[photo credit: Courtney Charles]
Miss’d America 2015 FiFi DuBois is getting ready to pass her crown down to the new winner in Atlantic City in just a few days. But thanks to her classically-trained dancing, pageant queen-perfect beat, repertoire of godawful corny jokes and delightful nerdiness, she will always be the queen of our hearts! Thotyssey catches up with FiFi on the eve of her trip to co-host Dallas Pride with her galpal CoCo De’Ball.
Thotyssey: Hello FiFi, Miss’d America and fabulous jetsetter! You just recently got back from Continental in Chicago to support your sister Lolita Golightly, who wound up doing very well for her first time out! How was that whole experience for you?
FiFi DuBois: It was really great to be a part of a pageant experience and not compete. Although final night was quite hectic and grueling, it was a rewarding experience.
Did you have to calm a girl’s nerves?
Ha! I think she had to calm mine a few times
I bet! How was the Continental experience different from your big win at Miss’d America, just as far as they’re both presented?
The number of contestants is nearly doubled, and the pressure seems a bit higher. Miss’d America is a very fun-loving experience.
Cool. So you’ve come a long way gurl! Are you a Florida native?
I am. I grew up in Tamp,a Florida that which I like to intimately refer to as Trampa, Florida.
That’s what I hear about Tampa! What’s, like, the typical style of a Trampa Queen?
A lot of pageant queens. A lot of venues only employ title holders. But now, they’re slowly catching up with the times and hiring some fresh and different types of performers.
Well that’s good! And you went to SUNY Purchase, right? What were you studying there?
I studied dance performance, with a heavy focus on choreography.
What kind of dancer did you wanna be?
Contemporary ballet, mostly, but I wanted to be a choreographer even more.
Cool. So many drag queens came out of Purchase, what’s the drag attraction there?
There’s a really great and nurturing queer community at Purchase. And an annual drag competition which is where most of us start. Also, we used to joke that the only reason other clubs on campus wanted to collaborate with the LGTBQ club on campus was so we’d provide drag queens.
Ha! And Miz Jade was your buddy there, right?
Yes, love Miz Jade. We were inseparable in college.
Cool. What were the exact circumstances that got you into drag for the first time?
Technically the first time was in middle school, in an acting class. But the first time after actually realizing what drag was, was in college at the annual drag competition. The only reason I entered was because I grew up as a Dance Competition Kid (like Dance Moms), and heard the word “competition” and was certain I could win … and didn’t. But that’s what started the drag ball rolling for me.
Was your Mom like one of those dance moms… like, fighting with the other moms?
Only a couple times, but it was usually because I was teased for being a boy, or we weren’t as well-off as some of the other families.
I hope she kicked their asses! So, when you came to NYC, did you intend to start doing drag professionally, or did that just sort of happen by itself?
It happened on its own. I honed my drag a little bit in college, and a little bit at home between the Rocky Horror cast I was on, and entering amateur contests at a club in Tampa when I was home on summer vacation.
Oh yeah, tell me a bit about your Rocky Horror stint. Where was that, and who did you play?
It was in Tampa FL, with the cast of the Cheap Little Punks who are based out of the Tampa Pitcher Show. I played Rocky, because I love to be half-naked, and Trixie (the lips) which gives you free reign to kinda do whatever you want. Still to this day, anytime I’m in Tampa I do a guest spot as Rocky or a one-off cabaret show at the theater.
That’s fun! I feel like you’re the drag Rocky Horror authority.
Was that your first paid gig in NYC?
It was as a co-host to Shequida at Bar-tini (now closed), which is a gig I won in a contest where I was the only contestant [laughs]. But actually, the best part of that night was not only it being my first time performing in NYC, I also got to perform for Pandora Boxx as well as Sahara Davenport and Alexis Arquette, may they both rest in peace. It was a great first NYC drag experience.
Wow, that is a great night! How soon after that did you get your first weekly show, at Boots & Saddle?
Probably about a year.
You were part of the very first group of queens to be hired at Boots, which I guess must be about 5 years ago now. It’s still a super popular happy hour show on Sundays, currently bi-monthly 5pm – 7pm (that time slot will probably change six or seven times by the time this is printed, given the scheduling habit there).
How do you feel that you’ve evolved as a queen since you started performing regularly? I mean obviously your look and everything got more refined, but do you think you’ve changed at all as a type of performer?
Banter and hosting were never my strong suit. My background is dance, and no one really pays to here us speak. But I think Boots is the perfect place to develop your hosting skills, because the audiences are so varied–you never know what kind of audience your gonna get. So my hosting/mic skills have definitely improved.
You’re actually known for telling terrible, corny jokes onstage. Tell me the worst one that comes to mind now.
Oh, it’s so long! Alright.
There’s a handsome young man. He invites a beautiful young girl to the prom. She says yes, but he realizes that he hasn’t got tickets for the prom. The student council office where you get tickets has a long line, since everyone is buying their tickets to the prom that day.
