All right we're recording.
If you'll start by just saying today's date is February the 8th, I am Amanda
Wray, I'm here talking to Beaulah Land and if you want to name yourself and tell
us your date of birth and your pronoun and any of that just basic stuff is how
All right well my name is Beaulah Land on stage, off stage I go by Bergan
Mackie, that is my legal name. My mother gave me that name after my great great
great grandfather Logan Bergan Mackie. I was born on October 10th, 1997, I'm 22
years old, I'm a baby. But what else?
You were going to say your grandmother, something about you got this name from
your mother Bergan something?
My mom and dad named me after two of my third great grandparents, Logan Bergan
Mackie so that's where I got my first name, and then Oscar Lee Stiles is where I
got my middle name Lee.
It's nice to know your history like that.
Yeah, it was either that or Zebulan, you can tell I'm from the French bred River
Valley because my name was almost Zebulan.
That's pretty amazing. So, where were you born?
I was born right here in Asheville, it was either at Mission or St. Joe's, I
think it was St. Joe's, isn't that where they do labor and delivery?
I have no idea.
It was somewhere on the Mission campus and I grew up in Marzel North Carolina
which is about 20 minutes north of here, I grew up six minutes from the
Tennessee border, so there's a lot of Tennessee background in my family history,
my older brother and older sister live there currently along with my sister's
husband. My parents just bought some family-
So you're the baby literally.
I am yes I am the baby. I am the youngest of three, I have an oldest brother and
then an older sister, yeah. And then my parent's they just bought land in
00:02:00Tennessee but they're still working in North Carolina. Because we just sold our
farm, yeah kind of sad.
Was it a real farm, a big farm with animals and things?
It was, it was 52 acres on the side of a mountain, yeah well the thing is it's
mostly forest because when you're up on the mountain there's not a whole lot of
farmable land. We had a greenhouse, we had rabbits, chickens, goats, ducks,
sheep, cows, we had a garden every year somewhere on the property.
Who took care of that?
We all did. Mom was the conventional southern housewife, she is a teacher, but
she would take care of everything inside the house, and we would all, the kids
and dad, would go out take care of the animals, make sure that they were
situated, and then we'd all come back in and help mom with the chores.
Do you like to play in the dirt?
When I was very little I hated it. I wanted to have nothing to do with farming,
with southern lifestyle. If you listen to the way I talk it's a very flat
accent, when I'm with my family it's very southern, very mountainous.
Do you get worse when you drink?
People say that about me.
Yes, it really comes out when I get a little fuzzy. It's really interesting I
was in a communications class and we were talking about accents and how they
spring up and disappear and they come our with certain people and I got to
thinking and I was like wow when I was little I had a really, really thick
accent because my family all has really thick accents. And as I grew older I
realized I guess sort of subliminally that it was quote unquote bad thing to be
00:04:00considered southern or mountainous.
Certainly judged right?
Absolutely, absolutely. Hi.
So do you think you'll stay in this area now that you've been here this long?
Ever since I was little I always wanted to move off to a big city, New York,
Philadelphia, Los Angeles. As I've grown older and sort of moved out from under
my parents I've grown this immense appreciation for the mountain culture,
western North Carolina, the south even. And not to say that our history hasn't
been problematic or in other ways just outright wrong. But there's definitely
still beauty within a lot of mountain culture and so I really would love to stay
00:05:00around here. My major at Western Carolina University is environmental health
sciences and I am really hoping to work in the field of public health education
and outreach specifically dealing with queer health initiatives. There's a lot
of issues that queer people face on the national stage but also you got to
factor in the intersectionality of being rural, you're cut off from your resources.
I remember not even knowing what a gay person, let alone a trans person was
until late into my high school career. And so I just think it's really important
to broaden people's horizons no matter where they're from, just because you're
from Butcher Holler like Loretta Lynn, doesn't mean that you can't be exposed to
the world, to art, to culture. Not to say that your culture or your art is wrong
00:06:00but we should all broaden our own horizons.
Tell me a little bit, you said it took you awhile to even recognize and LGBTQ
community existed, tell me about where did that happen in your life and what
happened to facilitate that consciousness?
How long have you been in North Carolina?
2011 is when I moved here for my job.
So, you may have been here when they included the definition of marriage into
the North Carolina constitution?
Yeah I forget when that year was.
It was a little before that I think.
Was it, okay.
I'll look it up.
You remember, yeah you remember that happened.
I know the conversation.
I remember being in church and they were talking about how important it was for
the church to stand up for a traditional, what was it, the traditional
00:07:00definition of marriage. And how it was a Christian value and saying that we
needed to stand up to our peers and say these are our values and this is what we believe.
And there was a fracture even in the LGBT community right?
Over whether it was marriage or union...
Absolutely, union, there's a very notable drag queen who at the time before 2015
when same sex marriage was passed would say that she didn't believe in gay
marriage so to speak, she believe in a civil partnership, with the same benefits
but not to call it marriage and that was an argument that I heard a lot growing up.
Where were you hearing this?
A lot of other students. I tried to surround myself with a lot of different
00:08:00opinions and a lot of different people to hear a lot of different sides. I mean
it was a small high school, my graduating class was I think 120 maybe. And so we
all knew each other and I had profound respect for a lot of my more conservative
friends. I remember in my AP US history class we were talking about gay marriage
and I think at the time it hadn't passed yet because that was the summer of
2015? Yeah, so it was right before gay marriage was passed and they were saying
I think this is America you should be able to do whatever you want but at the
same time marriage is defined by one man and one woman and this is a value that
we hold really dear to our hearts and we don't want anybody convoluting the idea
so to speak.
And a lot of people were getting really mad on my behalf because I was the only
queer student in that class. And I was like listen they have their own opinion
00:09:00and that's okay, I disagree with it but this is America and we're all entitled
to our own opinions. I believe that I should be able to do whatever I want as
long as it doesn't bring harm to somebody else or put somebody's needs beneath
mine. And I don't, still to this day, I don't see how calling a civil union
between two people a marriage, even if they're not one man and one woman, I
don't see how that infringes on anyone's rights. And it was just really
interesting to see the dynamic between a lot of my friends who were very
supportive of me who wanted me to get mad and riled up and say this is this and
Do you think it was, did it feel radical for your teacher to be bringing that
stuff into the classroom?
No because we were talking about legalizing marijuana...
That's another thing.
That specific teacher we talked about a lot of stuff that would be maybe more
00:10:00considered taboo but that teacher was very formative on what we valued and what
we saw and so I really appreciate those kinds of teachers bringing up those
subjects that are... it's not something that we're used to seeing and I really
Was she on her own with that or were you getting LGBT history and activism in
Not so much, he was-
So it was a male?
Yes it was a male teacher and I don't want to out anyone.
Of course not, not at all.
So we'll just hold onto that name. I have a great respect for him, there were a
lot of teachers that were very sympathetic but I can't think of any teacher that
was even on the spectrum of queer identity. Everyone was straight to my
knowledge as far as I was concerned.
Were you getting that content in anybody else's classes?
So just this one class it started to happen.
Yeah, it was pretty much just one class. I think in some of my English classes
they had mentioned that Oscar Wilde-
Yeah I was going to say Shirley Read, Langston Hughes.
Right absolutely. And there was a little bit, there was a brief mention in
English and then there was a slight mention in our other US history, or our
other social science classes where we're talking about, I'm pretty sure they
mentioned Stonewall happened in 1969 and they were just like gay rights. Moving
on. It's the 60's.
