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 are a ton of young, hungry (by hungry I mean ambitious…and, well…hungry out there. Most of these skinny bitches need a sandwich or three) crop of young 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. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to talk with Miss CoCo De’Ball!
Chiffon Dior: Hi Coco! Thanks for making the time to talk with me today. How are you doing this evening?
CoCo De’Ball: I’m doing lovely, just playing Tetris with my furniture!!!! Rejuvenating my life you know!
CD: Is there that much moving around of furniture one can do in an NYC apartment? I mean, I know city queens all have huge, spacious lofts, but still.
CoCo: *Laughs* Well, I have just enough space to play those last few rounds before everything comes crumbling down.
CD: Let’s go back to the very beginnings. Where are you from originally?
CoCo: I’m originally from Canton, Ohio where we have Football and Steak!
CD: Growing up in steak country, in the shadow of the football hall of fame, did either of those have an appeal to you growing up?
CoCo: Well, my family owns a steakhouse (Baker’s Cafe ’33, check them out here) so I thought about that for a minute but being a performer/artist is what I was born to do!
CD: What was your first exposure to the world of tucking and blending?
CoCo: Well that’s a loaded question. I tried it about three and a half years ago but then I really submerged myself in it when I was hired to work at Lucky Cheng’s when the restaurant was suppose to be a reality show. The first time was a messsss!
CD: You said that being a performer/artist is what you were born to do. How did you express that before you started doing drag?
CoCo: I was a theatre kid my whole life. I was the stereo typical gay boy who had a purse and loved Theatre and Fashion, walking around with an opinion!
CD: So what was your experience at Lucky Cheung’s like? I didn’t know anything about it being a reality show.
CoCo: When they opened up the new venue, it was suppose to be filmed for a reality program. I was cast as the young stupid bitch………then the show bombed and we all stayed there. And that was my honest to goodness Drag College.
CD: How long to do think it took you to hit your stride as a performer?
CoCo: I think we should all never stay at one stride but keep pushing forward to be better every time we climb upon a stage!
CD: The focus of this series we’re doing here at NS4W is about the period of change that the New York City drag scene is going through. How do you think things have changed since you began your career here?
CoCo: I have seen a lot of change but remember I have only been in the scene a few years. I think the biggest change is that everyone seems to think they know all the rules of drag and want to inform everyone else. To me drag is an art form where I can express who I am through a different outlet. People are starting to do drag now just to make money. A lot of new girls are starting and doing for all the wrong reasons.
CD: Would you say a big reason for that is people watching Drag Race and thinking that is all there is to the business?
CoCo: That’s a big part of it! People, just because I watch Law and Order: SVU doesn’t mean I know how to get away with a sex crime!
CD: Tell me about it! I mean, um….yeah I guess so! Do you have any aspirations to be the show? Drag Race, not Law and Order: SVU that is.
CoCo: If it came my way at the right time maybe. But I would rather be on Survivor and make makeup out of berries
CD: What would your strategy be if you were ever on Survivor? (Please tell me it would be to fake a loved one’s death to win a challenge like Johnny Fairplay!)
CoCo: *Laughs* It would consist of blowing the right people……I MEAN…..
CD: That should play well on CBS.
CoCo: You know I meant blowing people’s wood to start the fires! GOSH!
CD: Of course, of course. If you do make it on someday, please do me a favor and be sure to write “Bye Felicia” on every vote you cast to eliminate someone?
CD: So with some of the bigger queens in the city moving on to new projects and phases in their careers, there is the beginning of a vacuum. Who do you think is poised to fill the void?
CoCo: I am starting to make strides forward in my career and I think all the other queens are as well. We are all just serving the best us we can and entertain the crowds with that! I’m trying new things while still focusing on the best of me. I think everyone always forgets there is enough space for all of us but you have to work hard to be able to shine just as bright as all the other girls!
CD: So as a logical follow up to that, what makes CoCo De’Ball shine just as bright? What do you think you bring to the table that is different than everyone else?
CoCo: I am just always true to myself. I feel as though I have been a lucky bird my whole life because I attract crazy. I almost am living a weird tv show every day! For some unknown reason I can just tell my true honest stories and people will love it because my life is CRRRRRRRAZY! Did that make sense? A Christmas song came on while I was typing.
CD: Yes it did. Do you get easily distracted by Christmas music? *Laughs*
CoCo: Yes! I’m obsesssssed with Christmas!
CD: Yes! A gurl after my own heart! I already have Christmas music on my iPod, although if I don’t have hear Mariah singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” ever again, I’m cool with that.
CoCo: I have Christmas music on my iPod year round. I lift weights to it. It is my soul. My life. My obsession. Its the most magical season ever. So romantic. Now I’m bitter.
CD: I honestly don’t know how someone could be in New York City and not love Christmas. Its the most amazing time of the year in the city. What is your favorite Christmas song?
CoCo: I am really into the Kelly Clarkson Christmas album still.
CD: Do you incorporate holiday numbers into your act this time of year?
CoCo: (Incredulously) Is that a real question?
CD: I guess that’s a given huh? *Laughs*
CoCo: It is a given! *Laughs*
CD: Are you the kind of person that sets goals for themselves? Have you set any goals for yourself as a queen, as a performer and as an artist?
CoCo: My only goal is to build a voice and be able to one day use that voice for change!
CD: Change in what regard? Socially, politically? Are we looking at Mayor De’Ball succeeding Mayor DeBlasio?
CoCo: That would be the dirtiest campaign ever! With all the skeletons in my closet……WOOF!
CD: And yet, you’d STILL be more likable than Bloomberg!
CD: So let’s get to the shameless promotional part of the interview! Where can people in the city see you do your thing?
CoCo: Hot CoCo every Sunday at Boots and Saddle! And I am starting a new brunch at NANO on 10th Ave on Saturdays from 12-4 starting December 6th! Or just stalk me on Facebook and see where I pop up!
CD: I guess we’ve just about reached the end here. It was so great to meet you the other night. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share before we call it a night and go Christmas Caroling together?
CoCo: Just for anyone starting off in this career, make sure you love it and believe in what you do! And for everyone who comes to support me every week…………….You all smell, get some deodorant!!!
Boots and Saddle photos by Sandy Kaufman.