What was the first drag show you saw and tell me about the experience?
In high school, I was pretty much invisible to my class. I found relief in music. The music on the radio rang true and touched my spirit. Disco was popular and dominated by black female artists like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and Grace Jones, and especially Sylvester. He was known as the Queen of Disco, and in the late 70’s, he released two singles, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Dance (Disco Heat). I saw Sylvester perform live on a balcony in a small gay club in Silver Lakes near Los Angeles, and was awe struck by his costumes and ability to engage the crowd. I don’t remember seeing him as a drag queen, just simply Sylvester!
When did you decide you wanted to do drag and when did you realize it would be a profession?
When I moved to Fort Lauderdale, I was a member of Asians and Friends and Southern Country South Florida. We would have backyard fundraising social events, and of course, we had to have the “wig wagon.” The performances grew from two drag queens to mini-production numbers. The sense of acceptance that I experienced made me realize that I wasn’t the only shy boy in search of out an outlet. After a few stage performances, I realized that drag could not only fill a void, but might pay for itself over time.
Who is your drag mother and who is your favorite queen other than your drag mother and why?
Usually a drag mother helps you develop your craft and takes her under her wings. I did it backwards as evidenced in my early photos. I developed Dee Dee Van Carter by researching drag queens from the past. I wanted to capture the essence of drag from the ladies of the Jewel Box Revue. The images were my inspiration, but turning inspiration into reality sometimes requires the voice of experience. I turned to a dear friend I affectionately call my “Drag Mother,” Cathy Craig. She is and continues to be there for this ole gal.
My favorite drag queen was Cashetta, may she rest in peace. As a female impersonator, singer, magician, and comedian, she brought drag to the stage in 3D.
What’s your favorite number to perform and why?
My favorite number is a Connie Francis Medley featuring her greatest hits. When I perform the number, it brings smiles from fans of the era and younger fans as well. When the audience sings along with Where the Boys Are, it brings me joy and a feeling of satisfaction of a job done well.
What’s the best thing that has happened to you in drag?
There is a saying, “There is just a small step from a small stage to the big stage.” During my run at Monkey Business Bar, a casting agent and director attended one of my themed shows. They came back a second time and offered me a role in an Off Broadway Musical called Little House on the Ferry performed at the Broward Center for the Performing arts. Along with meeting a wonderful cast, I felt privileged at being part of a musical that supported marriage equality.
What differentiates you from other Queens?
I learned early on that to be successful you have to learn to use a microphone. Hosting a weekly show at Monkey Business Bar for seven years, I always shared the mic with each performer regardless of experience. This little gesture has proved quite successful for many queens. I also learned that the show doesn’t start on stage. I greet each customer as they arrive with a smile and I thank them for their generosity as they say good bye.
What does the future hold?
I’m in the process of working with a focus group to create a venue that brings our community together around a variety of art forms. Can you handle an explosion of creativity where talent just melts off the stage? Me too!
Where can we find you on stage?
You will find Dee Dee Van Carter at Georgie’s Alibi of Wilton Manors each Saturday for Drag Yourself 2 Brunch. On Sunday, I host at the World Famous Boardwalk for Sunday T-Dance, Beyond those, I also do special appearances around South Florida. Visit my Dee Dee Van Carter page on Facebook for more events.
Why We Love Her
- She is old school drag
- Have you seen her hairdo’s
- She is always on time
- She proved its never too late to do what you want!