How does that feel, I mean I know that from my own experience but I'm curious
for you, how did that feel to a young person who it seems like you were at least
somewhat out at school at a certain point to be represented or not in your curriculum.
Let me sort of tell a brief story of me coming out so that you sort of get a
little bit more of a holistic look at my high school career.
This is the good stuff.
Yeah the good stuff. So I came out, oh gosh I don't remember the year, it was in
the early 2010's, I had known for a while, I had known since about 7th grade, I
grew up in a southern missionary baptist community where it's very taboo, we
didn't talk about it until we talked about the sanctity of marriage and all of
the jazz. And so I spent a lot of time in self doubt and self deprecation and
hating myself and wondering why God would do this to me, you know the whole
schpiel that we always here and so-
I grew up in a religious community too.
So I came out to my youth pastor and then my youth pastor convinced me to come
00:13:00out to my mother and I mean looking back in retrospect, I mean it wasn't
supportive in the sense of affirming for identity or for sexuality and all the jazz.
Got some food for y'all.
Oh that looks so good. It wasn't necessarily affirming for sexuality or gender
identity, but it wasn't absolutely offensive by any stretch of the imagination.
You didn't get sent off to camp.
Well that comes later.
Oh no okay.
So I was not sent off to camp but-
Please help yourself to these.
Okay, do you want any of this?
Thank you though.
Yeah I wasn't sent off to camp but I was required to go see some specialists,
00:14:00some people who, not mastermind, people who specialize that's the word, in
getting through to people who have quote unquote lost their way. And that was a
few months after I came out, that was in I guess it was the fall of 2013
perhaps. It was somewhere right around there. I remember being asked if I wanted
to go to Walmart and being in a small town where there's not a whole lot to do
it's like sure I'll go to Walmart. And then the car turned on the exit that we
take to go to church and I was like where are we going? And it turned out that I
was meeting up wit a pastor.
I had several meetings with different pastors, different people that wanted to
talk to me, different family members even. And the one that really sticks out in
my mind was I was meeting with the pastor that married my parents and I mean it
was a difficult conversation because this was a man that I grew up listening to,
my entire childhood was filled with him and his presence and I still have a
great respect for him, I think that perhaps he's misguided in certain areas of
his life but I know that he's done a lot of great work. He does medical mission
trips to Brail and so coordinates with doctors and nurses to provide healthcare
and also minister to them and we won't go into the nature of mission work but-
Oh we could.
I mean we could, yeah. I hope that it is good work that they're doing, I know
that they're at least providing health services and I'm terminally delightful to
quote another drag race girl, I hate seeing the negative and so I'll ignore it
completely until it's staring me right at the face. But he, in the conclusion to
our conversation, he said enjoy being gay while you can because you're going to
get AIDS and die.
And you're how old at this?
And so then what happens, you go home?
I went home after that and I don't even remember really how it made me feel I
00:17:00just remember that conversation taking place and the next recollection as far as
coming out I remember it was my older brother's graduation and we were renting a
cabin, he was graduating from University of Tennessee Knoxville, we were renting
a cabin and I was watching videos and I was trying to find videos that would
help me come to peace with being gay but denying myself and I found a video of
Westboro Baptist protesting at a pride and the pride goers surrounding them and
start singing Born This Way by Lady Gaga. And I just remembered having this aha
moment of I can't do this anymore, I can't continue to live like this, I can't
keep hating myself, if God is love, than this whatever is going on here with my
00:18:00family and with my community is not loving. It doesn't make me feel loved, it
doesn't make me feel affirmed, it makes me feel like a nasty piece of garbage
and I don't want to continue to feel this way. I am going to love myself when I
am doing things how I think they need to be done and when I feel like I fall
short I'm going to critique myself and try to move forward and become a better person.
Later on that year, I was starting to come out to a few friends at high school,
my original queer family and another guy that had come out that I think he came
out a few years beforehand, a long time before me. We started talking and he was
00:19:00like hey don't come out just wait a little bit, wait until you get into college
and then it will be so much better, it'll get so much better. And I was like I
mean I'm already kind of out, everyone kind of knows. And from there our
friendship grew and we started seeing each other and texting all the time, and
we started going out, I mean going out in high school.
To the movies.
No not even that, you sent together in lunch and you make out before eight
o'clock. But yeah so I remember the moment that I came out was the first day
back from winter break, it was eight o'clock and we had to go to class and the
bell was ringing and he squints and looks at me really closely and was like you
have an eyelash, let me get it, close your eyes, and then he leaned in and
00:20:00kissed me. It was really precious. And so after that, and I was ecstatic, I was
gobsmacked, I was beside myself I had never been kissed.
And this is at school?
This is at school. This was in the library right as school was starting and I
wasn't even saying anything I was just like...
Totally the appropriate reaction.
Yeah absolutely, first time being kissed and he was like was that your first
time being kissed? I was like uh huh, he was like well here's your second time
and then went in for another. And it was really precious.
Do you still see that person or know that person?
I don't see him regularly, we had a little bit of a falling out, I mean it was
high school. But we actually gosh two years ago we started talking on grinder
just as friends, just checking in and seeing how each of us were doing. After
00:21:00we'd broken up he ended up dating my best friend who was a girl after reassuring
me that he was completely gay, and so that threw me for a loop, trying to make
sense of all that. But that's sort of besides the point. But now everything's
fine and I'm still friends with my best friend at the time.
Well, tell me about who was your queer family in school, you said it plural as
though you have one now perhaps that's different than what you had in school.
A lot of band kids, a lot of theater kids, everyone in the arts was very
affirming. All of my teachers in the arts were affirming. Once I had taken the
step to come out, it was like the entire world started reaching out to me. And
so once people saw me in this community they were like they need to see this
00:22:00resource and they need to see this video, and they need to listen to this person
and meet this other people and so I started really getting involved in theater
and doing a lot of dramatic works and it was so much fun. I love my theater
family, my two best friends in high school, we ended up going to the same
college together, they're no longer with me, they're still with us, they're no
longer at Western. But they're still two of my really close friends today.
And then I had a lot of friends who were not on the spectrum but definitely
allies and very supportive of me. I actually almost lost one of my childhood
friends when I came out because he couldn't come to terms with it. But
eventually I convinced him I was like listen I don't want special treatment, I
00:23:00don't want you to treat me any differently, I'm still the same exact person you
grew up with, I mean I went to the elementary school that your mom worked at for
five, six years, I know who you are and I know your family. It's kind of
ridiculous that you think that this changes anything because I've always been
this way, you just know now. And he eventually came around and we'll talk
occasionally, he's a really good guy, I love him.
So when you started to talk about being I school and where you were from you
said you felt like you didn't really know anybody else who was LGBT and then you
talk about this community presents itself-
Reaches out mm-hmm (affirmative)
So is there years that happened between this one, how do you move from feeling
like there's nobody to this is who I am, I'm going to be this person? And then
00:24:00the community emerged, is that kind of the way it worked?
It's really sort of like everything happens at the same time but very gradually
over time and so you become a little bit more comfortable with yourself and for
me it was accepting the fact that I have very feminine mannerisms, and come to
peace with that. And so when I was confident enough to just be who I was more
people started reaching out and not saying in so many words but effectively
saying I don't care that you are feminine but you were born male or you were
assigned male at birth, I think you are funny and charming and intelligent and
you are very passionate about what you love so why does that matter.
