A fixture of NYC nightlife in many incarnations for years, Jeff Poulin is best known to those of us who have been around for a bit as a bearded drag queen performing under his actual name. But like the sci-fi creatures that inspired this latest aesthetic, the character “Spacebabe” has recently been born, and nothing has been quite the same since! Spacebabe explains her genesis to Thotyssey, and where this crazy UFO ride will be taking us!
Thotyssey: Greetings from Earth, Spacebabe! How are you enjoying 2018 thus far?
Spacebabe: So far, so good! January always seems like a breather after the holidays. I’ve actually had a minute to focus and re-approach some work that had been set aside; being trapped indoors helps.
Yes id does! All the best nightlife starts at home! How long have you been part of this world now, so to speak?
I actually joke around with my friends a lot about this. I enjoy being an older queen, so to speak. I mean age is just a number, henny… but my knees can’t quite handle the shoes the way they used to, you know? I started in nightlife back in 2008 as a gogo, moved on to promoting and hosting in looks, later busted out the full drag, to eventually presenting Spacebabe for the first time at Bushwig in 2016. Bushwig 2015 was actually the first time I really took the stage at all, so I love that festival – it’s earmarked a lot of great milestones for me.
I recall from a few )many) years ago, when you were guest performing at the old Boots & Saddle for Misty Meaner’s show. It could’ve been a million years ago, actually… do you even remember?
Ha! I def did a couple shows with her and Mocha Lite, and Elizabeth James. Those girls taught me everything, and gave me my first encouragement to get out there and live it. I lived several years with a full-bearded look, but no, you got me. I can’t even remember what year that was … (old lady voice)
Where was your hometown by the way, and what ultimately drew you to NYC nightlife to begin with?
I grew up all over New England, lived a bit in LA, but ended up moving to NYC in the fall of 2003. I got a new job, new place, and kind of just started over.
Nightlife for me came into focus thanks to friends who were in the biz. The catalyst was really that I’d gotten out of a relationship, went to the old Boysroom and was like, who do I talk to about taking my clothes off? I wanted to have more fun than I think I’d been having, and obviously dancing on a bar seemed like the best place to start, lol!
What made you change your role in nightlife so often over the years? Did things just run their course, or were you generally inspired to try new stuff?
A little of both, but it was a natural evolution for sure. It always takes me a little while to figure out or realize what I’m thinking, but ultimately Spacebabe couldn’t have shown up without all the little steps before. Before her, inspiration came when it came, and I shifted looks without a solid idea or theme. I was going by “Jeff Poulin” for so long, coming up with a drag name seemed … well, weird. With the Spacebabe character, she was so intentional and specific. So now, I’m constantly trying to absorb aesthetics to interpret a cohesive vision. I’m much more cultivating my inspiration now, looking for new things to try.
Where exactly did the concept of Spacebabe come from, and how would you describe her now?
Oh God, she was born out of all of my favorite things! Comic books, 80’s sluts, retro science fiction, B-movies, laser light shows, aerobic spandex looks, puffy stickers… I think to describe her would be like if you put Miss Piggy, Lady Gaga, Jenna Maroney, Tori Amos and the year 1987 into a blender and then promoted THAT with a mall concert tour, a record and comic book cross-promotion like Dazzler The Movie, you’d get a sense? Hahaha, yikes. Also, I would tell everyone she was very horny and hungry. I mean that’s just what I tell my self to think for photos. Horny and hungry.
Hi, I’m there! That sounds amazing!
So, what are some significant things that changed about the way nightlife works since you first got into the biz?
Oooh, phones probably… social media. Going from email lists to Facebook events. I mean I literally had people writing down their fucking emails so I could let them know about parties. Then it was group texts, which was kind of a nightmare – you had to sort push your thing into people’s lives directly. Promoting now seems a bit more passive to a degree, you can create something and tag it and people can find it based on things they are already interested in. There is a wider community to fall into, with so many choices every night of the week.
It’s nuts to see how many people are steadfast, though. I love seeing the faces I’ve seen for years, even as venues, locations, names change. It’s still the same party, just who are you going to see tonight?
Tell me about the monthly Spacebabe kiki, “Steal This Planet,” that will next descend back into Phoenix Bar on Saturday! What’s the history of this party, and what’s it like today?
This party is a fucking Jam! A work in progress, Adam Toepfer and I started the thing last June, and each month we put together a little show and dance party. Phoenix is great obviously, and lets us kind of do our thing. I think they said ‘No fire’, but really it went from me bringing my own fog machine and lasers the first night to the bar keeping all that equipment ready to go on a regular basis.
I kind of treat the party like an alien revue, with promotional materials and video art for the performances unique to each month. In my head, it’s a fucking rock opera, but it’s usually one or two “acts” that kind of just start with little to no warning. Obviously the people who are there for the show know what’s going on, but when you’re having a cocktail and all of sudden the lights shift, and a transmission from Spacebabe appears on the screens, then the stage pops off with my delusional alien alter ego. I’m hoping it’s something that an unsuspecting bar goer will remember as a little bit different!
This weekend we’re working with a Spacebabe’d version of the Andromeda myth, and I had Phillip Orozco make a poster for us. I’ve got a set of chains and the tagline “AN DRAMA DUH” to work with so I’m stoked.
I’m so there! By the way, do aliens really exist?
Hell yes! What’s-her-face from Outer Space can teach you all about Ancient Astronaut Theory. All the kids are doing it!
That sounds daunting! I’ll get back to you on that!
Haha, alright let me know!
In the meantime, is there anything else you wanna discuss?
Let me just say thanks for the opportunity to do this with you! I think you’re doing something thoughtful and inclusive for the community with Thotyssey, so again – Thank you!
That’s so kind, and the pleasure is all mine! Okay, last question for now: Oprah for President?
I fucking hope so!
Catch Spacebabe hosting the “Steal This Planet” party / show / experience every second Saturday night at Phoenix Bar. Check Thotyssey’s calendar for other upcoming appearances, and follow Spacebabe on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.