This king has taken reign over the realm of Brooklyn in just one short year, appearing in several shows including a recent session of Sasha Velour’s lauded “Nightgowns” series. And now, of course, he’s ready for some show hosting of his own! Make way for Maxxx Pleasure!
Thotyssey: Maxxx, hello! Thanks for chatting! So, um… how was your Saint Patrick’s Day?
Maxxx Pleasure: I spent it eating corn beef with my grandma! Haha, very tame.
I hope yours was good!
I survived! I hate the day for many reasons, but I m kinda surprised to see how many queer people actually dread it, like with fear for their lives.
Any holiday that is all about excessive drinking makes me nervous–except for Pride, lol!
So, is NYC your native land?
I was born in Manhattan, but that’s about it! I actually live in Rockland County.
That’s not so far! What is the origin story of you as a performing artist?
I started doing community theater and dance classes in high school, and then I went to SUNY Purchase… the rest is history! I was a backup dancer for Ryder Lickquor, and then started kinging myself after that.
What was it about kinging that appealed to you at first?
I never felt like I was queer enough to be part of the LGBTQ community at school (no one’s fault but mine), and I felt like being a drag king would be a fun way to get more involved. That’s why I started. Since then, drag has become so much more important to me for so many different reasons.
Why was being “queer enough” an issue for you then?
I identify as bisexual, and I was always self-conscious of the idea that there were people out there who thought I was really straight and just fooling around, or whatever.
My expression of my sexuality and my gender (I didn’t know gender is a scam back then) was something that I didn’t feel, like, comfortable enough with yet. Like, I didn’t have words for all of these things that I was feeling / thinking about.
If that makes any sense, lol!
How did Maxxx change as a king over time, as far as his look, style, way of performing, etc?
My first drag character (who I only performed as once) was this pseudo-vampire: sexy, but, like, violent character–I’ve learned a lot since then! Since then, Maxxx has become a character that reflects the way that I’d like to perform masculinity in my daily life–confident, strong, flamboyant, fashionable, tough… but still like sensitive and lovable. And sexy, obviously!
Creating my performances has taken on more of a personal process than it did in the beginning–like, now it’s more about like pulling from within, than putting on this man character.
Is it a myth that a king can’t be as “showy” as a queen, aesthetically speaking?
Yeah it is! That idea is actually grounded in… hopefully I can find the right words… but that idea is grounded in gender theory. Society has made femininity this inherently performative thing, meanwhile masculinity isn’t seen like that at all. Society has it set up so that femininity is this thing that is fueled by the gaze of others, meanwhile masculinity is defined by “the man himself”… it’s something that comes from within, and that is stated, and that’s about it. At least, that’s my interpretation of it.
So like, finding your king persona, and performing as a king is an interesting challenge–because you have to find a masculine persona that can be translated into a performance.
In Brooklyn in particular, there are many kings who play with that gender expectation like you said, and incorporate burlesque as well. Isn’t it interesting that kings fit so well into the burlesque world?
Yes I love the overlap that’s happening between the drag and burlesque community!
When did you start becoming an active performer in Brooklyn?
I became really active in January 2017! Miss Malice invited me to do Switch n’ Play’s show Moxie and then after that I started performing in Brooklyn pretty often. I don’t want to say “regularly” because I don’t live in BK, but… my heart and soul is in Brooklyn!
I’ve been surprised to learn over the years how many Essentially Brooklyn performers don’t actually live in Brooklyn! Doesn’t it suck that no one who does shows there can actually afford to live there!?
OMG, tell me about it! It’s so awful!
I was always curious how people get on board with these new, larger scale Nightgowns… are you invited by Sasha’s people, or do you present an idea to them first?
Yeah, I actually got an email out of the blue from Johnny Velour! Just like a “hey, we want you to perform.” I didn’t have to, like, present an idea or anything. I don’t know if I’m, like, spilling behind the scenes secrets or something!
Lypsinka gave us a similar account! That’s a very different type of performance than what you would expect in a small bar… did you take something you already did and make it bigger, or create something completely from scratch?
I luckily had just created a new performance that I felt was perfect for Nightgowns–if I had to make something from scratch, I would’ve cracked from the pressure! I upgraded the props and the costume pieces with the help of Lee Valone and Sam from Ten Yards Clothing, fixed up the audio mix and called it a day!
Nowadays, what are your favorite songs or types of music to perform to?
I want to do more Duran Duran (that’s what I did at Nightgowns), always more Rolling Stones, and I’ve been listening to a lot of Bowie lately for a really cool gig that I have coming up! But it hasn’t been formally announced yet… I also have my sights set on Lou Reed, but I’m saving that number for something special!
Ah yes, I’m so excited! It’s gonna be a fun show! We have a really great lineup of performers who I think are gonna hit the nail on the head with the “guilty pleasure” theme.
What is your guilty pleasure? Or is that a spoiler?
Haha, no… so when I was coming up with my acts, I realized that I have a very weird thing about musicals. I love musicals, but I never let myself, like, love them openly!
That should be a fun performance!
Yes! This month’s show is the one year anniversary of my first BEEF!
Amazing! Anything else coming up that you CAN talk about?
Okay, last question: what is the world’s greatest trivia fact about Maxxx Pleasure?
That I’m an identical triplet! If it ever looks like I get out of face real quick after a show, you’re probably looking at one of my siblings.
That’s quite racket you’ve got going there! Thanks, Maxxx!