[photo credit: Suri]
This dynamic and acclaimed drag performer is slaying the children in Bushwick and way beyond with their provocative on-stage genderfuckery. And if drag kinging is a thing you’d like to try, this one’s got mad workshops for you. Now with a possible Go Magazine award on the horizon, it’s a good time for Thotyssy to catch up with the incomparable Goldie Peacock.
Thotyssey: Hi Goldie! Thanks for talking! Summer’s just about over and the city’s going through the change. How was your season in general, and did you get to perform in Bushwig this year?
Goldie Peacock: Hi Jim! I had a stellar summer, fresh off a spring of touring various parts of the country. Some of my summer drag highlights included performing for Sasha Velour’s Nightgowns at Bizarre Bushwick and Scarlet Envy’s KWIR at Monster Bar. I really appreciate queens who make an effort to include kings, ladyqueens and non-binaric drag performers into their shows. I unfortunately couldn’t make it to Bushwig this year, but had a great time performing for it the past three years.
Cool. And I’m glad that there’s a trend to include a broader spectrum of drag in venues. Why do you think audiences are more open now to to these different types of drag–is it just more exposure?
I think that social media has the ability to blow people’s minds wide open, and that that is the way that many who were previously only aware of drag queens because of Rupaul’s Drag Race have learned about the rest of us. We are also currently in the midst of so much social and political upheaval that people who produce shows (at least those I surround myself with) are particularly conscious about needing to be as inclusive as possible in every way in their show lineups.
I’m really interested in the particulars of your drag, but let’s start at the beginning. What’s your hometown, and how did little Goldie fare there?
I grew up between towns in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Connecticut, and I never felt like I particularly fit into any of those places. I definitely found solace in the arts, wherever I was.
What kind of art, in the beginning?
I was a hardcore player of dress-up from the get, so that’s where I think my destiny as a drag artist started percolating. I danced, sang, acted, did visual arts, wrote stories. I went to a preschool at an arts center. My mom was a weaver and dad has always been a writer, so luckily it’s not as if I had to hide my creative tendencies from my parents.
That’s always good. Was gender play always part of your art?
Yes. I remember at some point having a mustache drawn on my face and saying “Mommy, I look like a man!” and really believing it. I also definitely queened it up, and dressing up as an old lady was a favorite pastime.
OMG adorable! So, what brought you to NYC, and how did you discover the Brooklyn scene?
Since the days of watching Sesame Street, I’ve gravitated towards NYC. I knew on some level that it was the best place for me to be my queer, creative self. I did a performance art semester here in 2005, and that confirmed my lifelong suspicion. And after graduating college, tearing it up in Portland, Maine (I actually moved there for a drag queen) for a few years, I moved to Brooklyn and have been here for nearly seven glorious years.
I love the creativity of the Brooklyn drag scene. I basically started networking and putting myself out there before I even got here. Having been the new kid so many times, I know what you have to do to make your presence known.
I must say, you are the first person I’ve met who shacked up with a Maine drag queen!
Haha! There’s a first time for everything.
[photo credit: Laura A. Miranda]
Is identifying as a gender and/or sexual orientation a big part of your day-to-day life, or is it always just fluid?
I identify as queer and genderqueer/non-binary and go by they/their/them pronouns.
Noted! How would you describe Goldie the character and the performer? What are you trying to “do” to the audience with Goldie?
I’m a lot more flamboyant and into myself onstage than I am on the daily. My aim is to titillate and transfix the audience, and if they end up thinking during my numbers, that’s cool, too.
An interesting thing about your lip syncs is that you have free range of male and female vocals… you can make them both work. Do you feel like you have to shift your style between these “male” and “female” performances?
I feel that my general vibe and placement on the gender spectrum during performances depends more on the concept behind the piece than the gender of the artist that I’m lip-syncing to. However, If I do a song where there are male and female parts that alternate, I’ve definitely used that in a gender-ful way, incorporating stereotypically gendered movement vocabulary to expose how ridiculous it can all really be.
Do you feel that gender elements are always present in your performance, or is it sometimes like “bitch, it’s entertainment, whatevs?”
Ha! Since I’m an AFAB person (often) binding, packing and donning facial hair but also glitter and glamdrogynous attire, I guess that my presentation could always potentially provoke thoughts about gender from the audience, although for me it’s just normal. Some pieces that I have are more about strictly entertaining, while others are more conceptual.
Are you okay with the level of attention your Goldie looks might get you offstage in public, or do you feel kind of like a bullseye sometimes?
