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The Miss NotSafe4Werk Contestant Interviews: STR CHLD

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I knew I wanted to pick STR’s brain from the second I saw her first video. To a crafting and costume making buff like me, she’s practically a goddess of hand made detail. Add to that the fact that we both have lots to say about the role of gender and identity in drag and, well… the uncut version of this interview was 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 56 seconds long. Don’t worry, we’ll only put you through the parts that stayed on topic (…sort of).


 

CC: Hello once more! Technology is a struggle, I’m glad I can finally hear you!

SC: Yes, finally! How are you!

CC: I’m so good, thank you, how are you?

SC: I’m good, I’m excited, I’m glad we can chat!

CC: Me too! So fair warning, I asked my interviewees some repeat questions because I’ve just been dying to talk to all of you for the last seven weeks and there were just some things I wanted to know about everyone! The queens I didn’t get to interview should prepare themselves… I’ll be grilling them for the same information later unannounced!

SC: I like that! Grill me!

CC: Okay! What made you get into drag for the first time and what was it that kept you doing it?

SC: Well… I think I “started doing drag” when I really started playing with makeup, which was pretty much my whole life. I can’t really remember when it started, actually. My grandma used to be homeless but now she works for a sort of in-between homeless housing program and they have this women’s business center where people would donate clothes and makeup and stuff. She would always sneak me lipsticks and eye shadows, like these old, disgusting-ass Mary Kay products straight from the 1980s. I’d be six or ten years old playing with this old as fuck makeup.

CC: So the good stuff!

SC: Exactly! Then I was 14 playing with makeup and then suddenly I was 15 and doing it on stage.

CC: Oh wow, you started performing drag at 15?

SC: Yeah, I actually moved out when I was 15. I have a teen mom and we didn’t always see eye to eye on things like how to raise children. She did not have a grip on the whole gay and drag thing. The trans thing is really sensitive with her and it scares her a lot but, you know, people hate in others what they hate in themselves. So I started performing in drag kind of as a middle finger!

CC: Is it an ongoing issue for her, or does she become more used to it the longer you’ve been doing it?

SC: We’re not really in contact right now. She did surprise me recently though. I haven’t spoken to her in probably five years, but she came to one of my shows a few weeks ago with one of her new husbands. So, you know, I do understand that she’s making advances and stuff, but the drag thing can sometimes just be an excuse to fight rather than the actual problem between us. I’m glad that she’s evolving in her own time though.

CC: It’s good that she’s taking those steps.

SC: Yeah, and I think that’s really important. You know, with television shows like Rupaul’s Drag Race and having trans shows like I Am Cait be so prevalent in the media, that helps educate people. When people are more educated, they’re less scared.

CC: Absolutely. It brings things just enough into the mainstream to let people feel like they’re still in their comfort zone.

SC: Exactly! People think “Wait a minute, they’re talking about this stuff on E! News? Okay, maybe it’s not Satan!”

CC: Yes! And, you know, people state the importance of the people on those shows not changing themselves to try and fit into the mainstream, but at the same time, if there’s a way to break into that sphere without watering your identity down, I think it can be beneficial.

SC: Totally! I think that’s what’s so great about Rupaul’s Drag Race. They say “Okay, you be the most sickening version of yourself you can be and we’ll give you an international multimedia platform to do that on”. What’s really interesting to me, especially because I have a very famous drag mother who actually won Rupaul’s Drag Race and we both know lots of people who have gone through the Drag Race wheel… you can see the people who have taken the time to say “What is my message? What is my character? What do I want to say here?” Those are the people that really explode in the mainstream without compromising too much. Great example: Alaska. Willam. Detox.

CC: Absolutely. I love that about them. Now where was it that you actually started performing? What venue let you perform at just 15?