How was it with your folks or your mom in particular since she was part of that
00:25:00original conversation with the pastor? Or the minister.
It was really difficult, I want to provide a disclaimer, I love, love, love from
the bottom of my heart my family, no questions asked I'd jump out in front of a
car for them, no hesitation. As I've grown over the years I've just seen a lot
of families... I used to think that family was such a romanticized concept and
it was such a perfect holistic unit, and the older I get the more interactions I
see where family isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Not your
biological family, not your chosen family, not you adoptive family, whatever
have you. We're all human, we're all in relationships with one another and you
00:26:00can't expect somebody to... yes you can expect somebody to love you
unconditionally but that doesn't mean that they necessarily like you all the time.
Right, or even accept you.
Yes, and you can love someone, I firmly believe, and not accept every single
part of them. At least on some plane I find it difficult to accept that my
family doesn't accept me and so it makes me hard to accept them, and so one day
I hope to be able to bring someone home or to be my authentic self and have a
nice family dinner because I love family, that's a very strong ideal that I have
in my life, which is why I cling to my drag family so much. And community as
00:27:00well, your chosen family. I think that that's really important and so I don't
fault them for being a product of their culture and their generations. It just
takes time. I don't know if I answered that question well.
You did a really beautiful job with that one.
Wow absolutely. So let's see, make sure I covered all those things. Okay, so you
said you might stay here, actually I have a lot of other questions about things
and I'm really interested in drag.
And so I wonder if you could just start by giving me some of the language
because for example in doing transgender history the words change over time right?
So give me some language related to drag and how those kinds of identifications
shift, like female impersonators versus the other long list of options. And
where are you in that?
I love that I got something really crunchy.
Let's see, so first of all if you're curious about drag lingo, underground
nightclub lingo, queer lingo, you have to watch the documentary Paris Is Burning.
Oh I have.
Have you? That will give you more than a foot in the door as far as drag lingo.
That's where we base a lot of our words off of. It's such a beautiful snapshot I
think of the underground ballroom scene and the nightlife that was happening at
00:29:00that time. And those words and those phrases existed before that documentary was
filmed and it's really interesting to see how that movie sort of catalyzed our
catch phrases today.
Like drag being literally dragging a cloak on the ground right?
Mm-hmm (affirmative) right. Yeah, I remember, oh gosh, I remember a lot of
people say that drag means this or drag means that or this is where the word
came from, but I still have not been convinced of a 100 percent this is where
the word drag came from.
As though there's a single origin right?
Exactly. I've heard that drag comes from dressed, D-R as a girl G, so drag. I
don't know I feel like that's a little bit of a stretch personally. I've heard
00:30:00of the drag-
With your clothes.
With your cloak yeah I've heard of that.
Like in Shakespearian times.
Yes, has that been researched because I still have...
I mean I read in article in preparation for this interview.
Well I will read that article.
Oh okay, I'll send it to you.
I mean just because I'm a drag performer doesn't mean that I know everything
about drag but I will do my very best to regurgitate all of the information I've learned.
Well so tell me where are you in the spectrum in terms of how you identify and
So I identify as a transgender woman, I am on the very cusp of transitioning, I
am not on the hormones yet, I am currently trying to let my hair grow out, I
have a depression beard as we speak that just comes from, it's a byproduct of
being very overworked and stretched for time.
What do you mean depression beard, I've never heard that.
I really dislike facial hair on me personally, I mean I love facial hair, but I
hate it on me and this is very much just I'm too tired to-
Of the fact that you have it.
Yes, the fact that I have one, I always told my friends hey, if I start growing
a beard make sure you check on me. So I had a meeting this morning and then
today and tomorrow I'm hosting a drag brunch and then immediately following I
have a Q and A panel right before a screening of Kinky Boots the musical and so
I've been looking forward to this week.
Oh, where's that?
That's at Bardo Arts Center at WCU, I'm really excited, I've got some friends
that are going to be on the panel with me and we're going to try to answer some
questions and spread the gospel of drag out. But yeah, Beaulah is very much the
00:32:00southern woman I never got to be growing up.
I was going to ask you about your name, this is great.
Yeah, so Beaulah Land is actually, I got the name from my favorite hymn growing
up, Beaulah Land.
Mm-hmm (affirmative) Wondered.
You're from a religious family, what background?
I'm from rural Kentucky.
Oh wow. What denomination?
My mother is Methodist.
You heard the Methodist church is splitting right?
Yeah I guess, no I don't really know a lot of that, I'm not way up on...
On gay marriage.
Oh. No yeah I did read an article about that actually last year I guess.
A couple months ago, I mean in 2019.
And so yeah exactly. So we went to a non denominational Christian church which
very much is rooted in church of Christ.
It's just Baptist with a fancy website.
Exactly. Well no, no fancy websites. Yeah when I was home at Christmas my dad
00:33:00gave me a lecture about homosexuality actually, in front of my son and it was a
little traumatic you know because he's not sure how he, he's a freshman in high
school, and he's not sure how he identity's and he's being very open about that
and so he scooted down on the couch and put his arm around me, you know my dad's
going on, my dad's a loving wonderful person, loves him just as you sad I love him.
It can be difficult.
He has a very strong opinion about it and so you just listen to him.
Yup and that's the thing about one of the best tricks that I've learned that's
sort of like a trick of mindfulness is to visualize the negative forces in your
life as little slips of paper that are flying through the wind and to reach out
00:34:00and grab it, open it up and read it, close it, let it sit in your mind, and then
let it go.
Let it go.
And that has been something that I really have a hard time with but that little
trick of just visualizing that and letting yourself feel whatever you're feeling
and then let it go has been really helpful for me.
Yeah, so Beaulah is the souther lady...
Tell me about Beaulah.
So Beaulah is the southern lady that I never got to be.
I looked at your social media.
I'm flattered. I hope you were engaged.
It was awesome. You're beautiful.
Thank you so much. It's a lot of hard work.
That's totally on the list too I want to get to that.
Okay, okay. Yeah we'll get into it. So Beaulah Land, Beaulah is an old Puritan
00:35:00name that has its basis in scripture, I forget which verse it is I want to say
it's Psalm but don't quote me on that. Beaulah, the scripture roughly reads as
referring to the second coming of Christ as the land shall no longer be called
Hepzibah which is old Jewish word for barren or unfruitful but shall be called
Beaulah and so it's sort of talking about how the earth will be married to
Christ or the church will be married to Christ and shall bring forth fruit so to
speak. And that verse inspired a hymn which is called Beaulah Land and it's
00:36:00beautiful hymn and it was one of my favorites growing up, I remember hearing it
when I was little.
Do you sing?
Do you want to sing something?
I don't, we can try, I'm really sniffly right now. Beaulah Land I am longing for
you, and someday on me I'll stand, where my home shall be eternal, Beaulah Land
sweet Beaulah Land. I think it's such a beautiful song.
It is a beautiful song. And you did a lovely job.
Thank you, I'm really sniffly so...
Do you sing as a part of your act?
Sometimes. We typically try to stay away from singing just because it's not
quite as engaging as funny sound effects and references to other things. And
00:37:00that's very much just sort of a reflection off of American drag culture, it's
mostly rooted in lip syncs but there's been a few times where I've sung.
