This tiny Texas tornado is turning it all over town these days. Holly Box-Springs keeps Thotyssey in the loop with her meteoric rise as a go-to performer, hostess and pageant queen. These Springs have sprung!
Thotyssey: Hey there, thanks so much for chatting with us! I just recently saw a pic of you doing a Kathy Griffin illusion from the NY Best in Drag pageant a few weeks ago, and Holy Hell Holly, you look just like her! I never would’ve thought that, but it’s like a mirror image. Did you already know that was the case before you tried the look?
Holly Box-Springs: It kind of came out of nowhere! I was doing my show uptown and someone came up and said, “You look just like Kathy,” and I thought to myself, I’m already obsessed with her… Why not! I already talk fast, and flail my arms when I talk.
Well congratulations, because you placed as 1st Runner Up! What was the number you did exactly, and how was the experience of being in that pageant for you as a whole?
Thank you! The experience was wonderful! All the queens were gracious and wonderful to be around. The talent I choose was a stand up routine by Kathy Griffin about Celine Dion, so I had some of her songs spliced in. Kathy actually ended up retweeting a photo of me as her from that pageant!
Awesome! Now, your Facebook says you’re from Dallas?
What would that be, exactly, as far as what kind of a girl Holly is?
She’s a southern girl who hasn’t worked a day in her life, because she was raised with money and then married a gas mogul. So to her, life’s a party. I say she’s the stereotypical blonde girl from Dallas, with Daddy’s plastic.
Got it! So what was your real-life childhood like?
Growing up in Texas was definitely interesting, but I was extremely lucky and had a supportive family, and a great set of friends. I came out at fourteen to my friends, and it was not a big deal, thankfully. I even took the homecoming queen to prom!
What were your early interests? When did you want to be an entertainer?
I have always been obsessed with show tunes and female country music. I was in every play and musical I could get into growing up, and went to Oklahoma City University for Musical Theater. I’m pretty sure I’ve always wanted to perform since I came tap dancing out of the womb!
Did you come to New York to be in showbiz?
Actually, I didn’t move straight here. I transferred schools to Lamar in Beaumont, Texas and spent some time there. A good friend of mine that lived in NYC called me out of nowhere and told me her roommate was moving out, and if I wanted to move in the next month. So I saved my pennies and had first months rent and security deposit, packed a single suitcase, and now I’ve been here over six years!
When was Holly conceived?
She actually first stepped out when a friend had a drag mandatory birthday party. Holly’s first stage performance was the very first night of So You Think You Can Drag!
That’s crazy, and amazing! How did that decision come about?
Well, I feel like I got stuck in the bump and grind of the city. and I was having a good time and paying the bills bartending. Unfortunately you make more money being a bartender than you do as a performer. So the auditions for SYTYCD were coming up, and I thought to myself, why not? Then Holly took off from there. It still blows my mind.
What was your first number there?
[Laughs] Well, my first number was “Dallas I’m Coming” from Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical. Shocking, I know [laughs].
How did you come up with your drag name, by the way?
Well, I attempted to do it the “good old-fashioned” way where you take the street you were born on and your first pet’s name. But that wouldn’t have worked, because my first pet’s name was Rags. I was raised in Holly Springs, so I wanted to find a way to work that in and fit my character. Thus, Holly Box-Springs was born!
Cute! Were you concerned that there was already another established Holly in NYC, or do queens not really worry about that stuff?
At first I was a little worried, but then I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Holly Dae, and we bring different things to the table besides blonde hair! I think if you aren’t stealing anything, then it’s all your game!
Good philosophy! So much about being a good drag queen and makeup artist is about knowing how your own face works in ways that the average person doesn’t. Are you still learning stuff about your facial structure, and what’s good and not good to do, every day?
That is actually my favorite thing about drag. Every day there is a new makeup technique, new song or crazy TV moment to learn. Makeup is so much fun, but yes, you learn quickly what works and what looks terrible. Unfortunately, you find out it looks bad in a picture… Example for me was wearing lower lashes… Disaster!
Are you okay with revisiting early beat pics, or is painful for you?
It’s always fun to see what you’ve learned, but of course there are some where you cringe!
When you’re off-duty, what do you do for fun?
I’m probably getting ready for the next week of gigs, but I do love to go out with friends and socialize without a blonde wig on. Also, I’m a huge nerd, so I have definitely been known to play some video games!
What was your first regular gig in NYC?
Actually, my very first gig was the West End. It started about six months into my first year in drag. It was called “Revealed,” with Alexis Michelle and me! Then she left, so I was solo. And then Miz Cracker and I had a show in the same time slot there as well!
Two great queens! Do you consider longtime SYTYCD hostess Paige Turner to be your drag mother?
Chelsea Piers is actually my drag mother! She was two seasons [of SYTYCD] before me. I will always thank Paige for giving me my start!
