I want to have a little image studio put together soon so ill have everything set up to slay! And eventually I want to venture into video and see how I can fuck with that too!
CD: If people want to come see you perform and stuff money into your panties, where can they see you werrrk?
MH: The real deal at the Ritz every single Wednesday! Two shows at 12:30am and 2:30am for the dirrty bitchez that like to get down!
CD: You also have a new line of merchandise over on dragqueenmerch.com. How did that come about for you?
MH: Biblegirl 666 is a lunatic which is one of many things we have in common. She and I got talking and shablam, merchandising! She and her father run it.
MH: Just put the make up on your face, its the only way you’re gonna learn!