Actually one of my favorite numbers to do is to sing Silent Night dressed up in
Santa Lucia dress. Are you familiar with the Santa Lucia festival? It's a
Swedish festival and my drag mom's Swedish so that's where I got the idea from.
But it's the girths that wear the wreaths with the candles that are lit and it
takes place right before winter solstice and it's all about the coming of light
and the returning of Christ and to me it symbolizes how it can often times feel
like we're in the longest nights and the sun will never come back up but you can
always count on the night ending and the sun rising and becoming one with the
00:38:00light again. And so it holds a lot of significance to me. The first time I
performed it I dedicated it to, I might get a little emotional at this, I
dedicated it to one of my really good friends who is no longer with us. The
pastors son where I was attending church committed suicide I think about two
years, I think we're approaching three years. And that really hurt me.
And he was young?
He was 16 or 17. And he was still in the closet and it just reminded me of how
hopeless sometimes it feels and how we all have an individual [inaudible] and
00:39:00you can't know what's going through another persons mind and I hate to see
myself as more important than I am but to me I felt like he was kind of a little
brother in the community and so I always wanted to encourage him and to make
sure that he was okay. And I just sort of stopped doing that when I stopped
going to church or stopped going to our home church and it just awakened these
feelings of I should have been there, I should have comforted him, I should have
been there to talk to him. If I had been there, if I had done this, if I had
done that this wouldn't have happened and he'd still be here with us and so
that's a very dangerous place to be and so I dedicated that number to him. It
was honestly mostly for me so that I could find peace within myself and to share
00:40:00his story and so that other people would feel less alone because loneliness and
solitude are some of the biggest themes within our community.
Absolutely, I think that's very true.
I feel like I'm going on so many different tangents.
This is exactly right, this is the way it should feel. So do you still have a
I do. I still identify as Christian, if you want to get real technical I
identify as a granny witch.
Are you familiar with the concept?
Yeah actually but please explain it. I live across the street from someone who
Oh, oh I really would love to meet that.
I live in the queerest neighborhood.
Oh I love it.
Which is saying a lot I think.
I have very limited experience and I would love to be more involved in it but
00:41:00from what I have read and what I've researched, in the 19th century in western
North Carolina in the southern Appalachians you had a lot of immigrants from
Europe and wester Europe who had these Celtic pagan Norse practices.
I'm going to [inaudible] sorry. I'm just hyper paranoid.
Right, right, I know I totally understand. You have these old ancient practices
of paganism, rituals, potions, rights, different stuff like that. And when they
came to America would incorporate it into their Christian practices and so my
relationship with God has been really helpful for me and it was really difficult
at first for me to distinguish between the hate that was coming from the certain
00:42:00members of the community and God and finally I realized I do have a loving
relationship with God it's just I think these people might be mistaken or
misunderstood or they're trying something that isn't working and they don't
understand that it's not working. And they're trying to be loving and affirming
but it's not a place of stupidity and I don't like when people say that other
people are stupid it's just ignorance and you know what I'm ignorant about a lot
of things and I'll be the first to admit to that. I don't like to admit to that but.
No but I totally agree with you.
And ignorance and stupidity are two completely separate things, ignorance is
just not knowing something, it's just the absence of knowledge in that
particular area versus stupidity means the incapacity to learn something or to
Yeah or unwillingness.
Or willfulness if that's not something.
I forgot where we were.
I asked about your religious identity.
So when you stopped going to your church in high school did you go somewhere
else to church?
I stopped going in college. Timothy, oops.
That's okay I can blur that out.
Thanks. My friend who passed away, passed away I think it was my sophomore year
of college and that was sort of the moment where I just had the final straw and
I just didn't want to have anything to do with that place anymore. I didn't feel
like it was affirming, I didn't feel like it was the place that I needed to be.
00:44:00And so I found a few ministries on campus and I've been to a few different
churches and it's been very helpful for me and so that's been something that's
been central to my drag character is the fact that we're pushed so hard out of
religious spaces that there's this whole world of religious affiliation,
Christian or not, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, there's so many
different avenues that people feel discouraged from because they had negative
experiences as children and as young people or even as adults sometimes. And I
think that's something that's so tragic because my relationship with God has
really helped me find solace and solidarity and understanding and compassion.
00:45:00I've met so many people in drag that are like Jesus was cool, he was a dirty
hippie, and I'm like yeah that's why I follow his teachings or try to oat least.
But there can be real backlash too.
[inaudible] I feel like in the queer community there can be a dismissal.
Absolutely. I hate saying this because I don't want to sound like I'm
complaining against people who have real trauma with the church but there have
been real moments where I don't really feel welcome giving my full opinion on
something or I don't feel valued or accepted because I cling to this religious
identity and I understand where they're coming from and I want to be
understanding. Sometimes it can be frustrating because I would like to share my
00:46:00experiences and I hope that I don't come across as a zealot, I mean I'm
definitely passionate but I try to make sure that whatever I want to say is
relevant but there are moments where I feel at odds with the community. I have a
dear friend who I'm still in contact with, we're going to go shopping sometimes
soon and one of their protests for some people who came on campus, it was a
counter protest, was to dress up in drag as a nun and to rip out pages of the
bible and eat them.
It was such a mind flip because on one hand I think it's hilarious and it's sort
of showing the protestors we're not going to put up with this, this is a joke.
But then it's also this is a several thousand year old manuscript that I've
00:47:00placed a lot of value in that is being treated as tissue paper. And so it put me
at a very odd place and he gave me a ripped out page of the bible and I just
couldn't deal with it and I was like listen I respect your art, and I respect
your choices, and I don't ever want to tell you what to do, I just would prefer
not to be involved. I will cheer you on and I will support you and I will offer
my feedback if you like but I don't really want to be involved in that.
And I remember my home bar is the auditorium and one of my absolute best friends
was going to incorporate crucifixion into her act because it was the anniversary
of the drag show being founded but also it was an Easter show, because it was
right around Easter and she wanted to pretend to be crucified, and she's like
00:48:00can you be a Roman soldier since you're not booked that night and I was like I
love you and I'll cheer you on and I love your art and I'm here for you, I would
not be comfortable participating so to say and she was very respectful and
understand that, I don't know if she quite understood but she at least was
willing to be like okay I hear what you're saying and that's okay.
That's awesome. So you said your home bar is the auditorium?
Yes my home bar is the auditorium.
Is that where you perform the most or is that where you go the most or what does
I wouldn't say that it's necessarily where I perform the most anymore, that was
the drag show where I first started going out in drag, I first started performing.
Was the first place you went?
Well not the very first.
Okay where was the very first.
It was the first bar. The absolute first time I ever performed in drag was at
00:49:00Western Carolina Universities annual drag show. This was back in 2017 yes.
Had you been a patron before that at a drag show?
No, the only experience I had with any aspect of drag was Rue Paul's drag race
and I know that that's going to reflect on my age and I'm sorry, I'm 22 and I
can't help it. But I just remember watching I think it was all stars season two
and I just fell in love with the personas and the larger than life characters
and the fashion, and the comedy. I just thought it was the best thing ever and
so I was like I want to do that, I want to dip my toes in that
Had you dressed female before that?
No, never. Well when I was really little, really little, this was sort of a
warning sign that I was a woman all along, but I would take my brother's
00:50:00oversized T-shirts and I would shimmie them down as a skirt, and then I would
take another one and make it like a dress and then I would take a third one, put
it around my head and it would be long hair.
