Chiffon Dior: Hi Robbie! It’s good to talk with you again. How have you been my dear?
Robbie Turner: Wonderful actually. Keeping busy with my usual gigs, Capitol Hill Web Series & my new show at the Hard Rock Cafe. It’s a wonderful thing to be busy with work you really love.
CD: For those new readers, could you give us a little Reader’s Digest version of how you got started in drag?
RT: Well, about 12 or so years ago a friend of mine was coordinating a benefit show for Stonewall Youth an LGBTQ youth program & the evening of the event his drag queen host dropped out quite dramatically.
CD: A drag queen doing something dramatically? I find that hard to believe.
RT: I know. Laughs He came up with the harebrained idea of me getting all gussied up and hosting the evening. A Star Was Born that night.
CD: And the rest is history….herstory?
RT: If you will. Oddly enough, with few exceptions, I’ve been in drag every weekend since.
CD: Let’s talk a little bit about your new show, The Robbie Turner Revue at the Hard Rock Cafe. That is quite the step up in venue from a typical bar for a drag show!
RT: It truly is. Fell from the heavens. I was in New York at Carnegie Hall posing backstage next to an original poster of Judy Garland‘s famed concert & my phone buzzed alerting me of an email from their main Entertainment Coordinator. I didn’t have time to read it until I was back at my hotel, but there it was. They wanted me to put on a drag show at their venue near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. There was only one hang up. I wasn’t interested in creating something that you can see other places. I was wanting something new. A chance to stretch as an actor and as a performer in a different way. So a meeting ensued. I gathered a creative team and we presented a pretty solid skeleton of a show that really brought a throwback to 1960’s & 70’s variety shows, akin to The Mitzi Gaynor Specials, The Carol Burnett Show and for those that that means nothing to, a musical version of Saturday Night Live.
CD: Did they have a vision for what they wanted or did they give you the leeway to create what you envisioned?
RT: The Hard Rock Cafe has been extremely generous. They give us 100% creative license to play. They are a wonderful group of people lead by Chris Weaver.
CD: The show was originally supposed to run twice but they have extended the run, correct?
RT: We had spoken about the success of the first show potentially opening doors for the show to continue. The first show sold out in less than a day, so we added a second show. When it sold out we wanted to show our audiences a new version of the show each month. So now that’s the plan.
CD: You really don’t like to rest on your laurels, do you?
RT: No. I paraphrase, but I read somewhere once that Bette Davis said her career was long because she always took on roles and acting choices that scared her. I try to take a tip from my favorite leading actors of yesteryear.
CD: You absolutely give off a silver screen starlet vibe in your drag persona. Where did your love of that bygone era come from?
RT: My mother is a very lovely woman. I always looked up to her as a child. She made mundane chores & responsibilities seem somehow heroic. She used to wake my father everyday for work at 4am, prepare his breakfast and then send him off to work before five. Then she’d wake me and we would watch Turner Classic Movies or American Movie Classics everyday. This happened from age 4 to 17. Every single day. Without fail. One or two movies every morning before school, chores, and/or church.
My eyes were trained in vintage from the beginning and I had no idea. So naturally, I was going to school talking to kids about Nazi Germany in 3rd grade because I’d seen a film on espionage. They had no idea.
CD: Who was your favorite of all the silver screen goddesses?
RT: That’s a hard one. Norma Shearer became my favorite 1930’s leading lady while I was in high school, but before her was Judy Garland. Outside of The Wizard Of OZ, Judy really holds her own. Stupidly talented and believable. Are you familiar with Norma?
CD: I can’t say that I am. Is she the mother Rhonda “Up All Night” Shearer?
RT: Norma is in the FABULOUS film The Women. She plays the main woman whose husband leaves her for Joan Crawford, only to realize what a stupid mistake that was. Ha! She also played Marie Antoinette. A favorite of mine.
CD: While you were watching films like these, your classmates were most likely watching the current popcorn film du jour. Did that make it difficult to relate to other kids growing up?
RT: Not really. I still went to the movies with my friends, so I was current, but I indeed had a different, more sophisticated sense of humor.
CD: Advantage you I would say.
RT: It came in handy later. Dignity and grace amongst fools.
CD: You have fools up there in Seattle too huh?
RT: We do. They are everywhere.
CD: Such a shame. So aside from The Robbie Turner Revue, where else can people see you these days?
RT: I begin filming season 2 of the Capitol Hill Web Series this weekend. And then I have weekly shows at R Place Wednesday, Friday & Saturday!
CD: Can you talk a bit about Capitol Hill?
RT: Sure. It’s a high camp filled series written by Wes Hurley surrounding Roses Smell, (played by Waxie Moon), a naive girl who leaves the fictionalized version of backwoods Portland, Oregon for the metropolis Seattle, Washington. And she makes friends, enemies and even solves crimes! I play Dottie Pearl, the queen bee of Seattle news. Roses soon becomes a threat to Miss Pearl’s position and in a turn of events, Miss Pearl gets possessed by a demon and begins to plot Roses demise. Mind you that’s the tip of the iceberg. There are so many fabulous plot lines that weave through this story. It will have you rolling. And each episode is introduced by BenDeLaCreme.
CD: Sounds off the wall and very ambitious for a web series! For anyone who want to check it out, (I’ll post the link here)
RT: And naturally we have an FB page as well (Like them here). It’s been getting a lot of attention. Currently we are in the running for best web series at the Geneva International Film Festival. Voting ends in just a few days.
CD: Well good luck with that! Do you have anything else you’d like to plug before we call it an evening Robbie?
Well, I’ve recently started selling merchandise! (Buy some sweet merch here) So far there are V Neck Shirts, signed posters and soon to be photographs. It’s a fun endeavor, but still new. Support your local queens! Hahahah!
CD: You heard Robbie! Get to ordering people! Thank you so much for you time my dear. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share?
RT: Well, something that has come in handy lately. Advice that I’ve been sharing whenever anyone reaches out to me through some form of social media bullying, I have this to say, A lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep. So keep doing good, and make new & better art. The world needs more creativity.