This fierce and versatile Boston drag performer is no stranger to NYC. She tears it up here once or twice a month, and has become a regular cast member of Sasha Velour’s touring art / drag / multimedia stageshow NIGHTGOWNS, slaying the house down each time. It’s Neon Calypso!
Thotyssey: Neon hello! How are you today? Are you in Boston now?
Neon Calypso: I’m doing fabulous today. I’m in Boston preparing my mixes for upcoming gigs!
Werq! How does inspiration for mixes begin with you? Like, do you start with a concept and try to find bits and songs that match it?
First, I try to do some research on the venue / night. I look up visuals of past performances to get a feel of what works well with the audience. And then I go through my music library and curate a playlist of songs that could be performed. And then I’ll choose what sticks out to me the most.
That’s a lot of work and research! All for, like, a 4 or 6 minute number!
It is and it isn’t! For places that I’ve been to frequently, I just pull from those already set playlists. For new venues / nights, I like to give a strong first impression. And those are always the toughest, because I think that I have many strong performances–so it can be a little difficult choosing the “right number.”
You’re based in Boston, but you tend to gig all over New England and once or twice a month in NYC as well.
I’m grateful to be getting gigs all over New England, as well as my community in Boston. Drag is my full-time job–I work an average 4-6 regular gigs a week, so I’m constantly changing my schedule.
Are you so spread out because gigs for queens in Boston are scarce?
There’s so much talent in Boston, and but not enough opportunity due to the fact there isn’t an enormous club scene. There’s, like, less then 10 queer establishments–with a small portion of those having drag every night of the week.
Is there a level playing field for both queens of color and Caucasian queens in Boston, or in New England in general?
There’s is a level playing field. However there is only one night–that I host–that’s geared towards a POC community. I’m hoping to create a space for us and by us.
You’ve moved around a lot in your life, but you’re a Rochester native. How long did you live there?
I don’t have any memories of living there!
Ah, so you were young when you left. So it’s just a coincidence that your drag mom Sapphira Cristal is a native Rochesterian. Interesting!
I know, lol!
Where you already am active queen when you met her?
I was just starting at the time, and she was visiting Boston from Philly.
What drew you to drag originally?
I’ve always wanted to be a performer. I used to tell people I was the next Beyoncé for the longest time, lol. The first drag queen I saw perform was Mizery McRae. It was Everything! It was at my first drag show [I attended] back in college. That was 2012, I was a mess.
I remember turning 21 and going out to an old nightclub in Boston called GlamLife–and that’s where I first saw Sapphira. That’s when I knew I wanted to do drag. That was back in 2014; I started the summer of 2015.
When did you first perform in NYC?
I first started the weekend of DragCon NYC. My love sister Merrie Cherry asked me to do her show “Local Queen” that weekend. Merrie invited me to perform at Bushwig 2017, and that’s where everyone recognized me.
Your Bushwig number was the ticket! What do you prefer: a big stage where you can be a rockstar, or an intimate stage where you can have the Feels?
I like to think that I’m a rockstar on any stage I’m on. I’m an entertainer, it’s what I love doing. When I select my music, its always connected to how I’m feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, so I’m always in my feels. I’m also a Pisces, lol!
Let’s talk about Nightgowns! That’s a large-scale showcase for drag performers to utilize multimedia for performances that can tug at the heartstrings, produced by and starring Sasha Velour. You’ve performed quite a few Nightgowns at this point!
Yasssssssssss! I was invited to my first Nightgowns due to Drag Coven showing Sasha recaps from Bushwig–she asked for that number. They asked me if I could come back, and if I had more performances.
The performance I did in November was a number I reworked. New Years Eve was when I wanted to “up” my performance, and incorporated an amazing visual by Aaron Ethan Green and an LED harness by a local designer, Charity. That was a fun performance.
The thing I love about Nightgowns is that the show is always so diverse in how it presents drag and performances. I’m always inspired to do something new after every show!
You’re returning to Nightgowns at National Sawdust on Thursday the 19th, with many of the recurring cast members. Also, the legendary Amanda Lepore! I’m so curious to see what she would bring to that stage. Have you ever met her before?
I have not met her yet!
I’m super excited to be performing! I’ve adored that stage for awhile, and I’m so thrilled to finally be performing on it! I think the number I have planned for Be Cute is gonna be fun!
What else is coming up for you?
Many things planned for the summer, but you’ll have to stay tuned for those updates!
Last question: what advice would you give a young queen who wants to break through and get gigs?
Network! You have to go out and support your communities and know who’s who. Be confident and not cocky–everyone starts somewhere. Lastly, have fun!