Do we need anything else right now?
Do you need anything else?
I'm good, thank you. But that would be my long hair and I would dance around
with long hair.
So did people see you in your family like that or was that very private in your room?
It was very private, not even my brother or sister I think knew about it. I'm
not sure. There used to be a picture of me in a pink dress when I was a little kid.
Oh you should find it, we would love to have it.
So my house burned down in 2006.
Oh no I'm so sorry.
I mean it's a part of life and I've learned to accept it and move on, but there
were a lot of important lessons I learned about that.
That is so tragic.
It was interesting because I remember seeing that photo until I came out and as
soon as I came out that photo never resurfaced. And so I don't know what
00:51:00specifically happened with it because I know it existed after the house fire,
but that is where one of the copies of the pictures was, I do remember that, one
of the copies of the photos did burn in the fire, but I do remember seeing it
after the fact.
What was the story around that photo?
I don't even remember I was too little.
Did anybody ever talk about it or anything?
No. I remember-
What did you think about it?
When I was little I remember I loved Barbie dolls and I loved being-
Because you had a sister right that had those things?
Yes I had a big sister and I played with her Barbie dolls all the time when she
wasn't looking and I hated being dirty, I hated farm work. Now I will say I have
a deep appreciation for my agrarian upbringing and it instilled a lot of really
positive values like hard work ethic.
Yeah, down to earth, not materialistic, or at least these are the lessons not
necessarily what I live by.
Thanks for the clarification.
Yeah, I don't remember the story behind that I just remember I was standing on
the steps of our old porch, wow I haven't thought about the house in forever, I
was standing on the steps of the porch and then somebody, it was either my
grandmother or my mom was behind me and then I was squinting in the sunlight and
it was a long pink dress. And I don't remember anybody taking that photo at all.
Interesting. So the first time then you dressed in drag in public...
The first time I intentionally dressed in drag was October, oh dearie it was
right around my birthday, I want to say it was October 9th, 2017 because that's
the day before my birthday. I dressed in long black and white striped stockings,
00:53:00a black tutu, and some ridiculous black shirt and I had the ugliest makeup and
I'm so thankful for my friends that helped me with my makeup but we know that it
was bad. Do you want to see a photo?
Yeah and I want to talk about makeup, who taught you how to do makeup?
YouTube mostly. I learned a lot of a makeup from my drag mom and sister.
Which came into your life how and where?
Oh! So Ida Caroline is my drag mom and-
Govinda gave me her name too.
Yes, she would be a wonderful person to interview, she is not as religious as I
am by any means. But we have a very similar style of old Broadway kind of feel.
But we were in the same show together, I was a street performer, she was a
00:54:00professional, and she read me for filth, she just looked me up and down and was
like oh okay.
What does that mean read you for filth?
Read you for filth, okay so there's some drag lingo for you. Reading someone is
like finding a flaw and sort of teasing somebody about it or making fun of
somebody about it, and reading somebody for filth is just an exacerbation of
reading someone so if you read me for filth you just absolutely trash me and
make the other person feel-
Like being too tall or too short or too something? Oh wow.
That was, I think the dates on there, October 12th 2017.
Wow well you should send us any pictures you want that you'd be willing for us
Absolutely, oh gosh not this one.
So, in some of the other interviews, for example I interviewed Rosie Coats, do
00:55:00you know her?
I am not familiar with that.
O'Henry's, she's been the bartender at O'Henry's for like 30 years.
Mm-hmm (affirmative) absolutely.
And so she only works a few days now. But she talks about in the late 70's and
early 80's Holly Boswell, is that a name that you've heard of?
That is not a name I've heard of.
Holly Boswell was a real trans gender pioneer, not just in Asheville but for the
country, she literally was the first person to publish academic scholarship
using the language transgender and to talk about gender as a spectrum, gender
fluidity. And so Rosie tells a story about how Holly who was transitioning at
that time in the late 70's as the bar was starting to come open and stuff that
she started doing makeup classes because Rosie says everybody would come in and
00:56:00they just looked like their mother. They used the same product maybe that their
mom used or they used a picture of their mom as their pallet and that kind of
stuff and so that's why it's so curious to me, where'd you learn how to do
makeup and what's that been like?
It's been a long journey.
As someone who doesn't really wear makeup.
Well that's the thing, regular makeup, just day to day makeup is so much
different from drag makeup.
Because in drag you're painting for the back of the room, you have to make sure
everyone can see your eyeliner, your contour, your eye shadow, your eyebrow, you
have to make sure that everyone can see every single detail.
Where do you buy products and things like different kind of makeup?
So it's kind of a mix, some of my stuff is stage makeup, very pigmented colors,
my foundation is a very full coverage, I get the from Venus beauty supply, if
00:57:00you have any drag needs go to Venus beauty supply.
Is that a local place?
It is. It's on smoky park highway next to Taco Bell.
They have two drag queens that work there.
Oh that's helpful.
Yes, very helpful.
Do you think that they do an outreach from that place, do they help people?
In their own way, in their very own way yeah. Venus beauty supply is a really
nice place, I love going in there. They have all the way around the store is
covered in wigs. They have stage makeup, they have jewelry.
Yeah you said you were letting your hair grow out so literally you do wigs I guess.
I'm trying to. Yeah, oh yeah I never go out with regular hair. Mine is not long
enough to be... I'm a sucker for 1940's beauty standards, so a red lip, quaffed
hair, the whole nine yards, that's my niche.
So you're act kind of stayed pretty much in terms of your persona has been
It felt right from the beginning?
I remember growing up I watched a lot of old movies, a lot of Julie Andrews,
Audrey Hepburn, some Greta Garbo, just some really classic Hollywood beauty
standards and I didn't realize it at the time but that's what I wanted to look
like and so that's who I try to emulate is that, that's why I cinch my waist so tight.
I know I was just looking, it's insane I was just like did you have a corset on?
I do, I do have a corset, it's a steel bowed corset.
It's actually not that bad. It's very difficult when you're dancing around and
you have to breathe a lot but when I'm sitting around I think it's very
00:59:00comfortable, personally. And that's very much a personal choice, I kind of get a
kick out of it.
Is that pretty standard?
Corseting yes, tight lacing not so much. I mean I don't want to say I corset
tighter than other drag queens but every drag queen that I've seen that watched
me corset, they're always like damn, what are you doing, that's ridiculous.
Because I mean I am not a thin person, my personality, there is nothing thin
about me, except maybe my air headed ness. But yeah I just love the... I'm in
love with the 1940's style, the perfectly quaffed hair in a fishnet with a bold
01:00:00red lip and minimal makeup but just that real classic Hollywood look.
Could that become your everyday look?
I really hope so.
What's your new everyday look going to be like as you transition?
I don't know. I'm hoping to grow out my hair into, so there's a burlesque dancer
that I'm really close friends with, she is a regular performer at Party Foul,
her name is Elizabeth Evans or her stage name is [crosstalk]
Where's Party Foul? I've never heard of it.
That's at the auditorium.
So Party Foul is the drag troupe and then auditorium is the bar. And she's a
burlesquer, she would be a wonderful person to contact. She has-
Tell me their name again.
I'll catch back with you on that.
Will do. She has a very classic Hollywood style, she has her hair quaffed, and
it's curled and she has a bold red lip, and I love her. I always-
You have such good lips too.
Thank you! Thank you.
That's just my thing, to not have to worry about that.
