This fierce and fuckin’-funny queen has claimed the entire tri-state area for her own, which means she can pretty much pop up anywhere at any time. And we love her for that! She’s ending 2016 on a personal high note, with her marriage to her long-time love and and several great gigs in the bag. Let’s bask in the glory of Miss Pissi Myles as we all try to get through 2017!
Thotyssey: Pissi, hello!
Pissi Myles: Hey Jim! Thanks so much for having me, and congratulations to you on your Glam Award! That’s so exciting!
Thank you! And congratulations to you on your marriage to David Ayllon recently, your longtime guy and a popular photographer! How does it feel to enter the holiday season as a married lady?
It feels wonderful to be married to David. We’ve known for a long time that we were going to be married one day, and we both are feeling a bit like this is exactly where we’re meant to be. David’s working on such amazing projects, and I’m doing so much of my own stuff, so we’re both powering through, trying to find time for a vacation!
I will say, it’s slightly bittersweet because while we knew we were going to get married one day, we were sort of robbed of some of the romance. Literally, the night of the Presidential election we were so scared that LGBT+ rights would be threatened, we agreed we should get married as soon as possible. So there were no rings, no engagement, or anything like that. And we’re very romantic, so that was a bit disappointing. But one day we’ll have a big ceremony and a party with our friends and family, and Donald Trump can go suck a dick.
In a way though, doing something that’s kind of rushed like that is even MORE romantic in the long run I think! And I wish you years and years of romance! And I don’t blame you about wanting to get that done before the regime change.
So, I’ve always thought you had one of the more interesting drag careers, because you have kind of made up your own rules about where the good gigs are and how to be adaptable. We can see you quite regularly in Manhattan, Queens, Philadelphia, Asbury Park… you don’t limit yourself to five bars on the same street. Was that a conscious decision, or did things evolve that way naturally?
Ummmmmm it was, and it wasn’t [laughs]! I started in Asbury Park at a bar called Georgie’s, which is my favorite place. It’s called the gay Cheers of Asbury Park, because it’s this little watering hole where everyone is so nice and friendly. I would go every week and do Christy’s Classic Drag contest with Christy Girlington–which is basically where I learned to do drag–and now I do a weekly show there.
After that, I kind of got sucked into Philly by Cleo Phatra. We hit it off because we both sang live, so I was there almost once a month for awhile before I met Mimi Imfurst and got involved in all the competitions in Philly. After I won Cycle 4 of Mimi’s Drag Wars–a thirteen week competition in the style of Drag Race–I went on to start producing my own shows, while at the same time I was meeting queens in NYC and doing guest spots there.
It’s really been a wild ride. I don’t like to stay in one spot. I enjoy going to new places and meeting new people. So if I can go somewhere or try something, chances are I’ll do it! And living in a place like Jersey where I really can go anywhere makes it a lot easier.
A queen with a car has a much larger kingdom!
Exactly! I had a MINI Cooper for years, so I was just whipping my queenie ass all over the northeast [laughs]. Now I have a Chevy Malibu, which is a lot less sexy, but it has SiriusXM, so I can queen out to the Broadway channel.
Is Jersey your hometown?
It is! I grew up in Jersey, and still live here with David. It’s not perfect, and we’ll complain about it all day long, but God help you if you’re not from Jersey and try to put it down. I used to have people in Philly complain about New Jersey to me, and I was like, “you literally live in America’s butt hole.”
So, did you always have Broadway dreams?
Of course I did, darling! I was a musical theatre kid from very early on, and got my BFA in musical theatre from Montclair State University. I had an agent for a few years after I graduated, and did the whole grind of 7am auditions, and dance calls, and throwing myself at these people, and my self-esteem was in the toilet. There was not enough return. I knew I had more talent than anyone was seeing, and to me it was silly that I wasn’t getting jobs because I was too tall, or too short, or too bald, or too thin (oh to have that problem again…). I just said, “Fuck that, I am better than this.” And it was David who suggested I use all my musical theatre and improv talents as a drag queen. After that, it was like I came home. It finally all felt right.
It also taught me a lot about not following the rules and forging my own path. I’ve learned so much about myself as a drag queen that I don’t know if I would have been able to figure out otherwise. I feel like I’m right where I should be, and maybe one day drag will lead me right back where I started. Anything could happen!
