RePoint: Sutton Lee Seymour

It’s been just about a year since we last interviewed this glamorous, globe-trotting gown clown, who is once again ready to return to NYC with a hilarious stage show. The time has come for Thotyssey to fall into the new Season of Sutton Lee Seymour!

Thotyssey: Sutton, hello! Where in the world are you right now, and what are you doing?

Sutton Lee Seymour: Jim! Hello! You know, I took a three hour tour on this little ship and now I’m stranded on a deserted island with a bunch of kooky characters and a live studio audience!

Are you the Ginger or the Mary Ann? Or the Mrs. Howell? 

You mean I don’t get to be a Head Hunter?

Oh, I could totally see that. So, where are you really?

Greetings from beautiful, sunny Puerto Vallarta [in Mexico]… which still has a bunch of kooky characters… and, incidentally, a live studio audience.

Nice! That’s where you’ve been for most of this past season, but I understand you had a few more travel opportunities recently.

I’ve been very lucky lately, and have been able to travel a lot with Atlantis Events on their cruises, most recently on the Allure in January for the biggest gay cruise in history (5,300 homosexuals on one boat). And I just got back from South America on Atlantis’ Rio to Buenos Aires cruise, which was a more intimate cruise and such an adventure seeing the sights and experiencing the different cultures! AND RIO’S CARNIVAL!

Not many drag queens get to experience this, and I pinch myself every day because I know how lucky I am getting this gig, and I hope every queen gets a stroke of luck like this!

Extraordinary, and well-deserved of course! Do you feel like you are becoming one of those “gypsy drag queens of the world” that are just constantly on the road, or are you still an NYC gal at heart?

NYC will always be where my heart is, especially being the Theatre Queen that I am… but the world is such a huge place, and I want to see as much of it (if not all of it) while I’m young and have the energy!

I can’t imagine life without NYC. As hard a place as it can be, there is still no place quite like it!

One of the things that fascinate me about your dispatches from Puerto Vallarta–where you’ve been for the past six months or so performing at Act II Stages–is how you and all the area’s performers have to basically hit the pavement to promote your show to bypassers.

Darling, the hustle is real! It’s a lot like P-Town, in the sense that you go out on the street and hand out flyers to folks!

To give you an idea of a show day: Around 1 or 2 PM, I’ll head to the beach as myself (Prescott), and I’ll hand out my flyers to the boys on the beach for about and hour or so. By 3:30, I’m home to shower and shave, and then I’m out the door at 4:30 to walk into town and grab a bite to eat. By 5/5:30 I’m in the dressing room putting on make up. By 7/7:30 I’m in full drag and hitting the streets, handing out flyers. By 8:30/8:45 I’m back in the dressing room to focus on the the show, my voice, and do some light stretching… and by 9:30, it’s showtime! It’s a lot, but it pays off because I’ve had sold out crowds!

It took a little time to get used to that kind of schedule, but I’ve developed my routine and it works for me! It’s like building your muscles, ya know what I mean?

Has anything about the area changed since your first residency there last year?

Honey, business is a-booming down here! New condo buildings are being built down here which should be open by next season, and the tourists have been flooding down here.

And did you have fans who remembered you from that first stretch?

Yes! I had a lot of repeat audience members from last year, and people are recognizing me on the street more and more, which is pretty cool! I’m building a nice reputation here in PV, so I want to work hard at nourishing that and continue delivering as strong a performance as I can.

It’s difficult because this is a vacation town, and I can’t allow myself to get lazy here! Though that’s not to say there isn’t time for rest, relaxation, and fun. But work is fun for me! I have no problem admitting that I am a workaholic… or a “werkaholic.”

It’s good to be both! And a lot of other queens have been coming through to PV this season too… your Razzle Dazzle at Pieces co-host Delighted Tobehere was there for a spell. 

Delighted had a great run here in PV back in December, and is coming back in April with a new drag illusions show!

Is Puerto Vallarta specifically a queer destination, or is it just one of those mixed, open-minded regions where everybody likes everybody?

It is very mixed! There’s a huge gay scene, yes, but PV is also home to many retirees and expats. It’s very mixed and open-minded, absolutely… it’s one of the friendliest places I’ve ever experienced! You could really start a conversation with the person sitting at the table next to you at dinner, and suddenly you’re life long friends.

While I’ve been barking the beach, I meet groups of people, and I always ask where people are from. Most of the time, the folks in the group come from all over the US, Canada, or even Europe, and they meet in PV…and suddenly they’re all planning their next trip to Mexico together.

The gay scene itself… there are so many great bars that all offer something different! There’s one street in particular that has a string of bars you can attend on a fun night bar hopping! There are great hotels that are created for the gay community specifically, like the Pinata Gay Hotel which is really top notch!

