A veteran queen and a favorite entertainer in Fire Island, this Broadway enthusiast got her some Manhattan fans this year when her Showtunes Sundays became a popular Chelsea destination. But now that summer’s here, the show must go on! Bubbles D’Boob floats us through what to look forward to from DJ Michael Formika Jones and herself at the Pines Pavilion this season.
Thotyssey: Hi Bubbles! Are you in Fire Island right now?
Bubbles D’Boob: I am! And it’s a lovely day right now. I got out here May 4th, and this feels like the first real weekend.
It must be gorgeous there now! Do you live there the whole summer, or do you go back and forth to and from the city?
I actually spend the entire summer out here, from May to September. It’s easy to sublet my apartment in the city, so why not spend it in paradise?
You spent most of this year hosting a version of your signature weekly show, Showtune Sundays with DJ Formika at Rebar–as well as a Thursday night RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party there with DJ Matty Glitterati. How did those gigs come to pass, and how did you enjoy working there?
I love working at Rebar! Formika and I have talked about doing our show in the city for a few years now, and it just happened to work out that Rebar was looking for new talent. We have both known [owner] Franco for a long time, so that was the foot in the door. Once they saw what I could do, they were all for letting me host All-Stars and Season 10 of Drag Race–so I brought in my good gal pal Matty Glitterati to help out.
Have you been able to watch Drag Race since you got to the Island?
Do you think you’ll be back at Rebar in the fall?
I would love to go back after this summer and continue to do new shows there!
Where’s your hometown, and what was your introduction to the performing arts?
I grew up in Silverthorne, Colorado, and as most young gay men I started in the theater as soon as I hit puberty. I stuck with it all the way through college, and got a performing arts degree from Colorado state university.
After I moved to New York and realized that being a theater professional wasn’t the life for me, I dabbled in drag just for fun. After my first summer working on Fire Island in 2005, I became friends with a new queen named Aurora. She had a show at Barracuda, and I ended up being her backup dancer as “Boobies the Queen” for a few months before she quit and I took over. I was too inexperienced to keep the gig on though, so that ended. It wasn’t until I had a share on Fire Island again that the opportunity struck to resurrect my drag persona as Bubbles D’Boob with Formika for showtunes.
How exactly did you and the legendary DJ Michael Formika Jones meet? Just from you being a regular at his gigs?
Yeah! I first met him when I moved to the city. He was still doing Opaline in the East Village, and I went every week. I loved that crazy New York moment!
So how did Bubbles evolve as a queen over time?
I feel like a queen starts with a set of raw materials, and as she does her shows or makeup over and over and over it is distilled and perfected. My first full summer doing Bubbles on the Island, I found out what works on my face by getting in drag 4 to 5 times a week. Then through having the freedom to try new things, like improv and mic work and hosting and performing, I learned where I excel. Through this, I learned that I’m really good at working an audience and giving people permission to have a great time.
That’s the most important skill to have in this biz! By the way, I see that you competed in the Miss Eastern Bloc pageant a few years ago, before Darren Dryden’s Eastern Bloc in the East Village became Club Cumming!
Lol! Miss Eastern Bloc was hilarious! I love Darren (the best smelling man alive), and was so happy to show up to that impromptu “pageant.” I love an excuse to be crass and slutty and loud.
What have been some huge changes in drag as a whole since you started? I guess there are probably 10 times as many queens, for one thing.
I have seen so many cycles of queens in NYC. When I first was going out, it was all about Shasta Cola and Candis Cayne at Barracuda. Then it was a lull, and we had Bianca Del Rio and Shequida and the like take over.
Now that we have Drag Race exciting the general public–and making it known that drag can be an actual profession–we see so many new queens popping up. Some of them just want to be famous, but a fair amount have some talent that just makes my jaw drop. Like with any creative endeavor, it can be difficult to compare yourself to other people and want their level of success. You just have to keep the fact in your mind that you are unique in your own special way.
I describe Showtunes as a fully interactive experience. My hope is that every member of the audience will feel like a prepubescent youth dancing in their living room unabashedly to some musical theater song. Bubbles will break down your inhibitions and let you “be the show!”
Do you sing live during the show at all?
I don’t sing live in drag. Well, I will sing my heart out in the crowd for some songs at Showtunes, but it is not a performance… it’s just gay boy crooning.
What’s your favorite musical?
Now that is a hard question! Probably Into the Woods. I had the VHS of Joanna Gleason doing it, and I watched it so many times. But there are so many shows new and old that are amazing. Then when you include all the movie clips and TV spots that we play, I end up running around saying “I love this song!” a ton.
What are you thoughts about this year’s Tony noms? Anything surprising or interesting?
I feel Broadway isn’t the place to take a risk these days. It’s cost so much to launch and maintain any sort of production, and the Tonys are about bringing attention to those projects.
What will win Best Musical?
It could be either Spongebob or Mean Girls–which is funny, because they are adaptations of other intellectual properties. We see the same thing in movies and TV: rarely anything original these days. “Oh, another reboot!”
What a shame it’s come to that!
Thursday is a fun warmup night for the Pines. Last year the BLOW party was cancelled in the Grove, and the promoter knows our entertainment director in the Pines–Joey Navedo–so we brought it over. It’s a sex show vibe, but we all know guys are a bit less inclined to act out in the Pines as they do in the Grove for some reason. So to help loosen them up I do #dickoutdrag while I’m doing the door. It makes it fun for me, and breaks down some of the walls. I feel the underwear party and Showtunes are the times people stop caring what other people think and give in. I want to foster that as much as I can.
Is #dickoutdrag self-explanatory?
Haha! Yup…mostly. It’s not just totally out, but sometimes I wear a sheer dress or spin around. Only on Fire Island!
Is the Invasion of the Pines fun when you’re a resident performer there, or is it, like, kind of a nightmare?
It’s a marathon, and marks the high season. I will end up working 10-12 days straight. And on the actual 4th of July the place gets filled with messy people that aren’t beach regulars who’ve come to gawk. But at the same time, you have those moments of everyone letting loose and doing messy and amazing drag! Like everything, it’s a double edged sword.
Okay, do you have anything else you wanna mention?
I’m in the works to add another event in the Pines for Bubbles, but nothing concrete yet. And I’m really looking forward to after the summer, hitting the city with a bunch of new ideas if any bars need new programming.
The sky’s the limit! In closing: for someone who’s been in the scene so long, you look so damn young. What’s you’re secret? Are you a vampire?
Haha, thank you so much! Being 40 is a mind trip sometimes, ‘cause I feel so young. I think joy and happiness keeps you young. So I try to do that as much as I can.
And it’s infectious!
That’s my mission! Spread it around like an epidemic.
Thank you, Bubbles!