SC: Well, I was actually a go-go dancer for music festivals and raves. When you’re 15, these music festivals were really the only thing you could get into in my area because they’re all ages, or may they’re 16 and up and the door man just let me slide. All I knew was that I wanted to perform and I’d been dancing my whole life. I was a ballet dancer for 10 years, I dance modern and hip-hop for another five to eight years. I was just really committed to my dancing. So it gave me a really cool opportunity to put on some makeup and experiment with drag. My first actual show, I think I was around 17. It was a non-profit Boulder County AIDS Project event in my hometown. BCAP have this “men who have sex with men” community outreach project that basically involved drag, art, community outreach, and HIV prevention and education. It kind of started off as this really fun thing I did in college and it’s evolved into this poly-gender, poly-sexual community outreach and sexual health group. We do everything from fundraisers and performances to entire shows and auctions. It’s been really cool over the years because I’ve been there since the beginning to see it all happen. It was neat because I got to be, like, the “hometown hero” when I moved off to LA but still flew back every year to do the benefits. So yeah, BCAP was like my first official drag gig!

CC: That’s amazing! Can you remind me where you’re based out of right now? Are you still in LA or are you back in Boulder?

SC: I actually live in downtown Denver, Colorado right now.

CC: Very cool! I lived near there once, in Colorado Springs.

SC: Oh wow! That’s so cool! It’s a gorgeous area, with Garden of the Gods and stuff. I lived in LA but I actually come for Boulder, which is more of a small mountain town. It’s so interesting that you’ve been there. I used to be one of those super sheltered Colorado kids. I was home schooled, I was Evangelist, and my adopted dad was a children’s minister. We didn’t watch TV or movies and I wasn’t allowed to read science books or anything. When I went to public school, which was in middle school, this whole world just opened up. It was insane. Like, I believed in the word of Christ, you know? It totally shocked me that a) there was more than one religion in the whole wide world, and b) that all of these new people were so opinionated! I’d always thought everyone was just a Christian and that was the world we lived in. It was crazy.

CC: That’s so interesting! Where do you think you draw your creative inspiration from? All of your looks are so unique and I lived for them all the way through. Where do you find you get your most awesome ideas from?

SC: Hmm, that’s actually a really good question. I would say my ideas just come from little things. Sitting under a shady tree. Sitting on my couch in the early morning. Ou ton a hike. Waiitng for my flight to Atlanta. A lot of times I lose myself in music. I usually start with instrumentals and then let emotion kind of guide the story that I want to tell. All of my characters and all of my looks pretty much come from personal experience. I’m trying to communicate an experience I had through a character when I’m performing and that’s kind of what it all comes down to. I’ll use last week’s finale gown for example. It was kind of this alien humanoid goddess moment, but if you look at the image, the metal shoulder cuffs and the belt and the choker are all triangles and rectangles which are part of sacred geometry. Basically, in nature, patterns repeat themselves. So in my journey to understand what reality is, and by that I mean like the time during which I was homeschooled and didn’t know that the rest of the world wasn’t Christian or that Jesus was a concept rather than a person, I’m just always trying to rediscover the world. That’s really where my drag comes from. With STR CLD I was think about what it would be like if Jesus was a beautiful woman, like a sickening Mary Magdalene? I like to think that those characters are the same person. As if there is no male and female, no Adam and Eve, it’s kind of just one concept. So I was thinking like, what if 2015 years ago, she ascended into the sky with brown hair and a taupe cloak or whatever, and she traveled the universe while her cloak just billowed across galaxies and snatched up some stardust and planets and she came back 2000 years later with long silver hair with her gown a little tattered but covered in crystals and stardust? Maybe she has like a thigh high warrior boot like how Jesus was known for his gladiator sandals? Basically, I kind of did like a 2015 fashion, “Jesus on the runway” thing. And I know that no one would ever get that from just the pictures. They’ll just think “Oh, that’s a pretty dress!” But that’s the foundation of where all my characters come from. I like to think “Okay, where is she coming from, where is she going, and who invited her?”

CC: I absolutely love that! And hey, if you have that back story in your mind, you’ll carry that outfit a lot differently than if you didn’t, whether other people get the details or not.

SC: Exactly! The number one compliment that I consistently receive, both in and out of drag, is how poised I am. I mean, that’s a lovely compliment. Obviously, everyone kind of wants to hear that they’re so hot and so pretty and smart or whatever, but when people say I’m poised I think “Wow, what a unique compliment”. I don’t hear a lot of other people get that same compliment, so it does feel a little deeper to me. So I try to perpetuate that, not only in my everyday life but specifically when I’m wearing women’s clothing! I’m 6’5”, so I’m a big motherfucker! In heels, sometimes I’m 7’2”! If you don’t have a delicacy about you when you’re my size, it’s really easy to look like a he-she beast or for your dress to be overwhelmed by poor posture. You can look as gorgeous as you want, but if you’re not wearing an under bust or you’re pooching your gut out and standing shlumped over, people aren’t going to be able to appreciate all of the hard work you put into your garment or your character because they’ll be too busy reading what a man you look like.

