Hi there Daisy! Our schedules have finally matched up and we have some time to kiki!
Yaaaasss! So excited! Love what you do for the girls! The platform and visibility combined with your history- knowing all us old gals that have been around makes for a great site!
I have heard you’ve been around!
Oh sister, you have NO idea! As Bethenny Frankel says, I always come from a place of YES!
A place of “Yes, yes, oh god yes!“?
But of course! *Laughs*
So let’s go right back to the beginning of where your story begins. Where are you from originally?
I’m from upstate New York. I lived on a lake, very country. Our neighbors were cows. Daisy is from Florida. I started doing her as SOON as I got the fuck out of the sticks!
Photo by Stian Roenning
What was your first exposure to the world of drag?
I remember dressing up as a kid and thinking I was the only one, but then Boy George came out. At that moment I knew that I was not completely insane and there were others like me! *Laughs* It would still be years before I saw an actual drag show. I was in college at New World School of the Arts majoring in dance so EVERYONE was gay! *Laughs* Well, there were only three other guys in the dance program and two of them became my first gay friends. They wanted to take me out to Warsaw but I was still underage so I “conveniently” suggested I go in drag. *Laughs* Still, I got turned away since I was only eighteen but my friend went in and opened the alley door and I snuck in. It was a Suzanne Bartsch party and I was in heaven with all the glamorous queens and club kids! I wound up prancing on stage all night long.
Would you say you were bitten by the drag bug right then and there?
Oh yeah! I kept at it and finally looked good enough to get in without being ID’d *Laughs* Then I entered the late, great Dana Manchester’s amateur drag contest at O’Zone and started getting bookings. I couldn’t be out until 5am in drag and still make it to ballet at 9am but I was working enough at night that I actually gave up my full ride at New World. After all, I WAS already using my schooling and dance training but I ALSO go to act, do stand up as well makeup and hair! I figured it was better than the short career all dancers have and I CERTAINLY didn’t want end up bitter as hell teaching little brats ballet! *Laughs*
It sounds like that wasn’t a difficult decision for you to make?
What was the scene in Florida like back then?
Oh my god, it was amazing! I was in South Beach and it TRULY was a gay Mecca. This was before cell phones and internet but SOMEHOW we all found out what was going on and where to go. EVERY night of the week had a packed night AND a drag show somewhere. Cabaret shows, drag dinner shows, huge warehouse dance parties AND you’d be rubbing elbows with celebrities like Gianni Versace, Robin Williams, Sylvester Stallone and Madonna. A friend that did the lights at Amnesia where I worked Tea Dance who had been around a bit longer then I said the two best times for gay nightlife were when Studio 54 ruled NYC and South Beach in the 90s. Compare it to now when there are only are gay clubs and one gay restaurant!
Do you want to pick up all those names you dropped or should I?
*Laughs*I didn’t say I rubbed elbows with them! Although not for lack of trying! I stalked Madonna like a mother fucker! *Laughs* I did however have an AMAZING gig at Warsaw where I was the Champagne girl for one of Versace’s friends and served Gianni himself, Sylvester Stallone and Elton John!
What was that like? Just a typical day at the office?
*Laughs* Unfortunately not, that was the only night the club was THAT celebrity packed. I believe it was New Year’s Eve. But the 90s were DEFINITELY filled with more movers and shakers. Robin Williams was in the audience one night at WPA while he was filming The Bird Cage here.
So one of the things we wanted to talk about is the anniversary of you winning the Entertainer of the Year pageant.
Yes! The TWENTIETH anniversary! Jesus that seems crazy, time flies! My drag mother Damien Dee-Vine (who is now the beautiful Allanah Starr) was entering Miss Florida and I was one of her back up dancers. It was the first time I’d ever been to a pageant and fell in love with the professionalism, the attention to detail. I loved that one had months to prepare a well crafted and rehearsed talent, as well as fabulous fashion! So the next year I gave it a go and entered myself!
And you won on your first try?
