On Point With: Crimson Kitty

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Chances are that if you know what a bioqueen is–or a LadyQueen, a term she coined and prefers (anything’s better than “faux queen”)–then you are familiar with Crimson Kitty, one of the most prolific bioqueens (cisgendered women dragging as hyper-real females) in the biz. Her makeup is on point, her wigs and costumes are top-notch, and her jittery, fiery performing style has won her fans all over the country. In fact, she’s currently on a continental tour: as I type this, she’s in Florida preparing for a turn in New Orleans. But she’ll be back in Brooklyn for one night, this Saturday, to co-host the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards, where she will also be up for a possible Hall of Fame induction herself. All Hail Queen Crimson!


Thotyssey: Hi Crimson! I know you’ve been all over the place recently, starting with representing New York as an ambassador and performer for the International Drag Festival in Austin. After that, you were in a whole bunch of other cities, doing cool stuff. What’s it been like, being on the road performing?

Crimson Kitty: Honestly, it’s been a blast. I have gotten to connect with so many people from different walks of life, and that is how I wanted to make this happen! So far, I have performed in Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and most recently Fort Lauderdale! I still have five cities that will culminate into my Canadian International debut in Toronto, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Are you trashing hotel rooms and picking up groupies?

I’ve stayed everywhere, including couches, hotel rooms and AirBNB’s, and crashed with the most amazing people I could know! I’ve flown, rode buses and recently just drove 16+ hours from Chicago to Denver with friends! No hotel trashing here, I actually like to clean people’s places and fill their fridge up with food! [Laughs.]

It’s extremely exciting to go outside my NYC box and see how drastically different everything is outside of our great city. Some places have amazing venues, and other places have bars in strip malls! I love taking everything in as a learning experience, because it helps me to develop myself as a stronger performer and create a strong fanbase throughout the country!

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Sounds amazing! How many LadyQueens have you met on these recent journeys?

I have reconnected with a few, such as Brandi Amara Skyy, Rosemary Maybe, Sassy Sascha… and the incomparable Wendy Ho, whom I got to perform with in L.A.! Everyone comes from such different walks of performance life, and some have faced similar struggles in terms of acceptance within our communities. Truth be told, I wish I could have met more!

I never considered Wendy Ho a LadyQueen before, but I guess that’s exactly what she is.

Oh, she is definitely a queen.

Is it safe to say that, as this point, you’re the world’s most famous Ladyqueen {well, except maybe Wendy)?

[Laughs.] Well, I would like to think so, but the primary purpose of this tour is to outreach to other communities and to increase the Kitty fan base! Wendy is the queen supreme on the West Coast, and has such an illustrious career that I can only dream of! I hope to achieve the same level of perfection as she does.

For now, however, I am probably one of the more famous lip-syncing LadyQueens!

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Do you sing at all, by the way?

I used too! Now my singing talents go into karaoke nights. I started my drag career many years ago singing parody songs of a few Lady Gaga hits, and even performed a silly little number called “Born This Gay.” I wore a transparent latex dress that I made with a little hat that looked like the top of a condom for Bob The Drag Queen’s Female Drag Queen Pageant he did about five-ish years ago at New World Stages! I even had kitty cat backup dancers. The last time I sang live was for Essence Revealed’s Golden Lady Burlesque back a few months ago, and I really loved getting back into it. But the art of lip sync will always be my number one!

While in Florida, are you getting to meet up with your drag mamma Rebecca Glasscock?

I am actually doing karaoke with her [right now]! I also got to meet my drag grandmama, Miss Misty Eyez, who is a legendary fixture in the Fort Lauderdale scene. It’s definitely been a family affair. I primarily came to Florida to hang with my momma and drive her crazy for a few days!

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Let’s talk about the early days of you! I can’t imagine what you were like as a kid. Were you playing with costumes and performing at a young age?

I was a very precocious child, and always interested in the arts. My first art contest that I won was around the age of five or six, and from there it was a mission to perform. I would always sing made-up songs in public for attention, and in my room I would lip-sync my favorite numbers from Madonna, Janet, or Whitney to an audience of stuffed animals [laughs]! I was lip-syncing and living my fantasy from a very early age. When I did dress up, I was always She-Ra, or Jem from Jem and the Holograms. I lived for my Saturday morning cartoons in my onesie eating cereal. Not much has changed, to be honest [laughs].