But I always joke with Ida, I'm like Ida you're my drag mom but EE is my
biological mom. Because EE and I have a very similar style as well. She once
wore this it looked like a sequined beaded 1940's flight attendant. And it was
absolutely everything, it had the little fastenator hat and it was sparkly from
head to toe and it had these broad shoulders, I was like this is everything I
That's awesome. So how did Ida become your mom?
Okay, so this story took about nine months, but we're going to keep it real
short because the details are rather boring and kind of sad on my part. So,
everyone who was at that show who knew Ida, kept bugging her to adopt me because
01:02:00my other friends were getting adopted by other queens and so I honestly-
So you wait for somebody to come to you?
You do, yes, I mean you can but it's typically looked down upon within the
community, it's like let them pick you, let them come to you. You could ask for
help, that's totally fine, and there are queens who have initiated relationships
with their respective drag mothers who have totally normal relationships but I
don't know maybe from my perspective, I wanted to be wanted. I didn't want to
want someone, I wanted to be wanted, and so I started going to Party Foul
regularly trying to dress in drag to the best of my abilities. It was a shit
show and then this one queen was hosting the night and I was in drag and a
patron from the back of the bar said why aren't you performing? I was like ah,
01:03:00and so the host was like well if y'all promise to tip her I'll put her in the
show and I was like what? And so Ida was in the back and-
Did you feel afraid?
I was petrified because I had nothing prepared, I really like to be prepared,
know exactly what I'm getting myself into and so I was brainstorming with my
friend and I was like okay I got a song, we're going to do Don't Rain On My
Parade by Barbara Streisand. The gay anthem. So I did that song and I don't know
if Ida watched that but that was sort of my foot in the door and so I started
going to Party Foul more regularly and then Priscilla Chambers, the creator of
Party Foul and Asheville, honestly national celebrity at this point because she
01:04:00just finished her run on Dragula season three, just booked me one evening and I
started performing here and there and then this was the next summer, I think it
was in yeah it was in August, so it was nine months later, give or take,, maybe
it was July, I don't know. It was somewhere right around the end of summer, she
was like okay I didn't want to do this but do you want to be my drag kid? And
I'm like yes! And so I started freaking out and she was like oh God what have I
gotten myself into. I'm just kidding Ida if you're listening.
Are you the only one?
No, no, I am the third out of six, okay maybe the fourth out of six. Yes, so
Dina Loneliness was first, she currently is in University of Alabama Huntsville.
01:05:00And then came Rift Tina, she's currently I think up in New England studying
dramatic arts or musical theater and then came me, it was either me or
Donatella, Donatella is Ida's biological sister and then Ida adopted her, so I
don't remember the specific timeline on that. And then came Clich who is my
drag sister and she is the other queen who performs here in Asheville. And then
finally my brother Silver Cox is a drag king, works at UNCA, Kristina Risleras,
as a guidance counselor. But he has been doing drag for a little bit but then
Ida decided to adopt him just to bring families together.
So tell me about this biological versus not.
So, I mean biological that goes without saying, biological refers to somebody
01:06:00that you're physically related to, you have the same parents versus-
So it is still the same language but literally you're not biologically related
but it's the same kind of into that.
Yeah, I mean I called EE my biological mother, that was more of a joke, she
wasn't actually my mother but just sort of a play on the lingo that we use.
So drag parents are there just mothers?
There are mothers, fathers, whatever gender they want to be, they're drag
parents if you're a gender fuck or a non binary performer. I have aunties,
uncles, I have an auntie-uncle.
Which is a single person?
Yes, yes, they are a single person who doesn't identify as either gender.
I would have been Holly Boswell, she did-
Oh did you not. I'll have to research into her.
I'll send you an article.
I mean it's not been published yet but it's a lot of information.
Yeah I bet. That's awesome, I didn't even know that we had a pioneer in
Asheville that's so cool.
Absolutely so Holly Boswell started Phoenix Transgender project which was-
I've heard of Phoenix, yes.
Okay so that was the second transgender support group in the country and the
first one came out of San Francisco.
And so they met in Hot Springs and started doing-
That's where I'm from. Well kind of.
Pretty close yeah. But yeah they started Kindred Spirits which is in the
tradition of native and indigenous histories and information about two spirit
and nature. And they still meet, Kindred Spirits still meets, Holly passed away
01:08:00in 2016 with a heart problem and Kindred Spirits still meets.
Wow, and is Holly Boswell, was she Native American?
Nope. But was very invested and I think had a partner at one point who was and
the organization very much was attempting to help people understand indigenous
Okay I can appreciate that.
Not to appropriate but to share. Absolutely. So tell me what does drag mean to
you? That's a big question though right?
That is a very big question. For me personally, drag was a way for me to come to
terms with my gender identity and to find my own little niche in the world. I
love to incorporate deeper meanings and political commentary, I'm really
01:09:00passionate about registering people to vote and getting out the vote, we all
have the right to vote but not everybody has the ability or the access to vote.
And so I voter registration forms, I am a former board of elections employee and
did a song, it was Dina Washington's Let's Fall In Love but I cut love and said
let's register to vote. And so I had a whole song about registering to vote and
I like to do stuff like that and community work that propels our community into
And so drag is very much about, for me, is about finding where I stand within
the world and giving back to the community that's helped me, this upcoming
01:10:00Saturday we're actually having a benefit show for the sexuality and gender
alliance which is the queer organization on campus at western. Because they're
trying to put on their second annual pride festival for [inaudible] and so I'm
trying to raise money and funds for them. I am really inspired by people like
Marsha B. Johnson, Silvia Rivera, divine in her own weird way Nina West to a
list of contemporary people, real movers and shakers within the community and I
think it's really important to use whatever platform you have to propel your
brother, sister, and siblings forward as well as yourself.
So do you see drag as inherently political?
I hesitate to say that. I would not necessarily say that drag is inherently
political, I wish it was, but I've met too many queens and kings who are just in
01:11:00it to look nice or to feel their juje.
Yeah. As strictly entertainment value kind of deal and there is value in that
but my [inaudible] is a deeper meaning and something that yes is entertaining
and yes is fun to watch or is funny or makes you feel a certain type of way, but
that inspires you to do something.
So lets talk about that spectrum of drag in terms of you have drags as
entertainment, and not to say just in a diminutive way but you have drags as
entertainment and then you have drag as art. And there is a lot in the middle of
all of that.
Yes absolutely, I would like to consider myself within the middle of that. Bob
01:12:00the drag queen, Peppermint are two really amazing entertainers based out of New
York City, they've both been on Ru Paul's drag race. And they're drag has been
very politically charged. Peppermint is a trans woman-
In terms of message?
Yes, in terms of the message that they've broadcast. Peppermint has been an
absolute gem for the trans community and is somebody that I look up to a lot.
And somebody who I would like to emulate one day. When I go on her Instagram all
I see is posts of her speaking out on trans issues and she's going to this city
in the US to deliver a speech on trans rights or she's going here to talk about
LGBT inclusion or she's on Capital Hill talking about the crazy murder rates
01:13:00that we're seeing within the trans community especially with trans women of
color. Stuff that breaks my heart and I think it's really important to find your
community and to hone in on your people and to feel valid within yourself, but
you also need to be making spaces for other people to come and join you. And I
find myself at odds with some entertainers because I want to do more and I think
because I've been blessed with a moderate amount of fame, I mean I've been
recognized in Asheville before, I don't want to say I'm famous but-
As a young person.