If ONLY! *Laughs* I’ve entered Miss Florida SIX times and haven’t won…. well…. technically…. *Laughs* just kidding! But I did get 1st runner up four times! I love the system but six attempts is my limit. Probably over my limit but that’s how much I love the system! Daisy was born here and it’s the first pageant I ever went to so it holds a special place in my heart. I did however win EOY on the first go, which I’m very proud of. The system is a better fit for me since I’m slightly outside the box for a pageant girl. The categories lean more towards creativity which obviously fit me better.
What was your winning package like?
It was 1998, almost the new millennium and everyone was obsessed with Y2K! So my presentation had a space theme to it, spaceship an all! Both my talents were comedy which is right in my wheelhouse and my gown was an Asian ball gown with those two huge hair buns inspired by the Bjork album cover. It’s the first and ONLY time I ever won evening gown! Since the category is creative evening wear and didn’t have to be super glamorous, I could be more outrageous!
What did winning a prestigious national pageant mean for your drag career?
I remember someone saying to me that now I’d be able to always have a career in drag. And thankfully I have! And I thank god for it because I’m shit with computers, math, thanksgiving dinners with family…. pretty much everything else. Oh! And it meant I could finally afford my FIRST nose job AND a couch to recover on!
I kid, obviously winning meant the world. After not winning Miss Florida, it gave me confidence that I could actually succeed in the pageant scene, I just had to find the right fit.
Speaking of fit, you were one of the first queens that I remembered having numerous visible tattoos. Nowadays you’re hard pressed to find a queen without a tattoo but it was less common back then and was generally regarded as a big no-no for pageant queens.
I think the world is opening, everyone’s connected with the internet & seeing other cultures, points of view. If someone lives in a small town, they are able to see runway shows online. And Lady Gaga bringing club kid/extreme fashion to the forefront helped tattoos and creativity in one’s appearance become more mainstream.
Was there any bias against your tats in the pageant world back then?
I wouldn’t call it bias, but it just wasn’t done. Pageants and the world really adhered to a more traditional way of doing things. I respected that and covered my tattoos with makeup back then.
So like we mentioned before, its actually the 20th anniversary of you winning EOY. Did you go back to the national pageant this year?
Unfortunately I had a scheduling conflict BUT, will not miss this coming year! It’ll be my 21st anniversary! You know what THAT means! She’s finally old enough to drink!!!
She meaning your crown?
*Laughs* My crown can actually drink me under the table.
We won’t talk about what you’re doing under that table gurl! So you have managed to stay relevant and booked for a long time now. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Florida drag in that time?
Ouch yes! Its been a quarter of a century since I started, holy shit! *Laughs* Thank GOD for plastic surgery! Well, I started as a club kid in South Beach. When South Beach was SUPER gay and so much fun. Literally every night of the week there was a show somewhere, even Mondays and and even those shows were packed! I think with Grindr and being able to order dick in changed people going out a lot. Then South Beach got gentrified after all the gays made it pretty. The straights moved in and jacked the prices up so nobody that was any fun could afford the rent. So, there’s that.
After I did the club kid thing in the early 90s, I started competing in pageants and taking it VERY seriously, not just the pageants but drag as a career. I’m very conscious of staying relevant, I keep my ear to the ground to stay informed with what’s going on in the world and that makes for good/current material for performances. It sucks that we’re in this divided place as a people. it’s my job and I take it very seriously to take these crazy times and spin it, to make a joke and to put a smile on someone’s face, even if its just for just a moment. Laughter always brings folks together and I think it’s also what’s kept me around for so long. People need to laugh and you have to be able to find SOME sort, even a sliver, of humor in every situation, otherwise we’d all go nuts!