It was a blast! We rehearsed for about a week and half, and I was beyond excited to assist her in taking home the crown!
You did a great job at Ms. Barracuda too, which Tina hosted. Is that where you got to know her?
Actually, I got to know her before. She is seeing one of my best friends, so by proxy we ended up spending a lot of time together! She’s a blast to be around, and can’t wait to work with her this summer!
Tell me about this summer gig with Tina. This is her Gurlesque show?
Oh that’s great! Okay, onto your other weekly gigs. On Wednesdays, you alternate between two shows every other week. We’ll start with Boots & Saddle, where your show is “Go Fish,” alternate Wednesdays 10-12am. Two hours is a big slot to fill as a performer; how do you do it?
That’s correct! It’s one of the most difficult gigs I have, but in a great way. It’s two hours of just you, and you have to win the crowd over. So it forces you to just keep moving! If you make a bad joke that doesn’t land, then you make one about it bombing. It’s always an adventure! Plus, it always helps to have a fantastic DJ like Natāzu.
Oh, he’s a great DJ for drag queens! So many queens thirst for Boots gigs, what’s the draw for them, you think?
I think the draw is that the space is meant for drag. That’s what the bar revolves around. And there aren’t too many spaces like that!
As for your other Wednesdays, you’ve now completed Week Two of the Ritz’s latest show TURNt, which also features showrunner Maddelynn Hatter, queen Judy Darling, dancers Nikco & Pedro and occasional guest performers. How’s that going so far? The audience must be getting their life with you guys, I bet you kill it.
It’s going amazingly! I’m having such a blast working with different performers! It is so cool to see what everyone brings to the table, and we are all so different that we have something for everyone!
GA(Y)ME night is such blast! We have board games from Monopoly to Cards Against Humanity, and Michael the bartender provides you plenty of eye candy! I get to hang out with everyone and ask trivia questions for some free booze!
Now this Sunday, you actually have two special gigs lined up. The first is a special edition of the happy hour VERS party at Atlas, where you will be hosting a Billboard Music Awards viewing! It’s gonna be a big show this year as far as performances: Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, the Go-Gos (wait, what?) and OMG BRITNEY. Who are you looking forward to seeing the most?
Three people jump out at me, and they would be Ariana (loooove her new album), Celine (I mean, it’s Celine Dion!) and all the gay hairs on my body are standing up because I cannot wait to see Britney hopefully slay it! I’m so excited to being with my Atlas crew to experience it!
It’s a good venue to watch it, the audience will be really into it. Now, how the hell are you getting from Atlas in HK to Stonewall in the West Village after that for Brita Filter’s Invasion, gurl? You’re gonna have to fly!
[Laughs] that’s the truth! Just going to use my magic powers and make it down there! I cannot wait, though, because the lineup has people that have had a big impact in my drag life. Love those girls!
Those people being Brita, Alexis Michelle, Dusty Ray Bottoms, Tammy Spenks & Tipsy von Tart. You guys were originally supposed to do a special edition of Invasion–a drag retelling of the Cinderella story–right?
Yes, we actually are just going to do a full night of show stopping numbers! Like Cinderella, we were also on a time crunch with all of us being so busy, so we decided that we will all be the belle of the ball!
Well y’all will bring the house down!
Thank you! It’ll be a blast!
So, anything else coming up?
Well, there are a couple of things in the works that I can’t announce yet… but you’ll be seeing Holly all over the place this summer!
Will these include more pageants?
Yes, actually! I keep telling myself I’m going to take a break, and then I do another [laughs]. I’ll be a part of a big one coming up, but I don’t think they’ve released the list yet! So you have to stay tuned!
Finally, if you had to pick one virtue/trait/talent that a drag queen must have that exceeds everything else, what would it be?
“Easy to work with” is the biggest thing for me. We all spent time getting ready and bringing what we have to the table, and it can be all down the drain if there is a bad apple in the group. So ladies, put on your Nice panties and get ready to work!
You lead by example, Holly! Thanks for chatting with us, and have a great week!
Holly Box-Springs will host the Billboard Music Awards viewing party edition of VERS at Atlas Social Club tonight (Sunday) starting at 7pm, then will immediately after join the cast of guest performers onstage in Brita Filter’s Invasion at Stonewall at 11:30pm-ish.
On Wednesdays, Holly alternates between headlining her “Go Fish” at Boots & Saddle (her next one is May 25th at 10pm) and as part of the cast of TURNt at the Ritz (she’ll be there next on June 1st). You can find her every Thursday night at Atlas Social Club for GA(Y)ME Night, which starts at 8pm, and starting June 3rd she’ll be part of the cast of Tina Burner’s Gurlesque show every Friday this summer at Cherrys on the Bay.