She’s a longtime favorite entertainer of all seasons at Lips and Stonewall, but summer is when this queen’s star always shines brightest. Returning very soon to the Ice Palace on Fire Island for gigs galore, Ariel Sinclair makes a little time now for some exclusive sweet T with Thotyssey!
Thotyssey: Hello there Ms. Sinclair, thanks for talking to us! You just had a busy weekend with two Long Island gigs on top of your usual Lips shows… how did it all go?
Ariel Sinclair: Was great! No complaints …keeping busy!
Cheers to that! This is probably the most exciting time for you during the year, as you start switching gears to all your Fire Island gigs. When you start the season on the island, do you commute back and forth to NYC each time, or do you crash there after the shows?
I stay on the island for a few days. come back Friday, work at Lips, then return to the island Sunday.
The best of both worlds! How many years have you been working out there on the island now?
This will be my twenty-third season. And 14 years at Lips!
Amazing! Okay, so we’ve got lots to talk about! Let’s start in the beginning… where’s your hometown?
I grew up in Bellerose, Queens.
Were you exploring the city nightlife at a young age?
No, I mostly went to the Silver Lining gay bar–it was a 15 minute walk from my house, so I ventured there started doing drag when I was 17. It was a great place to learn the craft. I would see drag legends Kenny Dash, Jesse Volt, Electra St. Jill. I was inspired.
How did you come up with your drag name?
I wanted something original. At that time The Little Mermaid was not out yet, so I had the name before she did! And I thought “Sinclair” flowed really nice… tasteful and demure!
Trademark Ariel SInclair! How did your style of performing change over the years? Did you become funnier, dancier, etc?
When I first started, I was a Madonna impersonator. Then I moved on to doing pageants, and eventually I started doing more crazy, funnier performances, and hosting.
A Madonna impersonator! Did you do the whole “Like a Virgin” rolling around in a lace wedding dress thing?
Kinda. I wasn’t rich, so I used what I had. But I did roll around a few floors.
So I’m having lunch right now, and “Vogue” just came on!
Haha, perfect! You’ll never be able to escape Esther! Oh, I should ask– did you catch last Friday’s Drag Race? Who do you think had the best Madonna look?
So, wow, 14 years at Lips! What made you want to work there to begin with, and what were those early Lips years like?
I was a fill-in, and then some girls left and they offered me Fridays at first… then Friday /Saturday. I love it! We are opening our fifth location this fall in Chicago.
I imagine that the Lips experience must be a good education in dealing with all sorts of people. How do you get along with the large groups of straight ladies that frequently have outings there?
I love the ladies! My job is to make people happy and celebrate. I am blessed I get to do something I love!
I know that Fridays and Saturdays (just Fridays in the summer) are still your big nights there. You host the “Glitz & Glamour” revue for the dinner sessions, and later at night it becomes “The Dirty Show!” How dirty does that one get?
At “The Dirty Show,” I tend to be more graphic. The performances are much more wild and vulgar, and the audience defiantly drinks a lot more!
Another city gig you have seasonally is the Stonewall Sensation competition, which is about to see it’s finale this coming Wednesday! How has this cycle been going?
The performers are amazing! This is my first season hosting… usually I am a judge, so I really got to bond with the contestants and help them feel confident, and live up to there potential. This season has become a great party… after [the competition], people stay for karaoke. The night is a blast!
Do you have an all-time favorite singer that you’ve seen come out of the competition?
My favorite from seasons past was Marissa Pontecorvo: truly a blessed singer and entertainer. This season, the Top 4 are all my favs!
I think this year will be the same: a lot of new drag queens entering. I’m excited to see who takes the crown! I always say, the only way to get better and learn your craft is by doing it. And thanks to Mike Salinari! He has given the drags a place to do that at the historical Stonewall Inn.
So, let’s talk about Fire Island and the Ice Palace, aka your summer home. What’s gonna be the status of the the Palace’s Grove Hotel this summer, does anybody know yet?
The hotel is built, and now there waiting for insides to be finished. Hopefully by July 4th!
Let’s discuss the shows. On Sunday happy hours you’re back at the pool co-hosting the Pool Show, this time with Brenda Dharling. Do you dive in/get thrown in the pool like Logan Hardcore, or do you skillfully avoid that?
Noooo! I avoid the water. I use to jump in the pool… but then you’re all wet. Things get ruined. Usually I have to do something after also, so I try and stay dry.
Hosting Ice Palace Bingo on Monday should be drier. Do you enjoy playing with all those balls?
Bingo is always a hoot! Ya never know what’s going to happen, or who’s going to show up.. but you’re guaranteed to have fun, make a new friend, and get drunk!
And then Thursday nights, you’ll be hosting The Next Palace Princess again! That’s a summer drag completion where the winner gets her own show next season… hence Detoxx Busti-ae’s show this summer. How do you think it’s gonna go this year?
Hopefully it will be successful like last season! There’s a lot of new drags looking for opportunities to perform more, and get there name out there!
And you’ll be hosting the Mr. Fire Island Leather Contest on May 20th! Will they let you take the winner home with you?
[Laughs] yes, I’ve been hosting it from the beginning. It’s a great group of guys, and it’s always interesting to see who wins ..the dedication in the leather community is awesome!
Yes indeed! And then you’re usually involved with Miss Fire Island… what makes that pageant so important and special, do you think?
I’m a host for Miss Fire Island along with Logan Hardcore and Porsche.. it’s an amazing day; it’s always the weekend after Labor Day, and Fire Island is beautiful around that time of the year. People come from all over the island to see the girls .. I remember when I won in 2002, it was a magical day!
Have fun with all these amazing gigs, queen. So last question: as a veteran busy queen that everybody has loved for so long, what’s the best piece of advice you could give to a young queen coming up today?
Always be humble and kind. Respect those who came before you. And learn the words to your song!
Ariel Sinclair hosts “Glitz & Glamour” (5pm, 7pm, 9:30pm) and “The Dirty Show” (11:30pm) Fridays and Saturdays at Lips Restaurant (just Fridays during the summer). At Stonewall, she’ll host the finale of Stonewall Sensation on May 10th (10pm) and Miss Stonewall on May 14th (8pm). This summer at the Ice Palace, Ariel hosts the Pool Show (with Brenda Dharling) on Sundays (3pm), Bingo on Mondays (5pm), and The Next Palace Princess on Thursdays (8pm). Also at the Ice Palace, she’ll host Mr. Fire Island Leather on May 20th, and Miss Fire Island in September. Follow Ariel on Facebook.