Sorry for getting off topic a bit! *Laughs* I see the new kids coming up dressing up club kid style and I absolutely LOVE it. It was such a fun time back in the 90’s. It went away for a bit and I’m glad it’s coming back. Narrower has a more refined edge. I think it’s more high fashion which brings me back to people in small towns being able to watch a fashion show. I mean, I looked a MESS when I started and so did most girls! *Laughs* We didn’t have YouTube makeup tutorials back then so I think that’s a HUGE change. The kids starting now how a ton of knowledge at their fingertips. Look at this season’s winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Aquaria– who I absolutely LOVE. She’s so young but so smart and looks SPECTACULAR! She obviously educated herself and practiced her makeup at a super young age and I love that. I love a well-prepared girl who’s willing to learn and also acknowledges the old school, which Aquaria does. She’s young and smart. I was young and dumb at that age! *Laughs*
What motivates you to keep going in a business that is getting more crowded by the day? What inspires you as a performer?
I never think about it getting crowded and I don’t really concern myself with what others are doing. I’d rather just concentrate on what I am doing. I still have something to say, I still love fashion which is constantly changing, so that keeps me engaged. I’m mad as hell at some things happening in the world and I want to tell jokes and bitch about it! Plus, I don’t know how to fucking do anything else!
I probably should have warned you about this in advance but we have just reached……..THE LIGHTING ROUND! Are you game?
Uh oh! *Laughs* Sure, hit me!
Must have makeup item?
Pan stick! They discontinued it a while back and I bought seventy five of them. When I was down to my last five, they reintroduced them, thank god! Oh! And Maja presses powder. My drag mother Allanah Starr taught me about this old Cuban lady tip. I’ve used it from day one and I think it’s better than max factor press power! Honestly! And it’s only eight bucks!
4 AM post show food craving?
Pasta or cheese. Basically any kind of carbs
The best part of drag?
Taking it the fuck off!! *Laughs* Just kidding! The privilege of having a platform to entertain people and HOPEFULLY brighten their day.
The worst part of drag?
For my sensitive albino leprechaun ass, makeup irritating the skin.
Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?
I’m actually quite shy off stage.
Queen you would pay to see?
I’d of course pay to see ANY girlfriend. But, living, Jackie Beat, dead, Divine.
Real Housewives of New York! I am obsessed with Bethenny! I think she’s an absolute genius. Everything that comes out of her mouth is GOLD!
Last movie to make you cry?
Death Row last meal?
All seafood! Lobster, mussels, scallops- the works!
Netflix Binge recommendation?
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Disney character you relate to the most?
Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?
Well I think I have exquisite taste in music *Laughs* BUT, I bought a lot of fucked up music with weird titles, thinking they’ll be funny for shows. I suffered through a lot of stinkers to find the gems- so I guess I’d have to say too many to mention!
Well that non-answer almost sunk you but you still managed to survive…….THE LIGHTNING ROUND!
*Laughs* Thanks, I’m a Survivor! Ohhh- maybe that song!
So for members of the WERRRK. com Universe who reside in the Sunshine State, where can they come see you do your thing? And for the rest of us, where can they keep tabs on your exploits here on the interwebs?
Well my dear, we have just about reached the end the road here but I am so glad we finally got a chance to sit down and kiki for bit! The readers at home have no idea how many months this took us to do! *Laughs* I have been such a fan of yours for a long time now. Do you have any final words of wisdom for the WERRRK.com Universe before we call it a night?
Well, I don’t know if I have words of wisdom; but, I do have words from experience after a quarter of a century doing this. When I was coming up there was no social media. There was no “do it for the LIKES”. There wasn’t a lot of coinage involved, but the gurls that came up at that time did it for the LOVE of the art. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the effect of social media in connecting us. It’s invaluably useful and I appreciate every “LIKE” someone is kind enough to give. I think you have to do this work because it’s a burning desire in you, with no thought of money or recognition. Just the love you have for the art of drag and when that is evident in a performer, it shines through and hits people on an emotional level because that love comes through. Love what you do and do it because you love it, whether there are a thousand people in the room or just tables and chairs honey! Always serve them your best and let your love for the art shine. Fuck a “LIKE”! Do it because there’s nothing else that will feed your soul like sharing that passion and love with an audience!