Does your family understand your drag journey today? 

They do and they don’t. They know exactly what I do, but they aren’t necessarily buying tickets to the show if you know what I mean! The only member of my family besides my mother and father that has supported my journey is my sister Liz. She has come to my LadyQueen show, as well as surprised me at the Glam Awards when I was nominated for the first time. She is freaking awesome.

I see you’re from Fort Lee, NJ, so you’ve probably been hitting NYC clubs/bars for awhile now. Where were you going as a young lesbian, and who were you first drawn to in nightlife?

Oh yes! I love my Jersey roots, but in terms of nightlife I prefer NYC. I used to take the NJ Transit bus for many years to get to my gigs, and many times I had to crash on couches or bus terminals because I missed the last bus. Literally the last bus I could get was at 1:20. The club isn’t even moving until midnight. Oh, that was many a scary night at Port Authority. I got fed up, and started saving my money and eventually moved to Queens, then Bushwick, and now back to Queens because I ended up falling in love. Love will make you move to Queens, apparently.

When I was in Jersey, I met a group of fabulous gay boys, and would hang with them at the legendary Motherfucker Parties, Pyramid and so forth. I would look at the drag queens that attended those parties and be in awe. It was gay nightlife that I grew up in, but I did hang out at Meow Mixx a few times.

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Your first foray into actual nightlife performing was burlesque. Where did you start?

Burlesque will always be in my heart! I started out in February 2006, performing a sexy agent number a la James Bond Girl realness at a bar on the Lower East Side called Rififi’s. I had just graduated from a four-week intensive workshop called School Of Shimmy, and was just starting out. However, I was a horrible performer starting out. And my ideas were a little out-of-the-box for what the current producers were exploring with, so I decided to start my own show.

2007 marked the co-founding of Hypergender Burlesque with JZ Bich and myself, and we were the first to implement many things used in the burlesque scene today, and many themes before anyone else.

I did burlesque for many years, and although I love the sparkles and glitter, I was experimenting with drag a lot and I found that I couldn’t get work anymore. This was way before Drag Race and its mainstream culture. So I literally left an entire career to pursue this drag bug I had inside me for so long.

And then came the drag gigs.

I did Bob’s pageant, as well as the first season of “So You Think You Can Drag?” when it was more of an open stage format. I remember being read to filth at SYTYCD by the one drag queen judge in the panel (yet the Broadway boys lived for me), and said “That was nice, but this is a drag competition.” I grabbed that mic so fast out of Paige Turner’s hand and retorted “Girls Can Do Drag Too!”. The crowd lived! I didn’t win or place, but I made an impression.

I knew right there and then that while it was going to be a hard road, it was one I wanted to take on. Shortly after, I met my drag mother Rebecca Glasscock and started working as a resident performer at her Invasions at Stonewall, cutting my teeth in the drag world. And the rest is history!

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Even though I’d seen many pictures of you and had even seen you perform a few times, it wasn’t until I heard an audio interview with you that I realized you were a woman. Do you get that a lot from newbies?

Yes! Actually, when I go out to new places or send messages out to prospective bookers, I actually don’t tell them I am a woman. In certain bars across the country, I make it a point to not talk as much, or talk with a more feminine voice, because it’s the voice that gives it away. I pride myself for being able to fool people. It’s the reason why I didn’t pursue singing in drag. I believe in the full illusion. This is why I refuse to call myself a “faux” queen.

Good for you! I understand that “Crimson Kitty” the drag name has a lot more of an innocent origin then our evil minds could concoct.

Zomg! It makes me laugh every time someone jokes about my name. While most people think it is a moniker for the “time of the month”, I’m actually a big nerd and named myself after my cat Crimson (who is literally the spawn of Satan) and this hair color from Adore called Crimson. The first time someone joked about my name, I was honestly floored that I never thought of it myself. Though maybe it was my intention all along! Muhahahhaha!

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i guess a LadyQueen seeking success and respect in the community has a very different journey than a drag king, right?

