Now, more than ever, there are a ton of young, hungry (by hungry I mean ambitious…and, well…hungry queens 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 Holly Box-Springs!
Chiffon Dior: Hi there Holly! It was so good to see you the other night at So You Think You Can Drag! I am still trying to get over you having facial hair! How are you doing gurl?
Holly Box-Springs: Howdy there! I’m am doing great! It was wonderful to see you as well, the beard is definitely a lace front reveal I’m working on. I’ve just been running around the city shedding costumes and blonde hair!
CD: Is that like leaving a trail a breadcrumbs to get back home….only instead of breadcrumbs, its glitter and sequins?
CD: So the last time we talked, at least on the record here, was just under a year ago before the finale of season five of So You Think You Can Drag, of which you were a top five finalist! How did that experience help you to grow as a performer?
HBS: Wow it’s crazy to think that was close to a year ago now! That experience changed everything for me. I met some of my closest friends now through that competition and that was the vehicle that launched Holly Box-Springs loose on the city. My Drag Mother Chelsea Piers said to me, “You will never have the crowd that you do at So You Think You Can Drag” and I couldn’t agree more. The love and excitement that crowd held is like nothing I’ve ever experienced and I am honored that I was apart of it! It helped me grow because I had to figure out who Holly was and how she fit into this crazy world of Drag but I had to do it in front of a live audience which was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time! I am so thankful that I was given to opportunity to create and perform!
CD: So lets hop in the Delorean and go back in time a bit, shall we? Where are you from originally?
HBS: Let’s do it! I am from a small town outside of Houston called Pearland, Texas so the Country part of Holly is in my blood.
CD: Well THAT explains the howdy at the start of this interview! How many more years do you think it will be until that howdy gets replaced with a more New York, “How ya doin“?
HBS: Laughs Well that’s already started! I can’t say the word “coffee” without sounding like Bethany from the Real Housewives.
CD: Well that’s a start! So what was it like growing up for you in Pearland?
HBS: I was extremely lucky in the sense that I had a great group of people around me and I got to be who I was. I came out at fourteen which is pretty young especially in a small town in Texas, It was interesting hearing stories from people who had a rough time in high school and I can only count my blessings that high school was a great time for me! My father worked at the high school in town and got me into a bunch of the musicals at the school when I was in 4th grade so that’s where my love for the stage began.
CD: Well based on my own preconceived notions, that was not going to be what I expected out of Texas! That is so great!
HBS: I know! I was beyond lucky.
CD: So what was your first exposure to the world of drag that you remember growing up?
HBS: This is confession time… I actually use to be terrified of drag queens. I am a smaller person and so one the sheer height of most queens is intimidating and then they are also women so as a short gay man it was definitely a learning experience laughs. It wasn’t until New York City where I fell in love with drag performers.
CD: Forgot the sheer height, most of us are also horrible human beings.
HBS: Lies!! Laughs
CD: Present company excluded of course!
HBS: Obviously! Laughs
CD: What brought you to New York City then?
HBS: Well I went to school for Musical Theater and New York City is the place to be! I was living in Bridge City, Texas, working at Texas Roadhouse when a friend of mine that I had done a show with in Houston called me and said her roommate was moving out in NYC and so I thought it was now or never. I had first month’s rent, security deposit, two suitcases and hope! Now six years later I wouldn’t change a thing!
CD: Gee, a musical theater student comes to New York City and winds up in a dress and heels….who could have seen that coming?
HBS: Right?! I think I may be the first, right?
CD: I don’t think that has EVER happened here before!
CD: So what was the impetus to actually get you started in drag and where did the name Holly Box-Springs come from?
HBS: Well, a friend of mine that I work with at Flaming Saddles had a drag night out for his birthday and that was one of the first times I had dressed in geish. Also, Paige Turner had invited some of the staff from Saddles to be a part of her Virgin Drag Show for Slurp Sundays at Therapy and she told us to pick a name and a number. I am a go big or go home kind of gal so I created Holly Box-Springs! Unfortunately, the show ended up falling through but since I had a character and a number ready when the auditions for So You Think You Can Drag Season 5 came up right after, I thought, “Why not!”. As for the name Holly Box-Springs. it came from Texas actually, the name of the street I was raised on was Holly Springs so I always had an attachment and then I needed to think of something that made it fun and fit my country character so thus Holly Box-Springs was born!
CD: Were you surprised at how well you did at SYTYCD considering how little drag experience you had then? How quickly did you get hooked?
HBS: 100% surprised! I remember right before I went on to do my very first performance of the first week of SYTYCD I was mentally preparing myself just incase the audience didn’t enjoy what I was bringing, I said to myself, “If they boo, it’s your first time. Just keep the energy up and have a good time“. Standing next to people like Alexis Michelle and Schwa De Vive who had been doing it for a while was intimidating but we were all so different so it made it fun. They also welcomed me with open arms, so when “Dallas, I’m Coming” started that first night I was hooked!
Chiffon Dior: Have you had a chance to perform back home in Texas yet, home of Drag Queens with SERIOUSLY big hair?
