Hilarious, oddball antics and high-meets-low-meets-intergalactic fashions do away with the need for some funny-punny drag name for this performer. Whether she’s interjecting with a slaying quip while screening a classic film, or giving you the whole Big Ang Experience in a high stakes lip sync battle, or just being funny and fierce, this queen is giving you life. God Save Queen Robert!
Thotyssey: Greetings, Queen! How is Pride Week treating you so far?
Queen Robert: Hello! Thank you! I’ve been looking forward to gabbing with you. Pride has been good to me so far! It’s been chaotic, but extremely gratifying, and we’re only half way through! I also started bartending at the Rosemont this month, so even when I’m not out in drag I’m still out on the scene. It’s an exhausting month for anyone working in nightlife.
Wow, that is a lot of nightlife. You must never see the sun!
I actually sat out at the Christopher Pier a couple of days ago while on my way back from a costume fitting. I looked like a vampire amongst all those honey-glazed hunks. I definitely prefer the light of the moon.
It’s much more flattering, for sure. So speaking of the Rosemont, you just guest performed for Lucy Ball’s show there last week.
I adore Lucy. She’s a total weirdo. Her transformations set her apart from anyone working in Brooklyn. Did you see her Lambchop and Cryptkeeper? Incredible.
Patti Spliff, another genius, was also performing that night. The three of us each have monthly Tuesday parties at The Rosemont, so it was fun to get together for a show. I did Donna Summer, farted on a cake and then pressed my face into it….because…drag.
You should do kids’ parties!
So, how did this all begin… where’s your hometown, and what were you into growing up?
I’m from a small town not worth mentioning, in south central New Jersey. New York was always just on the horizon, like the Emerald City in Oz. I often wonder how this all began myself. There’s a few memories that come right to the surface: my first wig, a green one from Universal Studios Orlando at age 5; my first two concerts at 7, Cher and Bette Midler; religiously renting The Rocky Horror Picture Show on VHS from blockbuster at 9; my mom playing Queen’s Greatest Hits in the kitchen and telling me that Freddie Mercury was the coolest man who ever lived.
I always went big for Halloween–really big, I’m talking prosthetics by third grade and gender play by sixth. Then I got into theater, film, and eventually ended up in Manhattan for college, where I was able to release all of my passions without the constraints of small town life.
Growing up, I was into everything spooky and queer that defied the norm. It wasn’t a conscious rejection of heteronormativity, it was simply who I was from the very beginning. Anyone who thinks I’m new to this type of lifestyle and culture is in denial of my entire existence.
So movies were always there! Besides Rocky Horror, what are some other favorites?
Creature features will always have a special place in my heart. I find them to be a metaphor for anyone who has ever felt they had something to hide about themselves. American Werewolf in London, The Fly, Carrie, Gremlins, anything from the minds of Stephen King, John Carpenter, and John Waters. Oh, and the Chucky franchise has always been a favorite of mine. I have all the dolls.
Did you see that Carrie remake, like, 5 years ago? It was dumb.
Well, there are two remakes: an early 2000’s TV movie, the 2013 Julianne Moore remake, and a 90’s sequel to the original. All have their charm, but the best part of each incarnation is surely the role of Margaret White, Carrie’s psycho momma. Gays really seem to relate to that film, and the character Carrie. I know I did. She’s the ultimate outcast who gets the greatest revenge on her abusers. My first drag performance in Brooklyn was actually a parody of Carrie, where I played both mother and daughter, appropriately set to the music of Madonna and Britney. Metropolitan [Bar] wasn’t thrilled with the blood, though.
Was drag just the best venue for you to explore these aesthetics and interests, or was there something else about it that strongly appealed to you?
I moved to NYC to pursue a career in film, and while on that journey came to desperately miss performing. So, yes, drag was the best way to jump back in the performance ring while combining politics, pop culture, and aesthetics. It was hard at first to build an audience for my film work before drag. Now I’m in this creative community where anything is possible, and I can get back behind the camera and generate content that has an audience. Drag is a powerful platform, and I’m excited to see what other avenues it may lead me down.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Why don’t you have a wackier drag name than “Queen Robert?” I mean, it is kind of funny in a minimalist sorta way.
I get that all the time! I have a whole list of wacky drag names, and I’d love to utilize them for some more character driven work / alter egos (Gaggatha Christie is my evil twin; I keep her locked up, though).
My drag, isn’t necessarily female impersonation, I have a beard, I don’t wear a bra, I’m never out here trying to be “fish.” I’m a camp queen, so my personality is wacky enough. I never liked my name Robert, until one day I threw “Queen” in front of it and I was like, “oh yeah, that’s better!” I’m a butch queen; I embrace my femininity and masculinity. Robert is a very masculine name… but honey, I’m a damn queen! Drag for me hasn’t been about inventing a new personality and a new name; it’s about being my ultimate creative self.
