On Point With: Julia Van Cartier

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This saucy cabaret queen has been keeping us in stitches in Fire Island and Manhattan alike for over a decade. Cheers to Miss Julia Van Cartier (Rothschild)!


Thotyssey: Hi Julia! So, Gaga came through last week with two shows at Citifield. Did we care, or are we over it already?

Julia Van Cartier-Rothschild: Excuse me? This woman embodies enough fierceness to inspire the entire spectrum of human beings. How can anyone be over a star as generous and talented as Gaga? No… we are not over it, already!

I’m glad to hear it! But aren’t Dah Gayz terrible with that sort of thing? So fickle!

True, the Gays are fickle. But she is an inspiration in how she lives her life, the talent she has, and the voice she uses to speak up and speak out. I think she’s a total bad ass.

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I agree – and so is Julia Van Cartier! 

I’m not a bad ass… though I’ve got a great ass!

If I may ask, how long have you been a queen?

Seventeen years. When I became Julia seventeen years ago, I had no idea the amount of lives I would touch – and the personal journey into the depths of my soul being her would bring out.

OMG, seventeen years? Amazing! You look like a child!

Beauty is pain!

What is your secret? Vampirism?

Elizabeth Báthory! Me in my castle, bathing in the blood of young girls… thank you! No, my secret is quality makeup. You get what you pay for! Organic food, tons of water and plenty of exercise (however you can get your heart rate up for 15 minutes a day or so, gurl…) are also key.

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So tell me: where’s your hometown, and were you always a performer of some sort?

I grew up on a farm in Iowa. And yes, I’ve been on stage all my life. Starting at seven or eight, I was involved with community theater. I worked for Disneyworld and celebrity cruise lines as a performer. And I even did some exotic dancing and gogo dancing in college. Gimme a stage, honey!

Farm girl makes big! How did you become Julia, and where?

Like most, it was Halloween. 2001! I had never really done drag before. I grew up loving Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women, and Delores Van Cartier from Sister Act. So I threw the two names together, and my character was birthed.

I remember when drag wasn’t mainstream, and was even considered a little odd. I would get dressed in private and sneak out of my apartment, and go someplace dark so I could dance and be around others like myself! Now, thanks to Mama Ru, drag is as mainstream as it’s ever been!

Is that mainstreaming a good thing, or a bad thing? Or a little of both?

It’s a good thing! Drag makes people smile. A lot of hard work goes into it, and now millions are getting to experience it in the comfort of their own living rooms. Maybe even being inspired! For sure, drag is helping the human race evolve and become a little bit more enlightened.

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What have been some career highlights for you over the years?

Going to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert seventeen times and being called up on stage was pretty fun!

I made some delicious friends and colleagues in the “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen” competition at the Metropolitan room in Chelsea. I Really enjoyed having a new challenge every week.

At a RuPauls Drag Race red carpet event, Sally Jesse Raphael saw me and had her bodyguard come get me for a private moment. She told me I was beautiful, and said she would be honored to have a photo with me!

And I tend to be extra with backup dancers and a full entourage! A silly number that I love to perform is Bette Midler’s “Cool Yule.” Like I said, it’s silly. But Danny Tidwell from So You Think You Can Dance helped choreograph the number, and I feel like I live my ultimate life when I perform that at Christmas time. Original choreo to “You can’t Stop the Beat” and “Turkey Lurkey” also make me feel like I’m sweating all the gin out of my bodym while making people smile.

Life just keeps throwing amazing things at me. I say thank you, smile and keep going!

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Werk! So, Paige Turner just announced the lineup for this month’s All-Stars season of So You Think You Can Drag. Were you ever interested in signing up for that one?

No, I’ve done all those fun things. I’m more about producing my own shows now, and filling up a theater for a night of creative enjoyment my audiences will still be talking about the next day. I would be happy to be a judge, or have some part in it, though! The drag community is so rich with diversity and life!

Indeed! Okay, let’s talk these productions – starting with a show at the Pines Blue Whale on Saturday starring Ruby Powers, Elizabeth Warrenty and yourself. What’s this show gonna be like?
A drag variety show! Choreographed group numbers, solo numbers, lip syncing and live singing. Of course, what drag show doesn’t have comed? And I’ll be serving some Fire Island HERstory, and giving you extra special glimpses into my life. I think Donna McKechnie would be proud to come see this show!

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The diva! then on September 15th, you’re bringing a little of that Fire Island magic to the Duplex in the West Village, along with Ruby and Strawberry Fields. What will you be giving the children on that night?

The same show. So many of my fans wanted to see the show on the island, but logistically it requires you to spend the night, as the ferries stop running by the time it’s over. Soooo, loving the venue of the Duplex for a properly staged show and wanting to share the love and the fun that is on Fire Island, I decided to give those who couldn’t make it to Fire Island the same show in New York City! Hard working New Yorkers could use a little hour and a half escape to the Island on a Friday night, on Christopher Street, in Manhattan.

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Two great shows; and that’s an impressive team you have working with you!

My choreographer danced in A Chorus Line and has worked with the best, y award winning director has 30 years in the business, and the shows’ talent are acclaimed – and even crowned – queens who work all over the city. And these productions are worth every ounce of effort from me as the executive producer, and my audiences are treated to a remarkable experience!

Wonderful! Looking forward to them. Okay, last question: what is the best thing about drag for you today, and what is the worst?

The best aspect of drag is the joy I get to bring to so many people every time I step out my front door wearing heels and a wig. People want to smile, take pictures, have drinks, ogle and fuss over how fabulous I am, and just generally have a terrific time. That’s the best part, for sure.

The worst? Coming home and taking it all off.

Thank you, Julia!


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Check Thotyssey’s calendar for upcoming Julia Can Cartier gigs. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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