Week 2′s winner of this year’s (seventh) season of “So You Think You Can Drag?” is a drag veteran herself. In fact, as one half of the musical comedy duo The Boofont Sisters, she’s actually already made TV history as a contestant on the very first episode of “America’s Got Talent!” Now reestablishing herself as a solo queen (and a much smaller one after a major weight loss), she’s slaying us left and right with singing and comedy chops. It’s VICKY BOOFANT!
Thotyssey: Hi Vicky! Thanks for talking to us! Congrats on your win in Week 2 of “So You Think You Can Drag?” We’ll get to that in a second, but I was curious–I saw you went to Marti Gould Cummings’ live rock show at 54 Below last night, how was it?
Vicky Boofont: Marti was amazing! I love how she is unique and true to herself. There were hysterical improv moments, and then so many touching moments and stories about her family. Her “Puff The Magic Dragon” tribute to her Grandma had me in tears, I was a wreck!
Aw that’s sweet! Glad you enjoyed it. You’re a singer yourself, right?
Why yes I am! I like to consider myself a show pony/triple threat/entertainer. I can do it all! Or at least, I like to think I can.
We’ll get to the evolution of your performing life, but let’s start at the beginning! Where’s your hometown?
I grew up in a small corn town, Morris, Illinois.
Sounds like fun! Did you rock Morris, or did you ultimately have to get the hell out of there?
So not fun! But I will say that I’m still very good friends with a lot of people I grew up with. When you don’t fit in, you gravitate towards like-minded people. I had friends in high school who were older than me, so that meant they could drive! We’d go to Chicago and party at Medusa or The Lucky Horseshoe. I looked much older when I was a kid, so it was easy to get into clubs. Looking back on it, I am thankful I grew up in the Midwest and I’m happy to visit, but I got the hell out of there as fast as I could!
Amen! Were you always a show pony, performing and being fabulous in those small town years?
I wish! No, I was a very obese kid who tried to hide. I did do musicals and started coming out of my shell. Madonna in the 90s saved my life! When “Vogue” came out, I came out! I started becoming myself and more fabulous. It was around junior year in high school when I was like, “fuck y’all, I’m gonna do me.”
Yaz queen! So where did you go next?
I went to college in Chicago, and toured in non-equity shows for awhile before moving to Los Angeles.
My first drag gig was straight out of college in a Michigan summer stock production of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! I was a football chorus boy, but they needed an extra lady in the prologue, so they asked me. I played Miss Willa Jean and I was hooked!
That’s a great way to start! So how did Willie Jean evolve into Vicky Boofont?
I always loved drawing caricatures of ladies with high 1960’s hairdos. When I was touring on the East Coast, I kept a journal and would doodle these ladies and gave them names. Thus became Vicky Boofont. My college friend Cindy became Ruby Boofont. When I was finished with the tour we formed a cabaret act called The Boofont Sisters. We’d go around to open mics in Chicago and within a month got hired by David Gentry to perform at his two piano bars, Gentry on State and Gentry in Boystown. We performed in all the clubs and cabaret bars in Chicago, until we decided to move to Los Angeles.
I see that the Boofont Sisters are actually an interesting part of TV history: you were contestants on the very first episode of America’s Got Talent! What was that experience like?
[Laughs] It was very strange! At the time, it was my first time filming a reality-type competition and since it was their 1st episode, it was very low budget. The producers were great to us, and kept telling us we’d make it past the first round.
We spent the entire day sitting next to David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan and Brandy, and all three talked to us during the breaks and loved us. But then when we got on stage, it was clear we were there for entertainment only.
I think if we would have been on the show in a later season it might have been a different story. It was very eye-opening to me, but in the end it gave our act more visibility!
And, I also see that you two got to do an on-camera workout with world famous fitness guru Richard Simmons!
Oh lord, Richard! I used to do his makeup for his Saturday workout classes in Beverly Hills. I also worked out at his studio, and he was influential on my weight loss journey. I even filmed his last workout DVD. He’s a hot mess, and I miss him everyday. He’s out of the spotlight, and not many people are in touch with him. It’s very sad for his fans, but hopefully he’s happy.
Congratulations on your incredible weight loss, by the way. I know there was a big gap in your drag during that time; but when you got back to it, did you find you had to do a lot of adjusting to dragging in a smaller body?
I had all my drag stuff in storage. None of my old costumes fit anymore, so I donated most of it. I notice that I have more energy on stage, and I can get into my tights easier!