HBS: I have actually!!! I had the honor of being a part of the first Austin International Drag Festival in Austin, Texas. That’s actually where my parents met Holly for the first time! I went home to Pearland after the festival and went to the drag club called F Bar in Houston. I found out they had a open competition every week so I came back the next night, entered the competition and actually won! It was amazing to have my family come and see what I had been up to!
CD: What was your experience like at the Austin International Drag Festival? It seemed like it was a wonderful event but it seems like some of the hype for it got lost with the first DragCon being so close to it on the calendar.
HBS: The experience I had in Austin was absolutely incredible. I got to experience so many different styles of drag and see over forty performers do what they do best. It really opened my eyes to what is out there. I had the honor to host the show that I was a part of at The North Door where Paige Turner was headlining so it was nice to be with people that I knew. I got to meet people like Courtney Act and Derrick Barry. I am counting down the days till the next one! I don’t think the hype got lost, it was so different from DragCon because of how many performers there were in general actually performing. I think they had close to two hundred and fifty performing queens at the festival!
CD: So one of the main focal point of this series is how with some of the more established queens in the city are moving on to new projects and phases in their careers, there has been a bit of a vacuum at the top of the NYC drag scene. Who do you think is poised to fill that void?
HBS: I will say there is a big wave of seriously talented girls in this city that have a voice. I mean for example there are NINE girls in the Breakthrough Artist category for Glam Awards. I think there is a space for all of us in this city. The new gals have figured out how to make it splash and get some steady work!
CD: Nine girls in the Breakthrough category huh? Anyone we might know?
HBS: Of course! A couple of my good friends actually! Just to name a few my sister Judy Darling, my old cohost at The West End, Miz Cracker, my bestie Tammy Spenks and me! I am extremely honored to be listed among these nine girls!!
HBS: Look at how Texas polite you are, just casually mentioning that you were nominated at the end! Most queens would have been like, “Yassss MEEEEEE!!!!“.
HBS: Laughs Well the drag world can get rough, so having some close friends in the scene makes things a lot easier. There is some serious talent and creativity out there!
CD: There is almost an embarrassing amount of talent in this city now! You can’t go two blocks without bumping into a queen these days. I think I was served by one at the new Chik-Fil-A the other day.
HBS: Laughs I completely believe that, drag is expensive!! You have to earn some coin somehow!!
CD: OCC and Sugarpill doesn’t grow on trees honey! So what changes have you seen in the time that you’ve been a part of and for that matter, have been following the NYC drag scene?
HBS: Well I have noticed that NYC specially, people want you to pull out ALL of the stops for every number. When I went home and went to a couple of the drag shows there, it was very traditional “park and bark” style of drag which I’m not discounting at all. Here though, that won’t fly a lot of the time. You need four drop splits, six costume changes and look perfect while you’re doing all of it. It’s just made breaking into the drag scene here a little tougher.
CD: Park and Bark is a new one for me! Usually when people say bark to me, its because they think I look like a dog!
HBS: I’m sure that is not the case, I’m sure its in the Scruff app kind of way of a “Woof” !
CD: Ha! You are too kind! In light of those heightened expectations of the crowd, what do you feel that you bring the scene that is unique? What makes Holly stand out from the crowd?
HBS: Well ever since I started performing I have been obsessed with costume changes. My mother actually told me that I actually broke my Cinderella VHS because I rewound her transformation scene so many times. I would say what I bring to the table that’s different is definitely my Country flare and costume changes. I won’t shy away from wearing five layers of clothes and doing a LeAnn Rimes song!
CD: Please, five layers of clothing on you miss thing is still way less fabric than it takes to make one dress for me!
HBS: Laughs I don’t believe that for a second!
CD: Maybe four layers! So aside from getting a new copy of Cinderella, what are some the goals you still have for yourself in your drag career?
HBS: I would say one of my goals is get a Country party started in the city. Country music is my favorite and I would love to have a place where Holly could call home and blast all the Shania and Dolly I want! I also would like to work on my sewing and bring some crazy reveals to the table. Maybe RuPaul’s Drag Race a little further down there road, might as well aim for the stars!
CD: Absolutely! So where can people see you perform if they want to come and stuff singles (or even better, twenties) in your cleavage?
HBS: Laughs Well I’m so excited that I’ll be performing with my good friend Alexis Michelle at Stonewall coming up for her Invasion. Also on October 23rd I will be making my debut in Distorted Divas at the Laurie Beechman Theatre as Kathy Griffin! You can catch Tammy Spenks, Judy Darling and me performing at the Glam Awards November 18th at Stage 48!! I am always making the guest start rounds as well so you never know where I’ll pop up!!
CD: Well, I think we have reached the end here. I just wanted to say I think you’re an amazing performer and an even nicer person! Also, before wrap up, I need say that there might not be anything more adorable in the entire drag world than seeing Holly Box-Springs in footie Christmas pajamas! So before we call it a night my dear, do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers?
HBS: LAUGHS I love those footie pajamas!! Thank you so much for your kind words and for doing what you do Chiffon!! My final words would be to just stay true to yourself, work hard and the more fun you have, the more fun the audience has!