Once a shy kid who wanted nothing more than to make movies, this young performer only recently busted out of her shell thanks to Shequida’s Drag Wars competition and is now appearing pretty much everywhere. Already a respected drag queen and filmmaker, she is taking the world by storm, one pageant at a time. Thotyssey gets their life with Blake Deadly!
Thotyssey: Hello Blake! I’m seeing your name turning up at every party, pageant and drag show notice in the city lately–you’re getting very famous! (You and Zalika Parsons)! Are you having a great time with all this, or are you worried about spreading yourself too thin?
Blake Deadly: I’m having an amazing time! I finally understand what “giving me life” means, because I didn’t have nearly this much energy for going out pre-drag. The more I do it, the more I’m able to just keep going. As a new queen I try to say yes to everything. The more people Blake Deadly meets, the better (for me, not sure about them).
I enjoy having the balance of my weekly party HUMP with various competitions or other parties that differ week to week. No one’s forcing me to do drag and there are plenty of queens to go around, So if I’m not enjoying it, there’s really no point!
It had to be very gratifying though, when all the city’s top queens, promoters and venue owners start showing you respect for what you do, right?
Well, I don’t know if I’d say all, but going from doing Shequida’s Drag Wars (RIP) at Rise Bar every week to booking other parties and competitions and guest spots just because people saw and responded to what I was doing has been gratifying. Shequida really gave me–and a lot of new queens–the space to come week after week and work on our craft, and be fucking terrible one week, but keep coming back and improve.
And having someone like Brita Filter see me at her competition for the first time on a Monday and ask me to guest with her at Pieces that Saturday means the world to a new queen.
How would you describe yourself as a performer and drag personality? What kind of lady is Blake Deadly?
She’s your 45-year old aunt trying to get down at your bar mitzvah. Somehow, the spirit of Shirley Bassey has entered my 23 year old 120 pound body and it won’t let me go.
I also love a good mix. I’m definitely influenced by the Lypsinka / Bob the Drag Queen school of performing (although I wouldn’t be so bold as to compare myself to either of those legends)
Do you make your own mixes?
Oh yeah. That’s my favorite part (besides actually performing them).
Where are you from in the world, and what were you like as a kid?
I’m from outside of Baltimore, so John Waters and Divine are my idols (not when I was a kid, though). I was extremely shy when I was little, and very close to my mom. I’d still say both of those things are true, but I’ve learned to be a little less introverted.
And now that I think about it I did love lip syncing and putting on little shows for my parents when I was little. So, I guess I was always a queen.
There used to be a TV show where normal people dressed up like famous singers and performed one of their songs and I was obsessed with it. I thought it was the coolest thing you could do. If you remember what it was called I’ll love you forever.
No clue, sorry, and I can’t find it online either!
So, where did you go to school?
I went to NYU for Film/TV Production. So, I figured drag was the best way to pay off that NYU debt!
What interested you first: being a performer, or being more behind the scenes, creatively?
Being behind the scenes for sure. I knew I wanted to make movies since I was five, running around my house with a video camera filming my dogs .If you would have told me even a few years ago I’d be a drag performer I would’ve laughed in your face. But then gone home and thought about it and been like, “Okay maybe.”
What’s a film project you’ve worked on that you’re the most proud of?
A short doc I did called 20MALEGAYNYC when I was a sophomore went a bit viral and played in some film festivals around the world. I interviewed gay men my age about internalized homophobia and how they view the gay community today.
It was a project for class that actually became a launching point for my film career–all because of the internet.
Combining your two passions: in your opinion, what drag queens are making genuinely good original music and/or videos today?
Fergie’s “MILF Money” is the best drag queen video of the year. Besides that… Maci Sumcox is great. That bitch can write a parody. I also love the video for “Anus” by Alaska. I want Lady Bunny to do more videos because she’s the best. Oh and “The Realness” video was fierce as fuck.
And I see you made a Christmas video last year!
I did! All the best Christmas songs are written by Jews so I figured I’d contribute.
So, when exactly did the drag bug bite you?
About the same time I got bed bugs. Maybe there’s a connection. It’s always weird when people ask how long I’ve been doing drag, because it’s been over two years now since the first time I ever dressed up in “drag” (aka my two best girlfriends doing woman makeup on me and not leaving the house). But I’d say I’ve actually been doing drag since February, which is when I started performing at least once a week. And, I think the distinction there is that I wasn’t really improving until I started doing it every week. The year and a half of dressing up and going out once every couple weeks or every couple months was fun but in a different way. And I wasn’t getting any better at it.