CC: Do you make everything you wear, or just some of what you wear? I don’t sew but I make my own outfits, so I was just in awe of yours!

SC: Well, sewing is just the next step when you’re bored of gluing! When you’re done with that glue, it’s actually surprisingly easy to learn to sew. Run to a pawnshop, get a $35 sewing machine, and just practice. I’ve actually been sewing my clothes my whole life. I grew up well below the poverty line, which sounds kind of funny when you come from such a plentiful country full of mansions that no body’s living in, but you know. I learned a lot of skills because of that and one of those things was tailoring clothes to fit me. As I got older and started doing drag, I was like “Wait a minute…!” Like, at my height, I couldn’t find a gown that hit the floor to save my life. So for someone to tell me that this week’s requirement is to wear an evening gown, my only option is really to make it. Knowing already that I have irregular dimensions, or unique dimensions I guess I should say, that encourages me to take the time to learn my craft well. I also just find pleasure in it. I love to craft, so I think about it this way. Would I rather be scrapbooking and gluing all these gems and pictures in a book, or would I rather be gluing all those gems and some crystals to a pair of invert shoes I just made? It’s a case of translating those interests into a visual performance. I like to think that my outfit does a performance of its own. The best advice I ever got was from my drag mother and she said that when you walk out on stage, you should be done performing. You should have put all of the work into your hair, all of the work into your makeup, and all of the work into your garment and into your music. Then, when you step out on stage, you’ve just gotta walk over to that fan and collect your dollars. You walk out there, you look beautiful, you look stunning, and you just let them soak in every single last detail. I always think about that now. It gives me this quiet confidence that I don’t need to have my lip-sync very fancy, or I don’t need to do Britney Spears choreography, or I don’t need to shablam because that’s not necessarily where my performance is. My performance is in the details. My performance is in the time it all took and the character development and the refinement and the poise. I’ve been doing drag for ten years and I still get stage fright all the time, or anxiety about particular performances, and just keeping all those things in mind gives me a lot of confidence. I think “I don’t have to go out there and do high kicks, back flips, and hand springs because that’s just not the experience I’ve created but it’s just as valid”.

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CC: Well you need that variety in drag, too. If that weren’t the case, we’d be seeing the same thing from every single queen.

SC: Exactly! Which is fine, but it’s not what I’m about.

CC: So how, when, and why did you make your way back to Colorado from LA?

SC: Funny little story. I went on the Rupaul’s Drag Race cruise two years ago with a great lifelong friend who I met when I was nine. She shattered her leg while we were in Cozumel, so I disembarked the MSC Divina and we were basically stuck there for a while. She had all these surgeries there before we even got back to Colorado. When we got back, I flew to LA on Christmas Eve, packed my whole apartment into storage, and flew back to Colorado the day after New Year’s Day. It was totally traumatic for both of us. I was 24 years old and I basically got rubber band snapped back to my hometown unexpectedly. I kept thinking “Oh no! Everything I worked for in LA!” I’ve had to sell stuff and get rid of a lot of stuff. Drag was six days a week for me and it went from my number one moneymaker to just a hobby. All my drag was in these big plastic bins that looked like coffins, it was so sad! I was like “My babies!” But that’s really what started my journey to STR CHLD two years ago. It’s funny because on Cozumel I didn’t have any weed and I’m a big weed smoker, so I spent my time just drawing STR CHLD and writing letters to myself to calm me down sometimes because I didn’t really have anyone there. That’s also when I stared investing in experiences versus things. Like, I’d lost my totally fabulous apartment in Hollywood, a great friend circle, my fabulous shoes and gowns. I even lost one of my storage units because then I ended up in the hospital having surgery and I couldn’t keep up with the payments. But my drag mother basically told me to throw all my shit away and start again. So I did. And she just loves my STR CHLD character. She thinks it’s my golden ticket, and she tells me that even though getting off that boat felt like one of the worst things that ever happened to me, it’s also one of the best. My art is better, my gowns are better, my characters and performances are better… my drag mother is right.

