With otherworldly looks and a provocative stage presence, this Brooklyn performer (by way of the Bronx) is carving a fascinating niche into the scene with popular shows at Gold Sounds and elsewhere. Thotyssey throws questions ay Qhrist With a Q!
Thotyssey: Qhrist, thanks for chatting! OMG, Bushwig! How was it?
Qhrist With a Q: Bushwig was fabulous. I gave my best Tina Turner, saw some great looks and shows, and generally carried really hard! I was really nervous opening the outdoor set on Saturday; building up for it felt like I was performing at Coachella, or like I was Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl!
It was a huge turn out, and a really enthusiastic audience.
Absolutely. Drag queens are superheroes. The world needs us.
The festival attracts a bigger crowd each year; the fans are not just the usual suspects of Brooklyn Nightlife anymore. And the performers are more diverse, too: Manhattan queens, out-of-town queens, Drag Race stars. Is it a good thing that Bushwig has expanded so much?
I think as both an artist and a drag queen, there’s always a far-off alarm bell when something like Bushwig begins to grow at the rate it has. Especially if you’re a scene veteran (which I’m not really, but I understand what it feels like). It’s a mix of new opportunities to do more, and do it bigger and better, but you also run the risk of selling out. I think Bushwig has done a good job of staying accessible, though.
I’m happy it’s expanded, because I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it if it hadn’t. They’ve had Bushwigs across the country now in different local drag scenes – and even though I mainly perform there, I don’t live in Brooklyn, so I’m not as big a part of the scene as I’d like to be. So Bushwig getting bigger and offering space for performers from not just Brooklyn or NYC, but around the world – and also from every skill level – is something I really appreciate. Because you can be exposed to new perspectives, and watch as the old pros get better and better. And the thought of sharing stages with people like Alyssa Edwards is still mindblowing to me!
So, where are you originally from?
I’m born and raised in the Bronx, and I still live there. My family’s lived in the Bronx for over three generations. I do a lot of travelling back and forth, but I’m currently working out of my post-grad slump! The last year has been really great, and I’m hoping to plant roots in Brooklyn sometime next spring or summer.
Being a native New Yorker is really strange, especially in a scene like Brooklyn’s where a lot of people have worked really hard to come here from other places looking to make things work and find themselves and a community. I kind of take pride in being an outsider – I think it’s important to have someone on the outside offering fresh perspectives on things.
I started going out a few years ago – I made friends with Alexis Blair Penney from Chez Deep. She convinced me to catch the last few Bath Salts, which really blew my fucking mind. It lit the fire in me.
Did you become Qhrist shortly after seeing Bath Salts?
I wasn’t always Qhrist. I started drag in college, and my first drag name was Evelyn Delacroix. So bad! She only had one or two performances. I wanted to be this, like, glam old woman.
Like a lot of things in my life, Qhrist started as a joke. I started going as “Qhris” in college, and I would introduce myself as ”Qhris with a Q.” – then somebody made a joke about me being “Qhrist with a Q.” I started going by Qhrist after Bath Salts, but also running around the club kid scene and the Culture Whore parties when they were still happening. I thought Qhrist had more room for me to be myself, and also be off-kilter and weird and artsy.
How would you describe your style of performing?
I’m all about really feeling it, and giving you that emotional moment. The word “emo” has been getting thrown around a lot in the wake of my showdown with Ms. Ter at Kelsey Dagger’s Female Fight Club, and also my upcoming My Chemical Romance tribute, “So Long and Goodnight.” And I guess it’s actually pretty true!
I’m a really intense lip syncher. I’m working more towards being a boots-the-house-down, mover-and-shaker kind of girl – doing “Proud Mary” at Bushwig was a bit outside my wheelhouse – but I love doing slow burn lip syncs, big sad ballads, icy synth songs. I think people don’t know what to expect of me, and then I pull them into this really intense moment, and then they pop back to reality and are like, whoah, yes bitch.
When did you hook up with Sherry Poppins, with whom you do monthly shows at the Brooklyn venue Gold Sounds?