The drag King scene is one that has been blossoming quickly for the past two years in NYC. It’s a good scene because all the kings of yesteryear retired, which left an open void for the newer kings to create a fresh community.

Goldie Peacock has been the face of this scene, and has been super-successful at birthing more kings into the scene. Then we have Switch N’ Play, who took on many of these new drag hopefuls, and have created a strong drag and burlesque collective that has consistently sold out shows. However, when it comes to LadyQueens, our scene is just beginning.

Besides being your term for bioqueens in general, “LadyQueen” is also the name of the monthly showcase at Stonewall where you and other bioqueens perform. What direction do you see that showcase going in?

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My ideal goal is to have a collective of independent artists rather than a full troupe-type of setting. Kinda like seeing your family, then not seeing them for another month until the next family dinner! I’m all about distance creating desire, and it is definitely happening with LadyQueen!

Our first resident performer of our show is Elle McQueen, and she is one of the most electrifying performers you will ever see! She is even starting to get more gigs than me!

I am living for more and more producers recognizing that this is a valid form of drag, but we still have a long way to go. My goal is to create a permanent safe space for all women to do drag, and to be respected for it.

For now, how do you find and recruit new girls for the showcase?

I have actually been on an outreach mission to contact out-of-town performers, and recruit those from around the world. Thankfully, I now have a waiting list, so when we start in the late summer/fall we have an all-rotating cast of different queens.

When’s the next show?

In May we are in break because I am on tour, and the third Sunday in June I do my special birthday show. That’s where I showcase my favorite performers in different realms of art forms, such as drag queens, LadyQueens, drag kings, boylesque and burlesque. It’s the only show in town to feature all these types of badassery!

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When you were creating your drag look, was it a real puzzle to try and find something that was drag, and not just “girl with too much makeup?” Those giant sharp-edged lips you have now are are a trademark that a lot of queens covet now I’m sure.

You know, it’s so funny now that I see a lot of queens doing certain aspects of my look. I always see that as a positive. I do work as a makeup artist in the Muggle world, and have been so fortunate and blessed to have worked in NYFW shows, worked with celebrities, and more. My makeup is treated as an ever-evolving canvas, and I always strive to experiment with different colors and looks.

The inspiration for all my makeup looks is Divine and the Eye of Ra. I actually have the Eye of Ra tattooed on my right shoulder, and an Egyptian cat goddess named Bast on my entire back. However, because I try to have a more covered silhouette to my designs, hardly anyone sees them!

I have always gone big with my makeup looks, but it was trial and error to get my look just right. The turning point for me was on my last tour, about 4-5 years ago. I made the decision to remove my brows permanently, and that is how I am able to achieve a flawless look that is faster for me to apply since I don’t have to block my brows prior to application.

Do you draw “regular” eye brows on out of drag?

I do draw on my brows on a regular basis, otherwise I would look like an alien!

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How about your costumes? How hands-on are you in their design and construction?

I am a self-taught sewing junkie, and I pride myself on making all my own costumes. I design everything from patterns to construction, all the way to a finished product! I did take some classes at Mood to help me refine my technique, and I am looking to take my sewing even further in the future.

I only have a handful of dresses that are store bought, or handed down from my drag family. But for me, making my own clothes is essential to my success… plus, it fits me perfectly!

I recently just won a sewing contest from WERRRK.com for recreating the “Gone With The Windows” challenge from season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race, and I hope to elevate my skills in the future.

You’re gonna do the Bioqueen challenge that Chiffon Dior is hosting on WERRRK. That’s a great new platform for LadyQueens, right?

I am super excited to be a part of it! Because of my [previous] win, I am automatically entered as the first contestant, and I hope to win! I get excited about competitions, because it really forces me out of my box, and I have created amazing art because of it. I also really love to win, so I am not holding back!

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Let’s talk about Brooklyn for a bit. First off, you participate in The Look, a weekly talk show at Macri Park in Brooklyn modeled after The View, along with Heidi Glum, Lady Simon and Alotta McGriddles. There have been so many hosts of The View now, but if you can go through the list, which one are you the most like?

