Rocking gothic glamour in a way few drag queens still can, and amassing a huge portfolio of gorgeous nightlife photography, Maddelynn Hatter is a busy, brilliant bitch. And tonight (Wednesday) at the Ritz, she’ll be showrunning the troupe of TURNt Wednesdays, Hell’s Kitchen’s newest supergroup of entertainers that includes queens Judy Darling and Holly Box-Spings, as well as dancers Nikco & Pedro Rangel. Tell it to Thotyssey, Maddie!
Thotyssey: Hi Maddelynn! Thanks for talking to us, I know you it’s probably been a whirlwind of activity since getting back from the Austin International Drag Festival this past weekend. How did it go?
Maddelynn Hatter: It went really well! Met a lot of incredible performers from all over the world! Got to shoot a lot of them and at some points it kind of felt like a drag UN sorta thing [laughs]!
So, you! You have a very gothic aesthetic as a drag queen, but often the numbers you lip sync and dance to at the bars are very Top 40 pop. If it was “up to you” (not that it isn’t, but you know what I mean), would you be using harder/darker music in your act?
I mean, sure… I try to make the music darker with my aesthetic a lot of the time. I also want people to know that a dark sensibility doesn’t have to mean angsty and sad or brooding. There’s a lot of beauty in darkness. Plus I like to dance a lot!
How long have you been a dancer, by the way?
I’m not like trained or anything [laughs], I just do what I can [laughs]. I know and watch a lot of dancers, and a few have helped me along the way here and there in certain numbers. And I try to always apply life experience to what i do: life is a teacher and I’m its student, sorta thing.
Good philosophy! You really rock the colored contacts. Do drunk guys every ask you if that’s your real eye color?
All. The. Time.
Were you a moody, arty, creative kid growing up? A loner?
I was for a while, and then I really grew into being a social butterfly! Kind of a crazy party kid from around 15 on.
Were you going out with a fake ID, clubbing and all that?
Of course! I mean, it was also the 90’s. There were still places that would just looked the other way if you knew the right people.
Aw I miss the 90s! You’re from Massachusetts originally, but you went to the School of Visual Arts here in New York. Have you been living here since you graduated?
For the most part. I left for a couple years, but visited a lot and then moved back.
What was your first gig as Maddelynn, and what sort of queen was she was then?
F Word at Splash, right at the tail end of it. And it was awesome, even when it was ending. I was always pretty consistent with my look and everything, just much more unrefined.
It’s so interesting that you’ve become such a well-known drag performer, because drag queens have to attract so much attention to themselves to succeed… and yet you’ve also become such a prolific photographer, which requires you to pay so much attention to the subject. Is it difficult to click back and forth between those modes?
Y’know, I’ve learned to be pretty good at going back and forth. It’s all very situational. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing this, it’s to be able to adapt really quickly to what’s happening around me. But when I’m editing photos, I tend to shut the door and ignore the phone and shut off my web browser and do only that. The world can wait.
Do you have a favorite nightlife pic you’ve taken recently?
Probably the Boulets. Love them:
Gorgeous! You’re the house photographer of Look Queen, Monster’s Sunday night pageant party that your girl Bob the Drag Queen used to host, where drag queens compete with their most creative looks. Is that pretty much the best place/night for interesting photo subjects?
I’ts a place with an open stage, so yeah, interesting characters definitely roll through.
You’re well-known for being part of the team behind Read Deal Wednesdays at the Ritz in Hell’s Kitchen. When did you join up with them, and who was in the original lineup?
And, any idea why it ultimately came to an end?
It didn’t really end more like evolved. Into a different creature. I’m excited about what the changes will bring, and what “TURNt” can turn into.
Okay, I’m really intrigued by thisnew show at the Ritz, which debuts this week. The new troupe appears to be made up of fellow queens Judy Darling & Holly Box-Springs, dancers Pedro Rangel and Nikco, and yourself. How did this crew come together, and what will you be doing week-by-week?
Well, we’re gonna do a different theme every week that Holly is on. She’s gonna be every other week, as she has another gig going at Boots and Saddle too. [On Holly’s weeks] we will have a guest performer! We have some pretty exciting things happening there. I think I’m gonna leave the theme up to the guest performer that week though, and do that with them, create a cool team-like experience.
Then, weeks in between, we’re going to have an open stage night where any queen can come on and do a number. We’re conjuring up different ideas all the time, though, so its pretty cool. I want TURNt to maintain that crazy party experience for the patron, but provide an outlet for the performer/ artist where they can learn and grow from their numbers, and get something back from performing with us.
Sounds unique! So it’s gonna be something fresh and different every week. Are y’all gonna do a group number on your first night?
Not this week. This week is more an introduction of the new lineup and night to the audience. Making it more about us as individuals, and what you can expect from us and where we’re starting out in this. The following weeks we should have group numbers or duets. The cast is already cooking things up and developing ideas.
Very exciting! So, do you have any plans to assemble a book of your nightlife photography?
Its been something I’ve talked about for a long time; we’ll just have to see what life brings.
That’s a GoFundMe I’d drop a dollar or two in!
Well, I do have a GoFundMe to raise money for up-to-date camera equipment! Anything helps a lot!
Noted! Anything else going on?
Focusing on making costumes for clients. Doing hair for queens. And doing TURNt as the showrunner. I think that’s enough [laughs]!
Definitely! And finally: your DragQueenMerch is pretty badass. Who will be the first celebrity that TMZ should catch wearing it?
If he must wear clothes, than let your face be on them! Thanks Maddelynn!
(Note: all photos in this article were taken by, and are the property of, Maddelynn Hatter.)
Maddelynn Hatter is a performer with, and the showrunner of, TURNt Wedensday at the Ritz, beginning the evening of May 11th at 12:30 a.m. She is a costume maker, makeup artist and photographer available for freelance work, and she is the house photographer for Look Queen at Monster on Sunday nights. Maddelynn can be followed/reached on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. You can also buy her merchandise at DragQueenMerch, and donate to her efforts in upgrading her photo studio equipment.