This queen’s got the goods, baked and otherwise. A Cali native with a golden voice, she’s getting ready to host her new monthly show at the West End and slaying parties and guest spots left and right in the meantime. One of our favorite new additions to NYC nightlife, get to know Miss Shuga Cain!
Thotyssey: Hi Shuga, thanks for talking to us!
Shuga Cain: HI Jim! Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be chatting with Thotyssey.
Yay! So it’s already February now… that was a pretty insane January we just had, wasn’t it?
January has been insane! It’s been quite an emotionally charged first month of 2017…unthinkable, actually. I can’t believe the state of our nation’s politics at the moment–if you can even call it politics. But I must say that drag has provided me the perfect platform to express all these emotions. And for that I am grateful!
I saw a clip of you doing Ashley Judd’s anti-Trump poem/speech at Look Queen recently. It was pretty flawless–you must have listened to that non-stop for at least a day or two!
HA! Thank you! Yes, I was trying to cut the mix the day it came out, and spent until the following morning tweaking. I listened to that mix on repeat for hours the day of the performance, up until about twenty minutes before I went on! I think that was the quietest I have ever been backstage. Usually, I’m chatting and messing around with the girls. Lord, I was stressing! My lip sync came and went, but the message was way too important and relevant not to do it. I had to perform it that night!
We’re so glad you did! And in fact you’ve been turning it up quite a bit these past few months. Are you going the “go everywhere and do everything” route with your drag right now?
I am! I’m kinda of an “all or nothing” kind of person, and being that I’m fairly new to the NYC nightlife scene, I have just immersed myself in all that is going on. And as you know, there is a lot going on!
I’ve also just been grateful to have met some of the most wonderful people in the drag community, and supporting them is important to me. So yes, I’ve been everywhere lately! However, there are still so many shows/people I have yet to see/get to know, and so much I want to do. So I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon!
Okay, so let’s get to the beginning. First of all… you’re originally a Cali girl, I believe?
Yes, Miss Shug is a California girl, living the struggle in New York City, honey! I was born and raised in Northern California, and moved to NYC about five years ago.
What brought you here?
I used to be a Producer for Scholastic Education, and they shipped me from California to NYC to work on a few projects. I was so incredibly lucky to have made it to NYC that way. It’s been a dream come true, to live in NYC and perform. And after five years of working in the corporate world, I’ve finally made the plunge to focus on my creative projects! It’s scary at times, but I’m constantly reminded that I’m doing the right thing and all will be OK! I’ll have it no other way!
When did you start actually doing drag?
I’ve been doing it off and on for two years, but have been more serious about it within the last six months! So even though I’m old AF, I’m a young queen! Haha! I’m thankful for my background in performance, because that’s helped me so much.
Tell us about that background!
Well.. .I used to be an opera singer, got my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Opera Performance. Then I decided to switch to musical theater while auditioning for young artist programs. I did a lot of local and regional theatre in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, gigged with Disney for stint.
This is part of my many lives that I mentioned earlier.
God, I’m so old [laughs]!
The word is “seasoned!”
Ha! I’ll take it!
What was your first drag performance like?
Shug’s first performance was so fun! It was a talent show for a local running group. I grabbed two of my closest friends to dance back-up, I mixed and recored vocals for the number and sang live. It’s Shug’s signature number, but I rarely do it: “Land of Lola” from Kinky Boots, but I changed it to “Land of Shuga!” It’s somewhere on YouTube with like 10 views!
Soon to be 11! So, what’s the best thing about doing drag for you?
I think the best thing about drag for me is that I’ve finally found something that brings all of my creative forces together in one place. For the first time, I feel 100% comfortable artistically. I’m a perfectionist, and am always worrying about what it is that I’m doing, even while I’m doing it. And as Shug–I mean, I still am a perfectionist and I still worry about what I’m doing, but when the time comes to just do it and she takes over, and I stop second guessing myself and can just be present in my art. It’s incredible and I don’t take it for granted!
Okay, as always this gurl is booked, so let’s talk gigs. First of all, I see you’re guesting for Zalika Parsons’ and Bella Noche’s show at the Rosemont on Sunday. That seems to be the new hot place in Brooklyn, have you been there before?
I’m nervous, cuz my passport expired. You need a passport to get there, right? [Laughs] It’s so damn far! I don’t go out to Brooklyn much, but that is going to change. I love the scene out there, and the BK girls are fierce and I want to be a part of that! It’s important to me that Miss Shug is a versatile kween.
As far as The Rosemont, I haven’t been out there yet, and I am hella excited to go out and support my friends Zalika and Bella! These girls are fun, talented, and making waves! I can’t wait!
I kinda feel like, with your generation of drag queens, “Brooklyn v. Manhattan” isn’t really a thing anymore… everyone performs everywhere! Do you find that to be the case?
I totally agree. I don’t see a BK vs Manhattan thing at all. What I’ve noticed about the New York queens is that everyone is super supportive, and we all genuinely want each other to succeed! And I definitely see that within the new upcoming queens also. Now don’t get me wrong, we are slinging each other shade left and right, but it’s all in love!
I’m happy that you’re part of the EDEN collective of nightlife luminaries that throw some of the best damn parties in the city. You’ll be performing at their Zodiac: Age of Aquarius bash on February 10th at the Hudson Terrace. What do you think it is about the EDEN brand that makes it the Ticket?
Yes! EDEN has been incredible, and so much fun! I’m living for these Zodiac themes this year, and am excited to be involved in the first production number to kick off EDEN 2017.
I think what makes this brand the ticket is that they are trying to switch things up when it comes to gay nightlife. It’s not just a DJ and a dance floor. The themes encourage people to get dressed up and excited about the events. I love the incorporation of art, there’s always cool unique art installations. I started selling my baked goods there a few parties ago, and they always have sick pop-up performances. EDEN is giving you an experience and people love that!
WERK, baked goods!
Yas Miss Shuga Cain is a baker, henny! So if you children need cakes/cookies for bday parties, anniversaries, special events visit my online bakery!
And here’s an exciting development… you’re new monthly show at the West End debuts on February 23rd! What can we expect from “Shug’s Sweet Drop?”
YES! I am thrilled to join The West End family, and can’t wait for Shug’s Sweet Shop to debut! You can expect to get to know Miss Shug and her talents intimately! HA! Not like that! I meant that I’ll be debuting my singing abilities much more. I’ll have a special guest each month, we’ll serve you shows, games, and me on that mic! Lord help everyone when I get to telling stories! It’s a show that I always envisioned having, and The West End is a perfect venue for it. Think “variety show,” on a very intimate scale! Oh, and complete with candy, of course!
Anything else coming up?
I always have something to plug! Ha! Miss Shug is business women! Be sure to check out my website! You can check out my Online bakery there, My nail shop, and any other side business that I’ve come up with to make them coins!
And lastly, just want to say thank you for having me! It’s been so fun chatting with you! And congrats on your GLAM Award! Thotyssey is such an incredible resource for all of us! So know that we appreciate the countless hours of hard work that goes into creating this!!
It’s my pleasure gurl and thank you! Okay, last question… we just heard a really big announcement! Who is gonna win Season 9 of Drag Race?
Oh Lord, I can’t wait! This season is going to be the best one yet, and NYC is reppin’ so hard! I’m so proud of our NYC girls, but I gotta shout out to my girl team Subway Fish!
Get on board! Thanks again Shuga!
Shuga Cain hosts “Shug’s Sweet Drop” monthly at the West End on fourth Thursdays (11pm). Click here for a full list of upcoming appearances. Shuga can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and her website.
See Also: 1 Thot Minute With Shuga Cain (9.1.2020)