Hi there Aurora! I’m super excited to be talking with you tonight. Happy Pride Month! How are you doing this evening?
Happy Pride to you! I am fantastic, busy getting my new show Let Them Eat Cake! Diary of A First Lady (Get your Provincetown ticket here!) ready for debut. How are you?
I’m great! You had me at cake girl! Let’s get right down to this new show. Your Melania Trump illusion is spectacular. When did the idea to turn it into a one woman show come about?
I have always had a love for theater and a passion for politics. I started impersonating Melania as a gag to cover DragCon last year and it was such a hit that I added her into my nightly routine.
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#flashbackfriday Had so much fun last year working at @rupaulsdragcon for @moovzofficial and @hammerbrad with @dekellazimilev as @flotus 🇺🇸 Wishing everyone heading out to LA this weekend a fun and safe Drag Con! @wowreport @moovzofficial @rupaulsdragrace @rupaulofficial @rupaulsdragcon @vh1 #melaniatrump #makeamericagayagain #dragcon
An opportunity was offered to me to develop a one woman show in Provincetown and I thought what could be more relevant and needed in these harsh times then a show about one of the most famous and mysterious women in the world?
Were you a little worried about having to change up your show when she mysteriously vanished from sight for a few weeks?
Not at all, I added another scene! This entire administration and the Trump family it seems at times are the most unusual and unique group of people we have ever had in the White House. The jokes practically write themselves!
That might be the most polite when I have ever heard them described. It does feel like people seem to regard Melania as above the fray so to speak. Many people seem to treat her almost like a hostage situation. Working on this character like you have, what is your impression of the First Lady?
She is definitely the least grotesque of the Trump clan. After immersing myself in all things Melania for the past year, I came to a few realizations about our new FLOTUS.
First, she doesn’t want any of this. Living in the White House was Donald’s dream, not hers. She came from Communist roots and dreamed of a better life in America, landed a billionaire husband and had from all appearances a perfect private life in New York City. It’s apparent in many of her appearances ( or lack there of) that she is very unhappy about her current situation. Second, I don’t feel sorry for her and as she told Anderson Cooper she doesn’t want anyone else to either. Every time her husband has said anything negative or outrageous whether it’s about women, minorities, the disabled, she has green lit all of it and given her tepid approval in the form of “locker room talk”, pursuing the birther conspiracy about Obama, etc. She knows where the bodies are buried but she’s not about to risk losing her son or her lavish lifestyle. It is nice to see her pushing back lately though, her spokespeople shredded Rudy Giuliani the other day for his claim that she believes her husband about Stormy Daniels. I think she is at a point where she has had enough, she’s embarrassed and she’s finally flexing her powers so that has been fun to watch. Love her or hate her she’s a fascinating woman. I do give her credit for keeping her sons life private away from all of the madness and I hope he can avoid turning out like his older siblings. I don’t count him among the Trump Grotesque.
You’re performing this show at Play in Nashville soon and you mentioned Provincetown as well. Do you have ambition to take this show across the country? It seems like a perfect fit for the Laurie Beechman Theatre here in New York and similar venues in Los Angeles, San Francisco and others.
Nashville will be my dry run and then the show premiers in Ptown at The Post Office Cabaret starting July 17 through Labor Day weekend. I would love to tour the show all over, it’s definitely been a labor of love and I’m using it as a personal rallying cry to get everyone out to vote in the midterm elections in November.
For once when politicians say, “This is the most important election of our lifetimes“, its not just rhetoric. It honestly feels like our Democracy is teetering on brink and if the House and Senate don’t flip, who knows what could happen? How do we avoid people feeling helpless right now?
In life you have two choices, submit or take charge. We have a Republican controlled House and Senate that are allowing a freewheeling, aspiring dictator to drag our country into the gutter, obliterate our standing in the world and destroy the institutions that America was built upon. We cannot let the things he says and does become normal because nothing he says or does is normal. When his personal lawyer goes out and says he could shoot the former FBI director and be immune from prosecution that is not normal. When a President says he can pardon himself of crimes that isn’t normal. Wild claims of Obama wire tapping him, still attacking Hillary five hundred days after he was elected, attacking the NFL, celebrities, the unhinged twitter rants, the threats to other countries, the vilification of minorities, it’s beyond the pale of outrage. Just today he left the G7 summit early, accusing our closest ally, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of betrayal. What country are we living in? THIS IS NOT NORMAL! And we must never allow it to become the norm that power should be used by the leader of the free world to intimidate, threaten, incite violence as he has done at his rallies or settle old scores like he is with the NFL for not getting a franchise.We have to maintain hope by celebrating the things we have in common. Our decency, our humility, our regard for the truth, justice and equality for all. That’s the America worth preserving, its bigger then what party you belong to and certainly bigger then one man. If our Congress refuses to put checks and balances on Trumps unquenchable thirst for power then it is up to the American people to take charge, vote them out and vote people in that do represent the best interests of their constituents and of our country. This is the choice we face in November and it’s a test we cannot fail.
How does your show fit in with your goal of getting people to the polls in November?
My show is a moment to take all of the things that scare us right now and laugh. We desperately need levity in Americas angry climate and we as actors, entertainers and comedians have a rare gift and opportunity to not only entertain but educate our audiences about the problems we face today. My show runs in the vain of the greats like Moms Mably, George Carlin, Tina Fey and many others who made you laugh but also made you think. I hope people laugh until they piss themselves at my show but I also hope that when they leave they do so with a new found curiosity about what the people in our government are actually doing. Most people are turned off by politics and bury their heads in the sand, they have too much going on in their own lives to worry about the political theater of the day. Which is, exactly how we end up with the most undesirable of people in elected office making our laws and deciding the direction we go in.
