Does this New York City drag superstar even need an introduction? Probably not. But just in case, you should know that Honey Davenport (Sir-Honey no longer!) is truly a glorious entertainer, a fantastic singer and dancer, a pageant crown hoarder and a true nightlife artist. There are very few performers in the biz who can balance a careful planning of a career with living in the moment the way she does. And that’s not her only balancing act! Maybe you’ve seen her electrifying club androgyny, or her ghettofab grinding realness, or her hilarious gown-clowning, or her gogo boy swagger, or her DJ coolness, or her most recent take on classy, gorgeous pageant beauty. Well, now get to know the real (wo)man as Thotyssey catches a few flies with Honey!
Thotyssey: Hey Honey, how are you recovering? You recently injured your hand onstage in Atlantic City. What the hell happened exactly, and who’s getting sued?
Honey Davenport: Well, basically what happened is, I was performing in my opening number at Rainbow Room in Atlantic City and I accidentally karate chopped a blacklight when I was on stage. I walked off immediately, got an Uber and went to the Atlantic Care Hospital, where I got most of the glass out and got all stitched up. Hot glass in my hands hurt like a bitch, but I am recovering well! Just tryna’ find a hand surgeon who takes Obamacare so I can get the rest of the glass out.
Ouch! I hope you find one! Speaking of the stage… what’s your performing headspace like, exactly? What’s going on up there when you’re onstage? Is it choreo, is it reading the audience, is it something transcendent, or is it “what should I eat for dinner tonight?”
I am normally gone. Performing is the most euphoric feeling in the world to me. Like, imagine having and orgasm on repeat for four minutes. That’s how I feel when a Beyonce song comes on and people hand me dollars.
I bet! I was wondering about the evolution of your drag. I feel, especially as you’ve slayed in so many pageants lately, that your image is now a lot more “conventionally” femme then it used to be when I first saw you. More fish and glamour, less androgyny. Was that a conscious decision?
It was not conscious at all. It just happened. But you know, as in anything else in life, we become what we are meant to be. I am so happy that I have been honored with a bunch of prestigious titles. But that’s just life, and living has led me. I am so ecstatic about it because I love it so much.
And on that note, you were originally called Sir-Honey Davenport. Have you officially dropped the “Sir-”?
It was a title I created for myself. But at this very moment, I am looking at thirteen crowns, which if nothing else tells me I don’t need to create my own titles any longer.
That’s for sure! Let’s talk about the beginnings of you. What was growing up in West Philadelphia like, and how did you originally want to express art and performing when you were growing up?
Growing up in West Philly was fine. I have a really awesome Mom who has always been here for me, but she didn’t always understand my artistic expression. When I was younger, I would wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the classical music station and pretend to be a ballerina. One night my mom caught me and decided to let me take dance classes. All the rest is history.
So dancing came first for you! Did any of the kids in your neighborhood give you shit?
Besides your Mom, I know there is a lot of talent and open-mindedness in your family. Your cousin is Precious director Lee Daniels.
And I really love how supportive your father is of your career. I’ve seen him at several of your shows. Is he in entertainment also?
My dad is a Jack of all trades, but his real talent is in the kitchen. That man really can cook!
You moved out to NYC in 2003, and I’m guessing you were very young.
Did the city live up to your expectations in those early days?
The city really did far exceed my expectations. I was in college during the day, and being my cousin Lee’s personal assistant at night.
What was it liking working for him?
Those years were full celebrity parties, and tons of shopping sprees. Sometimes at the office, Lee would say things like “It’s cocktail hour, everyone have a drink!” Or he would turn to me and say, “Can I make you my Barbie?” and take me out and get me Vivianne Westwood suits and all kinds of clothes. It was a really fairytale New York experience.
That sounds incredible! How tough was it to get into the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy, by the way? And what was the best thing you learned there?
I am not gonna lie, I am not a huge fan of that school. But I did have some great teachers, and some terrible ones. It really wasn’t tough to get into, at least when I went there, because they were expanding the campus and would take just about anyone’s money. I did make the most amazing friends, who even though we don’t see each other as much as we did then, keep me constantly encouraged and supported.
That sucks. So, when did you become Honey Davenport?
Long story short, me and my bro were gonna be dancing for Peppermint on her Hardcore Glamour tour in Europe. And we needed extra money, so we came up with a group called the Hunties. Later I met RuPaul, and she signed a copy of her book to “Honey” when I asked her to sign it to the Hunties.
So when the Hunties broke up, Deja and Sahara Davenport helped me create this character. Mostly Deja, as she was my drag mama, but Auntie Sahara was truly my support system in the early years of my drag.
How did you know Deja and Sahara?
Sahara Davenport lived across the street from me. She had subletted a room at my good friend Terry LaVell’s house in Harlem. He was in La Cage on Broadway, and [Sahara] had just got done filming Drag Race. Deja lived up the block, and was a Mac makeup artist, so their place was a kinda sanctuary for me, where I could go and explore drag.
Rest in peace, Sahara Davenport. Everyone talks about what a great person she was.
Have you always been designing and/or constructing your performance costumes?
