Whether behind the bar, on the karaoke stage or rolling out the bingo balls, this relatively new queen is making it WERK. Meet one of Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up’s most recognizable faces (in or out of paint) and just announced GLAM-nominated bartender and queen, Matthew Poitras aka Ally Ganza!
Thotyssey: Ally, welcome back from your Florida vacation! How did it go?
Ally Ganza: It was incredible. A four-day romantic getaway – just me and my boyfriend, The Italian.
That sounds lovely! And now you’re back on the first cold day in NYC!
It never gets any easier. When it’s too hot, I want it to be cooler; when it’s too cold, I want it to be warmer. But cold weather means holidays are coming, and I love being with my family on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Where is the family, and your hometown?
My entire family, Ma’s side and Dad’s, is in Connecticut. Hometown: Portland, CT. Population: 2! No, it’s like, 9,000 or something. Still, very small.
Grindr must be fun there!
Grindr is a totally different beast in CT than in NYC. First of all, it’s super common for “DL” to be on almost every profile. But on the flip side, I think guys really do use it as a forum for dating, too.
As for the distance, when the closest guy I found attractive was within 30 miles, it was a go. Thirty miles in a car in CT would be the equivalent of traveling from my HK apartment for Washington Heights Dick.
The Call of the Trade just seem so much more romantic when you have to drive!
So anyway, I take it that you always wanted to be a performer of some sort?
Yes, I moved to NYC 12 years ago to pursue musical theatre; I did it for a few years. I️ did regional shows and national tours, and then took a hiatus and explored management and the production side of theatre.
Somewhere along the way, I became curious to see myself in full drag: pads, blocked brows, the whole nine yards. My first time painting my face took me 4 hours, about 5 total to get body on. I looked awful, but I felt absolutely beautiful. Something shifted inside of me, and in that moment I fell deep in love with it and wanted more.
Did you start off doing the weekly drag competition shows, like Star Search?
I did! The first competition I did was at Vodka Soda / Bottom’s Up. Sheila Tack was the host at the time. The audience chose the winner, and I had almost 20 friends there to support me; so thanks to them, I took home the win that week!
I did Star Search a couple times, but quickly realized that I’m not a great competition queen. Luckily, a bunch of the girls that came before me were super supportive in my beginning and gave me guesting opportunities: Miz Cracker and Judy Darling, Marti Gould Cummings, Lady SinAGaga.
And the next thing you know, you were a fixture at Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up (VSBU), as both a queen and a “boytender!”
Yup! I started boytending (haha, I like that!) November 2016, and then started hosting Saturday Nights with Marti Gould Cummings and Chaka Khanvict in January 2017.
Congrats on your 2017 GLAM nomination for Best Bartender!
Thank you! Super grateful for the nomination!
[Ed. note: shortly after this interview was published, it was announced that Ally was also GLAM-nominated for Breakthrough Artist]
It’s so much more challenging to bartend in drag than out, right?
Yes, of course! But I love doing both equally. When I’m in drag, I’m bartending in sneaker wedges, nails (always), and can only pee when business allows me at least 5 or 6 minutes away from the bar. But bartending in drag on a Saturday night brings a different vibe to VSBU. I can mingle with people and tell jokes, and dance on the bar upstairs, and then also bring you downstairs and pour a round of drinks for you and your friends.
These days, we can still find Chaka and yourself being lovely drag barmaids at VSBU on Saturday nights.
Yes! I love working with Chaka on Saturday nights; we’ve developed this sisterhood that I don’t think either of us expected in the beginning. She’ll kill me for saying this, but she’s one of the nicest and most supportive people I have surrounding me in nightlife. She serves Jell-O shots and shade all night, and you can find me behind the bar downstairs slingin’ drinks til 4am. We have a lot of fun there!
And Wednesdays, you host karaoke there too.
Wednesday is one of my favorite nights! We have something really special in those back two rooms of VSBU each week. I incorporate a drag show throughout the entire night: I open the night with show, and do a show throughout. We play games, I give away booze, I tell jokes and perform numbers, and from 9PM til really fucking late you can sign up to sing songs.
[Bar co-owner] Richie Friendly has given us a safe space to get drunk and make assholes of ourselves together, and I’m grateful for that. He trusts me to throw a fun party each week, and so that’s what I️ try to do! We have $4 drink specials every Wednesday!
Also, my best friend, and basically my right hip is now in the DJ booth with me each week: DJ Xavier Mazara, who is also nominated for a GLAM award this year!
Your Wednesday night at VSBU is the only weekly queer karaoke night in Hell’s Kitchen, I believe. I never understood why that was, given all the Broadway Babies in the hood!
And boy, do they come! Some Wednesdays, it feels as though we’ve had a casting call and picked the best talent to perform numbers. What I love about it, though – I think it’s my job as hostess is to make sure everyone has a good time. So I encourage everyone to cheer people on, especially if they’re a little shy. You’ll never find me, in a vicious way, making fun of anybody but myself. I’m a nice queen.
We can all give love to a nice queen– there are too many bitches out there! A not-so-nice thing that happened to you recently, though, was a serious dental issue that you started a GoFundMe campaign to correct. It sucks so badly that artists and performers don’t have access to reasonable healthcare in this country.
It does suck. It’s a challenge that so many people have to deal with. After putting in the time and researching the amount of dental work necessary just to get to a place of comfort, I found out the cost is life-ruining. I can’t afford to take on that much debt in my current situation. So I dug a little more and kept talking about it, and fortunately was guided to a doctor in Costa Rica that can perform the procedures I need for a much more affordable amount. I reached out for help, and the amount of support I received was humbling. I’m so grateful for the people I have in my life. I’m still working hard to reach my goal, and get the work I need done. One day at a time, I’m getting closer!
Best of luck!
OMG! I have been such a fan of Nedra’s. She has this way about her – I literally could just stare at her staring at her phone and be entertained. But when she opens her mouth, this talent is something I’m so lucky to witness, in person, feet away, often! She comes to sing Wednesdays all the time, and even hosted karaoke for me while I was in Miami this week. Watching her journey on The Voice is so freakin’ exciting! She deserves all of the success this show brings to her.
She does NYC proud! Now aside from VSBU, we can also find you at one of that bar’s sister venues.
Every Tuesday, Chaka and I host Drag Bingo at Mr. Biggs Bar & Grill on 43rd and 10th at 8PM. We switch off each week who is in drag and who is the ball boy assistant. It’s becoming another one of my favorite gigs, because I get to hang out with my girl Chaka in a room full of homos and play with some balls.
Anything else coming up for you?
Stay tuned for Ally Ganza’s first single to drop at the beginning of next year!
Exciting! Okay, last question: who’s winning RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Season 3?
Ahhhhh! That’s so tough! I think what I learned from watching All-Stars 2 is that we’re now going to get an opportunity to see each queen at a new part of their individual evolutions. But Trixie Mattel is pretty brilliant!
And so is Ally Ganza! Thanks gurl!
Ally Ganza bartends as Matthew at Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up several nights a week, and as Ally on Saturday nights. She also hosts karaoke there on Wednesdays (9pm), and rotates as a bingo drag hostess or out-of-drag ball boy with Chaka Khanvict at Mr. Biggs on Tuesdays (8pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for a full gig listing. Follow Matthew on his Facebook and Instagram, and also follow Ally on her Facebook and Instagram. Support her GoFundMe here.