This live singing Lips queen is a born entertainer–and lately she’s been getting more and more opportunities to do so, including a karaoke hosting gig this summer. Let’s get some due process going on with Miss Lauren Ordair!
Thotyssey: Hello Lauren, thanks for talking to us! How’s your week been?
Lauren Ordair: It’s been great! Very busy, but busy is good news! I’d rather be busy than sitting at home crying into my cornflakes!
I hear that! The last time I saw you perform was as Brita Filter’s guest co-host for last week’s Miss Lady Liberty at the Ace Hotel, and you brought the house down with your live singing! That must’ve been a great moment, right?
Yeah, it felt amazing to have the room so full of life, love, and art! The admiration from the crown and the other queens was absolutely breath taking! The standing ovations were overwhelming! Like I always say:“the only thing in the world I have ever wanted to do is sing! And I am so happy there are people who will listen!”
We could listen to you sing all day! Okay, so let’s get some background… where’s your hometown?
I grew up in a very small town called St. John’s in Michigan! It is in central Michigan about 20 min north of Lansing (the capital).
How long have you been a singer?
Well, I’ve been singing most of my life. My mother is a singer and voice teacher, so I grew up singing! My first professional performance, I was 3 years old and sang only the “and me” part of “The Rainbow Connection” with the Capital Choir.
Who were you’re givas growing up–the singers you lived for?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of country music. So of course I loved Reba and Dolly Parton! I also listened to Barbra a lot!
The Holy Trinity! How did you get to New York?
I moved to NYC when I was 18 to attend college. Packed all my things in a U-Haul and headed out! I came her to study musical theatre at AMDA and finished the two year program there, and then transferred to the New School and finished my degree in Vocal Performance there.
And when did you discover drag?
I actually was at a bar in queens called Lavish Lounge. They were doing karaoke and I got up to sing and then after singing the queen that was there (Mimi Imfurst) asked if I had ever thought about doing drag. I said no, not really. Then she encouraged me to come to a little Newbies Night she was doing at that bar on Thursdays. So I showed up in drag the next week and the rest is history. That’s also kinda how she became my drag mother.
Oh wow, Mimi’s your mom! She, of course, was a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and remains a big time pageant queen Did you follow the pageant route yourself?
I have done a few pageants. I actually won Miss Cherry Lane on Fire Island a few years ago. I had fun doing them, but now I’m more focused on performing and singing!
Charlie Hides was kinda baffling on Drag Race two weeks ago when she was like, “live singing queens don’t lip sync!” Do you agree with her?
Not at all! To be a good singer, you need to be a good performer. I lip sync lots! I just prefer to sing and show off my skill.
And you certainly do it so well. What’s your favorite song to sing these days?
So, when did you start working at Lips?
I started there about five years ago!
Tell us what was it like when you first started there.
You know… it was a little scary working with all these crazy queens, but they took me in to the group. And now I’ve made some of the best friends a girl could have! I guess I was really surprised at how close and supportive the girls are with each other.
What’s it like working a room that’s not necessarily a gay audience, and primarily female? Do you think you have to be a different sort of queen there than in gay bars?
I feel that in some ways it’s a little different–but for the most part, it’s exactly the same! Comedy, talent, and art are appreciated equally by both gays and straights alike!
However, sometimes when dealing with straight drunk white girls… you kinda wanna punch them in the teeth! But all in all… fun is fun!
When did you adopt Brita as your drag daughter?
Oh, boy! I guess it was about three years ago… maybe four. I can’t remember… I’m getting to be an old momma!
You must be a very proud old mamma though, she’s everywhere now!
I am! I can’t even put in to words how impressed I am with her talent, work ethic, and drive! She has done so much and really is doing the damn thing! I’m just glad that I could be there to help push her in the right direction and give her help and support when she needs it.
You are quite the multi-talented queen yourself… you design a lot of outfits for other queens. Have you been a seamstress/designer as long as you’ve been a queen?
I had learned some basic sewing when I was younger from my grandma. Now when I got into drag, I decided to get more into it and learn as much as I could. I wanted to be able to make my own costumes, cause it saves me money and I can make money from it.
Do you basically design things for other queens from entirely your own head, or do they tell you what they want and you make that?
Usually we start with a basic idea they want, and then we snowball ideas until we have a great unique costume they will love!
Last I heard, you lived with your sister queen Vita Summers.
Yes, we do live together!
That must be a wild situation! Do you two have the room for all that drag?
It’s a really fun time at our house! We have a fun time! I absolutely love having her as a roommate. We do indeed have a very large closet in our hallway that stores most of our ladies things! We also have a storage unit!
Well, I was going there often to see Ruby Roo and Elizabeth James in their show on Sunday nights. I guested in their show a few times, and eventually the owner asked if I would like to do a show there. I agreed and then that was that!
What goes on down there?
I love doing my Thursday show! “The Fat Lady Sings” is such a fun show full of my unique style of light-hearted comedy and lots of singing! I sing Broadway, 80’s, 90’s and current pop songs! I also on occasion ask people for requests, and I do my best to accommodate! It’s lots of singing and tons of laughs!
I got a chance to see you perform there at the Duplex, for
Yes, I absolutely love the space, the bar, the staff, and the owner, Tony! Tony is one of the best people I have ever worked for!
Indeed! I am beyond excited to be taking this night over! Tammy has built up a very cute and talent-filled night at this great Lower East Side venue! I will be hosting the Wednesday karaoke at Phoenix Bar until she returns from Fire Island at the end of the summer! I can’t wait to party down with the people there!
Fun! Anything else to gab about?
I think we’ve covered most of my gigs! I just hope people get out there and come see me! There are lots of opportunities either at Lips (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays), Phoenix Bar on Wednesdays, and the Duplex on Thursdays! So come on out and tip a bitch! I also hope to be working with Brita again real soon!
We would love to see that! Okay, in closing: Whats the worst thing about drag today, and what’s the best thing about it?
I think the worst thing about drag today is some queens that are afraid to–or just don’t want to–work with others! I find that collaboration always makes the best art! Let’s get together and work on something great! I’ve often felt this from other live singing queens.
Now, the best part, I guess, would be knowing that I get to use my voice! That I get to bring what I love to others, and I hope they love it too!
I’m so happy that I do what I do! It’s not what I thought I would be doing, but I absolutely love it!
And we love you right back… thanks, Lauren!
Lauren Ordair will host karaoke at Phoenix Bar on Wednesday nights this summer (10pm), and hosts her own show “The Fat Lady Sings” at the Duplex on Thursday nights (11:30pm). She appears at Lips on Tuesday and Friday nights, and Sunday brunch. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.