Her drag name isn’t just a bit of cutesy randomness… gurl was raised on an orchard! And from the apple farm to the Big Apple, this Broadway-inspired queen has quickly won a coveted pageant crown, a monthly gig, and the respect of many of nightlife’s greatest performers. She’s hosting a Tonys party this weekend, but it might not be long before we hear “And the Tony goes to… Golden Delicious!”
Thotyssey: Golden, hello! How are you today?
Golden Delicious: Hey Jim! I’m doing so well!
Are you excited for Pride month yet?
It’s my second Pride in NYC, but my first as a drag queen… and I couldn’t be more excited!
Will you be going to be out on the streets wreaking havoc, or at the West End or somewhere else gigging?
I’ve got a Happy Hour gig at Boots & Saddle that Wednesday, so I’ll be kicking off my Pride shenanigans early! Other than that I’m available for any and all bookings! *winks*
Let’s journey back to the days when you were a mere apple seed! Where’s your hometown?
I grew up in Williamson, New York on my parents apple orchard! So when most kids got to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, I was out picking apples (and practicing choreography for my tap classes) with my family! My hometown is also home to the Mott’s applesauce factory, where I actually worked for a summer during college.
Your drag name certainly isn’t random; it’s your whole life! Is Golden Delicious the best tasting apple, in your professional opinion?
Honestly, I really don’t care for them. It was just the name I connected most with! They’re great for making sauce, though! I prefer Cortland (crispy and tart) and Gala (nice and sweet), but those would be terrible drag names.
True! Dance was your first performing art growing up, then?
Oh, no! I actually started in operetta! I was a “Pirate in Training” in The Pirates of Penzance at my dad’s community theatre! I actually hated dance class when I was young, except for tap.
So you’ve been a trained vocalist for quite some time.
Yes! My high school drama teacher was such an inspiration to me; I followed her footsteps and went to SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music to study Vocal Performance. But after a year and a half, I decided to transfer to Fredonia, where I received my BFA in Musical Theatre.
I always imagined that Broadway-minded people who wind up doing drag were informed by the fact that the huge majority of meaty musical roles were for women. Was that something that inspired your own pursuit of drag?
I really got into drag because I loved theatrical makeup–that was the start of it for me. But, once I started performing, it did become about being able to pay tribute to the actresses and characters who shaped my childhood! That said, the first time I ever did drag, I dressed as Bernadette Peters for Halloween… so I guess it all started then!
Other huge inspirations for Golden include Patti LuPone, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Madeline Kahn and Sutton Foster. I also love female comics like Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Katherine Ryan.
You must be super excited about the Tonys with that list, but we’ll get back to that! After Bernadette, when did you start appearing and performing as Golden?
That’s a great start! Did you find yourself gravitating towards certain queens for advice in the beginning?
Of course! I went to college with The Countess Mascara, who took me on as her drag daughter. She was great with showing me the ropes of how everything worked in the drag scene. She’s an amazing friend, and such a talented and unique queen.
I also met Alexis Michelle shortly after starting drag, and she has been an amazing supporter and friend. We have a mutual adoration for Barbra Streisand, so we hit it off right away!
Alexis is such a wonderful NYC queen! She did well on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but of course fans harp on certain negative sound bytes of hers. She seems to be handling it all quite well, but when you see that nasty reaction, does it turn you off to potential Drag Race fame a little?
I did just say to my friends who I used to watch Seasons 5 and 6 with in college, “I miss when no one watched RPDR, so I didn’t have to listen to people’s bullshit opinions!”
It’s amazing that the queens have a broader platform now, with the show getting more mainstream success; but that’s definitely a double-edged sword. But I’ll never say never! Who knows–Season 11 could be my year!
You’re off to a good start with winning this past cycle of the West End’s Ultimate Drag Pageant, congratulations! What made you want to give that one a try?
It was the format of the competition that made me want to compete! I love being given a prompt, and using that to showcase my point of view.
That competition taught me a lot. I made almost everything I wore, styled all of my own hair, and did brand new numbers and looks every week. When I did have help it was from my best friends, which is always amazing (though my friend Keith may disagree!) The crown was just a cherry on top: it now lives in a lovely satin pillow on my living room bookshelf, so guests can enjoy it too!