I have in the past, then I stopped, and I have just started sewing again.
So, you are the very first winner of “So You Think You Can Drag,” Paige Turner’s long-running, star-making drag competition. Was that your first big contest/pageant win?
And what was your first weekly show?
It was at New World Stages, after I won “So You Think You Can Drag.” It was called “Honey Makes The World Go Round,” and it was legendary.
Do you remember what your first ever drag number ever was?
Let’s talk about your own music. I love “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.,” and you’ve released a number of singles over the years. You’ve mentioned your band the Hunties. When did you start writing original songs?
I starting writing music at the age of 15. But I never thought I would be the singer; I always wanted to just write lyrics. Then, when I was on the Hairspray tour I told Mark Shaman while we were at an afterparty in Connecticut that I want to write, star in and produce my own musical, and he said "do it!’ So after I left the tour, I kept trying to come up with cabarets. But no one really came. Then I became Honey, and they all gag.
So I started putting out more music. Then I formed a band, and for our release party we turned our album into a full-scale musical, starring me. Now that my band Electrohoney is on a little break, I had the pleasure of doing “T.R.O.U.B.L.E”. with Orion, and I am in the studio now with Tyler Stone working on my new EP: it’s called Bathhouse Music, and it’s a sexy dance album coming out this fall!
We’ll look out for that! You just wrapped up your season at Boots & Saddle–the Saturday happy hour show that you’ve co-hosted there for years with Delilah Brooks–this week, as you prepare to head out to Fire Island for the rest of the summer. That Boots show evolved a lot over the years, starting out with Delilah hosting bingo and you DJing, and shifting to just four hours of you two co-hosting and turning it. I’m guessing you must know Delilah inside and out at this point, right?
Monet is also my baby as well. Well, when she can’t get Bob on the phone!
Are you pretty much there to give anyone a hand who needs it, or can you only devote that level of time and attention to people who have drive and potential?
You posted recently about how sometimes it’s for the best to cut ties with people who might pull you into a negative space, even people whose friendship and well-being you might’ve invested a lot in. How do you handle it when you have to occupy the same space, or even occasionally still work, with those individuals after you’ve severed those ties?
I believe that love is a circle: it has no beginning or end, we just meet people we are destined to love. That being said, sometimes we have to learn to love people differently. But we truly never stop loving them. I don’t hold grudges, and the only thing in this world I absolutely hate is lima beans. So, I am fine with a former friend.
What do you think the hardest aspect of nightlife living is to adapt to?
The hardest aspect of nightlife living is getting up in the morning and running the Biz aspect of it, only to get into fantasy and work the gig. It’s like, being a queen is a day job and a night job.
Queens have to be smart with their budgeting, marketing and date planning… does that take any of the fun out of it?
You are one of the city’s best known and most successful pageant queens, with, like you said before, thirteen crowns on your mantle to date. I’m wondering, when you’re deciding at the beginning of the year (or whenever you do it) about which pageants you’re going to enter, what sort of things do you consider?
I love pageants. I try to choose: A) the ones that are looking for girls with my skill set, and B) the ones that have a track record for being fair. Pageants can be very political. I like to do the ones that celebrate excellence, not just loyalty to your friends. I have never won a title I didn’t deserve!
When you’re showing your presentation package, do you have "I got this” or “I lost this” moments, or do you really have no idea until the end?
When I compete, I am in the zone. I am not worried about winning, just showing the judges my best. I truthfully am very happy if I did my personal best, even if I don’t win. But I love winning [laughs].
And you do it so well! Do you select a pageant team of helpers based on the requirements of each pageant, or is there like a go-to group that you bring everywhere who can adapt for everything?
That first presentation gown that you wore for Ms Industry–the black and white one that flipped up into a huge panel–was everything. Who made that?
My drag mom Michael Perez from MJM designs.
Loved it. It would be rude to get into figures, but… shit, pageants are expensive, aren’t they?
You’re doing Miss Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday, July 17th… how’s the package working out for this one? Are you ready to slay?
Actually, to be honest… my hand injury knocked me way off my preparation schedule, and I have to switch my talent ‘cause of my hand. I also had some unavailable or unreliable team members. But I will be prepared to slay.
Why did you pick this pageant to compete in?
Miss Hell’s Kitchen is about so much more than a title. It is an opportunity to raise money for people in need. I am ready to spend a whole year helping those in need under the Miss Hell’s Kitchen brand. So yes, I am ready to slay!
Let me ask about your husband. You are always honest about the joys of your open marriage, but are there ever any jealousy issues when you surrounded by these hot dudes for so many nights?
No! He is my best friend. If I hook up someone, I normally go back to him and show him pics and brag. Like, “Damn, look at this trade I got!” He does the same. We barely ever argue, and we are just as in love as the day we met. He is a solid rock in my life. He is truly the biggest blessing I have ever had.
That’s beautiful! I remember when he won a Magic: The Gathering championship not long ago, is that still a thing?
He plays the Star Wars: The Card Game. He made the Top 8 at a world’s [tournament] last year. This year, he is winning!