CC: And that always means a lot coming from someone with more experience who you admire, right?

SC: I mean, yeah! I remember being like 11 years old watching my future drag mother on television! That’s a pretty cool story line. I feel like that story is also a bit about the power of manifestation and believing that you’re worth it.

CC: What’s your absolute favorite thing about drag, and what’s your absolute favorite thing about your drag specifically?

SC: Well… let’s see… I like the different types of drag. My favorite type of drag is the first-timer, man in a dress, lady boy in heels because I feel like that’s the most vulnerable. You know, the first few times you do it before you really find yourself. Those are the people who deserve the most support and love because they’re trying something new that they admire. We were all there once. When I was at that level, people were not nice to me. I knew that I was a quality person and I knew what I had to offer people but I still allowed that to put a lot of barriers in front of me. I have friends who sometimes ask me why I haven’t really “blown up” and it’s because I’m scared. I get scared and insecure. There wasn’t anyone creating space for me to feel supported at very critical times and that delayed me. Now that I’ve moved past those barriers, I like to create those spaces for others to prevent someone else being delayed like I was. My favorite part of my own drag is that I’m an artist who pays attention to all the details. I don’t just sew, I don’t just lip-sync, I don’t just sing, I don’t just model. I make my clothes, I make my wigs, I dye my wigs, I make my shoes, I make my nails. Everything I make is usually out of free or up-cycles stuff. That’s the type of artist I’d like to see more of. I want to see more people like Alaska. She really did all of that on her season. She doesn’t always anymore. She does a lot, I mean she’s wearing her table cloth look with the high waisted belt right now. But yeah, I think there’s a big hole in popular drag culture and I think that the type of drag that I do really satiates that. It also inspires more people to contribute to filling that whole. Sutan, Raja, he’s a great example. He’s always spray-painting jackets and studding and spiking and I just love that. The next step is for the artists to make some music. Time to dream up the music video. Time for you to get behind the lens and choose the shots. Sutan is actually a big inspiration to me because he illustrates all his looks, just like I do. I also like to illustrate a storyboard for all of my videos. Any video you’ve seen from me, I did a storyboard first. I say, “Okay, I want shots like this. I want these details. I want my hands in this direction”. Then when I edit it together it looks better. I’m not sure I know a lot of other artists in general who do that. I think applying that kind of eye for detail to drag is singularly unique in the whole community. I feel like the more I do it, the more… I don’t know… the more I’ll actually get to do it.

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CC: I love it. It certainly pays off. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of drag? Can you tell us one non-drag fact that might surprise us?

SC: Probably my favorite non-drag thing to do would be… I love to build. Working with my hands gives me a lot of satisfaction. I think the biggest thing that people don’t know about me is that I’m obsessed with tiny homes and the tiny home movement!

CC: Like micro-living?

SC: Yes, micro-living! Exactly! Have you seen the tiny house documentary on Netflix?

CC: I have not, but I should look it up because I live in an extremely little apartment…

SC: Oh my gosh look it up, it’s beautiful! When I think about my long-term “life plan” or whatever and envision what I want to do, I see myself traveling the world, doing art, seeing and experiencing as much as I can. So with that in mind, I’m really on track with creating a tiny home that is smaller than a tour bus. I just love tiny homes! A lot of my friends and family are entertainers and they don’t have half a million dollars put away, or one hundred thousand dollars put away, or even ten thousand dollars put away. So the idea that you can have this self-sustaining, dream, luxury hotel suite with multiple levels for less than fifty grand brand new, and in lots of cases less than twenty… it attracts me very much. For someone like me when I’m just starting my real entertainment journey, I see a lot of people who have been at it for a while but haven’t really saved their coins. So I picture some kind of retirement community of tiny homes or whatever. Things like that are actually getting a lot of really positive response right now. It’s cool to me that I could bring the style and art of drag into the world of construction, which is a combination some people would never think of. Anyways, I’m always drawing my dream tiny home. I’m going to build a bunch of them. If I don’t do Drag Race, I have a five-year plan. I mean, if I do do Drag Race, I even have a five-year plan! But as of right now, if it’s not Drag Race, I have a five-year plan for property ownership, maybe a tiny house or two. The more I talk about it, the more people are really interested. I have a lot of friends who live in hotels, and it’s a really appealing idea to people like us, even outside of artists, to think of building your own dream hotel suit that you can park on a beach somewhere, or near a hot spring, or in downtown LA.

