Although many know her today as Hell’s Kitchen’s favorite jello shot girl, this queen has actually long and fabulous career, and is a fierce entertainer in her own right. Catch her three nights a week now at Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up… but first, have a congugal visit with the amazing Chaka Khanvict!
Thotyssey: Chaka, hello! Thanks for talking to us! So, how “in the spirit” were you this Holiday season?
Chaka Khanvict: I love the holidays, but it’s really about buying all the Christmas decor on sale. You would be surprised how much garland I use throughout the year in so many costumes! I will also rock a good ornament as an earring any day of the week!
It’s Christmas every day for a queen! You’re from the Baltimore area, right? Is the tidal wave of Holiday insanity much crazier here in NYC then it is there?
Baltimore is rough, no matter the time of year! Plus, I’m pretty sure I have a warrant in Baltimore, so let’s move on [laughs]!
Speaking as the spiritual child of Divine, what did you think of Hairspray Live? Do you think any version, stage or screen, is the “definitive” version?
The first movie was a corky fun ride, and all the later versions are family friendly musicals. Kinda tame, kinda watered down. I prefer the original. And I do love Divine, even though she gave me up for adoption. I never got to meet her, but what a trailblazer! Best Divine movie is Polyester!
I understand that you got your drag start there in Baltimore under the guidance of a very interesting drag mamma, Tia Mae Chambers.
Guidance? [Laughs] I mean, we worked together but this whole “drag mom/ daughter” business was always silly to me. I love Tia, she’s a fierce queen. But I don’t need any more family than the biological one god cursed….I mean, blessed me with.
Do you have any particular love for Chaka Khan, or did you just get a funny drag name out of her?
Did you see Chaka at that horrible Divas Holiday concert? She seemed like she fell off the wagon hard! But I got love for her… def wouldn’t see her in concert anytime soon.
I was deciding my drag name, like 11 years ago. It was between Chaka Khanvict and Aretha Frankfurter. While I was deciding, I was arrested that week. The rest is HERstory.
What brought you to NYC?
A bus. A dream. A calling.
How would you describe your style of drag, overall?
XXXL Plus size. [Laughs] my whole life is plus size, so the drag is just another aspect of that. Another great way to describe my drag is ON SALE! If Nicki Minaj ends her Kmart collection, I will literally have to change my look to “The Naked Drag Queen.”
You’ve been serving it up here in NYC for nearly a decade now, both as a performer and famously as “the jello shots queen.” I believe you still make these yourself, and sell them for a sales commission. What’s the key to selling a jello shot?
Look at you trying to steal my business model. Listen, I have never sold a Jell-O shot in my entire life. I walk around and tell my lil’ dick jokes and anecdotes, and people get to feel special and then they buy a Chaka-souvenir (trademark pending).
And frankly, what’s the key to successfully eating/drinking one? I see everybody else do it without a problem, but I always make a sticky mess. (no, not that kind!)
I haven’t had a Jell-O shot in like five years, I know the broad who makes them!
You’ve worked all over the city in legendary parties in venues, but many of us know you from the Ritz, where you also became part of the popular Real Deal Wednesdays cast. That was an exciting, high energy drag show that had a long run. But everybody knows it didn’t end well, and some ex-cast members still seem to be at war. In fact, y’all are nominated for a Slammy this year! What is your take on how this all went down… and do you view the Slammy nomination in good humor?
Who cares? This whole thing about being vague on the internet is so weird. If you wanna ask a specific question, then I’ll give you a specific answer. But really, who cares?
Also, who cares about any of these awards? I’m not supporting any of them anymore, unless they have some charitable component to them. They don’t do anything for me, so I’m only supporting them if they are gonna help someone!
Sp eventually, you took your wares down the street from the Ritz to everybody’s new favorite bar, Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up, where we can find you there on three nights. Let’s start with Thursday, which also happens to be your major show hosting night there. How great is it to finally have this weekly platform to perform and be the best Chaka you can be?
Omg, it’s the best! Think of it as a drunken Carol Burnett Show on a shoe string budget! Every week we have a new element! [The bar’s co-owner] Richie Friendley believes in me. He trusts me to put on a quality show, and I am so appreciative of that. It really gave me the confidence to have the night to myself!
On Friday nights, you’re there serving shots and giving fierceness with 2Face, who just won the GLAM for best DJ! What is it about him that’s so great, do you think?
He’s got his finger on the pulse of what the children wanna hear, while maintaining his DJ cred! Also he’s sexy as fuck.
We both host–which I think is a performance–all night! We play off of each other really well. She’s great to work with…when she remembers to tuck! Always trying to Kai Kai, that one is!
Anywhere else we can find you?
Chaka Khanvict on meganslaw.com.
And finally: What is your New Year’s Resolution?
To open for a mid-level comedian, and to lose 3lbs.
Thanks Chaka, happy holidays!