Ha! This is the easiest to answer! Misty Meaner has consistently told me I am the Joy Behar of the group, and I completely agree! Alotta had wanted me to do the show for awhile, and when Elizabeth James left to do her own gig, I stepped in. I cherish my Mondays, and the ability to bond and create some cool art with awesome peeps. I’m also no stranger to my strong opinions, so this show is a fantastic outlet for me to speak on controversial subjects!

You gals at The Look have been viewing and commenting on Drag Race this whole season. First of all, did Brooklyn lose their shit when Thorgy went home?

Thorgy is a national treasure to us in Brooklyn, and the night she went home was a somber one. I’ve actually blocked it out from my memory! #justiceforthorgy

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You’ve also been vocal about RuPaul’s rather pithy comments regarding whether she’d let ciswomen appear on Drag Race (she said that show already existed, and it was called Miss Universe). Do you think a comment like this coming from a drag figure as vital to the culture as Ru, even if it were a joke, sets back the bioqueen movement?

I went to DragCon with a rhinestone Miss Universe Sash, that I stoned myself as a way to laugh at the joke post-FB Misogyny Wars. I was upset by the comment because I do feel that many people view RuPaul’s word as scripture from a bible, and yes, in the end that does affect where I am able to work outside of NYC and Brooklyn. I don’t think people realize how hard it is for me to successfully do what I personally want to do for the rest of my life.

I am constantly told (directly and indirectly) that my genitalia dictates what type of art I am allowed to do in our society, and I am just not okay with that. I find it highly illogical for someone to say how I am able to express myself; it’s 2016! Then again, we apparently care who goes to the bathroom, and where someone takes a shit. It’s a twisted universe these days.

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Have you been part of the Brooklyn scene your whole career, or has it been more of a recent development?

My journey was a funny one. I was working on Manhattan doing all of Rebecca’s shows, and I was finding difficulty getting gigs on my own. Then I had an opportunity to move to Bushwick, and everything changed for me.

I think the exact moment everyone started taking me seriously is when I was featured in the a Queer Voices series about Brooklyn queens written by the fantastic James Michael Nichols. Doors started opening all over, and I took every opportunity available. I also was the first biological woman to win Dragnet, which centered my status in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Nightlife Awards! I can’t believe you’re flying in for that and leaving again! You’re co-hosting with Will Sheridan.

I am so honored to be asked to host this amazing event by Merrie Cherry, and honestly I wouldn’t miss it for the world! We planned it out in advance, so it ended up working out for me since my destinations are stops in Philly, Pittsburgh and Toronto!

It’s also a good thing that I am hosting because I am up against Thorgy, Mocha Lite and Misty Meaner for Hall Of Fame. And I fully intend to lose that category with pride [laughs]. I mean Thorgy was JUST on Drag Race? Ain’t no way she isn’t winning that category.

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Ms. Glascock must be very proud of you. Is she always keeping tabs on you from afar?

She definitely is! Momma is real proud of her daughter for sure! We don’t talk every day, but she regularly checks my social media, and we make time to hang out, such as me coming to Fort Lauderdale and her coming to NYC.

When will you be back full-time in NYC?

June 1st, officially.

Okay, last question! Hypothetical. I’m scanning Netflix in the near future, and I see something called The Crimson Kitty Show, and obviously I’m gonna binge-watch. What kind of show is it?

This is a tough question! Obviously there would be many cats involved. Perhaps a cat mascot. It would be trippy, and full of lesbian and nerd references. Kinda like a cat-filled lesbian version of the Pee-Wee Herman Show [laughs]! We will also have an Untucked, where all the drama happens [laughs]!

I want that show to be on right now, dammit! Thanks Crimson, enjoy the rest of your Kitty Tour!


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Crimson Kitty will perform at the Haus of Mayhem in New Orleans on May 20th, and briefly return to New York to co-host the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards on May 21st. She’ll be in Philadelphia May 22nd-23rd, Pittsburgh May 24th-25th & Toronto May 26th-May 31st. 

Crimson returns to New York permanently on June 1st. She’ll headline her birthday showcase at Stonewall on June 3rd, and resume co-hosting The Look at Macri Park in Brooklyn on June 6th.

Crimson Kitty can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube. She also has a website.

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