Congrats and good luck to him! Okay, let’s go through your shows. And while we’re on the topic of hot guys, I’ll start with Spunk! First of all, you’’ve been hosting their Thursday night party at the Monster for awhile now, and by "their” I mean Luis Gomez’ finest gogo boys. Are there certain guys you look particularly forward to seeing (or playing with!) each week?
Yeah, I have been hosting Spunk! for about three years now since Holly left to host Queen. I love all my boys, but my favorites are Danilo, Jesse and Blain because they are great entertainers as well as sexy boys.
And there’s exciting Spunk news this week! The party is getting a weekly night at the Ice Palace on Fire Island for the summer, starting this Saturday! How long have you wanted to get a weekly gig on the Island?
Omg, I am so excited! When I first started drag, Jackie Dupree brought me out with her to guest at Cherry’s. I have wanted to be an Island Queen ever since. I truly love Cherry Grove. I am the current reigning Miss Cherry’s, and it is such an honor to be a part of that family. And I love the food at Floyd’s and Island Breeze. And don’t even get me started on how much fun I have had at Ice Palace. That place is phenomenal! I am so happy for the opportunity they are giving me.
Will this party basically be the same concept as in the Monster, you hosting hot guys as they’re dancing on laps?
Logan Hardcore was telling me about how the Grove is in danger of becoming Family Friendly–this might be just what we need!
I like that it’s a little family friendly. But my favorite parts of it are the scandals. Logan worked there for 10 years, so she would know more about the epic turn ups of seasons past!
Let’s review the Other Honey Shows: first, Gay College Tuesdays at the Ritz! That’s a popular night that you host, and that Steve Sidewalk deejays for. All the pics I see from that party, you’re surrounded by cute boys in their underwear. Is it easy to get a college boy in his skivvies, or is it effort?
Super easy! My GCT boys are so much fun. It’s cool working with them, because they are so fun, fresh and lively. Some of the gogo’s I work with have been around the block a few times. But these boys are fresh and ready for a good time!
Then, one Wednesday a month (usually the third Wednesday), you are hosting a happy hour at Kazza Wine Bar in Hamilton Lodge, up in Hamilton Heights. That scene in HH / Washington Heights / Harlem is growing…does that surprise you?
Not at all! Gay things have been blossoming up there for years. I used to do No Parking right across the street from Kazza. That area is so gay, my Grindr sounds like a fire truck when i walk through! I call it Chelsea North.
And speaking of other nightlife roles you’ve had, didn’t you used to gogo?
Congratulations! Does it feel sexy to dance, or do you get kind of detached from it after an hour?
And of course, Manster Saturdays at Monster has been a big night for you also. I assume you’ll be returning to it after the Fire Island season ends. How do you like how the Manster party has evolved?
I love Manster at the Monster. Me and Mitch have poured ourselves into that night for a very long time now. Manster is Mitch’s party. He brought me in, and together we really created something beautiful. We keep finding new ways to make it more fun. We keep working at it. And even though i am going to Fire Island for the summer, Mitch and the Monster are giving me my spot back afterwards.
But don’t worry, in my absence I have booked some of the fiercest girls in NYC. I am so happy they now get a chance to be part of this experience!
Who should win Drag Race All Stars Season 2?
Would you walk away from all of these gigs and projects–even with the understanding that you’d come back–if you got the RuPaul call?
Drag Race would be a huge honor. But it’s not my end all be all. I would also love to be Miss Continental, and I plan on being the third person in history to win on their first try.
Oh wow, you’re doing Miss Continental this year?
I am competing at nationals in Chicago this year, in September. I am the current reigning Miss New York, but I an proudly sponsored by Heart of America Continental.
That is basically the biggest and most elaborate drag pageant in the world… have you been planning this for, like, years?
Dreaming about it! But I didn’t have the courage to compete. Luckily for me, I have the best drag family in the world, and they have given me all the support and sponsorship that any girl can need.
At the end of the day, I love my art. I just want the opportunity to create it all over the world, and make a boat load of money doing it! Any opportunity that provides that experience is worth the taking.
Okay, last question! What are you going to win first, a Tony, an Emmy, an Oscar or a Grammy?
Get those statues girl! Thanks so much, and good luck with everything!
Honey Davenport will compete in the Miss Hell’s Kitchen pageant at the
Manhattan Movement Arts Center
on July 17th, and the Miss Continental nationals in Chicago in September. Weekly in the summer, she hosts Gay College Tuesdays at the Ritz (11pm), the Equality Happy Hour at Hamilton Lodge’s Kazza Wine Bar on the third Wednesday of the month (8pm), Spunk! at the Monster on Thursdays (10pm) WTF Fridays at POSH as a DJ (9pm), and a new Saturday Spunk! party at the Ice Palace on Fire Island (11pm, starting July 16th). She will co-host the FLOAT on the Hudson show and boat ride on July 21st (8:30).
In the fall, Honey should resume co-hosting The Dirty Ho Show at Boots & Saddle on Saturday happy hour (4pm), and hosting Manster at Monster party on Saturday nights (11pm). Honey Davenport can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube, and she also has a website.