Dotty Spartans will be the first bearded queen to compete in the Miss Hell’s Kitchen pageant! Thotyssey catches up with this hard-working Westchester queen.
Thotyssey: Hi Dotty! Thanks for talking to us. How’s the Miss Hell’s Kitchen package coming together for you?
Dotty Spartans: The pageant is giving me such anxiety! I’m so excited, but let me tell you, I’ll be happy when it’s all over! [laughs]!
Oh, you’ll have a great time, I’m sure! So, I don’t know that much about you. Where are you living right now, and where are you from?
I grew up in the Bronx, lived in Brooklyn for a few months and I’m living in Westchester County now.
My Dad grew up on the Bronx, and he talks about it like he was living in an Indiana Jones movie, like there were roving gangs and caves and booby traps everywhere. What was it like there, growing up for you?
Well I never had any interactions with gangs. I grew up in a quiet neighborhood, riding bikes and hanging out by the Long Island Sound.
When did the performing bug bite you?
I have been performing since I can remember. I used to do musicals as a child, and continued to act through college, and then started doing drag.
What motivated you to start drag?
I’m a Drag Race baby boomer. I fell in love with drag, and it was another way for me to perform and create. And it helped me meet a lot of people when I moved to Westchester.
Where did you first perform?
B Lounge in Westhester. I looked awful. No wig. It was pretty bad!
How visible was the beard queen scene at the time you decided to go that route with your aesthetic?
When I decided to become a bearded queen it was after Conchita won Eurovision, but that wasn’t the reason I started doing bearded drag. It was November, and I decided I wanted to participate in No Shave November and I fell in love with bearded drag. But bearded drag has been around for quite some time, and if it hadn’t been for my time in Brooklyn I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do bearded drag. Seeing such beautiful diversity in the Brooklyn drag scene changed my entire outlook on drag.
Were you very active in the Brooklyn scene?
My stint in Brooklyn was short, but I competed in Dragnet, as well as Miss Williamsburg. I frequented Scarlet Fever at TnT, and Scarlet gave me an opportunity to perform there and had me as her guest for my birthday show. I met some amazing queens, and I thank the Brooklyn drag scene for allowing me to grow there even if it was only for a while.They are incredibly creative, and taught me a lot.
So, you’ve done the pageant scene before, in Brooklyn! But I’m guessing Miss HK, which you’ll be a part of this weekend, will be a very different experience.
I’ve done Ms. Barracuda where I won best performance as well as Miss Look Queen, but this is the biggest pageant I’ve ever participated in. And I’ll be the first bearded queen to compete in Miss HK… unless you count Tina Burner.
So, what made you want to enter this one?
I decided to enter Miss HK because I wanted to make an absolute fool of myself! But honestly, I decided it was time to do something for myself, prove to myself that I could. I always said that I’m not a pageant queen, and now I can say, “you tried to be a pageant queen!” It’s about furthering my own art and growing as a performer.
I think you’ll do great! Give us a spoiler… what color is your gown?
My gown is made from the skin of my enemies! [Laughs] It’s gold and navy blue. But wouldn’t it be cool if it was the skin of my enemies?
Yes! That sounds like a future Ms. Barracuda theme, actually!
So, I’m sad to hear of the closing of Ignite, the gay bar up in White Plains where you hosted a few shows and parties. What was that scene like, and did you see the closing coming?
Unfortunately in the span of a year we lost all of our LGBTQ+ bars. It’s been really difficult for those of us in Westchester who held those places as safe havens. Ignite closed the same weekend as the Orlando shooting. And though it was not connected to the the tragedy, not having a place to go and to be together during such a terrifying time in our history was difficult for me, and it still is.
The drag scene in Westchester wasn’t thriving, but it was surviving. We did what we could with what we had, and it was good for a time. I have been privileged to host two shows and a bear party over the past two years, and I’m thankful that I was given that opportunity to craft myself as not only a performer, but a host. My sisters and I were very fortunate to have someplace to call home.
That’s terrible timing, I hope a new place pops up there soon.
You seem to be very busy with a day job, what is it if you don’t mind me asking?
I work full time overnights in a psychiatric hospital. I work with adolescents, and my unit specializes in care for LGBTQ+ patients. I also manage a restaurant and bartend on the side. I’m a busy bee, for sure.
Oh my dear Lord! So, you must have a genuine passion for drag if you can keep at it with all this other activity in your life!
Drag brings me genuine joy. That’s why I do it. I’m not gonna pretend I’m not usually exhausted–sometimes all I want to do is sleep for days–but doing something I love is worth the exhaustion.
One last question: what’s something the world doesn’t know about Dotty Spartans, but should?
Hmm. One thing the world doesn’t know about Dotty Spartans… That’s a tough question because i’m very much an open book. I would say that people don’t know that I love horror. Movies, books, podcasts. You name it! I love being scared, that moment when you feel like you’re not really alone, like something is watching you from the shadows, it’s exhilarating. The way the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you think you see something move out of the corner of your eye, it’s all so intense sometimes, your adrenaline starts to pump. Kind of like when you’re on a roller coaster. I guess maybe I’m just an adrenaline junkie. Either way, I love being scared!
Well, we’ll be screaming for you this weekend, Dotty! Good luck at Ms. HK!
Dotty Spartans is competing at the Miss Hell’s Kitchen pageant on July 17th at the Manhattan Movement Arts Center (7pm). She can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, and is listed on the Drag My City app.