Yeah I mean I'm very proud of the work that I've done. I actually had a little
epiphany a couple weeks ago where I looked at Ida and I was like you know I
01:14:00finally feel like I've become the drag queen that I have set out to be. That was
the night that I did the lets register to vote number. Not to say that I've
reached the pinnacle of my career or that I don't have anymore growing to do, I
definitely do, but I finally feel like I'm at the place where I can be proud of
what I'm doing and I can stand on my own two feet with the help and input of my
community but also... yeah.
Yeah, how exciting.
I'm sorry I don't know more about Asheville history, that's something that I'm
trying to learn more about.
No, I mean you shouldn't have to know it all. There were like five things as you
were talking that I thought of, I should have written them down.
Oh no. Well you have the recording.
Yeah. What kind of organization have you been apart of here at all in Asheville
01:15:00or WCU, pride anything like that.
So at WCU I got involved in the sexuality and gender alliance as soon as I got
there. And I met so many amazing people from western North Carolina that are at
Western, let's say that. Oh my goodness excuse me. Sorry.
I'll take all the other jalapenos.
I met so many amazing people at Western who are dedicated to promoting queer
rights and trans identity and I've just met some amazing people. One of my best
friends, Alexis Brody, she's the president of the sexuality and gender alliance.
She has worked with the saga council and with-
Saga council that's not familiar to me, what's that?
Sexuality and gender alliance.
It's a student group that-
And that's at WNC?
Yeah it's like our GSA, you're familiar with that?
So she's worked really hard with the saga council and campus activities and
stuff like that, and student government to implement, there's now a question on
our little roommate questionnaire when you sign up to do housing, would you
prefer a roommate that was LGBT friendly and accepting and we'll match you up
with other people.
Do you know when they started asking that question?
Yeah, this past year.
Yeah, and that is almost exclusively in part, to my knowledge, on behalf of
saga. The organization also started a movement to get our campus ID cards to use
01:17:00preferred names rather than legal names because my favorite restaurant on campus
is Einstein's Bagels because no carb left behind first of all.
I love that, I'm a big bread eater.
I bake bread actually.
Do you really? I made my own bagels. Oh sourdough's so good. But yeah so when
they take you cat card, when you swipe it, they'll look at the name and that's
how they'll type it in. And so they'll call out a person's dead name and that
can be really triggering to somebody. And not to over use the word triggering
but you know it can put you in a bad place.
It's a really easy thing to fix.
Yeah. It is. [crosstalk] it's super easy to fix and it makes people feel much
more comfortable because you have this person who looks like a guy who is
passing as a guy and then they call out Tiffany and how is that supposed to make
them, how is that supposed to make other people feel?
Have you seen the UK Starbucks commercial?
So they just released this commercial in the UK not here in the US but Starbucks
did and it gives this whole humanistic story around somebody changing their name
and so in Starbucks they ask for their name and they tell it to them and it's a
trans man and they're saying what their new name is and that's the first time
that they get called out, and I can't remember what it was, Scott or Chris or something.
There's actually, this is a valuable tidbit, if you're trying to figure out what
you want your name to be, I still have not figure out what my...
What your new name is going to be?
What my new name will be if I decide to change it. Right now I'm comfortable
with Bergen but that may change one day.
Bergen's not a super gendered name.
No, the only other person that I know-
Do you want something else to drink or are you feeling...
I'm okay thank you so much.
I'll take that in a little box because it's real crunchy and loud. But it's yummy.
[crosstalk] for the recording.
Not at all.
Thank you so much.
So you don't think, I mean Bergen feels like a pretty gender neutral name
because it's so-
Kind of strange yeah. But yeah the tidbit, the little hack, if you're trying to
figure out what name you want to try, go to Starbucks and give the new name to
the person and have them call it out and if it feels right then you know.
Oh well see that's even more interesting now that that is what they're marketing.
Or at least that's something that I heard, I had a conversation with my friend
and they were like yeah if you like a name that you want to use, give it to the
01:20:00person at Starbucks and see if it fits.
Can you talk a little about race inter relations in the drag community.
Oh gosh okay, disclaimer, I am very, very white and I don't want to be preachy
or I don't want to stick my nose where it doesn't belong but at the same time
this is something that I'm really passionate about. Recently we had a queen who
was Latinex use the N word in her mix, her entire mix was themed around this and
not to bad mouth anyone, I don't think that it was in very good taste. I think
as entertainers and as pillars in the queer community I think we need to be
standing up for certain issues and sort of a basic rule of thumb I found that
01:21:00works for me in my experiences is if you have been called a word then you can
use it. If you have been seriously called that word as a slur, if it's a slur,
if you have seriously been called that, then you can use it. And you have the
license to use it. I am not going to police what somebody else does and does not
say, I simply want everyone to feel comfortable, I'm a libra after all.
I totally noted that by the way. And we are interviewing on a full moon.
What? Is the moon in gemini now?
It's in Leo.
Oh, that's an exciting place to be. I love astrology.
It's all about management right now.
Organizing your shit.
Absolutely. I actually was read for filth by my horoscope today, we won't get
into that but I felt very attacked.
But back to thinking about... so the queer community here in Asheville in my
experience is so very white and in reading the history-
-from a lot of people, they talk about two things is really shifting it being a
very white queer community now. What does that have to do with the entry of
cisgender people and heteronormative people coming in to LGBT spaces and how
that made some people no longer go there, right?
What do you think about that, what is the role of cisgender, heteronormative
people in your audience, how's that shifted the dynamic?
It's really interesting-
You probably don't know not ever having that right?
Yeah no for me it's almost always been very hetero cis normative audiences.
01:23:00Luckily my home bar is the auditorium where you have a plethora of different
identities I mean white, black, Hispanic, [inaudible] Cis, Native, two spirit,
whatever different identity you have you can find somebody who probably can
check off that box so I count myself very lucky for that. Scandals has a
reputation of being the bachelorette party club and personally I don't have
anything bad to say about bachelorette parties. They can be a little extra
sometimes but at the same time can't we all. I have not had a terrible
experience as of yet, and yes I am very young in my career and maybe that'll
01:24:00change someday but I've never not been in a room where its been a bunch of
straight people watching me. I was actually so this past annual WCU drag show,
we had Miss Cracker and I had the wonderful opportunity to go and pick her up
from the airport with the lady who was sort of organizing the whole thing and I
was just trying to talk a big game of me being an experienced drag queen and
being the most experienced of any of these student performers and I mentioned
something about yeah it's just a bunch of straight cis people whatever.
And she's like you know historically drag queens performed for straight cis
people because first of all that's the only people that could afford to buy
tickets and second it's show business and I mean it was the early 20th century,
who else is going to be there? And so she was talking about historically
01:25:00speaking it makes a lot more sense for straight people to be watching queer art
so I thought that was a really interesting take and I haven't really thought of
it before. You can learn something new everyday.
Absolutely a hundred percent.
I do find it unfortunate that the drag scene here is very Caucasian, I mean not
to say that there's nothing inherently wrong with being white, I don't think you
can say anything is wrong about skin color but I think we would benefit from
diversity as far as-
Do you think that there's just a lack of diversity here?
I think in western North Carolina yeah. But perhaps we're not doing enough to
make other people feel included.
I just wonder if people are congregating somewhere else, gathering in some other fashion.