Also, there’s so many repeat names in the drag business, it’s annoying to constantly have to clarify which artist you’re talking about depending on first or last name. I’m the only Queen Robert: unless you wanna try to compare my name to Bob the Drag Queen–but that would be silly, her real name is Caldwell!
So, how did you begin hosting “Screen Queen” at the Rosemont?
Troy at the Rosemont took interest in my pop culture numbers and said he had a monthly slot available. Being a film buff, I naturally turned the night into a celebration of local queer filmmakers and popular movies in the LGBT community.
What’s your personal strategy of “screen queening,” particularly with the classics? Do you share anecdotes during the movie, do you wait til it’s over, or do you just let it speak for itself?
It’s a fun night! I show the film early, chime in from time to time with fun anecdotes or conversation with the audience about their experiences with the film. Then we jump into shows inspired by the film. This month was Pink Flamingos, and this got filthy! Lee VaLone was licking shoes. Pepto Dismal shit eggs on a hot plate. Misty Menthol puked on Coma White. People were actually gagging. Divine would have been proud. Next month is the much more family friendly Mamma Mia.
Yikes, I can’t wait for you to do Showgirls! What have been some of the films that affected you as far as those made by local filmmakers that you’ve screened?
Joe Sulsenti’s Fishy was a highlight. It’s an animation starring Amanda Lepore. There’s so many talented artists that I’ve been able to screen, I love them all. Sweaty Eddie, Chris of Hur, Amber Alert, Marcel Saleta, Miwa Sakulrat, Chris Crompton. Everybody has such a unique voice and style. It’s wonderful hearing their process.
Werk! So I was in the house for the last session of the Lady Liberty drag competition at the Ace Hotel a few months ago. It was a “Snatch Game” celebrity impersonation edition, and you appeared as a clean-shaven Big Ang with ginormous bazooms! It was a hilarious and affectionate portrayal, and it got you in the top two. What made you decide to enter that completion as her?
My lesbian bestie Daniella in New Jersey and I would religiously watch Mob Wives and Big Ang together. I regret so deeply I didn’t go to her bar in Staten Island, The Drunken Monkey, to meet her before she passed. She’s one of my spirit animals (her and Kathy Bates). Everyone said I shouldn’t do her for “Snatch Game” because of Pearl’s portrayal on Drag Race. But, I have been impersonating her in some sense for years, so I felt it was necessary. And I know her family saw my portrayal and they said she would have loved it. Party everyday, because you never know when you’re gonna go!
Lady Liberty returns for a Pride edition this Friday to the Ace Hotel, and you’re gonna be back there too! How do you think it’s gonna go!?
I think that they are expecting to get another “Big Ang” moment, and that’s simply not what I have cooking. They’ll be getting something uniquely me. I hope it goes well!
I bet it will!
And looking a little bit ahead, you’ll be at Bizarre on post-Pride Tuesday for a special edition of Lee Valone’s BEEF, with a bunch of cool people like The Brides of Burlesque, Pierretta Viktori, Devo Monique and Viktor Devonne. Have you turned it on that stage before?
I love performing at Bizarre! They really have a proper stage, which does help heighten numbers. BEEF Show is a damn riot, always diverse, always entertaining, and I’m thrilled to join this month’s cast.
June 28th, you’ll be throwing your wig into the June installment of the Mx Mont Rose comedy queen pageant at the Rosemont! That’s gonna be quite a lineup. No spoilers, but did you know what you wanted to do immediately for that one?
Comedy is hard. There’s a fine line to walk. People are very sensitive. One safe bet is to make fun of yourself. I’m hoping to give you something like the result of Joan Rivers topping Robin Williams after a drunken night at The Rosemont.
That’s all any of us want! Good luck! Anything else coming up to mention?
There’s always something. Tuesday, July 3rd at The Rosemont, Screen Queen: MAMMA MIA featuring my sisters Chutney Spears, Tiffany Jones Sterling, Flower Tortilla, and Jessica Rose. [And I’m doing] FAILURE, July 5th at Bizarre.
But what’s really exciting is the music video I’m directing for Crystal Mesh this summer. I’ll give you a hint… there’s gonna be lots of chlorine and cum.
Gag! One last question: what advice do you have for new NYC Pride-goers this week?
More glitter. Less clothes. Stay hydrated. Tip your performers AND bartenders! Have fun and be safe! Oh… and be sure your Pride merch benefits the community or a cause, and not some capitalist corporation that doesn’t truly support the LGBT community!
The Queen has spoken! Thank you!
Queen Robert hosts “Screen Queen” every first Thursday at the Rosemont (10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for all her scheduled gigs, and follow the Queen on Facebook.