You’ve been performing in two stage shows there at Act II. One of them is Queens of Humanity, which actually made its debut at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen. How did it translate and evolve during its Mexican run?

It’s kind of funny to think Queens Against Humanity had its out-of-town tryout in New York! But it did, and I learned a lot from that run. I had a lot of ideas… a lot of great parodies… and I just had to simplify. The show isn’t too much different, except for a new opening number, a few bits that got cut, and getting straight to the point of the show, which is having a gay old time with Cards Against Humanity!

Really, the audience is the star of that show… I’m simply encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone a bit and have a little quirky fun, and then all I have to do is react to them! It’s called “A drag show for horrible people,” because its not about the horrible things you’re saying from the cards… it’s about being horrible together as a community!

In general, when you are writing these stage shows and picking the songs to sing and parody, and writing jokes… what usually comes first? Is it a concept, or a single song selection that you build the whole thing around, or something else?

I usually just start with “What do I love to sing?” and then “How can I parody it?” A lot of my favorite bits have come from moments of improv, and then I can keep developing those moments in the show over time. I try not to box myself in too much with so much scripted material, because I have more fun being spontaneous. I have bullet points I hit, and will usually take a journey with my vernacular around that. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

Certain bits have become absolutely script, mainly the mini-musicals I perform, but usually I just love sparring with the audience! It keeps it fresh, and keeps me on my toes!

So, I guess performing in a bar–where it’s much easier to wing it and interact with everyone–is s good way to mine material for a cabaret style stage show?

Performing in the bars really helped sharpen my claws, that’s for damn sure!
But the cabaret style show has to have more structure, more planning ahead, more costumes. You can’t wing it all the way.

And the final product of your shows must always wind up as collaborations, even if it’s just you on the stage. Especially in regards to your looks.

Yes! I usually call my costumer friends like Tara ButtonGloria Swansong, or Yuhua Hamasaki to help design certain costumes that can work in a show that can serve as multiple looks in one. And Bobbie Zlotnik has been very helpful helping me with several wig change looks!

I always tell people, my shows are like seeing a cast of 50 in the body of 1. And because of Bobbie, Tara, Gloria, and Yuhua, I can do that!

[a Gloria Swansong design]

So tell me about Fame-Ish, the other show that you’ve been doing in PV, and that’ll you’ll be bringing to NYC on April 5th and April 19th!

It’s like a sequel to my first show, The Way Off Broad! It’s my take on the Do-It-Yourself generation, I can’t wait for Broadway! I can’t wait for Drag Race! So I’m doing it all on my own! More mini-musicals! More awful impressions of burnt out Broadway booze bags! More audience participation and interaction!

And I should note, it’s all live singing! Apparently, that’s a thing to take note of!

Note taken! What’s one of your favorite numbers to do in that show?

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my “Titanic in 2 Minutes” number! Trust me, you never thought your heart could go on this fast or in this style!

Amazing. Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve for the NY version of Fame-Ish?

Tricks up my sleeve? You make it sound like I’m smuggling Mexican gogo boys to New York. Which I am! I’ve paid for all their orthodonture.

You’ve found the black market we can all get behind, so to speak! So, when do you return to us long-term?

I have my two shows at the Beechman in April, after that… you’ll have to stay tuned! So I highly, highly encourage people to get their tickets for the Beechman show!

I just realized that you’ve missed nearly the entire Trump presidency thus far… that might be a bit of a culture shock when you get back, right?

Who said I was coming back?!  MWAHAHAHAHA! #cliffhanger

Oh my gawd, tune in next season for So, Where the Hell is Sutton? Anything else to discuss?

I really just miss everybody in NYC, and I’m still so proud to be part of the LGTBQ Community and the drag community! I love seeing everyone working hard and keeping up with them on social media! Seeing Gilda Wabbit go viral with that sensational photo made me feel like a proud auntie! Seeing Dusty Ray Bottoms’ continued success with Look Queen and her new Happy Hour Show at Hardware on Thursdays!  Seeing my drag mama, Chelsea Piers, continue to slay at every gig! And hopefully, no one will ever learn the terrible truth that Marti Gould Cummings is really my Horcrux.

I always suspected that! Okay, so I’m closing: who’s your money on for winning Season 9?

ALEXIS MICHELLE! DUH!!!! Alexis gave me my first paid gig in NYC! I’m SO PROUD OF HER! She has worked so hard for this, and I think she is the best example of hard work paying off!!! GO ALEXIS!!!!

You heard her, universe! And in the meantime we look forward to seeing you back at the Beechman again. Thanks, Sutton!

Sutton Lee Seymour’s stage show “Fame-ish” will be at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 5 and 19th (7pm). Check here for more scheduled appearances. She can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Previously: Sutton Lee Seymour (4.14.2016)

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