With an unusually memorable drag name and an impressive theater pedigree, this very young queen has already made quite an impression on NYC nightlife during these early weeks of the current season of the Ultimate Drag Pageant. It’s an open road to success for Carlos the Uber Driver!
Thotyssey: Hello there… gurl! Okay, let’s get this out of the way: are you CARLOS or CARLA the Uber Driver? I’ve seen you billed as both!
Carlos the Uber Driver: It’s Carlos! I think Carla was a spelling error, haha!
What’s the origin of this drag name?
One evening, I was sitting at Shequida’s show with several white girls right in the front row, and as soon as she noticed them she started picking on them (as drag queens are apt to do). Finally, she turned to me and said “who brought them here? Was it you? Are you the Uber Driver? We’re gonna call you Carlos!” And I just said, “Yes. That’s me.”
OMG Shequida is responsible! How long have you been doing drag now?
I’ve been doing drag as a hobby since college, but professionally for about a year now.
Where’s your hometown?
I’m from Princeton New Jersey!
Nice! What’s been your history as far as being a creative person and performer?
I’m an actor! I grew up studying at McCarter Theatre at Princeton University, and I went to Wagner College for Theatre performance (holla). So yes, I’m pretty much a musical theatre kid.
What’s your favorite musical?
OMG, where to begin? Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, and Angela Lansbury are my favorites. Soooo, probably: 1. A Little Night Music 2. Victor Victoria 3. Sweeney Todd, and lots more.
Oh God, the Grammys! Patti LuPone singing! Did she completely slay the entire universe?
My pussy just about fell off when I saw my Mom onstage, ready to pull out some old numbers! She didn’t even tell me she got booked! She’s a card like that sometimes.
I always assumed that, besides the skill sets involved and having an audience, what draws musical theatre boys to drag is that the parts and songs for women in shows are always so much better.
Oh my goodness absolutely. Women in musical theatre are expressive and vulnerable, and very often have these immense dramatic arcs. They change so drastically over the course of a two hour musical that you can’t help but love them! Like, who wouldn’t want to put on a ball gown and lip sync to “Send In the Clowns” when they’re depressed?
Also, in a realer sense, it lets men who love musical theatre – and who also love other men – use male pronouns when expressing love and lust. So, it’s cathartic and meaningful to play female characters as a gay man.
That’s a wonderful point! What was your first experience in drag like?
Oh my goodness! I think my first time in drag was in college. I was doing Cabaret, and the director asked if I’d like to join the women’s ensemble and perform the role of Bobby as a drag character. Something in me was excited and scared at the same time, and I wanted to challenge myself. So I did it!
After that, I became obsessed with drag and RuPaul’s Drag Race. And I started watching YouTube tutorials about makeup, how to sew, and style wigs. And the rest is history!
Morgan is such a wild card because she’s always fantastic, and who knows what nonsense Ru is going to pull after that mysterious SheMail message?
And honestly, I thought Aja really showed the judges and the other girls that she’s a threat this season, and that she’s not here to make friends! That said, Ben’s performance was hysterical, and she’s so original with what she presents. I think it was important and right for her to win this week, because I think a lot of the girls underestimate what she’s capable of.
Haha, the night I was supposed to perform with Kristy (who is amazing, and one of the most dynamic performers I’ve met) was the night that huge snowstorm blew through the tri-state area, and the show got cancelled! I’ll be heading over to Feathers later on in February for a makeup show… but I was so bummed I didn’t get to perform there!
Carlos has already turned it all over the place!
I’ve performed in Boston, Albany and Providence. I used to gogo dance a lot at Ego in Providence – and at The Cock and The Ritz (for Gay College Tuesdays) – and I met a lot of people who work nightlife that way, And I’m always looking to perform outside and inside the city!
Actually, it’s funny: I was doing a lot of competitions in the city, and got the attention of some old pros in the city. [UDP host] Marti Gould Cummings asked my boyfriend Tiffany Anne Coke, because they knew each other through our drag mom Nomi Sas… and then she reached out to me! I won Polish the Queen and kept placing in second or runner up at Drag Wars, so the next natural step seemed to be to do a Pageant!
I didn’t know Nomi was your mom!
Nomi and I met doing a regional production of La Cage Aux Folles, She and I were the only two experienced queens in a room full of chorus boys doing drag for the first time, so we did our part to help them learn the ropes! I guess she saw some potential in us (Tiffany is her daughter too). We helped her with So You Think You Can Drag: All-Stars together at New World Stages with Paige Turner, and she helped us figure out things like padding and finding gigs around the city!
Quid pro queer!
Is it strange to compete in The Ultimate Drag Pageant against your boyfriend every week?
It’s interesting, haha! We both have very competitive personalities, but we try not to let that get in the way of our relationship. We tell each other what we’re doing most of the time and we help each other (I do his wigs and help him make his mixes). And even last week we competed together and did a Chicago medley as Roxie and Velma!
In general, how are you enjoying the experience of the Pageant so far? I know it’s not far along, but what have been some highlights for you?
I’m really enjoying it! Any opportunity to flex my creative muscles is highly welcomed, and this is basically a triathlon of creativity! So far, I’ve really liked meeting all the girls and getting to show the judges the campy, glamorous nonsense that I love to do in drag!
Oh my god yes! It’ll be only my second time at Boots, but I’m thrilled to be doing a loose format show in the city. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m good on a microphone, and I’m thrilled to get some time in to show off my skills as a comedienne and to try out some new mixes for an audience!
Any more stops planned for Carlos the Uber Driver?
I’m heading back to Waterworks Pub in Albany on February 23rd, and I’ll be at Club Feathers (TBA) in February as well as a couple others that I can’t share yet. But look out! Because Priscilla, Queen of the Henry Hudson Parkway is on the move to a gig near you! And as always, anyone can DM me for bookings, AND wig styling! Everything I wear on my head on Instagram is something I styled!
Okay, last question: what is something the world must know about Carlos the Uber Driver?
I am obsessed with mustard. Just kidding. I’m an active rollerblader! I’ve been skating since I was 5, and I love incorporating it into my drag! So look out for some roller numbers on the horizon!
Werk, Funny Girl! Thank you Carlos!
Carlos the Uber Driver is competing in the current cycle of The Ultimate Drag Pageant at the West End (Thursdays at 11pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for all scheduled local events, and follow Carlos on Facebook and Instagram.