On Point With: Poppy

She’s winning pageants and major drag competitions left and right, and she’s about to debut a new monthly show… get into Poppy!

Thotyssey: Hello, Poppy! Congratulations on winning So You Want an Invasion at Stonewall this past Sunday! Was it fun?

Poppy: Hello Jim! Thank you! The competition was fantastic, but that’s no surprise – it’s a  drag competition in NYC. It was wonderful to watch some of my favorite drag queens in the city perform, and kiki with the girls backstage.

So you won your own one-night-only Invasion show at Stonewall. Did they tell you when it was gonna be?

October 8th!

Calendar marked! You’re certainly no stranger to drag competitions. More congratulations are in order for winning this last season of The Ultimate Drag Pageant at the West End

Thank you again!

That one took place over several weeks. Did you recycle a number at Stonewall from one of those Ultimate challenges?

I did: one of the pageant week’s themes was Iconic Hollywood. I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan, My drag is heavily inspired by the character Padme, so obviously I had to make a mix. But I retooled it for the Stonewall competition. I’m never totally happy with my mixes, I’m always trying to perfect them.

How many mixes do you have in your repertoire now, more or less?

Around 30 that I’ve made so far. I always try to make a new number every time I perform, but I don’t always have enough time.

That’s quite an arsenal! I know queens who have been in the business for ten years, and they keep using the same six mixes! So, how long have you been a queen now, and how did you get your start?

My best friend from Charlotte, North Carolina, sparked my serious interest in drag towards the end of high school. I’d always been interested in drag, but never really experienced real drag performers. My first performance was in July 2015, and I’ve been doing occasional performances here and there. But I really started performing at the beginning of 2017. I’ve been performing a lot more since I’ve turned 21 in April, now that it’s finally legal to be in the venue.

Aw, you’re a wee babe! But you’ve already accomplished so much. What does drag do for you?

It’s my therapy, and it allows me to push my creativity as much as possible, making it the ultimate creative outlet for all my emotions. It’s what keeps me going, to put up with the menial bullshit of day jobs and everyday life. It’s my ultimate escape. It’s all of my childhood dreams and fantasies come true. I get to play dress up and perform – it’s like my childhood self, but on a larger stage.

And I’ve always felt a connection to women – especially the big gay icons, like Judy Garland – before I even knew what a gay icon was. I believe there’s a special connection between these types of women and gay men, and I think drag is that missing link between the two. I think a big reason I do drag is because I really love women. I’ve always been obsessed with looking at beautiful women: family members, friends growing up, and strong actresses and musicians. It’s an honor to emulate women.

Speaking of Judy Garland, I was a Miss Lady Liberty judge this past season, and I loved your version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” where people came and painted rainbow colors on your white dress while you performed the song. It was very moving and ethereal. 

Thank you!

Did you reprise that for the Ultimate Drag Pageant?

I did a different song but a similar idea for the Drag Pageant, I hid tiny packets filled with the Pride flag colors on my body and burst them throughout the performance.

 I take it “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”particularly speaks to you?

That song has meant the entire world to me, ever since I was a child. It was the first song I absolutely loved, and I still connect to every single lyric. It might be a bit morbid, but I want that song played at my funeral.

Oh no, that is a perfect gay funeral song! And your drag name… is a a tribute to the magic flowers in Oz?

Yes it is, but it’s mostly inspired by the fairy queen of Oz, Ozma, who wore two big poppies on her crown.

So, it must be particularly sad for you, being a southerner, to have seen the recent situation in Charlottesville. Did the depths of how bad it all got surprise you?

Growing up in the south all my life, I’ve witnessed some of the ugliest behavior I’ve ever seen. It’s horrible to say, but I wasn’t surprised by the events that happened in Charlottesville. I remember growing up, there were KKK rallies in the town where I went to school quite a bit. [Charlottesville] was one of the rare times this got national attention because of how much it escalated. That’s what I find most sad. There is a very dark side to America that I’ve witnessed and experienced first hand, being an effeminate gay man, that hasn’t been talked about until very recently.

But also, just because there’s a dark side doesn’t mean there isn’t a beautiful side filled with incredible and kind people, with fierce intelligence and huge hearts.

So, who are your drag sisters in NYC these days?

I have always loved my hilarious drag sister Aviva Dickman, I think she’s one the funniest queens I’ve ever seen in my life, and she’s the sweetest person. I also live for Rośe – that girl is pure unadulterated talent. I’ve made quite a few friends with a lot of the girls I competed with in the Ultimate Drag Pageant.

Is it a weird dynamic, competing against girls you like?

I’m not a competitive person, so I usually try to have as much fun as possible with all the girls. I personally love watching the other girls perform. Especially when I know they can kick my ass in a lip sync battle. I love NYC Drag because it’s unlike any other drag in the world; the amount of talent made the expectations go way up. It keeps you on your toes, and always makes me strive to be a better and more polished queen.

So, as part of winning Ultimate DP, you now host a monthly show at the West End, beginning this Wednesday! What can we expect from ”Poppy’s Playhouse?“

You can expect hilarity, homosexuality, and heart. I’m beyond excited to start my own show at one of my favorite places in all of New York City, The West End Lounge. It’s an honor having such a big responsibility like headlining a show at only 21. I hate to say it, but I’m #blessed.

And tell me about Cicatrix‘s show that you’ll be guest performing for, also at the West End.

My friend Cicatrix is doing her Halloween show October 5th, with the hilarious and clever name “Cicatrix or Treat.” She asked me to take part and I had to say yes; anytime I can do something Halloween-themed, I’m there.

Werk these shows! Okay, let me leave it off with Thotyssey’s favorite last question: what’s the worst thing about drag for you, and what’s the best?

The worst thing, by far, has to be the pain. Drag is extremely uncomfortable to me. I always ache after a show. But the best part has got to be the amazing connections I’ve made with people in the community, it’s amazing to have my imagination presented on stage and have people moved and connected to what I do. It’s an amazing experience as an artist to connect on a level like that.

Thank you, Poppy!

Poppy hosts the monthly “Poppy’s Playhouse” at the West End fourth Wednesdays (11pm) at the West End. Check Thotyssey’s calendar for her upcoming gigs, and follow Poppy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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