NYC Pride 2014: A Working Drag Queen’s Perspective
Pride was everywhere you looked in New York City. While “Pride” is often the label given to the last Sunday in June, and the day of the hours long parade celebrating all shades of LGBTQ pride, there was celebration all week leading up to the 29th, and signs of pride were popping up around the city all month long.
Patrons of the theatre saw a rainbow display behind the word PLAYBILL on the front of their programs instead of the usual solid yellow. Storefronts along Eighth Avenue in Chelsea were decorated with Rainbow hearts, flags and clothes. Even the HSBC branch on the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Fourteenth Street was decked out in large rainbow banners.
These visual representations of pride are something I’ve always looked forward to as Spring breaks through to winter in New York, staying only briefly before summer sets in. As a native New Yorker these signs of pride appeared as far back as I can remember. I’ve celebrated many Prides in New York, but my perspective was quite different this year.
I’ve had the alter ego, Alexis Michelle for several years and spent many a pride in full drag parading the sun soaked streets and avenues of NYC, praying my eyebrows would stay down despite the heat. But that was when Alexis was a girl of leisure, when my paid appearances and performances were fewer and farther between. But as I’ve thrown myself deeper down the Drag rabbit hole in 2014, donning full “Geish” is not something I frequently do “just for fun”.
My 2014 Pride celebration was really a non stop, two week, streak of drag gigs, competitions and general gaiety. It started off three weeks ago on a Tuesday in Cherry Grove on Fire Island. I had been to the Pines (a more cruising-centric, scene queen crowd) a few times and decided unless you have a fun house with a pool and a great group of friends to kiki with frolic on the beach, I’d rather be in a more relaxed beach town like Montauk. Anyway, I had a fantastic time during my first stay in Cherry Grove, which was a warmer and more welcoming place from the moment we stepped off the ferry. I was shown the ropes by my sister Schwa de Vivre, who was born in the Grove. We had a fantastic time performing in Holly Dae’s Tuesday night show.
It was great reconnecting with Hedda Lettuce and Porsche, and kiki’ing with Logan Hardcore and Maddelynn Hatter. The next morning Schwa and I headed back to NYC and both got right back into drag for our respective Wednesday night gigs. I sailed uptown on the 2/3 Subway to “So You Think You Can Belt”, the singing competition I judge on a panel with Natalie Weiss, Jacob McKenna and Sam Carner with weekly guest judges (Colleen Zenk, Tituss Burgess)
Then I popped down to The Monster to say hey to Holly and Brenda Dharling.Thursday it was time for SUPERWOMAN, my weekly drag show I produce, and perform with my sister Schwa de Vivre.
After a fabulous ‘requests’ show from some of our fans, I had a welcomed couple days out of drag. I had reached out to Bob The Drag Queen about doing Look Queen, at The Monster. Bob told me the coming Sunday was the first Look Queen Contest and asked if I’d be interested in competing and I said sure! One look, one number and the theme was ‘white’. I performed one of my signatures “Ladies Who Lunch” which is a VERY REAL interactive drinking performance art piece. I mashed it up with some of Goldie Hawn’s rich text as Elise Elliot from The First Wives Club, and slipped into a sheer white summer caftan serving ‘rich white woman’ realness. It was great seeing Bob and Terra Grenade and Kareem McJagger and meeting Stell’ Adoro and Lola St. Lords. Oh, and I WON the competition!
Tuesday night brought the debut of ALEXIS LIVES! My new show at Fairytail Lounge, which was fab and full of pride flavor. Wednesday brought another riveting night of singing and critique at #SYTYCB, and then a rip roaring Pride Edition of #Superwoman on Thursday. We had amazing singing guests, a pair of husbands to be and lots pride excitement.
After seven out of ten days in full beat and performance mode, I was ecstatic to spend Pride weekend as a boy and celebrate with friends. Pride Sunday I got up to go meet my gays for a lovely brunch at the Danny Meyer gem “Maialino“. We strolled over to Fifth Avenue to catch a little bit of the parade. This was my favorite moment of Pride! I saw the back of a float dressed in a golden hue with a hashtag reading #OITNB. I started sprinting along the sidewalk on the east side of fifth avenue and caught up to see some of the stars of Orange Is The New Black dancing and waving to their adoring fans. Yael Stone who plays Lorna Morello, Danielle Brooks who plays Taystee, Dascha Polanco who plays Diaz, Samira Wiley who plays Poussey and Matt McGorry who plays adorable officer John were all there and I fan-girled the @$%& out!!! Having been on a binge of the show the night before I was so excited to see them and they were clearly owning the parade.
Laverne Cox was also a co grand marshal of the NYC parade along with Jonathan Groff. I said ciao for now, to my friends and went to do a brief makeup job at a photo shoot in Brooklyn. I had a lovely dinner with a friend in Park Slope and then finished my day off with the brunch crowd who had relocated to Astoria Queens. We danced on the roof till the wee hours of the morning taking in the gorgeous breeze and the beautifully illuminated Empire State building in Pride rainbow of course. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end the festivities.
Alexis Michelle is a native New Yorker who knows where to find the cheapest deals and the best bagels and pizza not that she’d ever eat a carb, of course. After graduating from The University of Michigan’s illustrious Musical Theatre program she hit the pavement in NYC performing off Broadway, regionally, and on tour. She has several weekly shows/engagements in NYC including ‘Superwoman’ the drag variety spectacular that she co-hosts with her sister Schwa de Vivre.