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CC: That’s so interesting. We always joke with Drag Coven that we’re going to get a camper van and slap our logo on the side and travel in that. Maybe we should build a traveling tiny home instead.

SC: Honestly! You can buy an Airstream for $1500 on the Internet. Gut it, go on the “free” page on Craig’s List, and do what the Junk Gypsies on TLC do. They create all these beautiful bohemian stuff. It’s so cool the way they turn trash into these really beautiful vintage homes and Airstreams and mansions and party spaces. They’ve done the CMA Awards and red carpets. That kind of thing is very much my aesthetic; up-cycled, free, repurposes. So to be able to build a dream home out of the beautiful vintage items that you found while traveling the world… that’s really interesting and appealing to me, especially because I don’t need a lot of space. If I have a space to sew and to glue shoes together and a space for tools, I’m good. If that space needs to be a storage unit, that’s fine. I don’t need to live with my drag. All I need is the gown I’m working on, a gown I know I look good in, and an outfit to perform in. Boom. I foresee living out of hotels for the rest of my life, so what if I just made a dream hotel and instead of flying everywhere, I’d just grab a buddy and drive on a tour. I see touring as being the moneymaker for entertainers. Selling music and making music videos is fine, but the money is in merch and touring. And this opinion comes from outside the Drag Race community too. I had a close friendship with Jeffree Star for a number of years, and watching him take over the heterosexual rock and roll world… that kind of thing is my goal. My goal is to do things like Bonaroo, Coachella, and Warped Tour. I play instruments, I play the bass, keys, the Tenori-On, and anything percussion. I just started playing the piano the past two years too. That’s a little more experimental and fancy but it’s fun and it gives me peace.

CC: Well I’m sure we’ll see you touring like that in no time! I’ll be there. Front row. As always. So what do you feel you learned most from doing this pageant? Do you think the experience has changed anything about your drag, or has it maybe solidified some things for you?

SC: Oh this pageant changed everything for me! I feel like it gave me a more realistic perspective of myself and my art. It also made me understand the value of a deadline! I mean, I bombed two weeks back to back. One was because I was an idiot and the other was because I didn’t effectively capture my performance. It definitely reaffirmed some life lessons, like the importance of preparedness. It reminded me that I can’t do everything. That’s something I’m always struggling with because I’m that person who never wants to ask for favors or put anyone out. I’m a man in a dress and I’m not famous so let’s get real, nobody wants to be working for me for free! Well, in Colorado, anyways. In Los Angeles, a million people owe me favors! I’m sure I could find a dozen people to work with. But in Colorado it’s different. No one really knows me anymore. I’ve been gone for almost ten years. I don’t really do the type of drag that photographers in Denver want to team up with. It’s a lot to take the time to find a team that I can rely on, that’s key. It’s harder when you don’t even have someone focusing the lens or making sure your hairline isn’t showing. Even just tiny stuff like that makes a world of difference. I’m actually just really proud of myself that I didn’t quit, because I wanted to quit a million times. I’m not just a perfectionist, I’m a professionalist. I take my art so seriously. I only want it to be shown a certain way. Being less than my potential is embarrassing for me, especially since I consider myself to be pretty seasoned. I’m just older than that, I don’t need to be making certain mistakes. I have to just remind myself that we’re always beginners. Everyone is always a beginner, there’s no such thing as a pro, really, because you’re always learning. I mean if you can’t even properly capture your own performance… you know? I guess that was the biggest lesson I learned. You can prepare every single way but if you don’t capture it, it didn’t exist, so to speak. Like, that could potentially cost you the crown. You could have all the concepts in the world, you could make your own music, you could do it all, but if you don’t capture it then it doesn’t really exist.

