She’s been a drag queen for less then two years, but few can claim Fire Island residence more than Kendra H Kinx. She has performed there for nearly her entire career, starting with the ritzy Belvedere, and now at Cherry Grove’s Island Breeze. She’s probably having a better time than you are this summer, but she’s also busting her ass giving you a fresh, fun, new show three nights a week. So let’s give it up for Kendra!
Thotyssey: Hi Kendra, thank’s so much for talking! How did your first Thursday night at the Island Breeze go last night?
Kendra Kinx: Hey hey! My first Thursday at the Breeze was a great time! Myself and my drag mother/ DJ (DJ Sphinx) wanted to make Thursdays different and special. And if the first night was a preview, I think we are in for a great season!
Wow, is your DJ really your drag mother? That’s an interesting arrangement.
Yes! Kiki Kinx is my main (wo)man all season on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. She also comes out every once in awhile and will do a show with me. Those are my personal favorite shows!
You’ve worked on Fire Island before, but has it always been at the Breeze?
This is my second season at the Breeze, but my fourth season on the Island. I’ve been at the Belvedere each year, and have worked at a few of the other places in town along the way.
Oooh, fancy! How’d you start working at the Belvedere?
I came out four years ago with a backpack and just asked for a job everywhere. And the stars must have been aligned, because someone had just left the Belvedere and they had an open spot. [Kiki Kinx and I] started there the same season; she had a one month head start on me. We became instant soul sisters.
What was working there like? I’ve never actually been there, that’s for rich people!
[Laughs] Well, the Belvedere is literally magical. It’s not only for rich people! There are some rooms that are rather pricey on the weekends, but there are more affordable options as well. And you can always swing by and get a day pass. The next time you are on the Island. I’m bringing you for a tour of the Belvedere!
So was Kendra born on Fire Island, then?
She first came out a little less than two years ago. She never was really a “social personality,” just loves the stage. The very first time I got to be on stage was actually at Cherrys, during Hedda Lettuce’s show. She told me I could do my first performance with her, as long as she could pick on me. I said “I’m in!”
That week, there was a weekly competition at the Ice Palace hosted by Holly Dae, and I entered that and won. Then I kept doing every little thing I could, competitions, guest spots, any excuse to get on the stage
And you competed in the Miss Fire Island pageant?
I did compete for Miss Fire Island Entertainer of the Year, twice. In 2014, (week three of drag) I won the Judges Award. And last year, with the help of my incredible friends/ dancers, we took home the trophy!
My first show at Albatross was so much fun! I put together a fun show, and drank way too much. and then didn’t get my own show again until i got out to Fire Island!
Sounds like a typical first show! And how did you do in Miss Barracuda in Manhattan last year?
I didn’t win anything! But i did get a bunch of views on my Miss Barracuda music video, which was unexpected.
By the way: speaking of Hedda Lettuce earlier, are you close with her?
Hedda is like my drag grandmother (don’t you dare tell her I said that). I look up to her a lot. We got to know each other when I was at the Belvedere full-time. She would come by for the day; I had no idea he was a drag queen, and I had no thought of doing drag at that point. We would just tease each other. It was lovely. When I began to do drag, she was really great about helping me out, in her own way.
We are doing Tuesdays together at the Breeze: she is at 10, and I am at 11 (as she calls it, a double Hedda). I am at the Breeze Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And she is Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.
So, I know you’ve been living in Florida, but where are you from?
I am from Long Island originally, and New York has been my home most of my life. I spent the last six months in Key West to escape the cold, but New York will always be home.
Were you checking out the NYC nightlife scene as a young Long Islander?
I am 24 now, and I was truly introduced to the city when I moved there at 21. I didn’t really emerge much before I turned 21.
How would you describe what type of performer Kendra is?
Kendra is a pop star. The show that I like to put on is very high energy, run loosely like a concert (don’t get confused, I do not sing). My drag mother and I share the same mentality when it comes to performance, which is, we want the audience to feel like they are truly watching something special, no matter how silly it may be. “You couldn’t snag tickets to Taylor Swift or Beyonce’s tour? Well, I’m going to show you what you missed, so you don’t feel left out!” That’s how I like for the performance aspect of the show to be.
I live for any and all audience participation. At the Island Breeze, I do a small contest to give away a Thai calamari (because it is that good) and that is usually my favorite part of the show. Seeing all different kinds of people just make a fool of themselves to “Defying Gravity” for an appetizer is priceless.
You’re obviously a very good-looking guy. I know some queens who actually get a lot of shit for being attractive boys, told that they’re basically “wasting their gay hotness” by dressing as women. Have you gotten that?
Thank you for the compliment. I must say, I have heard this rumor of how doing drag takes away from your man needs. However, I have not had this experience. Kendra has up’d [my boy self] Nigel’s game more than I can describe.
What’s it like actually living on Fire Island for a season? Is it like a summer camp where everyone is sexy and the drinks are strong? It just seems like it would either be this blissful fantasy, or this strange divorce from reality.
[Laughs]. It is both. It’s my (and many peoples’) favorite place. The community here is so welcoming. And yes, the drinks are strong, and I happen to find everyone to be sexy (because my type of man is…man). It is definitely a divorce from a certain reality. But for a lot of us misfits, the Island is our Reality.
In that vein, I watched Ari Gold’s recent video for “Turn Out the Night.” That giantess with the disco staff is you, right?
That was me! it was fun to regurgitate pearls at the Belvedere!
Any events on the Island you’re looking forward to, assuming you won’t be working that night?
I have to be honest: I am most excited for the week following the 4th of July. My Key West sisters are coming up for five days! They are going to be performing with me at the Breeze, and I am so excited for them to get here. These girls are something else!
Other than that, I am really just excited about the season as a whole. I want to do my best to contribute to this being a summer to remember!
I may pop down to Key West for a quick visit. But other than that, I’m very busy on the Island this summer. I made a promise that every show I do this season will be different. And with three nights a week, I have a lot of work to do (work that I love)! So I imagine I will not leave this sandbar too often.
It is always fun with Shequida. I’ve been a guest for Shequida three times, and every time i get so nervous. Her show on Fire Island is legendary, and it draws one of the biggest crowds each week. When we would go to her show before I started doing drag, I thought she was so amazing, how she could hold such a large crowd’s attention. Now, when I get to be a guest in her show, I get extra excited because it was one of those shows that I got excited about long before I even thought about doing drag.
There are a lot of seasoned, legendary performers in the Grove: Ariel Sinclair, Lavinia Draper, Ginger Snap(t), Porsche… do Fire Island crowds and venues just generally appreciate nightlife performers more than elsewhere?
Fire Island drag definitely has its unique appeal. When you come out to the Island, you can expect to see legendary performers (and this embryo of a queen). The audience out here has a more personal connection with the queens, it feels.
Along with the daytrippers and weekenders, the crowd usually has a healthy amount of locals, no matter which venue you are at. That is what I feel makes the shows out here so special: the frequent faces at the shows. As the season goes on, the locals at the shows are just as much a part of the fun as the entertainers.
But those deer freak me out.
[Laughs!} The deer are exactly who I am referring to.
Sounds like you’re going to have a great summer, and that you’re serving great shows! Last question: what’s one thing about Kendra Kinx the world doesn’t know about, but should?
She loves foreskin.
Lol! We all knew that already. Thanks Kendra, can’t wait to see the show this summer!