Poppy Fields: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Boxxa. I know you’re a busy gal these days! My background is in musical theatre, and I can see a strong influence of that in your drag aesthetic. When did your love for the theatre begin, and how did you start performing?
Boxxa Vine: I’ve always loved theatre and started performing around the end of elementary school. I did a lot of musical theatre in high school, as well as trained in construction and props, and eventually went to college for theatre. I got to perform Off-Broadway in a couple of shows and even got to be the personal assistant to Tony Walton and work on his designs. Beyond that, I spent a few years in Florida performing as iconic cartoon characters and dancing on stage in various shows for companies like Universal Entertainment, DreamWorks, and Nickelodeon.
Today I’m very much a “character-based” queen; I love playing characters and developing acts based on characters. I’m often playing Boxxa playing another character, as you’ve seen a lot throughout this pageant, and that’s one of my favorite parts of drag. I don’t have to do, or be, the same person every single time. One day I can be me, the next I can be Dorothy, the next I can be Cat in the Hat. As a child I loved to dress up and be my favorite characters; [for my] job I got to play some of my favorite cartoon characters in theme parks; and now I get to adapt those characters into acts and play them whenever I like, bringing them to the stage for other people to enjoy and reminisce about.
PF: How did you learn to sew so wonderfully?
BV: I’m actually 100% self taught. I started sewing right when I start dabbling in drag just a little over 2 years ago and I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time through just trial and error. I’d love to get more formal training, but for right now its just me, my machine, and a Red Bull burning the midnight oil making outfits and hoping they come out the way I picture them in my head.
PF: I feel you there. I forget to NOT tell my friends I sew, and as a result I’m slaving away at the machine all October long making Halloween costumes for them. Do you have a “bread and butter” job, and how does that tie in (or hinder) your performing?
BV: I do not currently, but with winter approaching and making traveling from such a rural area so tough I’m most likely going to take on a “9 to 5” job until the weather gets back to spring and I can safely travel again (the “yellow brick road” in my Oz video is about 1/3 of my driveway, so snow storms and traveling are not fun).
Having all this time for drag is amazing and really lets me get into creating new stuff constantly and put a vast amount of detail into what I make and create. My Oz video recently hit over 4.8 thousand views online, so I’ll be making many more videos this fall and winter – especially now having taught myself the basis of video editing over the past few weeks to create my videos for this competition as I really hadn’t dabbled in it before now. I also do costumes for other drag queens pretty often (and can be reached via my website BoxxaVine.com for any outfit inquiries), and I have merchandise like T-shirts I sell at shows (and at my website BoxxaVine.com) that help fund my drag.
PF: Where exactly do you live? I can relate … I grew up in Alabama and my driveway was a country mile as well!
BV: I’m in rural Massachusetts, near the Connecticut and upstate New York borders.
PV: Who inspires you in the drag community? Who would you say your role models have been?
BV: I really try not to look to existing queens for inspiration because while imitation is seen as the sincerest form of flattery, I’m not really too interested in being like any other queen but myself. I am very character-based, but I always try to put my own spin on any character I’m playing as much as possible.
Take my “Phantom of the Opera,” for instance. The iconic mask was there to make sure you knew who the character was and to drive a storyline into the video to make it more interesting, but the outfit was based on a menswear tuxedo mixed with a formal evening gown to give the feeling of a night at the opera with a twist (the twist being the scarred face). I like making things “my own” which I did a lot with these challenges. I feel that both did and didn’t benefit me throughout this competition, but I stand by my work.
As for role models, I look up to all the queens that came before me that have led me to be able to be who I am and do what I do, and laid the foundation that we stand on today. Every queen who dons a costume, or a gown, or a gown that reads as a costume deserves respect and credit to her drag and her style. My role models are everyone who makes drag what it is today and everyone who keeps the spirit of drag alive for another generation.
PF: You know, it was a big leap of faith for both us here at NS4W and also all you courageous contestants to embark on this “online pageant” experiment; and we’re so thrilled at how everything has worked out. What made you want to compete in this “maiden voyage” for online drag pageants?
BV: To show off who I am and what I can do. I really had absolutely no experience with video editing before this competition, so it was a way to push myself to work on a skill I really wanted. I wanted a way to show off who [I am] as a queen as well as a costumer, and push myself to create new ways for people to experience my drag through visuals and video media. I’m only just over two years of being in drag, and I’ve only been sewing for that amount of time, so this push to try new things and create these video submissions was wonderful. I got so many people supporting me and messaging me about my work which was really a boost of confidence in myself and what I’ve been doing.
PF: One final question – how do you feel about how you did as a contestant? It seems to have been a really good experience for you, yes? And … here’s our report card question … what would you change, if anything, about the Miss NotSafe4Werk pageant?
BV: I’m extremely happy with all of my submissions and I stayed true my personal version of drag at all times. I looked at this as a chance to really be myself and push myself even further as a performer. I didn’t look at swimsuit as a chance to don a simple swimsuit and get into a pool of water; I didn’t just do the CosPlay half, but I looked at the couture half of the challenge too; I didn’t just put on a gown and walk and pose, I sewed my gown and gave it life and a story behind it. I’m never simple and I never want to be, I like big and over the top. I like wearing costumes instead of just clothing, and I want drag to just be fun and recognizable and leave you with a sense of wonder and excitement.
After each challenge I listened and applied critiques; for example, after week 2 and having to film in my drag room, I heard to watch my backgrounds and I applied and found new and exciting locations to create not just challenge videos, but videos I could be proud of and entertain the viewers with. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Swimsuit was probably what I’d say was my “weak” week based on critiques … but you can’t cast a costumer and expect not to see costumes. I loved my swimsuit look and, while not a generic swimsuit (which I see now was more expected of the challenge), it was true to my drag style. Would I go back and change the outfit? No … that was one of my favorite looks, locations, and really took the modeling aspect of the challenge video and elevated it into a storyline and added an entertainment value instead of the basic “walk, walk, pose” (and also I can’t swim very well so “land swimwear drag” for me).
PF: Well, Boxxa, thanks so much for taking the time to chat! I wish you the best of luck with both the Miss NotSafe4Werk results of the pageant and all your future endeavors!