Election Day is finally upon us, so now is this best time to catch up with Hillary Clinton’s best known drag impersonator in NYC. Known also for a strong showing in last year’s “So You Think You Can Drag?” and weekly gigs at Lips and the Duplex, this queen is as fiercely whip-smart as she is outrageous. And hopefully she’ll have good reason to bring her Hillary to the party for years to come. Get into Heidi Haux!
Thotyssey: Hi Heidi! Thanks for talking to us today. So, the Presidential election is finally here! Are you nervous?
Heidi Haux: Oh, I feel it in my bones. I’ve been trying to keep a positive attitude throughout the whole ordeal, but I can’t help but be a little scared.
Have you run into any of those “Twinks for Trump” out there in the nightlife world? I’m not sure they actually exist.
I’ve been parading around as Hillary since she announced she was running (on my birthday, I might add, so sweet of her), and I’ve only encountered positive reactions. Those twinks either don’t run in our circles, or know to keep their mouths shut.
How is it that you’ve become THE drag Hillary Clinton of NYC this season? Hillary Haux had been showing up everywhere, along with Gary Carmichael’s Trump.
I had kind of made it my personal mission last year to do it – and do it so right that people couldn’t associate anyone else with it. The look and the performance evolved with the campaign throughout the year, and for this past Look Queen finale at the Monster I asked Gary if he would be interested in trying a Trump look to help me out. He nailed it, and I couldn’t have been more thankful.
Is Hillary your first specific based-on-real-life character you’ve portrayed through Heidi?
Yes, I guess it is. I never really though about it but she does seem to pre-date anything else I’ve done; including my Sunday night Lips impersonation shift as Gaga.
We’ll get back to Lips & Gaga in a minute, but for now let’s go back to the beginning. Where’s your hometown?
I was born and raised in the same small town as my parents: Artesia, NM. It’s best known for football and oil. Just south of Roswell, and North of Carlsbad where there are some sick natural caverns. I always tell people I’m right between the bats and the Aliens.
What were you into?
My brother is five years older than me, and as a kid I was always trying to be like him. He inspired my very fanatic interest in comic books and super heros, mainly the X-Men. But as we grew older and I became more self-entertained, it was the Spice Girls, Digimon, and anything my own imagine could dream up that kept me busy.
Who’s your favorite X-Man?
Oh, Rogue without a doubt. But you have to ignore the horrendous Ana Paquin interpretation from the movies. Like, completely ignore it happened.
So, when did you start performing, in any sense?
In the second grade, I replaced some kid who had to drop out of this after-school theater program. So, almost overnight I was the Tin-Man.
A wonderful and not-at-all gay debut! When did you become a New Yorker and a drag queen?
I moved to NYC when I was 18, and saw my first drag show at Den Nightclub out in Jersey maybe a year later, and I swear, it was like this dream-like fog of a world that I had such a hard-on for. It took a few years of slapping makeup and lashes on while trying on my girl roommate’s old Halloween costumes before Heidi materialized.
Aw, sadly the Den just closed recently. What a long and rich history that place had in Jersey. Anyway, do you remember the moment you named yourself Heidi?
Not the exact moment, no. But my boyfriend had this list of funny drag names (as we all do), and he was reading them out one day. I just thought of it and blurted it out, and then immediately was like “but spell it like ‘faux,’ because queens are all about layers.”
You were so young when you moved here, was that terrifying?
I was the perfect mixture of small town naive and just completely ready to be out of where I was from, that New York was everything I needed it to be. My scariest moment was accidentally dropping my AC unit out of my 4th floor window. I’m so lucky I didn’t kill anyone.
That’s every New Yorker’s worst nightmare! So, whereabouts were you Heidi-ing in the city before SYTYCD?
The first place I ever performed was Monster for Look Queen, and I ended up going back there to win my first competition. Then I tried bouncing around to almost every competition in the city before I got hired at Lips in April of 2015.
Do you have a drag mother?
Chandilier claimed me one night after a shift from Lips, and I was half too scared to protest and half happy somebody cared enough to foster me. I asked her if this meant she was going to make me pretty, and she responded “it’s a brush not a wand.”
Ha! Well, Lips must be a great place to really learn the nitty-gritty of drag and performing. It’s an institution and a well-oiled machine, and so many legendary performers are there.
It’s been one hell of a boot camp, that’s for sure. When you start you have to work the door, so you deal with everyone who comes in and out. It wasn’t the clientele I had foreseen myself appealing to when I started drag, and I had to learn what I could offer these people.
