It’s one of our city’s favorite karaoke hostesses, and a great entertainer in her own right: Blackie O! She’s got two weekly shows, an upcoming appearance at a Stonewall Invasion, and just a whole lot of awesomeness. Thotyssey spills the T with Ms. O.
Thotyssey: Ms. O, how are you today?
Blackie O: I am feeling soft, like a Summer’s Eve commercial after a thought provoking episode of Weeds.
Me too! I was wondering… how do you prefer your name to appear in a billing? Blacqueline O’Nasty? Blackie O’Nasty? Blacky O? So many variations I’ve seen!
I prefer Blackie O. All other variations of my name came about because of Facebook requirements.
Got it. Where are you from?
I was born in Alabama and raised in Florida. I have lived in New York City for over 10 yrs.
What was life like for you while growing up?
I am a military brat, and the product of a “broken home.” My mother and father split up when I was four. My mother raised me. She is the love of my life!
And as far as singers go, who were your favorite divas?
The first album I bought, with my meager paycheck from Target, was Who is Jill Scott? I was pretty sheltered. I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, and had limited exposure to music aside from my car radio. I loved neo-soul…still do.
You’re a really amazing singer! When did that start, and did you ever receive any voice training?
Singing has never been my strongest talent, but I love compliments!! I started singing in Church and was promptly kicked out of the choir. It wasn’t till I started theatre in high school that I leaned anything about form in reference to my voice. I studied more in depth in college. I think singing is one of the most vulnerable and exposed art forms. It comes directly from inside you in that very moment. I am envious of people who can be fully connected and sing. I’m more comfortable talking, to be honest.
When did you create Blackie?
Blackie happened to me. My friend Justin Clynes put me in drag for the first time. He is a model and photographer. A beautiful man inside and out. He loves to leave things more beautiful than how he finds them. He put me in drag once. I was hosting karaoke at XES out of drag, and no one would sing. Mimi Imfurst had the gig before I did. I asked one night, “If I get up in drag next week, will you guys sing?” and everyone screamed yes. So Blackie was born.
So you’re truly a product of karaoke! Do you pursue Broadway/stage roles?
I did. The closest I got was Passing Strange. I remember it was one of the most exciting–and disappointing–experiences in my life. It was for the understudy of the lead when they moved the production from the Public to Broadway. I was cleaning apartments at the time for this agency, and this seemed like the Light at the end of the tunnel….it was just another train [laughs]!
That sucks! Well, you did appear in The Off Couple a few months ago, with co-stars Tina Burner, Busted, Elizabeth James and Markus Kelle. What was that experience like? Is it a different vibe as far as mixing it up with other queens when there’s a script involved?
Girl! Those bitches were incredible to work with… but they didn’t know their fucking lines! It actually added an excitement to the show, to tell you the truth. We are doing it again pretty soon. I’m excited about it. I actually felt strangely safe with those animals. I can’t wait to do it again.
You’re the only person alive who feels safe with Tina and Busted! So starting with XES, you’ve had a lot of karaoke hosting gigs over the years. What’s the key to being a good karaoke host?
Saying “who’s next?” Seriously though, I think a karaoke host (or any host, really) is there to facilitate a fun time. Many times with karaoke, you’ll get people who are reluctant and nervous. If I can make those people feel safe to express themselves, everything else sort of falls into place.
What’s the most memorable experience you had hosting a karaoke night?
There was this young gay boy, maybe sixteen, who came in with his father. He had silver hair, and a full face of makeup. He performed, and I was just so moved by the fact that he was so free. His father was so loving. It showed me how different the landscape is for many young people now. I hope that continues.
I think it has been five years.
Do you work there other nights besides Tuesday?
Yes, and it is hard work. The ladies of Lips juggle a lot. Serving tables, performing, and being an all around asshole is no easy task!
I should think not! But girls who work at Lips seem really happy there, and some have been there for, like, 15+r years. What’s so great about working there?
There is a sense of comradery that you don’t get in many other clubs. I am not saying it doesn’t exist elsewhere, but we are a family. We are a highly dysfunctional family.
Do you have a higher tolerance for straight female customers then the average bar queen, working at Lips (which is very straight friendly)?
Tolerance is not my strongest point in general, but that has nothing to do with gender or sexual preference. Straight women are not a problem for me. Annoying, disrespectful, and willfully ignorant people are the issue. They can be found in any group. That being said, so can brilliant people.
Jasmine is actually kind of laid back, and very easy going. She worked at Lucky Chengs, so she gets the drag restaurant dynamic.
Vita is no-nonsense; she is a girl after my own heart. We personally have a lot in common. She is very up front and hard working. She’s a fellow southern girl!
We met each other once before we did the show, and somehow it works. She is such a sexual queen. The show is her trying to slip a dick in her mouth and me saying “that’s gross!” She has a gorgeous singing voice, and a way lifting a crowd up. She is a kind queen, which isn’t something you find often. I love working with her.
Also, DJ 2Face gets in on the fun during the show. There is a section where we play “never have I ever,” and things get really …well, naked!
You and Jasmine are such strong singers– do you do duets for that show?
We haven’t. I am happy that Jasmine sings at all. I had to convince her to do it. I think she is protective about sharing that talent in drag. Bitch is classically trained. I’m sure I’ll convince her to do “The Boy is Mine,” soon enough.
And as for Vita, another great singing queen, you’ll be guest performing for her Stonewall Invasion next Sunday! When was the last time you performed in an Invasion… And when can we look forward to your own?
First of all I’ve done several Invasions of my own (side-eye). I’m like 90 yrs old!! I’m excited to work with Vita this Sunday, and we will be singing together. She is stellar.
Any more gigs you wanna mention?
Thank you so much for the opportunity!!! I’ve always wanted a high class self promotional interview. There is one more gig I have. I am at Barracuda every other Wednesday with Tina Burner and Holly Box-Springs for the Gurlesque. Tina is the headliner and Holly And I provide her with time for costume changes and emotional support. She’s a maniac!
Who should win Drag Race All Stars 2?
Last, shady question: Beyoncé, Britney, Rihanna and Katy Perry’s yacht sank and they’re all drowning. You are in a small boat and can only save one. Who?
Beyoncé does not co-own a yacht.
Correct! Thanks Blackie!
Blackie O hosts karaoke at Lips every Tuesday night (9pm), and co-hosts Rush Hour with Jasmine Rice at Pieces on Thursday nights (10pm). She performs with Tina Burner and Holly Box-Springs at Barracuda every other Wednesday night, and will be a guest performer for Vita Summers’ Stonewall Invasion on Sunday, August 7th. Blackie can be followed on Facebook.