Fascinatingly, this super-Extra scene queen started drag and designing ferociously creative looks just a couple of years ago, more or less on a whim. She’s now enjoying her second consecutive GLAM nomination for Best Dressed in Nightlife – and this year’s nom is particularly special, as her boyfriend and fellow queen is also nominated for a separate category. Oh, and by the way, she has an actual connection to Joan Crawford’s family. Get thirstin’ for Bubbles Burstyn!
Thotyssey: Hey Bubbles! I swore I’d stop asking people about their Halloweens by now, but you worked Maneater at the Copa and I was just chatting with that party’s producer Monica Blewinsky about how crazy that all was! What did you make of that night?
Bubbles Burstyn: That night was insane. I’ve worked Monica’s Eden parties for the past year or so, and this by far was the biggest (and craziest) yet. NYC nightlife needs something like Maneater every weekend. That night Monica also filmed the announcement video for the GLAM Awards Best Dressed/Style, so it was just a great night.
Congratulations on your nomination… two years in a row! It must be nice to get these props from fellow queens and people in the biz.
It’s really surreal and an honor! I started drag two years ago just gluing random crafty junk to clothing, and have really found my aesthetic the past year or so. So it’s nice to see people are noticing the hard work I put into it. I’m nominated with a bunch of stellar look queens this year, and the competition is fierce.
So, where were you in life when you decided to pursue drag?
I was working as a Contracts Assistant and having a hard time expressing my creativity at work (there’s nothing less artistic than contracts). I met Neon Fluxx and she helped ushered me into the scene. It can be scary to start out.
I bet! By the way, where’s your hometown and how long have you been a New Yorker?
I’m originally from Colorado, where there’s a lot of snow and cows and one gay bar. I’ve been in NYC for three years and love it, but I’m a Midwestern gal at heart.
Were you familiar with designing and sewing at all prior to drag?
I actually had never done either before starting drag! I always enjoyed looking at fashion in magazines and in movies, but I’ve never been a fashionable boy or have had an eye for male fashion. But something about drag clothes just clicked for me.
Wow…. so one day after being introduced to it, you just started putting stuff together yourself?
Basically! Well, I started small, like gluing pom-poms to pants, or putting pipe cleaners on a dress – just something to set me apart. But gradually my looks have become much more structured and intricate and bigger. Now I work my looks around a specific theme. Like, for my cigarette dress for the Glam Awards last year, I collected the packs for an entire year and worked the construction of the look around that theme. I asked myself, “How can I make cigarette packs and smoking glamorous and high fashion?” I like to say I’m the most extra looking queen in NYC. My looks keep getting bigger and weirder and I can’t tone it down!
Nightlife is where a gurl should be extra-Extra!
It seems almost vital to be extra in some respect, whether that’s looks or personality or performance.
So during the day, you work in publishing. And you’re involved with a reissue of Joan’s daughter Christina Crawford’s famous memoir Mommie Dearest, as well as that book’s new follow-up Survivor. Are you in contact with Christina?
Yes! I’m actually Christina Crawford’s editor for the Mommie Dearest ebook, so we chat regularly.
How did that come about?
A few months ago, I noticed that Mommie Dearest wasn’t up in ebook format, so I reached out to her to see if she was interested… and she was! She’s a fascinating person. We have been working closely for the past few months to market these titles to a new generation of fans, since many people (at least from younger generations) only know Mommie Dearest from the movie adaptation. I’m conducting an interview with Christina that will be premiering on HuffPost soon, and the ebooks will be released on November 21, 2017. It’s really exciting.
That is exciting! And I’m one of those Basic Gays who only know her story from the Faye Dunaway movie.
The book is very different than the movie, and it’s really inspiring. Its message resonates with anyone who has faced adversity, so I’m hoping people from the LGBT community will read it.
Have you ever performed at all, lip syncing or whatever?
I quit lip syncing for a while after one tragic performance. By the end of my number, my outfit had fallen apart and I threw out my back pretty badly. Terra Hyman had to basically carry me off the stage. So needless to say, I was pretty hesitant to try again. But now I will perform if asked to.
My partner, who also does drag sometimes, is the real dancer. His drag name is Kady Velvet and he got nominated this year for Best Dancer at the Glam Awards! So we are a Glam Award nominated couple!
Werk, Drag Brangelina!
Oh no, but Brangelina are divorcing! Haha! But yeah, it’s fun sharing a similar passion for drag as a couple.
So, where might we find Bubbles next?
Bubbles doesn’t have any specific events planned at the moment, but you can almost always find me strutting about Vodka Soda Bottoms Up and Hell’s Kitchen on the weekends. Chances are I’ll be working some holiday parties in December, and I post about them on my Facebook. I’m starting working on my Glam Awards outfit, and it’s really – well – extra. 🙂
I can’t wait to see it! Okay, final question: what is your ultimate goal for the future, as a drag queen or beyond?
My ultimate goal for drag is to create a weekly party that people feel welcome to dress as crazy as they want and feel safe, respected, and free to unleash the creative person inside themselves. I feel like that would be my way to give back to the NYC nightlife community, because they have been so respectful and supportive of my art.
Also, in regards to publishing, I really want to put out LGBT books geared to the newer generations, because it’s an under-developed genre that I feel could really create a dialogue if done tactfully.
A true inspiration! Thanks, Bubbles!