So were you ultimately “assigned” Gaga there as an impersonation, or did you choose her?
Well, there was a spot opening up on Sunday nights where I could work full time, and I absolutely adore Gaga. I’m a quintessential little monster–and my face lends itself to her anyway. And the best advice I got was “if you’re going to impersonate someone as a drag queen, you gotta love them.”
When are you at Lips?
I’m there for Broadway Brunch every Sunday, every other Sunday night as Gaga, and Tuesday nights–which starting November 22nd is the night of our Holiday show. So make sure to make reservations, and join us for one of those Tuesdays through December 27th.
Back to Gaga, both she and Hillary are kind of hard to impersonate, I would think. Neither of them have noticeable quirks.
It helps to cover half of my face as Gaga. Haha, but seriously. And with Hillary, it has to come from a very Lypsinka place, but with my sense of humor. So, I’d be a lot less funny without Kate MacKinnon.
You devoted a recent edition of your Duplex show to Gaga’s new album “Joanne.” Do you love it?
I love Joanne. I really do. And it was a fantastic night at Duplex, the crowd was loving it too. But coming from New Mexico, I grew up with a lot of county. “You and I” has been one of my favorite Gaga songs since it came out, and this album definitely taps into that feeling.
And weren’t you also Carrie Bradshaw recently?
Oh yes: my friend Liz Magee was doing The Roast of Carrie Bradshaw at the People’s Improv Theater with a bunch of other comedians. I laughed so hard I lost a lash. It was so successful, they’re talking about doing it again in February.
So, you were 2015′s runner-up in “So You Think You Can Drag?” at the
New World Stages, the cherished annual drag competition which is actually wrapping up Season 7 this week. If Lips is drag boot camp then SYTYCD is like a master class, right?
Well, that all depends on how you use the experience. Competitions are hard, but through every challenge or frustration I had to just do whatever it was I really wanted to do. And personally, it was a fantastic experience. That finale was one of the best nights I’ve ever had on stage in my career.
I did this Liza Minella “Ring Them Bells” / Book of Mormon / “Hello” mix. At one point, I ran off stage and was lip singing from the video screens on the walls. It was right after Adele had released “Hello” also, so I had plenty of material.
So your Wednesday show “Hauxin’ Around” debuted this year at the Duplex, and it’s a hit! How did it come about, and how would you describe it to the uninitiated?
Well, the only reason I had a job at Lips in the first place is because Ruby Roo recommended me. So I kept going to her show there with Elizabeth James every Sunday, and Lauren Ordair (also from Lips) had me sing with her a couple of Thursdays until my name just easily [fell] in the mouth of the establishment. But I have to give major credit to my bartender Justin, who saw the opportunity to bring some more business in on Wednesdays and must have sensed my desperation for a gig.
And for those who haven’t heard me shouting about it from the rooftops every week: the show is me, a mic, some of the week’s topical gossip and a roulette of numbers from my D.R.A.G. Playlist!
And congratulations for being a GLAM nominee for breakthrough artist! That’s a great accomplishment. Have you written your acceptance speech yet?
Oh thank you! As a newer queen, It is nice to feel like people in this city know who I am at all–much less think I’m breaking through. And let’s just say I’ll have my knee pads handy to start thanking any and all my voters right away–like a good Lil’ Haux.
That’s the spirit! Okay, so let’s talk about Election Day. You’ll be making an appearance as Hillary for the election coverage party hosted by Brita Filter at the Ace Hotel! What will Hillz be doing there? Besides winning, fingers crossed?
Well, I’m thinking I’ll be taking a shot of tequila every time they call a state for her. (two if we get Texas). And I’ll twerk, deathdrop, bring them back in history to Hillary’s time at Yale if I have to–anything to get these gays “YAAAAS”ing and laughing after this hard fought battle.
And lastly, if, holy shit, Trump wins… where will you be moving?
I think I’ll bar hop my way around the U.K. And stalk any Spice Girls that are still over there.
Sounds like a plan. Thanks Heidi, and lets hope it all works out on Tuesday!
Heidi Haux’s weekly show “Hauxin’ Around” is at the Duplex on Wednesday nights (11pm). At Lips, she works the Broadway Brunch every Sunday (12-4pm) and Superstar Sunday every other Sunday night (8pm), as well as Tuesday nights. She will perform at the Election Night party at the Ace Hotel on Tuesday, November 8th (7pm). Heidi can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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