What was it that got you out there doing it in the world for “real?”
I found myself spending entire nights at home watching drag performances on YouTube. I love watching drag as much as I love doing drag, so it was really about wanting to get in on the fun. I never want to get to the point where I’m so caught up in it that I can’t enjoy going to a drag show on my night off.
Were there specific queens you liked watching?
Lypsinka and Charles Pierce are everything to me. They don’t make queens like that anymore. And of course, Latrice Royale, Alyssa Edwards, and Bob the Drag Queen. And Vicky Vox gives an amazingly tight lip sync.
Legends! Speaking of legends… Blake Lively? Do we love her or hate her, or we don’t really care cuz Blake is your boy name and it’s just a clever and perfect drag name inspiration?
Mostly the latter. I have no strong feelings about Blake Lively. I don’t think anyone has strong feelings about Blake Lively. I think that’s the point.
I can’t argue with that. So, HUMP is Wednesday night party at the Rumpus Room that you host and perform numbers at. First off, when did you meet up with Shoshana Fisher & Paul Iacono, that party’s producers?
Paul I actually met my freshman year at NYU! And we cross paths a lot in the queer indie film scene here. But we reconnected when he was restarting HUMP and wanted a performer one week, which turned into me being there every week.
Paul and Shoshana are two of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet. And I love performing there because it’s a totally different experience than performing at a drag show at a gay bar, and I get to tailor my numbers to the HUMP space and audience.
How would you describe that space and audience at the Rumpus Room?
They’re not there for a drag show, they’re there for a party. So I have to keep it upbeat and short. And I just work the room all night and dance with all the cuties
So, it’s just about time for the 4th of July. I always feel guilty and unpatriotic for not giving my all to this holiday, cuz Pride usually busts my shit. Do you generally agree?
Yeah… I mean America has more to be ashamed of than it does to be proud of, but I don’t want to get too political on ya.
Oh, no doubt! Well this 4th, you’ll be doing something very patriotic: another drag completion! Congrats for making the semifinals of Miss Lady Liberty 2016 at the Ace Hotel! What’s gotten you here this far, did you one or more of the prior weeks?
Thank you! This is the second round of competition for all the girls competing on Monday.
Do you know all these other girls in the competition well by now?
I don’t actually. My girl Hibiscus and I started together at basically the same time at Drag Wars, and we keep ending up in competitions together! We do totally different things and I love it. I’m super excited to see Lolita Golightly who I’ve heard amazing things about but never seen. And Viva Vidalia and Vicky Boofont are both fierce sweethearts. I’ve seen Avant Garbage once at a late night Pieces set and I want more!
Is it more of a talent competition than a beautify pageant, or elements of both?
There’s a runway and q&a portion, in addition to our numbers. So all of the above!
Are you ready to slay?
I’m very excited about the number I’m doing. It’s my favorite film character of all time mashed up with one of my favorite singers. I’m also very nervous.
That’s good! Nervousness fosters slayage! How about some of the big drag pageants coming up? Any interest in going for another crown yet?
Name the competition and I’m there.
Ms Everything 2016! You’ll also be performing at the premiere of Eden on July 8th, a monthly at Hudson Terrace that will probably be amazing: a little Holy Mountain, a little Sleep No More, a little Greenhouse! Are you psyched?
Yas! Vincent Cooper knows what the fuck he’s doing. I’m going to be a part of a drag installation, which just sounds so fancy I can’t wait.
And I see that on the 17th, you’ll be guesting for Ruby Roo and Elizabeth James at their Duplex show! That should be fun! When did you meet those two?
Well, I’ve seen them both perform before and adore them! But Blake Deadly met Ruby for the first time last week when I performed in Scarlet Envy’s This Bitch at TNT. Then I stopped by the Duplex on Pride Sunday for the show and got so excited to join them on the 17th.
Yay! Okay, last question: what’s something about Blake Deadly that we might not already know, but should?
I accept tips via Venmo at any time.
Those are words to live by! Thanks Blake!
Blake Deadly hosts and performs at HUMP at the Rumpus room on Wednesday nights (10pm). She’s also participating in the Miss Lady Liberty semi-finals at the Ace Hotel on July 4th (8pm), appearing at the party Eden at Hudson Terrace on July 8th (11pm). and guest performing at Two for the Road, Ruby Roo and Elizabeth James’ show at the Duplex on July 17th. Blake can be followed on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.