I like to be on the stage when I’m on and off when I’m off. I love a genuine compliment, but barrages of questions about my gender and tattoo and what a drag king is, etc. can be a bit much, especially if it’s all at once. It’s helpful to have another person with me who can help answer the questions, especially when it’s at the end of a long day, like during pride festivities. Most people are curious and coming from a good place, but especially in NYC it can be so many people all asking the same stuff at the same time!
So for the record: I’m genderqueer, and a drag king. I got my tattoo done in Maine by Watson Atkinson, it’s white ink that doesn’t glow in the dark and took 80 hours to complete. A drag king is an entertainer who intentionally assumes a theatrical guise of maleness in and for performance.
You heard it here, everybody! So like you’ve said, you’ve traveled far and wide. Like Austin, where you served as part of a team of New York Ambassadors for the International Drag Festival. That must’ve been a very positive experience, because they’ve asked you to be involved again in a capacity for 2017.
There is literally no other festival in the world like Austin. I had a stellar time performing, teaching workshops, serving as an ambassador and meeting and watching incredible performers both the first and second years it happened, and am looking forward to giving my perspective as a drag king on the advisory council to the foundation board this year.
Is there a strong sense of community between drag kings across the country? Do you all share a support system?
Speaking from my experience, I feel that there is an overarching sense of solidarity and “I got your back, bro” between kings, but we definitely aren’t all in touch or even necessarily aware of each other. I make it my business to continuously educate myself about what’s going on in the king world–and the drag world in general–because I teach workshops and tour, and therefore need to be on top of what’s happening.
Tell me about the workshops you teach.
I’ve taught various disciplines on and off for the past 10 years, and in 2013 began teaching drag king workshops because I felt there was a need. People were consistently asking me for advice about how to king, and I hoped to expand our community and share what I’d picked up over the years.
In addition to king-focused workshops, I also teach general genderbending, improvisational movement, creativity-sparking and empowerment workshops. I’ve taken my classes (which I also sometimes do in lecture format) to Maine, Vermont, Georgia, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Texas over the past few years.
I tailor each class the specific students, but always include history, current culture, costuming, styling, makeup (the “nuts” and bolts if you will [laughs]), body language, and my personal tales from the trenches.
I love to teach! I give the run-down of two of my workshops on my website.
So, who are some of your favorite performing kings these days?
I’m afraid to name names! I don’t want to leave anyone out.
Thanks! I am, indeed. I am happy that there is currently such a vibrant drag king scene in NYC that we have our own award categories.
Oh that’s right, I remember hearing you two had to lip sync for your life!
That was so fun! We’ve definitely always supported each other professionally, and tying felt super cute. #rupaulsbestfriendrace
I see you go-go dance pretty regularly at Henrietta Hudson’s. Is that a very different type of performance for you, aside from the presumed wardrobe difference?
For me, go-go dancing is different from drag performance in that it’s (generally) longer in duration and atmospheric, as opposed to occurring in a short burst where an audience is intensely focused on me. It’s a slow burn over time versus a firework.
Do you have a regular schedule when you dance there, or is it more like whenever they need you?
My regular slot is every fourth Friday of the month, and also whenever they need me and i can make it. I always have a great time! I also go-go danced for the NYC pride Pier Dances for the past two years, and that was amazing! There’s nothing quite like performing for ten thousand people.
What’s your take on the Brooklyn nightlife scene these days? Do you still see creativity and innovation everywhere, or are things in need of a shakeup?
Quite frankly, the biggest need that I see is for performers to be paid better. That’s the best thing that could possibly happen in this scene.
I’m sure everyone would agree there! So what else is coming up?
Okay, so last question: what are the worst and best things about drag for you?
So talking specifically drag performance here, as opposed to teaching workshops or producing shows: the worst part for me is that this is an art form that’s so labor-intensive in terms of preparations, but then short and ephemeral when the actual number happens.
The best part is the sheer exhilaration and empowerment that you and your audience can attain during a great show. I also love that drag is an ever-evolving art form, which definitely keeps teaching it interesting.
It sounds like you have a great outlook that’s gonna keep you around for a long time! Thanks Goldie!
[photo credit: Jack Montgomery]
Goldie Peacock will perform at Friends & Lovers on September 24th (5-9pm), and is nominated for Favorite Drag King at the Go Magazine Awards which will be held at XL on September 28th. You can still vote for Goldie here. They also gogo dance at Henrietta Hudsons every fourth Friday. Goldie can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube, and has a website.