Your drag name is a play on actress Missy Pyle, who will forever be Laliari from Galaxy Quest to me. Has it become a challenge to explain your name to the post-90s set, or does everybody just like/accept it because it sounds funny regardless?
YES! I love Missi, and have actually gotten to chat with her through drag, which is so crazy. I do end up explaining my name a lot, but most people do just kind of roll with it. A drag queen named Pissi isn’t so far fetched, so I think finding out that it is actually a play on something is often just an added bonus for the children!
I love that Missi is a fan. So, your first gig ever was that competition at Georgie’s?
That was the first one! It was hosted by the closest thing I have to a drag mother, Christy Girlington. And yes, I do mean thing [laughs]. I love her, and now she’s one of my best friends.
You did make your mark at the Albatross in Astoria also. You were the house queen there for awhile, and even had a one-queen scripted show running on their original stage. Were you actually the first queen of that bar?
I think I was the first one there after the new management took over, which was cool because I kind of got to try something completely new. It was a fun show, and I miss doing it.
So, do you think drag is an art form that mainly attracts people with huge personalities, or can shy people use it as a way to get out of their shell?
I think it’s definitely a way for shy people to come out of their shell! I know I’m definitely not as forward or fearless when I’m not in drag, and people always expect me to be.
When I was in college, we did a whole acting class on mask work, and how acting with a mask on frees you of your inhibitions. It’s totally true! In some ways, you stop feeling responsible for your actions, because you can blame it on this other face, this other person. It’s a blessing and a curse, because I think for some people it’s easy to lose yourself in that. They forget where to draw the line at what’s entertaining, and what’s just being cruel or stupid. It’s a delicate balance, and that’s often the advice I give to new queens.
Speaking of drawing the line, do you feel that these times call for more sensitivity in drag performances, as far as race jokes, gay jokes, etc? Or is it more important to be unwavering now?
I think, again, there needs to be some balance. I think in a lot of ways we need to remember to listen when it’s important–when our friends who are trans, people of color, non-binary, etc. need a helping hand, we as queens have a great opportunity to boost them up.
But in my act, I do a lot of insult comedy, so I do try to push the envelope. I think it’s important to remember to have a sense of humor about ourselves, which is why I always make fun of myself first. If I can laugh at me, you can laugh at yourself.
Again, it’s a hard line to draw because I don’t want to trivialize the challenges of marginalized groups, but I hope they know that my shows are a safe space where we can all let the guard down and laugh at ourselves. There’s something to be said for gay sarcasm!
I did! We had so much fun- Sherry is one of my very favorite people, and the staff at The Ritz is just the best. Everyone is so kind and considerate there, and so much fun!
I personally liked Hairspray! I thought it had its issues, like Jennifer Hudson singing about being fat while she’s cashing her Weight Watchers check, but she sang the shit out of “I Know Where I’ve Been!” I love me some JHud, but I’ll be the first to admit that she was an odd choice for Motormouth. Harvey really saved the show for me. I saw him in the original show on Broadway, and he just works magic in that role. He really would make Divine proud.
On a sadder note, I just saw, literally like ten minutes ago, that Dick Latessa, the original Wilbur on Broadway, sadly passed away yesterday. He’s a theater icon, and will be missed!
Hairspray Live was fun, though, and I hope they’ll continue to improve upon the structure of the broadcasts. Like, stop making them so intricate! Put it back on a proper stage with a live audience!
How often do you get to Broadway to see shows these days?
Oh, hardly ever! I don’t have that Drag Race money, girl… I’m a queen living on a Princess’ allowance [laughs]. There are a lot of shows I’d love to see, though. I wanna see Todrick in Kinky Boots, and I really wanna see Waitress.
Good choices! And as for a little off-Broadway, tell me about something you’ll be appearing in: Thursday’s show at the 13th Street Rep, The Popular Vote, which benefits what will hopefully be our strongest advocate in these times, the ACLU.
I’m so excited for that show! It’s being produced by my very good friend Topher Cusumano and his partner Josh Moser as a protest piece to the current political clusterfuck we’re enduring in this country.
