Chiffon Dior: Hi Miss Understood! I’m thrilled to be speaking to a drag icon such as yourself! How is your summer going?
Miss Understood: So far so good. I took a little trip up the Northern California coast to see the redwoods and such. I never knew it was such a beautiful place! The weather was perfect. Afterward, I spent a few days in San Francisco and saw Peaches Christ‘s Production of “The Wizard of Odd” starring Sharon Needles. The costumes were amazing and the production numbers were superb. While she came as close as any living human possibly can, Sharon could never quite match the natural beauty of Margaret Hamilton. Still, her voice was so spot-on that you would swear she was lip syncing and she wore the most glamorous black sequin floor-length witch-gown.
CD: If you’ll indulge me, let’s go back in time a bit. How does a nice young boy from Long Island wind up becoming such a colorful, larger than life character like Miss Understood? What were you influences growing up?
MU: In the early 70’s, psychedelic imagery had gone so mainstream that it appeared in Saturday morning cartoons. Every cartoon had a band, and whenever they sang a song there was a colorful trippy segment reminiscent of a Peter Max illustration (Examples here and here). I really related to all of the bright color combinations. To this day I can’t stand an all white or beige room. My apartment is all green and orange.
CD: How did your business, Screaming Queens Entertainment come about? (Check out Screaming Queens here.)
MU: We started out by providing drag performers for private events. Eventually we came to specialize in all sorts of elaborately costumed performers. It all basically comes from a drag queen sense of style and design. Our female showgirls know how to double up their lashes and glitter their lips!
CD: If a show like Drag Race had actually been on in the early nineties, how do you think it would have been received and how do you think you would have done against icons from that point in time like RuPaul, Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat, Coco Peru, Jimmy James, Charles Busch, Lady Chablis, Candis Cayne, Varla Jean Merman, Sherry Vine, Frank Marino, Lypsinka, Joey Arias and Hedda Lettuce?
MU: It’s difficult to say. While I absolutely love Drag Race it’s really not a place where performers get to do their act. It’s like asking how Lypsinka would score in a three-legged race at the mother-daughter picnic. Who knows? I probably would never have entered. I never enjoyed competing. Our East Village drag scene wasn’t about pageants and contests, we just put on fun shows together.
CD: You recently started a really cute page called, “Real People With Drag Queen Names”. How did that come about? Do you have any other projects you’re working on?
MU: As a person who grew up before the Internet, the endless stream of available information available never fails to fascinate me. Make up a name, someone probably has it. I do look over their page first to try to determine if I think it’s real. For example Sandy Kuntz and Martina De La Hunty have relatives on their timelines with the same last names. So yeah, I’m extremely immature and love to giggle at silly names… in a nice what-a-coincidence-that’s-cute sort of way. No mean-spiritedness whatsoever, we’ve all been through that!
Most of my other projects are Screaming Queens-related. We book performers nationwide and are always looking for great queens. For those who would like to apply:
- Send links to photos and video
- Make sure to include your phone number and where you live
- Beginners should first cultivate their craft in their local venues. We only book experienced performers.
- Submissions should go to : firstname.lastname@example.org
CD: Thank you so much for making the time to talk with me! You’ve accomplished so much in your career. Do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers?
MU: Don’t take all of this competing so seriously. Loving one performer doesn’t mean you have to hate another. Don’t be a Negative Nancy!