Well hello Kylee O’hara Fatale! It’s so lovely to be speaking with you today. How is the quarantine treating you gurl?
Well quarantine at first was very rough. Watching all my drag jobs and productions, some I’ve worked very hard on, get cancelled one by one and then getting temporarily let go from my day job due to the virus…it was rough. However, I have found stuff to keep me active. I have started to learn new hobbies and virtual drag has been a new and fun venture.
What’s been the big change you’ve had to adjust to during all these months?
I’m a drag queen and a teacher. In college I was in a fraternity, meaning my WHOLE life and career has been social. Not being able to be social is kind of depressing. Zoom is great but you can’t beat hanging with your judys in real life.
Let’s hop in the Delorean and head back in time a bit, shall we? Where does your story begin?
Well when a mommy and daddy really love each other…..*laughs* Well my story I guess truly started when my actual life began which, sadly, wasn’t until I moved from North Carolina to Texas in 2014 when I was twenty two. Ironically, given the fact that its Texas, I was able to embrace being queer and being friends with other gay people, which I never had that opportunity before. Going to my first gay bar was scary and fun, and to be honest, at first I wasn’t into the drag shows, which in Gay Dallas, THAT was the thing to go do on the weekends. It took my a very long time to enjoy them until one night I actually sat down and watched the girls of the legendary Rose Room. Cassie Nova, now my boss, was hosting and it was a laugh riot, but then about two entertainers later, that’s when I REALLY saw Asia Ohara (a woman who would later on become my drag mother) for the first time. Seeing this production number she did showed me that drag is this art form that combines EVERY art form into one massive, gay, exciting thing. SO for a couple month I starting playing in makeup and heels and dresses until I was brave enough to enter my first newcomer contest in 2015.
Did you have any exposure to drag prior to moving to Texas?
Actually yes. In my major in college, there was this boy who was a drag queen and I remember not understanding it. For one of our classes he performed in drag. When I was younger, the concept of MYSELF being Queer was hard to understand and trying to understand how other queers just DID it, as in existing comfortably as themselves. That was my first time truly being exposed to how fluid gender can be and before I even had a chance to really think about, there went the bullies in the back, judging this boy who was so confident and strong in themself that they could walk into a classroom in full drag and do it for an assignment. Really thinking back on it, I just didn’t understand how they were so confident and I couldn’t even say the world gay. I even pretended to date a girl in a sorority! *Laughs*
So what was it about the shift from North Carolina to Texas that enabled you to blossom? Neither state has a reputation for being a bastion of tolerance for the queer community.
That’s fucking true!! So the ONLY other gay person I was good friends with was this boy named Joey who lived down the street from me when I was in middle school and High School. We were two years apart and he came out his senior year. When I was a sophomore Joey met this boy from Texas named Chris, who I met when he came to North Carolina to take Joey with him back to Texas. After I left college I just so happened to move to the area close to where they both were living. So I had this boy who came from my TINY, TINY, TINY small town in North Carolina here with me in Texas and his amazing partner who were the ones who broke me out of my shell or maybe watered the flower for it to blossom. They showed me everything and even taught me how to go and talk to boy. When I tell you it was like teaching a toddler how to tie his shoes! *Laughs*
They also were the ones who showed me drag and when I became interested in it, they were the ones constantly pushing and supporting me to do it. They broke up and years later Joey moved to Houston so when I travel down there to perform, he is the one to make sure I have a place to stay and rest because traveling is hard. And Chris has been my right hand man for years now, always supporting my career along with his new partner Jose. If it wasn’t for these homos, I wouldn’t know how to be open, I wouldn’t have found drag, and I wouldn’t been as happy as I am today. I tell people drag LITERALLY saved my life and brought me out of a dark place, but these gays were the catalyst in this life changing moment for me.
How did Asia Ohara come into your life?
Also through Chris!!! They were friends and he would talk about me. I started drag and she slightly knew of me. Months into me doing drag, Asia and Krystal Summers used to let me do this show they had called “Netchicks On Demand”. Around the time Asia was giving up her title as Miss Gay America, I was out of a job at the time, just doing drag and Asia offered me work to help in her shop with basically anything she needed. She taught me how to stone and costume and drag tricks and even brought me with her to her stepdown which, oh my God! Life changing! Asia was such a mentor to me and I would spend so many days in her shop, helping her and learning from her. It was right after that that I first competed for Miss Gay Texas America, only a year and some change into drag and I made the top 10! I guess Asia was super proud because after that I became her daughter. Asia OHara is more than a drag mother to me. I honestly have no words for how important this human being, in which I share no blood with, is in my life.
Going back to that moment in the classroom with that boy doing drag, could you back then have anticipated what you evolved into as a person and as a queen?
If I went back in time Marty McFly-style MYSELF and looked at Timothy Sherwood -the ATO frat boy who swore he didn’t like gay things and was going to be a doctor or a professor and told him, “Hey you’re going to be this gay Texan in the future and not only that, you’re also going to be putting on heels and wigs and being this fierce woman named Kylee.”, past me wouldn’t even believe it, even hearing it coming from his own mouth.
I’m not a terribly religious person but there is definitely something to that famous saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Oh my God, that is a good saying that I have never heard until today.
So for people who haven’t seen you perform yet, how would you describe Kylee’s drag?
Performance-wise, I have HIGH energy, love nostalgia, love being extra and love being funny. When you come to a Kylee show, expect me to do a little something different each number. I may start off bucking to Paramore (because I swear I am the POC Hayley Williams of Texas) and then give you a pageant ballad in a gown, and then next thing you know, I’m doing my Peggy Hill illusion.
As a high energy performer, how has the smaller confines of digital drag forced you to change your presentation?