Wow! So Vicky’s been everywhere. When did you settle in NYC?
I just moved to NYC this year. I performed in LA as The Boofont Sisters for six years before my friend Cindy got cast in the I Love Lucy Live tour. I stopped doing drag for three years. I really missed it, but I wasn’t sure that I could branch out on my own. I always had my “sister” Ruby with me, and because we always sang live, I wasn’t sure I could cut it as a solo act. When I moved to New York, I realized that now was my chance to try and bring Vicky back; and so far I am having the time of my life!
What aspects of Vicky came out as a solo act that weren’t there before?
I am more adventurous! I don’t have that security of falling back on my partner when I’m sick, or not feeling it on stage. Now it’s just me and the audience. I also had to start from scratch and figure out what story I wanted to tell.
None of my drag costumes fit anymore. Moving cross country, I couldn’t afford to bring my wigs. So it’s been challenging, but I love it. Every gig is a new adventure, and I am truly enjoying the girls that I have met. Everyone has welcomed me to New York with open arms!
What was your first New York gig?
My first NYC gig was at The Metropolitan Room back in March. It was a competition, New York’s Next Top Drag Queen. It was the first time I brought Vicky back in over three years! I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I ended up going all the way to the finals.
NYNTDQ was a drag competition solely for singing queens.That’s where you met a lot of your good sisters, including Gina Tonic.
Yes, I love Gina Tonic, and all the girls that were at The Met. It was so fun working there every week and singing live with challenging themes, not unlike “So You Think You Can Drag!”
Shirley won, and her solo show is coming up in a couple weeks. But luckily, Gina Tonic and I did “The Vicky and Gina Show” and actually had a packed house! We are comedy queens and love making people laugh.
I remember hearing about it the first week at The Metropolitan Room, so I went home and YouTube’d it. I instantly fell in love with [host] Paige Turner, and was blown away by the caliber of talent! Especially Alexis Michelle! I haven’t met her yet in person, but I’m gonna fan girl her so hard when I do!
I was truly in shock when I got the call that I had made it into Season 7. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a dream come true, for sure. The level of professionalism and talent is just amazing.
I already asked last week’s winner Emi Grate this question, but I’m curious for your take: how weird is the dynamic of competing with so many friends each challenge? Or is it too early to tell?
Ask me in a week! [Laughs] No, out of 10 girls, 5 of us were good friends. We made a pact that we would help whomever got in the competition. We didn’t think we all would get in! But we did, and now we are one big happy competing community with the other five girls. It’s been fun for me getting to meet new girls, who hopefully will book a bitch when they hit it big! I think the dynamic of competing with friends has only made us all closer. We are able to bounce ideas off of each other and go to each other for help.
Nice. Well, congratulations on winning Week 2, the 80s challenge! That was a pretty flawless Divine. What made you think of her for that challenge?
Thank you! A lot of people know 70′s Divine and Pink Flamingos, but I always loved 80′s Divine. My first introduction to her was actually MTV, when they still played videos… I’m old! Divine had just made Lust in the Dust, and they played her video for “Walk Like A Man.” I was hooked!
I made my parents take me to the video store to rent a Divine movie, and all they had was Hairspray. I became obsessed with John Waters and Divine ever since.
I was fortunate enough to work with Mink Stole a bunch of times in LA, who had great stories about Divine and John. I wanted the audience to know Divine was more than just a movie star, she was a successful rockstar too!
So, what’s next week’s challenge?
I can’t wait to see what you have to offer up for that one. What else is coming up for you?
Happy Birthday! Last question: what’s something we don’t know about Vicky, but should?
I’ve been on so many pilot episodes of failed TV shows! Living in LA pre-RuPaul’s Drag Race, there were lots of opportunities for girls to do film and TV. I was lucky enough to get my SAG card working as a drag queen. Through those experiences, and also having done drag for so long, I’m hoping it’ll make me a well-rounded drag talent in New York. I just need fans to come out and vote for me every Thursday night at 11pm at New World Stages in Paige Turner’s “So You Think You Can Drag!”
Thanks Vicky, and good luck!
Vicky Boofont is a contestant in Season 7 of “So You Think You Can Drag?” which happens live at the New World Stages on Thursday nights (9pm). She will be a guest performer for Sutton Lee Seymour’s show at Albatross on September 24th (11pm) and Marti Gould Cummings’ show at VSBU on October 9th (10pm). Vicky can be followed on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.