This hilarious drama queen-turned-drag queen is taking over NYC nightlife one venue at a time. Dishing it all about her drag family and the pros and cons of everythingin the biz, it’s the fabulous Carmen Sidemi!
Carmen Sidemi: Oh! It was so much fun, We had two amazing DJs,
and Mikey Mó. I also never realized how hot The Ritz gogo boys are until last night – definitely some serious eye candy. Of course, working with Terra Hyman, my drag mama, is always a kiki.
They are cute there on Tuesday nights! Like, the only twinky gogo boys left in NYC, it seems.
I was thinking the same thing. Someone posted about how all the gogo boys are so big and muscly nowadays. So now, I can tell them where to find the sexy twinks. Though, if you know me, you know I LOOOVE a big set of arms and thick fingers.
Lol, there’s something for everyone in this city!
So Carmen, you’re at that point in your drag career where you’re starting to pop up everywhere.
Definitely, that’s what I love about NYC. It has certainly been a crazy year.
How long have you been Carmen now?
I’ve been doing drag since late July of 2016, and my original name was Shaneeda Blank. I changed it to Carmen Sidemi about 2-3 months after starting drag.
In the beginning when I only saw your name on Facebook, I pronounced it “Suh-dem-ee,” like you were some Polish deli or something. I laughed when I first heard it out loud.
HAHAHA. Yes, I’ve gotten that before. I have so many great stories about people trying to pronounce my name.
Sheila Tack gave up trying and just called me Barbara. And during the Invasion on Fire Island, the host announced me as Carmen Si-Demi. I milked it with a big laugh, mimed “Inside Me” as best I could, and she got it along with the crowd. It was a great moment.
That’s the key to a great drag name!
I agree. I love when it takes people a second to get it.
So, where’s you’re hometown, and what were you like growing up?
Oh, man! Well I’m a Florida native, born in Pembroke Pines, and I grew up in South Beach until we re-located back P. Pines in my early teens.
Growing up, I was – and still am – very dramatic. About halfway through awards shows, I start pretending like I won and end up sobbing in the mirror, giving full acceptance speech realness. My bedroom was a place where I could be myself and live my fantasy!
In school I loved attention, but was always battling with that because at the same time I didn’t want to be noticed – people made fun of me for being feminine. It felt like a constant game of tug and war.
However, I have to say I was so lucky because my parents and family loved and supported me always. I also had/have two childhood friends that are still so amazing.
That’s important, I’m glad for that!
When do you come to NYC?
2009, when I went to the one and only AMDA. I left for a year and a half after graduation for some theatre work, and then moved back in 2013. All of that feels so long ago, OMG!
Every drag queen in the city went to that school, it’s crazy! Do you know any queens on the scene today that were in your classes?
She’s a newer queen: Chola Spears. We were best friends in school. We lost touch, but then I saw her out one night in drag and we are living.
I didn’t go to school with
Marti Gould Cummings, but I remember during orientation seeing her picture on the alumni wall with some of the greats that came out of the school. So crazy how things come full circle.
How did you meet Mama Terra?
Oh god, that was the beginning of it all, I feel like. I work at the West End, and when I started there a few years ago they had such a great lineup of amazing girls! Terra was hosting a competition, Brita and Sasha Davenport were hosting “C’mon Wednesday,” and
were hosting “Super Woman.” Terra and I quickly became besties, and would hang out all the time at her place and play video games and Catan till 4am. That group of girls really introduced me to NYC drag/nightlife and made a huge impact.
From there, I met
from the RRRRRRoyal Haus of Labeija, and she really took me under her wing and helped me SO MUCH!
That’s a great pedigree! What was your first number in drag, do you remember?
I actually still use it sometimes, It was a “Letter of the Day” inspired number, and the letter of the day was “C.” Then it goes into basically calling everyone a cunt.
Oh werk, so you had the funny mixes on day one!
I love working and making mixes, and telling a story from my own perspective, if you will.
You’re quite a high energy queen, splitting and death-dropping and constantly moving… were you always a dancer?
I can just see the eye rolls from these shady queens in regards to me being called a dancer.
People use the word “dancer” very loosely, in my opinion… no shade.
I did always love to dance; I took about four years of salsa in middle/high school before getting into tap, ballet, etc. But I’m very humble when it comes to calling myself a “dancer” because it’s not something I do often, lol! But I will split the house down for sure, henny!
You did a great number for Miss Lady Liberty this summer… it had, like, five wig and costume reveals! I always think about how stressful it must be to keep track of the timing of all those reveals during numbers like that. Not to mention having to waddle out there in the beginning like a human lasagna with all that shit bolted down so it doesn’t look like five reveals!
GIRL! I had HAD IT that day. I was being such a bitch because I was so hot, and no one understood because I was trying not to spoil it. As far as timing: the song I used was pretty easy to find the timing, so it just made sense to me. It also helps to rehearse the costume and wig reveals at home couple times. I do love watching those videos; my ass looked so good that night, lol!
Th next time I did Lady Liberty, I decided I wasn’t going to put too much pressure on myself and just do something simple. It was actually one of my favorite performances. Of course I did do a costume reveal!
Sometimes it just takes one reveal to sell it! I like the light blue flowy, witchy robe thing you wear. Are you a designer/seamstress of your looks?
