This Southern Belle is now a rising star of the Brooklyn drag scene, with several gigs at the Rosemont and major gigs on the horizon. Get into this super likable karaoke songwriting queen, Miss Crystal Mesh!
Thotyssey: Hi Crystal! Thanks for talking to us! So, I hate to be basic and start with a Drag Race discussion but… OMG Drag Race! Valentina! That thing on her mouth!
Crystal Mesh: Thank you for having me! And that’s so not basic; I think the entire community is still completely gagged by the whole thing.
It was all so much. What are your thoughts on the whole fiasco?
I think this was a classic case of someone thinking their popularity was enough to keep them in the game. If she had at least been prepared for the challenge, I would be more sympathetic; but she literally did no work at all that entire episode (except for her face, which is always gorgeous).
Of course, that being said, not every performance is stellar, and I’m not judging her whatsoever. But damn. That may have been the biggest fuckup in Drag Race herstory.
It was fascinating to watch, that’s for sure! And I see a lot of established queens in this city not feeling a ton of sympathy for her, because she didn’t know the words. Do you have any strong standards at this point of your drag career as to what a drag queen should or shouldn’t be?
There isn’t a set standard in my mind as to what makes a drag queen. It’s very personal to every artist. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build a career, from it or if you’re just having fun: drag is for everyone.
I think the keys to becoming a *successful* queen, however, are individuality, tenacity, and a good heart. I don’t understand rudeness or arrogance within the community. We should be here to build each other up.
So that brings us to your story! Where’s your hometown, and what were your earliest creative interests?
I’m from Pinehurst, NC originally, which at its center is an insanely boring golf town. My parents are total hippies though, so I grew up in the woods on the outskirts of town.
I have literally always wanted to be a performer. The first job I ever told my parents I wanted was to be famous. #humble [laughs]
When did Crystal start to come together?
Funnily enough, I’ve had the name since 2004: it was given to me by one of my best friends one night drinking on her porch.
She wasn’t realized officially until last year, though. I was inspired by the Pulse massacre. I had lived here almost 10 years and had pretty much given up on performing, because this city can fuck up ones priorities. The Orlando shooting made me realize that my life could be taken at any moment because of bigotry. It also made me want to wear my faggotry out loud and fucking proud. I knew what I had to do.
That’s a very admirable beginning. So, what does being Crystal Mesh do for you that Jacob can’t?
She gets me on a stage. You can’t have a play without a character, she’s the character. Although, I don’t put anything on: she’s very me, and I’m very she!
How would you describe her way of being, and her performing style?
Meshy [laughs]! A little messy in an endearing and honest way. She likes her drink! After Bushwig LA someone told me they loved how weird I am. I love the absurd. I also love telling a story, and I love love. So I’ve been trying more and more to give true emotion, while still giving a weird moment every now and then, like one of my original songs.
How long have you been writing songs?
I’ve always written poems, but haven’t always had the confidence to share them. I shared too much during those formative teenage years and got my heart broken once or twice.
So we’re not talking about like drag ditties about farting and douching, we mean like real SONG songs?
[Laughs] yes. That’s why Crystal’s songs are so self aware I suppose. Still working up to sharing the meaty stuff I suppose.
How did you officially become part of the Brooklyn drag family?
I started making little videos back in August, and made my physical debut at Bushwig last year. After that I just kept showing up until Merrie Cherry asked me if I wanted to perform in October, at Dragnet. And after that I bombarded Horrorchata and got booked at Be Cute.
And from there on, thankfully it’s been pretty steady for me. The Brooklyn fam is very loving and welcoming. I feel very lucky.
Speaking of Dragnet, how was the fifth anniversary show this past week?
So good! Always gotta give it up for the fairy godmother of Brooklyn drag, Merrie Cherry!
Awesome! So, the Rosemont is Brooklyn’s newest hotspot. Can you describe it a little for the uninitiated?
I’m so happy the Rosemont has become my home. It used to be a jazz bar, so it’s pretty, and it’s romantic. Great for a date. There’s a massive backyard, and it’s open all night. And it’s a true queer establishment. Everyone is welcome. Troy Carson is the General Manager, and he’s the man behind The Metropolitan’s initial success as well as Sugarland, RIP.
I’m personally part of two weekly parties: OOPS! every Wednesday, which is very much like a variety show. We have a regular lineup, as well as amazing guest performers.
And I host Meshy Monday Karaoke every Monday night, where I encourage everyone to give no fucks and sing. And every time you sing, you’re entered to win a $20 bar tab. I must also give a shoutout to my Booth Babe, Paradise!
I feel like karaoke brings out the best hosting skills in a drag queen. Do you enjoy doing it?
I actually approached Troy about doing karaoke. I love that it gives people who might not normally get the opportunity the chance to shine, no matter their skill level as a singer. Music is important. It brings people together.
And as far as hosting anything, karaoke included, the greatest skill is stamina.
And a bit of improvisational strength. And not being a bitch helps. If you can’t make people feel welcome and safe, then they won’t sing, and they sure as hell won’t come back.
There are a lot of newer performers associated with the Rosemont now.
I think we were just the first ones there [laughs]! No, but in all honesty, there is a sense of wanting to house new performers. It’s a fresh start for Williamsburg. I think the more queer spaces we have, the more new talent will continue to emerge. We’ve got a great little sisterhood developing over there, and really amazing energy.
Congrats on being off to a great start! Do you have any advice for a new queen trying to make it into the scene right now?
Put yourself out there! Literally put on a look, go out, and talk to people. Don’t be a wall fly… but don’t be thirsty, either. Be hungry though. The beautiful thing about what we do is that you are free to create yourself. So be original. Tell yourself you’re gonna make it happen and just make it happen!
Werk! Anything else coming up to discuss?
[DJs] Hannah Lou and Ickarus just announced “Tanlines,” the new Saturday tea party at the Rosemont. The first party is Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be performing for the opening along with the amazing MoMo Shade. Tacos by Horrorchata! (Did I mention how big and beautiful the backyard is?)
Yes! All wonderful and exciting! Okay, last question: if you had to lip sync for your life and you didn’t know the words… how would you save yourself from elimination?
Oh, I’d know the words [laughs]! But in the event I suddenly couldn’t remember, I’d still fake the fuck out of it and shimmy all over that runway like Tina Turner. Or, fake a sudden injury!
Ha! Break a leg, Crystal, and thank you!