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CC: Especially in such a media-based age, I feel.

SC: Oh, absolutely! It just reminds me to capture all of my details. Like, just really take the time. I deserve it. Stop drinking, put the pipe down, relax, you deserve to show the hard work you put into your art. If you don’t show it, people don’t know.

CC: I feel like that’s especially important when so much of the community is obsessed with things like Facebook and Instagram.

SC: Totally! And like… okay this is just my own view on like, personal media, but I see a lot of people use their online powers for good and bad, it’s mixed. Some people are social media-ing just to social media. I definitely used to be one of those people that created content just to get the content out there, whether or not it was stuff that was really worth putting out. With my STR CHLD character and taking the time to not drink, though, I’ve had the time to really savor it and really choose what to release. I can really choose beautiful pieces of completed art, so to speak. I’ve noticed that when you take the time and all of your social media contributes equally to your message, I don’t think you get the same sort of negative interactions as when you just post for the sake of posting. Granted, I only just started a Facebook and an Instagram for STR CHLD and there are only about 100 people who like it, so it’s not a big deal, but I also have 1800 or so on my personal page and about 3000 and something on my Madë Beautiful page because I kind of did a re-branding thing recently. Long story short, I just notice that with the type of content I put out now, the responses I get are so much deeper and so much more impactful. When Alaska was our guest judge, her feedback was a great example. Her last sentence about me said, “I feel like a better person for having witnessed this vision”. That’s such an intimate compliment, you know? It’s not just that I’m pretty or that I’m smart, it’s like she noticed that I really took the time to put this together. For someone to say that my look altered them as a human is, to me, the ultimate goal for drag. That is STR CHLD. And STR CHLD is in all of us. We all have that character that makes us go on stage, the one who tells us in the back or our minds to put that cocktail down cause we’re about to make a fool out of ourselves in front of these professional contacts we just made… all of that. The one that, when you’re about to read someone harshly, says “Uh uh, don’t you project your own insecurities on to someone else”. STR CHLD is like a visual representation of that motherly super power that we’ve all always had in the backs of our minds taking care of us. I’m always just trying to put a face to her, if that makes sense. That voice isn’t always loud enough though, like I’ve had to learn those lessons the hard way too. I needed people to not work with me anymore or tell me that I might not be hired again in the future because of how I acted, and guess what? I grew the fuck up. My art is more important to me than a bottle or whatever else. The way that you affect the people around you is important. You can impact people just by sitting on a bus. I’ve been told that I have the charisma that does influence the people around me and so many people have that, so you have to be aware of it. It’s an attraction, but not in the sense of being, like, traditionally good looking. It’s a magnetism thing, and to be able to harness that and put that on stage is really powerful. I think you mostly have to be sober to do it well.

CC: So that magnetism can be like a responsibility.

SC: Oh for sure. Even online. If you have half a million followers, you have power and responsibility. It’s interesting to me how obvious that seems but how many people don’t seem to see that. But thus is the online world, I guess!

CC: Welcome to the Internet! So we’ve reached my very last question. It’s a big one. If logic, physics, and time abandoned us all and you could perform absolutely any drag act in the world, featuring absolutely any guest, what would your dream number be like?

SC: Well… let’s see… Okay. I see drag just like the quote “You’re born naked and the rest is drag”. To me, Nicki Minaj is drag. Gaga? She’s a drag queen. Beyoncé? She’s never been photographed with her real hair in public. Every single look you’ve ever seen her in has been a fucking wig! If that’s not drag, I don’t know what is. But out of all of them… I think I’d pick Robyn. She’s a really powerful little human. Now, this is just my own speculation, but I’ve wondered if maybe she’s transgender, female to male. I just get this two spirit or multiple spirited sense from her. The way that she’s consistently had such a wildly positive message while still coming to the musical space from outside the norm… I just think that captures audiences in a unique way and I also feel like it’s timeless. A lot of drag artists or pop icons will follow a trend or even start a trend, whereas other artists will supersede trends. They just create high quality audio experiences. Robyn is one of those. I feel like her message is beyond. So I would love to work with her. I’m sure people would want to hear me say Rupaul or… you know a lot of different people but… wait. Actually… oh my god, can I just erase that whole thing? I have a better one! My absolute dream would be to write with Alaska!