Sherry is my good, dear old friend from college, and actually one of my first drag friends ever. She may have even been one of the first real life drag queens I ever saw! We both went to Purchase College, which actually boasts a huge alumni list of drag performers old and new: Thorgy Thor and Alotta McGriddles went there, and I went with Sherry as well as Ryder Lickquor, Maxxx Pleasure, and Jenn D’Role. The four of us are great friends, and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come from giving shows to each other in our apartments!
I was originally so intimidated by Sherry – I thought she was just this fishy twink that only wanted to do Iggy Azealia, and I had all these huge grandiose ideas about changing drag and being a performance artist. But we got to know each other, and I really feel like we’ve helped each other grow and inspire one another to think outside our boxes and try new things. We have much more in common than what little things separate us. She’s one of the best drag sisters I could’ve asked for.
We started Str8 to DVD (formally 1-900-HOT-GLUE) because we both live outside the city and it’s hard for us to make it to gigs, but [at Gold Sounds] we could have our own space to perform and bring people from across the communities together. The seed for it was definitely planted with Bath Salts. Ever since it ended, I don’t think there’s been anything that’s quite filled the gap it left in the scene, and we just really wanted to do our thing and bring people we like together to give shows.
I definitely have a sort of curatorial itch, and with Str8 to DVD and now this My Chemical Romance show, I definitely want to get more into event production. Drag needs more DIY.
And you’ve known you’re DJ for awhile, right?
DJ Ten Yards is a really good dear friend of mine whom I’ve known for years. We originally met in a chat room for Bara –– think Gengoroh Tagame’s comics and MASSIVE. He’s one of my gay moms. And I definitely own several jocks and speedos by him. He dresses all of Riis and the Pines!
So if someone came to a Str8 to DVD show at Gold Sounds, what might they expect to see you and Sherry and your guests “doing?”
We banter, we do a lot of poppers. I’ll probably do like, Yazoo or Susanne Sundfør, Sherry will do Blondie or a Neko Case number hilariously spliced with audio. DJ Ten Yards looks really cute and plays our fave J-Pop jams.
Our guests are always really eclectic – I’m really excited to have Mr. Lee VaLone of the House of Velour at “So Long and Goodnight,” as well as Ruby Fox, Angelica Sundae, Reagan Holiday, and a ton of other people. I love having drag kings and noise artists and burlesque dancers. We all do our thing, and at the end Sherry and I do an extremely unrehearsed duet. We did Blink-182 for the last one, and just kind of fucked around and made asses of ourselves. You have to come and find out!
What else is coming up?
After “So Long and Goodnight,” October’s gonna be a lot of fun; I’m performing at Casa Diva’s Halloween party. And we’re also doing Str8 to DVD Halloween on October 30th, which is gonna have Amber Alert, Madame Vivien V, Emi Grate, Linda Felcher, and a ton of other people. It’s gonna be a spooky one!
I’m guessing Halloween is your time to shine!
I have this fucking INSANE number I’ve been dreaming about for months that I’m finally putting together for the Halloween shows, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m not gonna spoil too much, but it involves werewolves. And Japanese nu-metal.
And finally: how would you like to evolve as a performer over time?
Everybody says this all the time, but I really wanna hit the gym and get more into my body. I wanna learn how to dance and give more body shows; I have all these dreams of splitting and death-dropping to bands like Sleigh Bells. I also wanna get more into making my own looks and garments. Qhrist is a heightened version of myself, and she evolves as I evolve. She’s a reflection of my own personal growth: as the hair gets bigger and the looks get better and the stages get bigger too, I feel like I’m becoming a better person too.
To quote my sister Jenn D’Role: “Drag makes me a better person.”
Qhrist with a Q co-hosts “Str8 to DVD” with Sherry Poppins at Gold Sounds monthly, usually last Mondays. She’ll host a special edition celebrating My Chemical Romance and her birthday on October 2nd. Check Thotyssey’s calendar for upcoming gigs, and follow Qhrist on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.