The ‘Queen Mother’ of Key West is Heaven-Sent
Q: What was the first drag show? Tell us about the experience…
A: The first drag performance I saw was at Kurfew which was held at the iconic club, The Tunnel, in New York City in 1999. I had just graduated from college and was freshly out of the closet. I had heard of drag queens but never really understood them. So, at Kurfew, they had a couple of local queens who would perform. One of them was none other than Miss Peppermint (who is currently on this season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race). The first full-on drag show that I ever went to was at the legendary Escuelita nightclub in NYC where dozens of drag legends have performed including Angel Sheridan, Angelique Ali, Jazmine International, Sahara Davenport, Larizta Dumont and Karen Covergirl, to name a few. Every time I went, I was so mesmerized by how incredibly gorgeous these entertainers were and how amazingly creative and talented they were!
Q: When did you decide you wanted to do drag and when did you realize it would be a profession?
A: The first time I did drag myself was Halloween 2002. I got dressed up as Jessica Rabbit and just went bar hopping all night. It was purely just for fun, but I got compliments left and right about how great I looked. About a year after that, I got invited to compete in an amateur drag contest at one of my regular NYC haunts – OW Bar. I think I got third place out of like eight contestants. Anyway, I then got invited to do a guest spot here and there at random places. It wasn’t until several years later, after I made the move to Fort Lauderdale, that I got my first professional gig working for a short-lived drag show at Rosie’s Bar & Grill in 2007. The show only lasted a few months before it was cancelled. Desiray and I started it up again at The Depot in Fort Lauderdale where the show ran for about a year. It was during that time, in May 2009, that I got hired at Lips in Fort Lauderdale. Again, it was never really my goal or intention to become a full-time, professional queen – it just sort of manifested itself. Now I’m the reigning Queen Mother in Key West! It was a lot of work, but I always grew as an entertainer each time I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone. And it has always been very rewarding.
Q: Who is your drag mother? Who is your favorite queen other than your drag mother – and why?
A: I honestly don’t have a drag mother per se. I have two friends of mine from New York, who helped put me in drag for the first time and taught me the basics. My favorite queen is Miss Latrice (mutha f***in) Royale!! I had the privilege of knowing and working with her in Fort Lauderdale long before she made it on to RuPaul’s Drag Race. The thing I always admired about her was how incredibly down-to-earth and humble she was. She wasn’t afraid to show ‘em what she’s got, and as she famously says… “make them EAT IT!” She’s always inspired me, and I’m so very happy for all the incredible success she’s had!
Q: What’s your favorite number to perform and why?
A: My favorite is a Bette Midler number I do. It’s a medley/comedy mix from her last Las Vegas residency in 2012. I’ve always been a big fan of hers, and my favorite thing to do when I perform is to make the audience laugh. Bette does it with such a “naughty, sassy flare” that is very definitive of my drag personality.
Q: What’s the best thing that has happened to you in drag?
A: There have been so many wonderful experiences I’ve had throughout my drag career that I couldn’t possibly name just one. When you’re a drag entertainer, you truly are part of an amazing “sisterhood.” I love all my drag sisters, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them!
Q: What differentiates you from other queens. What is it that makes you unique?
No two drag entertainers are alike. We each have our own personal style of performance and our own look. If I had to mention something, I’d say that I’m very adamant about separating my drag persona from my true identity. “Charlize” and “Jimmy” are two very different people, and I make it a point to keep it that way.
Q: What does the future hold?
A: Well to be perfectly frank… I’m actually going into retirement just as soon as I give up the crown for Queen Mother. It’s just time. I’ve been doing drag for 15 years now (professionally for 10). I’ve had many rewarding experiences from it, and I’m very proud of my accomplishments.