CC: UUUMMM PLEASE. Yes. Yes please. Please do that. Please.

SC: Right? Actually… wait, can I choose more than one person?

CC: We’re pretending there are no rules in the whole universe! You can do whatever you want!

SC: Oh right! We’re in another dimension! Okay. I would like to write a song with Alaska and Willam then.

CC: I would lose my whole mind.

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SC: Both of them come from a musical background that is really honest. I know that sounds weird because Willam is a comedian and she does comedy music, and so does Alaska, but they both sing from the heart, even if it’s about being a slut or something. They both really try and take the time to create space that’s very inclusive. Especially Willam because she’s made music in Spanish, which I think is important because that’s inclusive of a huge demographic that admires her and the drag movement. It’s respectful of her to take the time to do that in order to make them a part of it. It welcomes them. Anyways, I’ve known them both for a while and have seen them grow as artists, and we’ve all been through our shit. I bet they have a lot of untapped stories to tell that could appeal to a whole new wave of queer culture. I feel like maybe STR CHLD could be the super power to help get them there. I think it would be really powerful to create an entertaining commercial piece of multimedia while being true to the STR CHLD message, which basically is an emphasis on creating space for people to be themselves. I think it’d be a good team for doing that.

CC: Well it’s certainly a collaboration I could get behind! Seriously. Do it. Please.

SC: Right? Willam joked at the show last week about finding another American Apparel Ad Girl. I’m like “Girl, you watch out. You just give me til season 9!” I’m going to audition so fucking hard on season 9 like I’ve never auditioned for something before in my life! I’ve auditioned before, but this will be different.

CC: That’s so exciting.

SC: Yeah. I mean I’m not counting on it anymore, but I’m still going to audition. I used to get so geared up for Drag Race. I have a really impressive resume and I used to think my resume was enough to get me there, but in reality I think my ticket is to continue what I’m doing now. Keep being weird, keep making music, keep teaching. I teach a class called Drag Lab and it’s just a production design, makeup artistry, you know… workshop. I also teach a dance class called Sass Class and it’s basically about finding a home in your heels. It’s for boys and girls and it’s like elevated dance. Wedges, pumps, sassy emotions, points, drops… that sort of thing.

CC: Is that through BCAP as well, like you were talking about before?

FullBody

SC: No, I actually work at a yoga studio in my hometown! I drive an hour to my hometown just to teach those classes. When I was growing up there, there was a queer community cause it’s a college town, but it’s so out of touch because there is literally just the bar scene and that’s it. If you weren’t going to house parties or the bar, there was really no way to be queer or be gay. They had no drag shows, nothing. While I’m living in Colorado, I wanted to commit to creating a community outreach project to perhaps create a space where I wish there had been one then. Our next step is to move on to working with gay-straight alliances in the middle and high schools offering those classes as kids’ workshops, so the demographic would be like 12 to 20. We’re hoping to get it going in schools and on weekends. I even have a workbook for them that I put together so people have a piece of tangible information to take home with them to reference what they learned in the class. I’ve basically put together this little drag book on how to create a character and things. I’ve also been thinking about how cute it would look in an Urban Outfitters or something, kind of like the other interactive journals they sell. Graphic media is a strong point for me, so I’d like to take the time to lay it out as maybe a free download first and see how it goes. The more I teach these classes, the more I learn about drag! The more I realize I already know, if that makes sense.

CC: That’s amazing! Yet another project that I will be keeping my eye out for!

SC: Oh girl, I’m sure we’ll be chatting more.

CC: Yes please. Thank you so, so much for chatting with me!

SC: No, thank you!

 

 

Written By

Courtney Conquers is a drag artist and archivist, writer, consultant, public speaker, and live show videographer. She is best known for her work as part of the queer media collective Drag Coven (she's the short one who films the videos). Courtney has a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from Carleton University in Canada and is an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in drag and queer spaces. She also regularly promotes, coordinates, talent handles, and casts drag events throughout North America. When she’s not traveling for her own gigs, assisting other drag performers, holding a video camera, or writing about drag and queer fem issues, Courtney can usually be found knitting in obnoxious colours. 

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