By Shelby Clark Petkus
Drag Queens at Andiamo
8 p.m., July 23
7096 E. 14 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48092
Murray & Peter are hosting an evening of world class drag performances July 23 in Warren, showcasing some of the most well-known — and even controversial — contestants of Season 7 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Featured queens include this season’s Miss Congeniality, Katya Zamolodchikova. The faux-Russian queen is known for her comedy and lip-synchs. Trixie Mattel, another comedy queen known for her unique look, was the only contestant this season to be booted — then brought back!
Rounding out the drag roster are two of the “Top 3” of this past season: Violet Chachki and Pearl. Chachki, the winner of the season, spoke with Between the Lines about her fans, her recently released album “Gagged” and her take on social justice.
What was the process behind your album? How was working with Tommy Lee (who helped produce the lead single, “Bette”)?
I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’m so honored to even have the opportunity to do it. I’ve listened to lots of different music that has that same kind of (industrial) feel to it. I don’t usually perform music that’s in that genre, but I definitely get ready to (that sound), relax to, listen to it. It might potentially get remixed and get played somewhere someday, hopefully! (Tommy) is such a sweetheart, such a nice guy. We’re actually going to his show in Atlanta in, I think, August.
I wouldn’t have pegged you for a Tommy Lee girl, but you’ve surprised people with how you work in different genres. Similarly, have you been surprised by a fanbase you weren’t expecting?
Yeah! I remember being at Drag Con (May 16-17), and these little tiny children — had to be 7 or 8, all small children — and they’re with their parents, they’d come up to me and go, “We’re such huge fans.” And I was like, “Oh…” I consider myself to be a little bit of an adult entertainer, and I don’t know, I’ve never really seen drag as a children’s form of entertainment. It’s so cool to see such open-minded parents and kids; these kids are going to remember this for the rest of their lives, meeting me, going to Drag Con.
Speaking of youth, I know you’ve been a big advocate for LGBT youth and other social justice issues. Can you speak about that?
Yeah, I definitely get almost emotional — which is not a scene that happens a lot in my life — but when I see kids saying they’re getting inspired by my confidence and that it helps them get through things, I love that. I hope more youth look to me for confidence and guidance and are inspired in their own lives. I think it’s a great time to be a queer youth.
In addition to LGBTQ activism, what are your thoughts on social justice issues for kinks and fetishes? I know you have experience in those scenes and reference them on your album.
There definitely is a stigma attached, and I’m working to break that stigma, actually. I’m very sex positive, I’m very body positive. I know it can get really complicated with fetishes and fetishizing trans people. I think you need to deal with it on a case by case basis. But as far as sex positivity goes, I think one thing for me is bringing things into a positive light regardless of what stigma is attached to them. Separating fact from fiction in the fetish community. One of the biggest stereotypes of fetish (is that it’s) this huge, ridiculous sex thing, and it’s usually not. It’s usually just good, sex-based fun. I think some people think it’s dirty or wrong, and it’s really not.
What were you feelings after the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling?
I thought it was about time, especially since a lot of my friends had already been married. My drag mom is married. Part of me is like, “finally.” But a part of me is, “Well yeah, duh.” It’s been a long time coming. It’s amazing that it happened — I was actually on my way to Mexico when it happened, so we actually celebrated in Mexico at Mexico Pride. It’s an incredible time to be a young person, a queer person, a trans person. There’s a voice for everyone it seems like now, and the voice is only getting louder and stronger. It’s an amazing time to be alive right now.
You were one of the more controversial winners of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — how has that affected your “reign” so far?
I’ve proved people wrong my whole life, and that’s why I am where I am now. I’m determined and I’m resilient and I don’t really owe anybody anything. I think I’m a really good representation for the show and for the network, and if someone doesn’t think that, it’s their own problem.
You’re known for your love of fashion — are there any plans in that area?
(Laughs) There are, there are. Really exciting plans, actually. They’re not entirely finalized, but I love designing. It’s one of my favorite things to do. The “Hello Kitty” challenge on the show was one of my favorite things to do. I love working with my hands; I love designing stuff, and I love fashion. I think it’s a dumb decision not to do something in fashion … I have to do it, you know. Especially before they announce the Season 8 winner! (Laughs) God, they just churn you out and then it’s on to the next season!
Speaking of next season, there are murmurings about a potential second season of “RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race.” Have you heard anything about that?
There is potentially talk about “All Stars 2.” I have heard about queens clearing their schedules here and there. No one has told me anything — I’m too busy to be paying attention — but queens have been clearing their schedule and it’s super exciting. They definitely need to do an “All Stars 2.”
About queens and gossip: I’ve heard that Pearl’s been canceling gigs.
Oh. That whole… well, it happened in New York. I was working with her that whole day actually, and while I was coming from Mexico, she was in a float in the parade. Apparently it was super hot and apparently she fell off of the float and hit her head. Because she couldn’t make our American Apparel meet and greet or the “Night of 1000 Queens” event, some other queens then went online and said she was lazy and doesn’t want to work hard — which probably is all true. But I think she really did injure herself in that particular event. She was telling me recently that she did in fact hit her head and couldn’t make it. When you’re in the spotlight, people want to make assumptions about you. I am one of Pearl’s best friends, and I want to believe the best in her, and for that event, I believe her.
I’ve noticed there’s “Pearlet” online, where fans of the show hope for a romance between you two. How does that feel to have fans pushing for that?
There’s definitely a relationship — I don’t know if it’s the kind they’re wanting or expecting, but me and Pearl love each other so much. My character is all about mystery.
Do you have any questions about Metro Detroit before you come to Warren for your show?
I think I’ll just ask all the boys on Grindr when I get there. (Laughs)