Growing up in a remote part of the country bound her to one of the saddest chapters in modern gay America, but this gifted performer made her way to NYC and rose to stardom. With a fabulous voice and saucy stage presence, she certainly knows how to please a crowd. All hail Diana Carfire!
Thotyssey: Hey Diana, how are you today?
Diana Carfire: I am doing marvelously, darling! Thank you for asking! How are you?
Not bad! Getting ready for Gay Christmas, i.e. Halloween! Do you have looks prepared yet?
Oh my goodness, yes! I have a few tricks ‘n treats in the mix for sure! Halloween is my real birthday, after all.
Your drag birthday? How old?
My actual birthday, and a queen never reveals true numbers! Let’s just say I’m north of 29!
Oh wow! Well happy birthday for realz, then!
Where’s your hometown, and what were you into growing up as far as creative interests (or otherwise)?
Well I am a native of Casper, Wyoming. The cowboy state! I grew up in Wyoming and Colorado, and spent most of my time doing everything outdoors I possibly could I literally was that kid who showed up on the front doorstep covered head to toe in mud, holding a lizard and asking if I could keep him!
I began singing at the age of six or seven. I loved mimicking the Disney princesses, and could pull off a pretty convincing Ariel. My dad wanted me to sing more at that age, but I was painfully shy and even turned down an opportunity at age 9 to go onstage with Bob Hope! I was such a little shit! I didn’t pick up singing as a passion and as a craft until I began high school… before then it was all gymnastics for me.
I also had a vivid imagination, and was absolutely addicted to Calvin and Hobbes comics until adulthood. They still make me snort laugh, because I literally was that kid. My poor parents…
OMG I lived for Calvin & Hobbes!
What brought you to NYC?
Vegas… literally! I was living there and had finished school, and had also just finished with my ex-fiancée and his crazy cheatin’ ass/ I picked up, and moved on up to the East Side of the US to peruse my gypsy artist musical theatre life. Eight years ago now!
Were able to do a lot of stage work here?
I’ve done stage work all over the place. I was both blessed and cursed to receive my equity card right before I finished school from doing a Production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Sacramento Music Circus. I’ve been in 40 productions since age 18. I’ve performed in Vegas, New York, and in California, as well as in Wyoming where I got my undergrad.
And when did you discover drag and become Diana?
Now, that’s where the juice is, innit? This is quite poignantly timed.
For starters, Diana wasn’t born named Diana. Her name was Angelica Frost and she was of the Haus of Frost in the tiny city of Casper, Wyoming. In a quick nutshell, a party friend and theatre buddy (Matt Shepard) died (October 12th), and after everything settled, I decided to come out and I did so to a wonderful group of friends, and found out through it that two of them were also gay.
One of them made a bet with me that next January during a trip to Denver to see the First Angel Tour of Rent, and I lost the bet miserably. The wager was that I had to go to the next gay dance (the only way for gay people to hang out in public in Casper other than in houses or in small clumps in the straight bars back then) in drag, and the guy I lost the bet to got to dress me up! I stole a $2500 hand-sequined gown from my mother’s closet and performed an iconic Whitney song, and won my first surprise crown ever… Miss Wyoming: Winter Snow Queen 1999.
I strutted away with it and awoke the next afternoon to my head throbbing and my mother on the other end of the phone. She had lots of gay friends, it turned out, that had seen a rather young-looking version of her at a gay dance last night, and won a crown. She was gracious and loving, and gave me her cautionary speech, and then asked one more thing: “How’d you fit in my dress?” Thanks, Ma.
Angelica went in a box that same year… and after her long sleep and transformation, she re-awoke in NYC three years ago as the barely famous Diana Carfire.
That’s an incredible story! So I must ask, assuming that that your friend Matt Shepard of Wyoming is the same boy who’s devastating death basically informed a whole queer generation and movement… I mean, how on Earth did that affect you and your community there, if you don’t mind me asking?
It affected everything tremendously. The community was instantly shook. There was no denying the absolute brutality of what had happened, and there was no longer a debate as to what the consequences of allowing hate could shower down upon a community like ours. Before Matt died, men remained closeted in much greater numbers, sometimes married to women, into their later years.