Topher and Josh are so smart, so enlightened and aware. It’s really a privilege to work with them on a piece that’s so engaging. My main body of work is usually just dirty humor, so to get to do something like this is a real treat. Topher and Josh both understand how important it is for artists to be active and to use their voices for good, and I’m so proud of them for producing this show. You should all come and see it!
I certainly want to! So, last night you were hosting karaoke at the Asbury Hotel, which you do twice a month. That’s a really new and nice venue, and Anita Buffem at least sings its praises! How are you liking it?
I love it! Karaoke is always a blast, and you meet the kookiest people. The Asbury is a great new space in Asbury Park, and I feel really lucky to be able to work with them.
It must be surreal sometimes to host karaoke on these Mondays where people are actually live singing, whereas every Sunday your hosting the Lipsync Battle with Christy at George’s. Do you ever get confused between the nights and surprised with what happens when someone opens their mouth?
[Laughs] in nightlife, I find I’m often surprised by what happens when people open their mouths! Ain’t nothing new…
Lipsync Battle is tons of fun though! Especially since it’s not just for drag queens, so we see some really funny, amazing acts come up on that stage. Some of them are drunk bar patrons, and some are choreographed art pieces. You never know what’s coming!
And on January 20th, you’ll be roasting Christy there! You two have had a long friendship, I’m guessing you have endless material.
Ohhhhhhhhh girl! I wish I could tell you some of the shenanigans I have planned, because it’s gonna be so good! I’m gonna put that bitch on a spit [laughs]!
One interesting show you did recently, that you’ll be reprising at Paradise on February 26th, is a drag sendup of the Golden Girls. Because if puppets are doing it, then certainly drag queens can do it better! It must be so much fun to do.
Which Gurl are you?
I play Blanche, and she’s so much fun! I also love that her makeup takes almost exactly half the time that Pissi’s does [laughs]!
I will! That show’s gonna be a blast. Dynamite Orchestra, a band from NJ, contacted Judy and I about appearing in their Christmas show at Rockbar, and who could say no to that? They’re a really awesome band, and I love working with Judy, so add that to my insane love of Christmas music, and it all makes for a very exciting Friday night!
I’ve written some new parodies, and I’ll be performing them at the show. So you better come catch ‘em!
What inspires your mixes and parodies? Do you usually sit down and just play with ideas until something sticks, or does it all usually start with a “OMG this would be a great idea” moment?
A lot of times it starts in the car [laughs]. I am so easily distracted that it’s hard for me to just sit down and start working on something. The only time I’m isolated is when I’m in the car making a long drive to a gig, which is practically every day! A song will come on, and a lyric will pop into my head, and it’s all downhill from there!
A true formula for success! Are you still doing that monthly show at L’Etage in Philly? Lots of your great YouTube performance clips seem to come from there!
Noooo sadly, she had to end. I really loved doing that show, but it had run its course, and it was time to let her die with dignity [laughs]. We’ve got a lot of new, fun projects in the works, though! So hopefully we’ll have them off the ground soon.
Tell us more!
Well we haven’t quite announced it yet, but Sherry Pie and I will be starting a new show in Philly in January! It’s called Pigs in a Blanket, and it’ll be a comedy revue at Tabu in the gayborhood. We’re very excited to get it going, it’s gonna be so ridiculous!
I’ve also got another show that’s soon to be announced with Astala Vista in NJ, but I don’t know if I can really go into detail about that yet. It’ll be coming in February, though, so keep your ears open!
All very exciting! Okay, so here’s a simple question in closing: What’s your New Years Resolution, if you were forced to come up with one?
Oh Jesus. My New Year’s resolution is to praise the goddess above that I made it to 2017! I also resolve myself to scaling back my Chipotle habit to one burrito per meal. My doctor says that if I ever want to see my feet again, I need to make some tough choices. I think it’s silly. At this point, my feet and I aren’t even friendly anymore. Not much more than acquaintances. We’ll see.
The struggle is real! Thank you so much, Miss Pissi!
Pissi Myles co-hosts Lipsync Battle with Christy Girlington at Georgies on Sundays (7:30pm), and karaoke at the Asbury Hotel on the first and third Mondays each month (8pm). Click here for a full list of upcoming appearances. Pissi can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube.
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