After you won, you starting hosting your own monthly show at the West End on third Thursdays, “Teacher’s Pet!” How would you describe that show, and how’s it going?
It’s been such a treat! I wanted the show to be the kind of thing I would want to go to, and I think it’s just that. Lots and lots of show tunes, some dancing, some live singing and games to engage the audience! I’ve always been such a fan of queens who are also brilliant comedians (Marti, Bob, Lady Bunny, Charlie Hides to name just a few), so I try to emulate that a bit as well. Getting to host my own show is a dream come true, and an amazing learning experience.
She’s amazing! And I helped make that costume!
Performing at Feinstein’s/54 Below has been a dream of mine since the venue opened back in my college days. I was so flattered that Marti asked me to join her for the show. It was a really special night, and Marti is always a pleasure to work with! Definitely a bucket list item checked off that night.
Wonderful! And that brings us to Broadway. Of course, none of us ever get to see as many shows as we’d like during the year because they’re so damn expensive, but have you seen anything in 2017 that you loved or hated?
I haven’t seen anything I hated! My favorite this season so far was definitely a dark horse– Bandstand. It was Gloria Swansong who encouraged me to see it, and my parents and grandmother were in town and wanted to see a show… so I picked that. It’s a really lovely (albeit flawed) story about World War II veterans struggling with PTSD. Being able to sit at a musical about such an important topic next to my Grandma (whose late husband was a WWII veteran who struggled with mental illness) was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had in a theatre. My dad kept saying “These characters remind me of my friend’s dads!”
Theatre is powerful because it forces us to sit down and watch a reflection of the world we live in. We have to encourage shows that offer new perspectives on issues like mental illness, and help us understand the way our society reacts to them. This way, we can identify our mistakes from the past, and forge a stronger future for ourselves and others. I’m not saying that other shows this season that deal with mental illness don’t do that effectively, but I’m also not NOT saying that.
Heard! Have you been an avid Tonys Broadcast watcher throughout your life?
Of course! It’s the best night of the year!
It must be a dream come true, then, to actually be hosting the Tonys West End viewing party, on that amazing stage, this coming Sunday!
That should be the theme of this interview! “Baby Drag Queen’s Dreams Come True!”
I hosted (as a boy) my own viewing party last year at my apartment, and it was legendary. So getting to do it in drag at such an awesome venue seems like a natural progression!
You’ve been prepped! I’m hearing that current Hello, Dolly! star Bette Midler is holding out on agreeing to perform (remotely) until some sort of agreement with the show producers was reached. What’s going on there?
I don’t have any inside intel, but I did hear about that! I’d be very disappointed if she didn’t perform, since it would introduce so many young people to such an amazing and important performer (especially young LGBTQ+ people!)
I’d be even MORE disappointed if Gavin Creel didn’t perform. He’s the love of my life. Call me, Gavin!
He’s so cute! And speaking of the Tonys: Patti LuPone! Patti v. Bette, who’s winning?
I haven’t seen either yet, so I can’t make an informed pick, but it HAS to be Bette, right? The first show I ever saw on Broadway was Patti’s Tony winning performance in Gypsy in 2008, so I would love to see her with another one! (I may or may not be premiering a new Patti LuPone mix on Sunday– you’ll have to come and find out!)
Should be a great night. So, anything else coming up to discuss?
I’ve always got something crazy cooking up. But in terms of things I’m at liberty to discuss, you can catch me hosting Drag Brunch on Sunday, July 9th at La Pulperia! Shows at 12 and 2! I’m filling in for my gal pal Ritzy Bitz! Final question: What’s your favorite thing about drag, and what is your least favorite?
My favorite thing about drag is collaboration! I love to work with my friends on creating looks, making numbers and just having fun creating. Then getting on stage and working with the audience–finding out what they love, and what makes them happy.
My least favorite thing about drag is getting Pros Aide out of my god damned eyebrows!
The struggle is real! Thank you, Golden!
Golden Delicious hosts “Teacher’s Pet” at the West End every third Thursday (11pm), and a Tony Awards viewing party there on Sunday, June 11th (7pm). Check here for other upcoming appearances. Follow Golden on Facebook and Instagram.