The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
There have been some big changes taking place in the Big Apple even though you might not have even realized it. With Bianca Del Rio winning the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s clearly not going to be around nearly as much, that leaves a larger than life and an obnoxious void in the city’s drag scene. Mimi Imfurst has moved on to greener pastures and a fresh start in the City of Brotherly Love. Dallas DuBois retired from drag and moved to LA, presumably after the Rockettes refused to hire her. Epiphany is spending large chunks of the year overseas and I can’t blame her even slightly for that. But even with the outgoing talent there is still a lot of established talent in the city as well. Drag Race villainess extraordinaire, Phi Phi O’Hara made the move from the Windy City to New York. Legends like Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Hedda Lettuce and others are still killing it. The cupboard is clearly not bare.
But now, more than ever, there is a young, hungry (by hungry I mean ambitious…and, well…hungry. Most of these skinny bitches need a sandwich or three) crop of drag talent ready to burst into stardom. As a part of this series, NewYorkNowNext, we’re going to be taking a look at some of this talent that is blooming all around the Big Apple. We’re not going to have to travel far today to find our first talent because she’s right here at the WERRRK.com offices! Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to talk with our own, Alexis Michelle!
Chiffon Dior: Hi Alexis! How are you doing this evening?
Alexis Michelle: Exhausted! I’ve just gotten back from Fire Island where I competed in Miss Cherry’s and guested in Bianca Del Rio’s show! Why does a trip to Fire Island always leave you feeling like you got hit by a gay truck?!
CD: And by a gay truck you mean a back hoe right?
CD: So we’re here to talk about how the drag scene in NYC is in a state of flux. How do you think the scene has changed in the time you’ve been around?
AM: I’ve seen the scene shift a lot…I’ve been gigging since 2003 (I was only 10 years old when I started.) One thing that’s changed as of late is that with the inching toward the mainstream drag has been doing (Broadway has tons of drag and apparently there is some drag TV competition people seem to be into.), it seems there are new drag queens born every day. A bitch can’t swing her fake Louis Vuitton anymore without hitting a young new queen!
CD: With some of the bigger queens in the city moving on, there is the beginning of a vacuum. Who do you think is poised to fill the void?
AM: Besides me?
CD: Of course.
AM: I definitely see a new set of girls making themselves staples of the drag scene in NYC. Bob the drag queen is one of the busiest queens I know and I think she’s fantastic. Brenda Dharling is the fiercest dancing queen out there right now. Sutton Lee Seymour is a bright new talent who’s been enjoying the spotlight after winning “So You Think You Can Drag” last season. And people have been calling “Superwoman” (which is the show I host Thursdays with my sister Schwa de Vivre) the best drag show in town! We serve old school theatrical drag with a contemporary pop side as well…so we have a lil’ bit of everything.
CD: What do you think you bring the scene that is unique?
AM: I come from a theatre background so there’s a classic drag theatricality to what I do in my shows as opposed to the strictly pop princesses. Also, having started by competing in pageants, I think I bring a polish to my drag, whether in a gown or a slutty romper. That’s something that I feel like a lot of young queens don’t grab on to.
CD: Nothing says polish like a slutty romper!
AM: Right?! I think there’s a notion that polish translates into something outdated or not fresh…but I wish a lot of the girls who are starting out would spend a little more time fine tuning their angle on drag…but hey…it’s a journey.
CD: What are some of the challenges that make being a drag queen in New York City different than the rest of the country?
AM: In NYC you don’t drive to your gig like many other parts of the country, so the courage it takes to get in drag and leave the house is amplified. I mean…I ride the subway to my gigs *cough* #subwayfish *cough*
CD: And don’t forget the “dressing rooms” in the city venues!
AM: Omg! I’m thinking of starting an online video series called “Drag Queen Quick Change” starting with the ‘dressing room” at my show uptown. Schwa and I and our guest plus a DJ have about six to eight square feet in our gracious dressing room to do our changes, and you know Alexis Michelle LOVES a costume change!
CD: I think I might have heard that somewhere along the way! So how do you manage in a situation like that?
AM: Pack efficiently and claim as much surface area when you arrive in the dressing area. It’s an exercise in drag survival. I can do all my changes in a two feet spot. I usually don’t bring my enormous ball gowns to The West End…although I have before!
CD: You’re a trooper Alexis! Where can fans in the greater tri-state area catch you in the coming weeks?
AM: Well you can catch me every Thursday at The West End for “SUPERWOMAN” with Schwa de Vivre. Wednesday nights I judge a singing competition called “So You Think You Can Belt” which has the next round starting soon. I’ve also got some new stuff in the works…so stay tuned to my social media!