So he finally gets the tickets, very excited, and then he realizes he doesn’t have anything to wear to the prom. So he goes to the tuxedo store to rent a tux, and there’s a long line because everyone’s getting married this month. So while he’s online to rent a tux, he then realizes he wants to get flowers for his date.So he goes to the flower store–again, there’s a long line there because, guess what, everyone’s getting married this month. He gets his flowers, and he’s still very excited, but he didn’t realize he needs to pick his date up in style. So he goes to the car rental place to rent a limo, and again everyone is getting married this month, so there’s a long line at the car rental place. He finally rents the limo. So he picks up his date, and they go off to the dance, and they are having a great time dancing the night away. Then his date stops him and asks, “can you please go and get me some punch?” and he says “of course, I would love to go and get you some punch!” so he goes over to the punch table, and there is no punchline….
Oh dear God. I’m sure that one kills one way or the other. So, how about drag audiences? Do you think they’ve changed in any general way since you started?
I mean, there’s always drag trends that come about as far as performances, makeup, and fashion. They are getting younger and better. I started when I was 19, but I was not nearly as talented or pretty as these younger girls today.
And now you’re just the prettiest and the most talented, which brings us back to Miss’d America! That was a great win for you last year, and you’ll be passing down your crown to the new winner in Atlantic City on September 24th. You placed in the top three the year before you won, right?
Yes, I won on my third attempt. The first year I didn’t place, but had such a great time I went back and placed Top 3. And on my third attempt I won.
What did you like about Miss’d that kept you coming back and striving for the crown?
It’s a really fun atmosphere, and really well put-together production.
Have you used your power and clout as Miss’d America for good, or mostly evil this year?
Mostly for good. I got to travel a lot and meet some really great people.
And you got to be part of the Asbury Pride parade this summer, right? Was that fun?
It was super fun!
So are you gonna do an elaborate number when you pass the crown down, or do you get to just sit there and watch the new batch of girls sweat?
I do an opening production number and a step down number.
Fun! Any more pageants in the near or distant future?
Awesome, good luck! So, you’ve been co-hosting a Drag Race All-Stars viewing party at Farafina Cafe with Vivacious on Thursday nights! That must be cool to co-host with a queen that has all these insights about the behind the scenes stuff, right?
It is. It’s really great to get takes on the show from different perspectives. As well as, she’s really wonderful to work with, super professional and hilarious to boot.
I totally agree, based on the performance, Ginger was in the top for me. I was very surprised.
Oh well! What do you think is going to be “revenge” that gets teased at the end of each episode? Will somebody get to come back as a wild card, or will they all pick the winner, or some other clever device we can’t think of?
[Laughs] I think they’re gonna do like a little side competition with the eliminated girls, and battle it out to see who comes back.
I’d be okay with that!
We went last year to host the Red Party, and they got such good feedback about us, they really wanted us back. So our friends Jared and Aaron from Dallas asked around and got us booked for some really awesome gigs. On Sunday, we get to host and perform alongside Kennedy Davenport as well, which is so exciting.
That should be thoroughly amazing. Everything’s bigger in Texas, so I’m guessing you’ll be happy.
How long have you and Shane Cherry been together?
Not so sure about that segue seeing as Shane is so short, but we’ve been together a little over 5 years.
Ha! Here’s a better segue: October 3rd, Shane’s presenting an event at Rockbar called “We the Heroes” that will be a fundraiser for Trinity Place, and that will feature performances by all the city’s great nerd queens, including yourself! What makes you a nerd queen?
Well, other than being a nerd by association, I consider myself quite the cinephile. I love movies, especially Disney and suspense thrillers. And actually, your recent read-through of the Harry Potter books inspired me to re-read them myself.
I love nerds and nerd culture. I think the most exciting part of the “We the Heroes” party is that it’s actually in association with New York Comic Con! Which is so cool for a gay nerd event to have a backer that well recognized.
Totally! Should be a great night. Did you read Harry Potter & the Cursed Child yet?
I didn’t! I’m only on the 5th book in my read-through, so obviously that will be the icing on the cake.
You’ll finish it in, like, a day! Okay one last question: as a dancer and choreographer, what’s the best new(-ish) dance video?
“The Greatest” by Sia. All of the Kids in it are amazing, and the story isn’t clear until the end, but when it hit me my heart fell out my ass. I love Sia and Maddie, and the art they’ve been making together is incredible!
Thanks FiFi! Have fun in Dallas, and see you soon!
FiFi DuBois performs at Boots & Saddle (currently on select Sundays, 5-7pm) and co-hosts a “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars” viewing party at the Farafina Cafe & Lounge with Vivacious on Thursdays (7pm). She will be co-hosting Dallas Pride with CoCo De’Ball on Sunday, September 18th, stepping down for Miss’d America 2016 at the Borgata in Atlantic City on September 24th. On October 3rd, she’ll perform for the We The Heroes Ball at Rockbar (8pm). FiFi DuBois can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.