This graceful vintage queen has only been turning it for about 8 months now, but she’s already preparing to host her own Stonewall Invasion this weekend! Thotyssey catches up with the rising star of Didi Cumswell.
Thotyssey: Didi, thanks for chatting! So let’s get right into this… did you see last nights Drag Race?
Didi Cumswell: YES! I actually watched it from the comfort of my drag mother [Golden Delicious]’s couch last night, as she’s always a fun lady to discuss the show with.
Were you cheering when Kennedy sent Milk home?
I feel like the trend so far seems to be that once someone shows a hint of their bad side, it just all unravels. So I feel bad saying it, but it kind of looked like she had it coming… especially given her portrayal in these past two episodes.
That has been a weirdly transparent trend this season. I feel like there’s gonna be some gimmick or twist that justifies all this at the end.
Oh, I certainly hope so! I love me a quality plot twist, some unforeseen shakeup, or a devious master plan.
Whatever keeps us on our toes!
Okay, so let’s get back to you. Where’s your hometown?
I hail from Marion, NY, which is a small town outside of Rochester. It’s all farms and hills, and our parades are mostly just tractors!
Were you born to be on the stage?
My mom actually put me in ballet class when I was 6 as a way to explore my interests, and after doing the Nutcracker (I was a reindeer) I got bitten by the theatre bug! I did theatre all through middle and high school, and went to AMDA right here in NYC to study musical theatre.
AMDA is of course otherwise known as Drag Academy! Did you meet many other future queens there?
I’m pretty sure I remember seeing Ritzy Bitz in the hallways, but we weren’t in the same semester so our paths never really crossed. I didn’t even begin spectating drag until after college, when I was touring. My first drag show I ever saw live was actually in Toronto, where I saw Brooke Lynn Hytes performing.
When exactly was the debut of Didi?
Didi made her stage debut on June 15th of this past year! It was spectacular! And right after that, I hopped into a competition and Didi was really born!
It was honestly the best thing that could have happened to me and my drag at that point. It helped me get a handful of mixes in my repertoire, I got a closet full of looks (some vintage, some made by yours truly), and I got an insight into just how much effort goes into this! It was very eye-opening.
As for how it evolved my drag, the pageant showed me that I can do certain things that are specific to my drag while still reaching an audience that exists in a world a couple decades later than where my material comes from. It’s a fun little dance of being true to my style, while still bringing the guests along for a fun, relevant ride.
Did you meet Golden at the UDP, by the way?
I actually met her doing community theatre shows growing up!! We did Into the Woods together when we were younger! We fell out of touch after that, but then we reconnected through drag here in the city! It’s a surprisingly small world!
Regarding your drag, which hearkens back to music and aesthetics of earlier eras… what specifically are you paying homage to / are you inspired by?
Well I’m certainly inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, and just your classic studio girls. The posture, the demeanor, the elegance. It’s all just so stunning in my eyes. The melodrama is also very enjoyable as well!
It’s a shame that we kind of lost a lot of that today in Hollywood and pop culture, isn’t it? The glamorous drama, and the mystery.
It really is a shame! Now everything is right at your fingertips. Waiting for you. The mystery of things is dampened with all this information at our disposal!
You did a lovely, classic dance number with your boyfriend Eddie at the Enough is Enough benefit for Gays Against Guns at Boots & Saddle a few months ago. That was a number that you created for the pageant, right?
Yes, that was the number I used for Broadway week at UDP. Eddie actually choreographed that number, and it did turn out to be quite the little diddy, if I do say so!
Loved it! And you did another show at Boots around the same time, a 7 Deadly Sins-themed Halloween revue.
I did! That was with a handful of my UDP sisters and some friends. It was a blast!
It’s such a damn shame what is happening now with Boots.
It truly is a downright shame. It deeply hurts my heart to see this. But at the same time, all the love that is being poured out towards the Boots & Saddle team is heartwarming. The love that this community is capable of is amazing.
We can only hope for the best! In the meantime, you have some exciting news: your own Stonewall Invasion is this Sunday, February 11th! That’s from winning the “So You Want An Invasion” completion (you tied with Misty Mountains) there at Stonewall recently, Are you psyched?
I’m SUPER psyched! Since winning the lip synch challenge and getting this show, I have become so invested in creating an evening of pure entertainment and frivolity, so that hopefully everyone who comes to my show has a blast and a half!!
Should be a great night! Okay, anything else to report?
I will be guesting at Vanna Deux’s viewing party of RuPaul’s AS3 on February 22nd at the West End! So people can catch me there if they love my Invasion and wanna see more!
Great! And in closing: what is one thing the world may not yet know about Didi, but should?
The world may not know that while Didi is poised and demure, girl knows how to throw a party (and what appetizers to serve)!
Delicious! Thanks, Didi!