HAHAHA. Oh, My summer Poncho? I bought that fabric in every color. I can draw clothes, and can sew basic things, but I’m certainly not a seamstress. I learned a few things from a costume designer in Florida, and even MORE from Jasmine Rice… YouTube helps too! Every drag queen knows, or should know, stretch fabric.
Here that, queens! Generally speaking, I feel like you are a like a drag queen’s drag queen. A lot of other queens in the city are really into what you do!
I wanna shout out to some people who have excepted me so open-heartedly to the drag community, and taught me so much! They were booking me when I had no experience! Terra Hyman, Jasmine Rice,
Dusty Ray Bottoms, Marti G. Cummings, Brita Filter,
Tammy Spanx, and
Kizha Carr. I’m so grateful to know these talented people.
An amazing group of queens!
Did you go to Drag Con?
I DID! My very first one. I went on Sunday and was so lucky to get to work the Gypsy Wigz booth. They styled a beautiful custom-dyed wig for me, and I just pranced around enjoying all the drag. My best moment was eating a chili dog while walking the pink carpet. If anyone thought I didn’t have talent, now you do.
Yas Mama! So, it’s about that time of the season when local girls start to disappear on a Mystery Cruise, while by sheer coincidence Drag Race starts filming in California. It seems like throughout the past few seasons, there have been more and more New York girls disappearing… and if our collective hunch is correct, nearly half of Season 10 will be New York queens competing. And on top of that, now we’re gonna have a new show to watch exclusively about NYC drag, Shade! Is this an exciting time to be a queen in NYC, or is this all kind of a lot?
I can’t F******* wait for this season! I definitely think right now is an exciting time for drag in many places, but especially NYC. I’m so excited to see so many girls I know, work with, and respect on Shade. It’s really going to get to showcase what queens really experience when choosing this as a career.
It’s funny, I always hear people say “Drag Race fucked up drag,” and I can understand that perspective. But we also get to see so many new shows pop up to make up for the girls who might have other things going on.
Well, you certainly got stuff going on that we should talk about! First off, you’ve been giving shows at Icon in Astoria for a bit, and now you have a Weekly 6-9pm Sunday spot there, Stay Drunk Sundays. Love that show name! How do you like it at Icon? It went through a change of management and a huge revamp not too long ago.
I love Icon. The staff and the owners have been so generous to me, I’m so grateful. I heard about a few horror stories from the past, which I won’t dwell on because no one involved has any ties to the place, so all I’m gonna say is: come back and give it another try. Especially Sunday! How many chances do you get to go out after a boozy brunch, put on some heels that we provide, do at least 30 seconds of a number, and you get a shot? It’s such a good time. Two weeks ago, a straight man and woman celebrating their engagement with some friends came by, and THEY ALL did a Spice Girls number. I’ve had a few new queens pop in to do a number. It really is such a safe space for everyone. Oh, and they
have 2-4-1 drink special from 5-8!
And your show there sounds like a lot of fun. As for Thursdays, we can find you hosting
Yup, I just added Gayme Night on Thursdays to my weekly schedule. We finally got rid of that bitch,
Holly Box-Springs. LMAO, I’m just kidding! To spill some tea, we actually went on two dates before either of us did drag. I love that girl.
But back to Atlas, I’m there Thursdays for trivia and all sorts of games, 8-12. We give away drinks, special prizes, and JUST added a few gogo boys to serve up trade realness. I’m thinking of new ways to make it my own; I want to have a Twister tournament one night!
OMG! I love her, she has one of the BEST senses of humor.
Okay, anything else?
No special events, other than my two weekly gigs I have right now. A few things are up in the air. It’s funny, I like to call myself the “Sandra Bullock of Drag,” because a lot of my gigs are super last-minute bookings if someone can’t make it! Which, girl, I’m grateful for! So, I would encourage following me on Instagram or adding me on Facebook to keep up with where I’ll be.
Last question: What’s the worst thing about drag for you, and what’s the best?
The worst part of actually being in drag is, sometimes, the corset after three hours. But I would say that really the hard part – and this is gonna sound cheesy – is battling with myself to not compare what other people have going on, and just be proud of my friends AND myself.
It’s hard sometimes, because its rare when you work in a field where your friends are your colleagues. When we aren’t in drag and go out, most likely I’m kiki’ing with other queens. But a lot of the times, we are competing [in pageants or weekly competitions] for cash money. So you’re rooting for your friends, but trying to pay your damn rent.
The best part about drag, and why I started doing it… simple. I get to conceive performances that tell a story from my perspective. I get to do it on my own time, on my own terms. And when people laugh and cheer, it makes me so happy. I feel understood. A few times the audience will be enjoying a number so much, it will make me hesitate on my next line, because I get so excited.
But we’ve all had those nights when the audience is looking at you like your fucking crazy, which is also exciting because its an opportunity to make new choices that you wouldn’t have made otherwise.
Thank you, Carmen!
Awesome! Thanks so much for having me on your blog!
Carmen Sidemi hosts “Stay Drunk Sundays” at Icon (6pm) and “Gayme Night Thursdays” at Atlas Social Club (8pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for other upcoming gigs, and follow her on