I should add, I am in no way comparing myself to the legendary entertainers I listed, this is my first solo venture but i am inspired and encouraged by the gifts they gave to this world.
You have accomplished so much in your career. Where would you put creating this show among your “greatest hits”?
Well thank you! I hope it will end up among my greatest hits but it has definitely been one of my favorite projects to date. Nothing of this magnitude is ever done alone, so many friends have been involved and appear in this show so I feel like I’m taking my family with me wherever I perform it.
It takes a village as they say! Speaking of greatest hits, we have been a big fan of yours for a long time here at WERRRK.com. In 2016, you gave a powerful speech in Washington DC following the Pulse tragedy that touched us so much, we named it as one of the nominees for Moment of the Year in our year end awards. How did that speech come about?
I was in our dressing room at work after close when my boss came in and told us about the shooting. Brooke Lynn Hytes and I sat up into the morning calling our friends that worked at Pulse, crying, watching, waiting. All of our personal friends made it out. As we know 49 did not. We flew down a few days later to help raise money for the victims and their families. Being there among the Orlando community and sharing in their grief and pain was raw and life changing. But even in their darkest hour they came together with hope and Love for each other. Not long after Jason Hayes created the Disarm Hate campaign alongside Newtown Action Alliance to bring attention to gun violence. I was the current reigning Miss Gay USofA at the time and he invited me to come speak which I immediately accepted. I flew in the night before and still didn’t know what to say, I had nothing written and was grappling with how to properly address such a sensitive topic. I slept on it and in the morning the words just flowed like water. My stand out memory of that day aside the many amazing beautiful people I met from across the country was driving along the National mall to the airport and my grandmother who is in her 80s called me to tell me that she watched me on CSpan. She said “I have never been more proud of you then I am today”. We both cried (like I am now remembering it) and I’ll cherish that phone call for the rest of my life.
How important do you feel charity is in relation to drag? Do you think younger generations of queens understand its importance?
I think drag, like any entertainment field is a platform for artistic expression. Since Stonewall, queens and trans women have led the charge alongside butch lesbians, kings, trans men, gay men and everything else our community encompasses in the fight for equality. I applaud those that use their platforms and art to bring attention to important charities and causes but that is a personal choice. A lot of these young people came up during Obama’s years in a progressive atmosphere where we saw gay marriage become a reality, trans people on tv, the mainstreaming of drag, it seems logical that our society progress forward toward greater inclusion and equality. Now with Trump in the drivers seat, I see a lot of them starting to realize that our rights are not guaranteed and can be changed overnight. I see a lot of activism for social justice in everything from guns and women’s rights to immigration and LGBTQ equality. With platforms like YouTube and Instagram many of these new young and talented artists use their drag to protest, change attitudes and hearts and create a a culture that is more accepting and celebratory of their efforts, their genders and what it means to be a queen/ trans/ fluid/ queer/ non binary. My hope is that they use that power to get people to the ballot box in November where they can effect the most change for the things that they believe in.
Speaking of young queens, what was your first exposure to the world of drag?
Disney, like everyone else. Name one female Disney villain that wasn’t a queen in the grandest of costumes! I was exposed to real drag the first time I went to Pride in Denver. I was twelve years old, went in drag myself and lived for the queens I saw. I knew then I had found my calling to perform and it snowballed into the avalanche you see today
Disney villains are draggiest of queens, every last one! Who/what inspires you when it comes to drag?
I’m inspired by many things and many people, I’m a sponge for life. If I’m in love with something whether it’s a look, a song, a pair of shoes or fierce costume I will take it and make magic with it.
What’s the biggest thing you know now that you wished you knew when you were getting started as a performer?
That I should have saved all my money! *Laughs* That and take better care of your health. You get one body, be good to it. And most importantly don’t take anything personal. It’s not always glitter and glamour. For better or worse, you have to love what you do and at the end of the night when the lights fade and the audience is gone you have to look in the mirror and love yourself.
You recently posted a Snatch Game video showing what you would do given the chance while also lamenting that Drag Race still really hasn’t shown interest in having trans queens on the show. Do you have any hope that will change soon?
I think RuPaul is a brilliant entertainer and very astute business man. What he has created has really changed the game of our entire industry and it has provided many entertainers not only the platform for drag but given many fame, financial freedom and shifted cultural acceptance for the art. Until that time comes, if you have dreams of doing big things then go audition for other shows. Make art, make movies, write a play, be the commander of your own destiny. It took Laverne Cox 500 no’s before she got a yes and she started as a drag performer at Lucky Cheng’s. Anything is possible if you dream big and don’t let one no keep you from the right yes.
Up until last year they have always been delicate in their handling of trans issues with regard to the contestants. Several talked about trans issues but nobody on the show had yet transitioned. Peppermint was the first to really be open and free about it. She may have pursued her transition further after taping wrapped but as we know, being trans is a state of mind. I saw it as a crack in the glass so I gave it a whirl and sent in a tape.
I was really proud of my snatch game work so I decided to post it to show people that you can be self identified trans and still work as a drag performer. What I do is a complete transformation in makeup, mannerism and voice. I realize they have a formula that works for them in the boy to girl transformation which I respect but I hope as the show goes forward they will be more open and inclusive to different forms of drag.
Where can people find you online if they want to keep up with you Aurora?
Well my dear, I think we have just about reached the end of the road here. Thank you so much for all your time. I was already a fan but you’ve made me into an even bigger fan tonight. I would say, forget Drag Race and let’s focus on getting you in Congress! But before we start running your campaign, do you have any final words of wisdom to leave the WERRRKl.com universe with?
Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed this! I’ll leave them with one word: VOTE!