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The WERRRK.com Interview

The WERRRK.com Interview: Tiffany T. Hunter

The WERRRK.com Interview: Tiffany T. Hunter 71

The WERRRK.com Interview: Tiffany T. Hunter 72
Photo by Ginger Snap Photography

Well hello there Tiffany T. Hunter! How are you doing this fine evening my dear?

I’m wonderful! I’m taking a break from rhinestoning a costume… just finished watching a movie.

Nothing like enjoying a movie while the smell of E6000 fills the room. How has the quarantine been treating you?

Not too bad actually. I do miss seeing people and being able to hug them and stuff but I honestly don’t mind being cooped up in the house by myself. I have my cutie pie cat to keep me company. His name is Tyrone. I’ve had him for over fifteen years. Now if I didn’t have him here then I probably would have gone crazy! *Laughs*

Have you partaken in any digital drag? I hear it’s the rage with the kids these days!

I have not personally, but I do enjoy watching them and supporting those that do.  It is just not something that I am interested in doing at this time,

So let’s hop in the Delorean and head back in time, shall we? Where does your story begin?

Well I am a farm girl from the midwest. My family still farms and I always enjoy going back home and “disconnecting” from reality for a bit. I lived and worked on the farm daily until I was almost nineteen and moved to the city.

What city did you move to and what prompted the move?

I moved into the St. Louis area. I was curious about the LGBTQ lifestyle and community. I wanted to be closer and more involved with people that were like me.

Growing up on a farm, that wouldn’t seem to lend itself to have much exposure to the drag world. Do you remember what the first time you saw drag was?

I do! The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school I would make the hour drive into the city and hangout at a lgbtq coffee shop called the Coffee Cartel. I made a few friends there and that summer we went to a club called Faces on an 18+ night to see a drag show. We borrowed ID’s from other people that were eighteen or nineteen years old so we could get in. They didn’t check ID’s that hard back then and there was no alcohol served in the 18+ areas. The queens performing that night were Patrina Marie, Dieta Pepsi, Candy Principle and Victoria Rose. I was mesmerized. My next drag show, unfortunately, was not for another two years after I had graduated high school.

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Photo by Ginger Snap Photography

You say you were mesmerized, what was it that appealed to you? Did that pique an interest in you to try it?

I didn’t even know that “drag” existed at all! I was captivated by their glamour, stage presence, the costumes, the dancing, the emcee’s humor…all of it! That was when I was sixteen. I then did drag for the first time myself when I was nineteen in May of 2003.

How did you get your start in drag?

The first time was for a charity event and it was supposed to just be a one time thing! *Laughs*  A month later I did another charity event for a Pride organization and then a month later I did an open stage show. By that point I was hooked! By the Fall of 2003, it became something that I was serious about and I started to invest into my craft and performed frequently.

EVERYONE always says it’s just going to be this one time!

ALWAYS! *Laughs* So as I already mentioned, I started performing when I was nineteen and through that journey is when I started to meet several people that identified as transgender. Much like the drag shows, I had no idea that this even existed! As I met more trans people and got to know them, I started to feel like I connected with them on a deep level and understood where they were coming from. It was as if all the puzzle pieces finally fit together! I was terrified of transitioning and toyed with the idea for several years until when I was 22 years old when I finally made the decision to begin my transition. About a year later, late 2007, is when I started living as my true self.

Congratulations Tiffany! Living your truth is something to be very proud of. How did your experience with drag change as you transitioned? When did you drag pageantry begin to enter your life?

Doing drag and my transition were very seperate things. I looked at drag as a hobby or interest. Everyone’s story is different but my transition, for the most part, was fairly easy to go through. My family was very supportive, as was my day job. I also had a great group of friends that were always there for me as well. My first pageant was in May 2004 when I competed for a bar title here in the St. Louis area. I was OBSESSED with pageantry and my best friend Bryan and I would spend hours upon hours watching VHS tapes of pageants! I NEVER thought I would one day end up being one of those girls.

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Photo by TiosPhotograpy.com

So how did you finally take the plunge into a nationally pageantry system?

In early 2007, I entered a preliminary to Miss Gay USofA and then competed for the national title that May. I like to tell people that I was 24th runner up instead of saying I was 25th place! *Laughs* Pageantry is very expensive and although I loved, it I knew that I wanted to focus my money and energy on my transition. Two years later, May 2009, I entered a preliminary to Miss Continental and that was all it took. I knew I would compete for that title until it was mine.

Well that brings us to the reason we were brought together today by the good people at The Reporters Inc. who made the amazing documentary, “The Queens” (Stream or buy it here now. We’ll wait for you). How did you get involved in that project?

OH MY GOD, what an amazing film! During the summer of 2011, the director/producer, Mark Saxenmeyer, approached the owner of Continental, Jim Flint, about making a documentary. Jim gave him a short list of a few contestants that were competing that he should reach out to and I was one of those girls. Over the course of that summer, Mark filmed me and the others preparations for Miss Continental and his crew even came to my fundraiser show. I didn’t pay much attention while they were backstage filming us during the pageant because I was so caught up with making sure that I was ready for each category! *Laughs* The whole experience was awesome and I feel very fortunate to have been involved.

Buy or Stream “The Queens” now on Vimeo!

