On Point With: Heather Wood

This Tootsie is the Toast of the Toolbox, and she’ll be bringing the party once again for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Friday night viewings! Thotyssey invites you to get wood: Heather Wood, that is!

Thotyssey: Hi Heather, wazzup? How was your St. Patty’s?

Heather Wood: Hi Jim! It was great, I think… being that it’s the only day of the year to let your alcoholism flag fly high!

I’m glad you only have one day! Were you at The Toolbox?

I was, though not in drag. So it was really just a regular Friday night for The Toolbox, with more green that usual.

It’s so much damn easier now to get to that part of the city, with the new 2nd Ave line dropping you off basically right at the bar’s front door! Have you been noticing a lot of new trade–I mean, people–in the area?

I believe we have noticed a few newbies floating in. The subway does make it a lot easier for people to come check us out, so I always like encouraging people to stop off and check us out. The Toolbox has been around for almost 30 years, so we have a big contingent of dedicated regulars that you can always find at the bar. When people come for the first time, I think they are always surprised on how congenial the crowd is. That’s something you don’t always expect to find from a nightlife crowd.

We’ll get back to you and The Toolbox, but first let’s get some background on Miss Wood herself! Where’s your hometown?

I’m from the burbs of Indianapolis, actually. Moving to NY was quite a culture shock for me. I’d never been to NYC before moving here about 10 years ago, but I’m glad I made the decision to come.

What ultimately made you want to come here?

I didn’t give it much thought, really. I just felt I needed to get out of the Midwest, and NY just seemed like the right place to be. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I’d end up in NYC doing drag… well, that’d be crazy talk!

When did drag actually start for you?

I used to throw a Pride kick-off party the first Saturday in June every year; I would hire a drag queen to perform. About three years ago I decided I’d try it out myself, and never looked back.

And how did you Drag Name yourself?

Well, that part was easy… but I did mull around with a few other names before ultimately deciding on Heather Wood. It was the name of the street I grew up on.

What do you generally do when you perform? Are you a fierce lip syncher, a singer/dancer, a comedy queen, a fall down messy queen?

Heather Wood is never messy! She goes out polished, or not at all! Generally I’m lip syncing a mix track. I try to embed some humor into my performances. I do sing, and have sang in drag, though not very regularly. Last year, I sang a song with my guitar at the Cattle Call Reunion show at Therapy, which was a lot of fun!

I remember you being part of that reunion–you were a contestant in that show during its original run?

I was, but in boy form! I’m not a trained performer, so Therapy is really where I got started getting used to being on stage in front of a crowd.

By the way, did anyone ever tell you that Heather looks like a young Helen Mirren? That was my immediate impression when I first saw you!

Haha! I’ve never gotten that before, but I do see it now! Maybe I should switch back to being a blonde again!

So aside from the bar’s weekly karaoke hostess Jackie Dupree, you are the It Girl at The Toolbox. How did that start?

PhilEsha De Lox originally brought me in to be her guest for special monthly parties she was doing there. I had a lot of fun, and really connected with the people at The Toolbox, so eventually it worked into a permanent gig.

I normally host their special monthly events and parties, but I also manage their website and Facebook page, and I make their event flyers as well.

Let’s talk about this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race for a minute! Just checking: who’s team are you on?

Well, coming from the Cattle Call family, it’s [that show’s host] Peppermint, of course!

She’s going to be the first out transgender contestant on the show! That’s exciting, right?

It’s always exciting to be the first. I’ve known Peppermint for a few years now, and the trans community couldn’t get a better spokesperson than her.

Did you see the season’s trailer? I always get concerned when I don’t see enough of the queens I’m rooting for in it!

I did see the trailer, but I don’t normally read into them too much. Peppermint is very charismatic, and she can sing and dance, so I think she has a very good chance of winning… as do the other queens from New York.

So you’ll be hosting the Drag Race viewing party at the Toolbox this season, starting Friday night with the premiere! And you hosted the party last season there as well. I take it this is a great spot to watch the show?

The crowd is always good at The Toolbox. Everyone is there to watch the show, and since we are a smaller venue it’s easier to hear and see the show. We have three big screen TVs, and they are hooked up to the sound system. We are also planning on doing trivia during the commercial breaks and giving away free shots, my Heather Wood buttons, and other trinkets I find in my purse!

Nice! Are you trying out for Season 10?

Haha! No. Maybe season 27!

Now tell me about this other monthly show there that you’re hosting.

Birthday Toast! We are planning on doing the first Friday each month to celebrate that month’s birthdays. So if it’s your birthday during that particular month, just show up with a friend by a certain time and participate in a little birthday show performance, and you’ll get a free bottle of champagne. I’ll have more details out soon about it, but I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun!

Yay, I’ll be there in July! Okay, anything else to discuss?

I just want to thank you for asking me to speak with you today, and thank your Thotyssey fans for reading!

The pleasure is ours! Okay, last question: Team Bette or Team Joan?

Well, I know my evil step dragmother Sheila Tack is Team Joan, so I’ll stick with being her polar opposite and go with Bette!

Wise! Thanks, Heather!

Heather Wood hosts the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party at The Toolbox this season on Friday nights (8pm), and on monthly first Fridays she’ll also be hosting the “Birthday Toast” party honoring that month’s birthdays. Heather can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.

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