Oh I make it work!! I still find a way to dance hard and I piss off my neighbors at least once a week or so. The only thing that is triggering and sucks is no death drops and cartwheels. I would give anything to leap off a stage into a death drop! I hope I remember how!
If I ever “leap off a stage into a death drop”, honestly just break out the body bag on the spot and cart me off. Do you feel a bump like that the next day?
It took a little trial and error to not be sore after doing it!
Last evening we lost a giant in the history of this country, civil right icon Congressman John Lewis. While we’ve all been dealing with the effects of Coronavirus in recent months, we have also been forced to face the darkest parts of our country’s past as well in recent weeks. Can you talk about the importance of Black Lives Matter and the work you’ve been doing of late?
Growing up in a Black/LatinX household, my mother always used to talk about our culture and warn us of how dangerous and hard this world was going to be because of the color of my skin. I listened but I dismissed her because I was like, “That was our grandparents generation, it so different now”. When I grew up I learned I was wrong. Now we are here in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement legit since my grandparents’ days, something they fought tooth and nail for, hoping we would all finally be equal but sadly that is not the case and we are still fighting. My mother used to say that being a lover and only seeing the good was going to really shake me one day and it has finally left me unable to see all the good.
BLM is important because everyone should be made to feel equal, feel heard, feel important and MORE IMPORTANTLY feel safe. It’s 2020. It shouldn’t be a question and yet here we are with a President whose wife is probably ironing his white hood and sheets now and it’s more terrifying than ever being a person of color. Over the summer I have organized a couple BLM live streams via Facebook and Twitch to raise money to help various black non-profit organizations. With the help of so many of my fellow Texas Queers, we have raised eleven thousand dollars to help bail protestors out and to also support our black trans brothers and sisters. It started with just my computer, my friend Kendrix Kyle and anyone who could hop on and do a number on our live stream. For our last event, we partnered with a femme queer and POC tattoo artist to blindfold drag queens and tattoo them right there on a live stream to raise money. I am planning another event with some of the queers in Houston to coordinate a virtual lip sync battle royal fundraiser for these causes as well.
How can people get involved and help you going forward?
Well we will be having the next fundraiser show July 31st on twitch.tv/ihoustondrag at 8pm CST for anyone who wants to watch, donate and have a good time.
In addition to doing your part to combat systemic racism, you’ve also got another major new digital project in the works as well. What can you tell us about Trinity the Tuck’s Love For The Arts competition?
OH MY GOD! When I tell you that changed my whole week, I am so happy about it! SO in the last week or so I applied for Trinity’s competition, and I knew a bunch of queers would apply too, so I thought there would only be a small chance of getting in. I saw out of the hundreds or whatever who applied, I was a part of the top 30! But then I got depressed because I saw the rest of the top 30 and found out only the top 10 get to move on and DO the show, plus it was decided by fan votes. I have one of the smaller followings and some of the queers are social media powerhouses and I was scared. My best friend was also in the top 30 and she called me when we found out to say she didn’t make it and I’m thinking CRAP… but then… I MADE IT. I couldn’t believe it. The show is going to be so exciting. Trinity has prepared a virtual drag Olympics basically and I know it’s going to be so hard! I just have to try my best and just have fun so I can show all the viewers what I can do, It all goes down Aug 4th for episode one at 4pm PST on her Twitch channel.
Do you have an idea of what Trinity has in store for you? How do you prepare for something like this?
That’s the thing, we know so little what is in store for us! I legit feel like I’m on Drag Race minus the social isolation! I’m very skilled when it comes to putting together a creative idea or look or performance at the drop of a hat with little resources so I’m prepared for anything. And you all better be prepared to enjoy what I know is going to be the best online competition EVER!
Well my dear the time has come…. *cue dramatic music* …. FOR THE LIGHTNING ROUND!!!! Are you ready??
Must have makeup item?
Setting Spray! Green Marble! It burns like hell but that means it’s working!
4 AM post show food craving?
Big Mac, extra sauce. a Sprite and a strawberry banana smoothie!
The best part of drag?
Being paid a lot of money for being as stupid as you want to be!
The worst part of drag?
Wearing 30 layers of fabric to give the illusion that I am sexy or naked and sweating like I live in a desert.
Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?
My favorite animal is a velociraptor because I love the sounds they make when they call to each other in Jurassic Park. It sounds like they are screaming “KWOFFF” and it’s the funniest thing in the world to me.
Queen you would pay the most to see?
Drag Queen Asia and other Queen Hayley Williams.
Last movie to make you cry?
Home. The cartoon with J’lo and Rhianna and the guy from Big Bang Theory
Death Row last meal?
Five pounds of crab legs and lots of butter.
Netflix Binge recommendation?
Short binge BNA, long binge Shameless!
Disney character you relate to the most?
In the movie of your life, who plays you?
Zendaya! They might have to make her look not so pretty! But for the boy parts the guy who was Tim in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?
A song sung by Pikachu that is about its love for Ketchup. It’s also my ringtone….
That last answer made it very close but it looks like you’re going to survive….THE LIGHTNING ROUND!
So looking ahead, what’s left on your drag bucket list that you’d like to accomplish?
I want to win Miss Texas America and later on Miss Gay America. It would be exciting to make it on Drag Race but I know I can have a great career without it. Also one day I hope to open my own queer venue.
Where can people keep tabs on your exploits on social media?
Well my dear, we have just about reached the end of our time together but it was lovely talking with you and I wish you the best of luck with Love For The Arts and even more importantly, your important work for racial equality! Do you have any final words of wisdom to leave the WERRRK.com universe with?
Stay weird and stay queer! Support local drag queens especially during these times. Go find someone new to stan and send them love for their art!