You were one of the focuses of the documentary. How many hours of footage of you did they shoot?

I have no clue but it was A LOT! *Laughs* The film is only like an hour and half but I know they have to have hundreds of hours of footage!

That project was very ambitious and covered a lot of people, a lot of history and a lot of stories. How accurately do you feel it captured the Miss Continental experience?

I think they did a great job of cramming all of those things into an hour and a half documentary and I am very proud to have been a part of this project.

You even got to perform to the title song for the documentary during the credits!

Yes, that was very interesting. Mark contacted me and asked me to do it and gave me like five songs to choose from. There was such a short amount of time to learn the words so they actually had giant cue cards for me to read the lyrics off of! *Laughs*

The documentary also showed a scene where queens and their dancers and such literally being put out into an alley when they finished. How crazy an experience was that?

It’s actually the alley outside of the Vic Theater. Once the Top Twelve is announced, everyone that didn’t make the cut has to immediately exit the backstage area and clear out their stuff. Then they must re-enter through the front door as a patron. It always breaks my heart watching that segment of the film. Unfortunately there are only twelve spots.

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Photo by TiosPhotography.com

So spoiler alert but you didn’t win the pageant at the end of The Queens but you did go on to win Miss Continental in 2015. What was that experience like for you? Was there any difference in your preparation heading into that year’s pageant?

So I competed for Miss Continental six times over seven years before I won. What I love about Continental is that you can watch the contestants grow and “mold” into what is “Continental”.  I literally kinda grew up and matured into who I am today during my seven year Continental journey. Every year I grew as a person and as a competitor and just applied that to my preparations for the following year. In February of 2015, I lost my oldest sister, Becky, in a tragic accident and was going to sit out of the pageant. It was my mom that pushed me to still compete and told me that Becky would have wanted it. My mom and my sisters, Holly and Lisa, came to Chicago to support me and cheer me on. I think having my family there gave me the extra confidence boost I needed. I definitely felt a magic that year that I just can’t describe. I know that Becky was with me every second.

Wow, that sounds like a movie script! Some people may not realize but your work is only just beginning once you’re crowned Miss Continental. Can you describe what your year as the reigning queen was like?

It was one of the most amazing years of my life, I literally got to travel the world. My year as Miss Continental was definitely the busiest year of my life! For a whole year, I was never home for more than three days at a time, with the exception of over Christmas and over Easter! I enjoyed it thoroughly but it was very exhausting! *Laughs* It is truly a full time job.

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Photo by TiosPhotography.com

So since your reign as Miss Continental came to an end, you have since gone on to even more success, winning All American Goddess in 2019. Unfortunately, your stepdown was postponed due to Covid-19. How was the transition to a new pageantry system after so many years in the Continental family?

Until 2017, I had little knowledge of the All American Goddess system. I am a fan of pageantry so I would follow the system online, but had never actually attended in person. In Feb 2017, I encouraged one of my best friends, Nikki Vixxen, to enter an AAG preliminary. I went to the national competition with her that  year and she placed 1st runner up before ultimately winning it all in 2018. Over those two years, I had fallen in love with the system and those involved with it. It was an easy decision to compete for Nikki’s stepdown in 2019 and fortunately I not only had the honor of winning the pageant, but also got to be crowned by someone I am so close with and love. Nikki has been a big help throughout my reign, helping me with anything I need.

Not to spring this on you suddenly but are you ready for……THE LIGHTNING ROUND???

Let’s do it!

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Must have makeup item?  

Oooohhhh, um, ELF Poreless Puddy Primer

4 AM post show food craving?

I’m in bed by 10pm!  But back in the day i loved getting Del Taco after my shows.

The best part of drag?

Getting to meet people from the audience.

The worst part of drag?

That most shows are so late at night!!! I love a 7pm showtime!

Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?

Growing up on the farm, I have a really good sense of direction and can almost always tell you which way is north… and I love Christmas!

Queen you would pay the most to see?

I am a huge “fangirl” at heart and I have so many that I look up to!

Last movie to make you cry?

Fried Green Tomatoes. I just watched it (again) this afternoon.

Death Row last meal?

Steak and lobster.

Netflix Binge recommendation?

I am a TV whore! I watch waaaaayyyyy to much to mention.

Disney character you relate to the most?

Cinderella.

In the movie of your life, who plays you?

Charlize Theron or Jennifer Lawence.

Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?

Mmmmm Bop. *Laughs*

Well It looks like you swept all categories so I guess we’re going to have to add Miss Lightning Round 2020 to your resume too!

*Laughs* I love it!!!!

Looking ahead to your future, what is still on your proverbial drag bucket list? Would you considering trying your hand at another system, maybe try and improve on your 24th runner up spot at Miss Gay USofA?

Miss Gay USofA is definitely on my list, I have unfinished business there. *Laughs*

Well my dear, I am so glad we got to talk tonight. I’ve been a fan of yours for years and I absolutely loved The Queens. (Seriously, go stream or buy it here). I wish the best of luck in your future USofA quest and I hope you stay safe in these crazy times. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the WERRRK.com audience?

Thank you so much for your time, I really enjoyed this. To all those out there reading this, never give up on your dreams, whatever they may be. Dreams don’t have expiration dates or deadlines!

Written By

Despite being a drag journalist for over five years, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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