I mean growing up my high school was over 95 percent Caucasian and so I just-
I mean national's 80 percent white.
I mean I want to be more inclusive but you can only include people who are here.
So can we go back, you were talking about this one Latin ex performer whose
using the N word and I wonder who was that appealing, who was that performer
appealing to in the audience?
I'm not sure and I think it was just a joke in bad taste because the whole
number revolved around-
Was anybody offended?
Do you know other performers?
I know one queen at the venue actually asked them to stop the music because it
kept saying it over and over again.
And so what happened, did they?
They did cut the music and she was asked to go to the back.
How did they handle that?
There was a lot of drama, I mean you could sneeze and it would be dramatic in
the drag world.
How do you feel about that?
I don't ever want to come across that I'm trying to police people of color at
all, that's not what I want to do and that's not what I want to appear, however
I still want to call people out for things that I notice that make other people
feel uncomfortable. There was a person there that night, there were several
people there that night that felt very uncomfortable by the use of the N word.
And as a friend of that person I don't want to sit by and say well I'm white I
can't say anything. No, we can still say stuff it's just that our opinion
doesn't necessarily count as much as somebody who is personally offended and
01:28:00personally takes that to heart.
So there's a real consequence.
Right I mean this person wanted to come out to a show and see baby drag queens
perform and have a good time, maybe have a few drinks with their friends.
Are they called that, baby drag queens?
Baby queens yeah that's a term that we use.
When you're young?
Yeah when you're young.
What's the age threshold, where do you become...
It really depends per entertainer, yeah. I mean I've been in it for two years
and I think I'm just now getting to the point where I'm coming out of the baby
phase, I think it's when you start to get a little polish. When people start to
recognize you across the community, not just within your home bar but people
outside recognize you. But there's no specific time stamp as far as when you're
called the baby queen or not.
So who do you appeal to in your audience when you're thinking about your
performances and choreographing them or whatever, who are you thinking about
Who specifically am I thinking about?
who are you performing to?
The God's honest truth I perform for myself, I mean I want people to be inspired
or to have fun or to laugh or cry, or feel some type of way about my performance
but at the end of the day I want to feel pretty and I want to feel like my
gender identity is affirmed and I want people to laugh with me. At the very end
of the day Beaulah is for me and that's been something, it's really difficult as
somebody who struggles with self esteem issues and confidence issues, it's
really difficult for me to take time for myself and to value my time and my
01:30:00energy. And so Beaulah has been super transformative for me.
So that leads me to this other question which is a lot of people in it who
identify with the LGBT community have the same feelings of a little bit of
isolation or loneliness but also self consciousness issues or self esteem and
just feeling like getting to be who you are. And so what do you do to take care
of yourself, what is your self care and how's that changed over time?
I actually had a little bit of a bump in the road as far as academic studies are
concerned and social lives are concerned. My junior year, a year ago, I was
going through a little bit of a rough patch, I definitely was suffering from
seasonal affective disorder, I mean I think a lot of people and I just felt like
01:31:00my medications weren't working, so I cut them cold turkey. Not a good idea for
whoever's listening to this recording please stay on your medications unless
it's causing you to die. Please.
So I cut my anti depressants off completely and I felt the best I've ever felt
for the next two days after I did that and then all of a sudden I woke up and
started crying, I couldn't get out of bed, I mean it was a real high to a real,
real bad low. I stopped going to classes, I couldn't pick up the phone to call
anyone, my friends in class came to my house and were like are you okay you
dropped off the face of the earth and so I eventually got back into the rhythm
01:32:00of going back for my medication and doing better and taking care of myself. But
it was really formative for me, realizing you spent your whole life within this
cis hetero normative world constructing who you think you are and then you come
out of this and you're a completely different person. That's constantly changing
and very fluid and constantly learning new things about themselves and other
people and how you relate to the world and I just realize that everything-
Do you even want to be...
Exactly or who you want to be, who you want to be with. And I just realized that
it just caught up with me, this crisis of identity and who I wanted to be in
life and I just got caught in a slump.
Thank you so much.
We're getting pretty close I think to being finished.
So I stopped going to classes for the rest of the semester, took some time off
to sort of convalesce from my breakdown and out of that came a lot of strategies
for me to take care of myself.
So you figured out on your own or the other people said do some of these things?
It was very much a mixture of both. A lot of people were telling me what they
did and so I sort of took their idea.
Which is why I ask the question.
Exactly. I took their idea and then made it my own. So when I'm feeling really
sad I'll go home and put on my 1930's Italian opera records, I'll put my led
lights on blue or a deep orange and I'll make a big pot of pasta, and I'll crack
open a bottle of red wine and I will cry into my pasta. And it is so-
It's so therapeutic and alcohol is not the way to deal with your problems by any
stretch of the imagination but that allowance of those treats like red wine I
think of as a treat. Pasta I think of as a treat. Italian opera I think of as a
treat. Those things, when you put them together and you just allow yourself to
feel whatever garbage you're feeling for a set amount of time allows you to get
that out of your system and to process those emotions. I also I found that
inducing crying really helps me. My moon is in Capricorn so emotionally I'm
constipated as heck. So it's really difficult for me to express how I feel,
01:35:00that's actually my New Years resolution is to express what I want and how I feel.
Well this is a good start.
Yeah no this is great, I have been looking forward to this since you called me
the first time. So that sort of catharsis that release of emotions is really
beneficial for me. I was feeling some type of way, I'm a love sick kitten, I am
currently in the thralls of unrequited love and I turned on really sad country
music and I just bawled into my pillows and it sounds bad listening, oh you make
yourself cry, I'm like yeah. It feels great. More people should cry more often.
It's better than holding it.
Exactly, exactly. But yeah the tips that I have are very much get your emotions
out. Catharsis is a medical term for crying and it literally means release of
emotion and so as somebody who considers themselves very emotionally
01:36:00constipated, it's really nice to get your emotional juices flowing and to
refresh and make space for new ideas and thoughts and feelings.
I mean there are other things like making sure that I go to bed on time.
Sleep is a huge, huge thing for me. When I have multiple shows and I have to
stay up really late and then I have to wake up the next morning at eight to go
to work, it really takes a toll on me so I have to make sure that I stay on
myself about staying up too late.
So I have lots of additional questions so maybe we'll sit down again another day.
Yeah absolutely that'd be great.
But maybe I have two left.
So one of the is so I invite you to come have this interview and I'm sure you've
01:37:00been thinking about it, what was something you thought you were going to talk
about that you haven't talked about yet? Or something you wanted to talk about
I can't think of anything right now.
I feel like we've covered just about my entire life story.
How does it feel to be interviewed, thank you.
It's really validating, I mean I strive to be humble and empathetic and play
myself down. I strive for that but at the end of the day I need my ego satisfied
and when somebody said I want to interview you, I was like you want to what? And
so it was very, I mean I have to admit it very much, it felt very nice, it was
like somebody wants to hear my two sense, somebody wants to hear my perspective
01:38:00and that was just it was very affirming especially after I had that moment with
Ida where I talked about how I finally became the queen that I want to be. And
so sharing my story is one of the ways that I want to-
I'd love for you to share with us any videos you have or anything that we can
put with your profile.
Anything that you want to share.
Actually there is one thing that I have not discussed, so I actually went to
high school with somebody-
See I knew there was something.
Yes sorry I just realized this.
Just takes a minute.
I mean it was from what you said. I did a, so...