It’s one thing to learn about an historical event in a classroom or on Google, or to have watched it in TV. But to have actually been there. To have been in that room…
When we all found out, standing outside his funeral waiting to get inside the church to sing… helping orchestrate giant wings to block the views of a hate group protesting his funeral across the street… to the peace and silence that the hard-falling snow had brought to the funeral as people poured out from that church into a silent and empty park… the world around us blanketed in silent pure white… to have lived that, and to have witnessed that, and the change it has brought, is something so very special and bittersweet to me.
The city of Casper and the State of Wyoming feel like incredibly different places to me now. I have gone from being a terrified high schooler who was afraid of bullying at any corner (even though I was a little badass gymnastic god back then, hahaha) to a man who comes back home for visits and is greeted with accolades from strangers and from people I had long forgotten.
My dear friends, a lovely lesbian married couple, have since left and come back to Casper to give their knowledge and world views back to the community that now is eager to be progressive, and is currently diving head first into embracing arts and culture as a business hub for its many incredible residents. They opened a distillery called Backwards Distillery to rave reviews, amazing support and National Award Winning Liquors and Cocktails.
My best friend had moved away, garnered awards for his dance company, danced around the world professionally, and is now back as a professor of dance at the college in the city.
The pride flag can be seen in several windows showing they welcome all people in to their homes and establishments, which I never once saw growing up. Being Gay was a taboo before everything with Matt. And now, it’s being embraced by most there and it is, indeed, becoming a beautiful place to live. I’m very proud of my community.
It is good to remind ourselves, even during times like these, how far we’ve come. So, what was your debut in NY like?
It was a whirlwind! A friend was promoting a drag contest called Miss Party Money NYC at Stonewall – hosted by Paige Turner and judged by Anita Buffem and Gina Marie Ritale – and she asked me to compete! I had put drag in the closet since Wyoming and was a little scared, but it turned out to be such an incredible night. And it introduced me to Paige, Anita and Gina who have all been huge muses of mine in the years since.
Then you participated in the most recent season of the “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen” drag cabaret competition. How did you like doing that?
I enjoyed every moment of it. It has been nothing but the biggest blessing of my drag life. The people I met that I got to compete with were, and are, some of my closest drag family. The challenges gave me new insights into drag and the hard work and dedication it takes as an art form, and it taught me to have unmeasured amounts of confidence in myself and in my voice.
And surprisingly, and most importantly, it has given me a fully realized character to add to my arsenal of characters. Diana is a fully realized creation, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Describe Diana as a character!
If Elizabeth Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Pink and Meryl Streep all had an orgy and spliced genes into one fabulous Person… you would have moi! She is the essence of all of these ladies with a hint of black magic, and death added for good measure.
I love it! And how was returning back for the one-shot “NYNTDQ All-Stars” last week, at Stonewall?
It was… very soon! Haha! I was in last season! But it was also invigorating, and really an amazing time to be up there on the Stonewall stage, singing to the masses. I had a wonderful time and I lived!
And these days, we can find you hosting After Brunch Bingo at the Albatross in Astoria! How are you liking your Albatross people?
It’s such a blast! I make sure that every week is a good time! I take bingo and turn it into my own show that happens to have bingo as an accessory. My cash prizes are usually pretty sexy, and my bartender, Sean, is the sweetest and cutest guy ever. My regulars are fantastic, my boyfriend comes in all the time and there is always a great flow of new faces… oh, and I sing live, and do mixes and syncs there as well. It’s not a true Carfire show unless I have screalted at least one tune! You should stop by some time! I’d love to have you.
Yay! I’d love to come!
Okay, anything else you wanna mention?
My Halloween show on the 29th will be FABULOUS! And stay tuned for Christmas shows, and for my cabaret produced by Joseph Macchia this winter as well!
Werrrrrk. Okay, last question! There will be a Mamma Mia 2, and Cher will be in it. It’s filming now! Yay or nay?
I see a giant burning train wreck in the future with Cher at the helm, and I’ll love every minute of it. Oh wait, that was Burlesque. Sooo, Cher: yes yes yes… all the yes… but Mamma Mia 2: McScuse me, bitch?
My sentiments exactly! Thank you, Diana!