This drag sisterhood materialized out of thin air not too long ago, and before you knew it their Saturday party at the Rosemont was one of Brooklyn’s favorite nightlife destinations. They even won a Brooklyn Nightlife Award for Best Party! Here’s what Thotyssey readers need to know about the formidable Haus of Sterling, from the mouths of the gals themselves: Tiffany Jones, Sookie and Candy (pictured above, left to right)!
Sookie Sterling: So fun! It was our first time at Pines Party, and it was wild. Still recovering.
Candy Sterling: We hosted a little party at our house the night before, and it was a classic Sterling carry. Got all the boys Liticia before they headed to an underwear party.
It’s been a great year for the House of Sterling and Fake Nudes, the party you all bring to the Rosemont with DJ P_A_T two Saturdays a month. You were nominated for two Brooklyn Nightlife Awards just from that, and you won Best Party! How great did that win feel, and did it come as a complete surprise?
Tiffany Jones Sterling: First of all, being nominated for a BNA was a hard gag. Brooklyn is very saturated in drag / performance / nightlife, and for our community to recognize all the work P_A_T and us put together for each Fake Nudes was amazing. We were up against a lot of great, major parties… so yeah, the win did feel like a surprise!
CS: It really felt so heartwarming and validating for our peers to let us know they like what we’re doing with FN. There’s been a real family of queer babies that has formed around the party, so it’s such a labor of love for us that we’re really proud of.
SS: I was so proud of us for winning in our very first year, especially considering how tiny and humble the party’s beginnings were. Feels like a win for more than just us, too–the whole staff at the Rosemont, all our special guests who’ve come through, and the loyal Fake Nudists that we see there every time. It’s for all of them, too.
[Candy, Sookie & Tiffany Jones, photo by Fred Attenborough]
So okay… where is everybody from originally, what was everybody into creatively before drag… and how did you all begin as queens?
CS: I grew up in Ottawa, Canada as a dancer, and performing in a lot of theater. I was giving shows in my mom’s dresses from day one, and I have to give my parents a lot of credit for always being really supportive and encouraging me to express my feminine, crazy self. I ended up making friends with some drag queens in my hometown in my teens, and was so inspired by the immense amount of hard work and talent that goes into drag. When I first moved to New York I kind of got away from performing for a while, busy with school and work. But when I finally followed my drag dream a few years ago, it was the best decision I ever made.
SS: I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania outside of Philly. I never had any performance experience when I was young, but I was always drawn to that world… and all of my friends were dancers, actors and creative types. I started doing drag with Candy just as a fun hobby, and if it hadn’t been for Fake Nudes taking off the way it did, it probably would have stayed that way for me. I’m so grateful that it turned out this way, because drag challenges me creatively and lets me explore a side of myself that, working in medicine, I don’t get to tap into much.
TJS: I’m a loud and proud native New Yorker: born in Brooklyn and raised between Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach, Queens. I remember always liking to cross-dress, play with wigs, and perform for my fam. Being of an Italian Catholic Brooklyn family, it was frowned upon. As a teen, I used to always go to Macy Rodman’s and Severely Mame’s Bath Salts (RIP), and saw how cathartic drag / performance art could be. Soon I met Candy. My sister was the captain of her cheerleading team, and my brother was always in theater. I wanted to be on stage, but was too ashamed. In 2016, my brother passed away and I decided to say “fuck it, pass me a wig and let me do this damn thing, and stop questioning myself.”
How did the Haus come together?
TJS: The once-reigning Miss FIT Candy Sterling! We met at FIT and became friends. I kept attending her gigs, and she saw my charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent and agreed (after I forced her) to paint me! I met Sookie through Candy, and we all get such a kick out of each other!
SS: A KICK is right, Tiff! Just kidding–we all love each other so much. Yeah, I met Candy somehow (literally, who knows) back in 2010 when we first both moved to the city. Fast forward six years, and she had roped me into doing drag with her for Halloween. Tiffany joined a few months later, and the rest is HERstory.
How would you describe the Sterling “brand,” both in your aesthetics and what you bring to nightlife?
CS: Party girls for sure. We’re just the cute girls at the party that are hot but a bit of a mess. Priorities are 1) a good time, and 2) that’s it.
SS: Totally agree, it’s all about having fun for us. We definitely each have different aesthetics. But what ties us together is this feeling of playfulness – none of us are taking ourselves or drag too seriously.
TJS: I think each of us contribute something completely different to the brand. Candy and her effortlessly gagworthy performances, super strong dedication to leading the house. Sookie and her stunning looks, sultry performances, and hysterical sense of humor. And I’m just here to enjoy the ride! At the end of the day, I think the House of Sterling’s brand is about being party girls. We want to have just as much fun as you do! We want to make you laugh, cry, gag, and be FULLY entertained.
How exactly would you describe your individual looks and performing styles? And let’s go the TLC route instead of that thornier Destiny’s Child comparison… which Sterling is the T-Boz, which is the Left Eye, and which is the Chilli?
TJS: I’m not the most polished, and at first I used to beat myself up about that– about not being good at makeup, or sewing clothes. I’m slowly learning to stop comparing myself to these gorgeous girls. I’m here to make you laugh. I put a lot into my performances, and there’s not a time I’m not scared to get on stage. I love the rush. That being said, I always loved Left Eye, and would definitely light a house on fire… so Lisa Left Eye Lopes it is!
SS: I’m a little darker / edgier and get inspired by gothic fashion, film noir, burlesque, S&M, etc. My performances are slinky, sultry, full of reveals… but a little cheekiness and laughter, too. I’m T-Boz for sure: tough exterior, soft interior, same eye makeup.
CS: Look-wise, I’m really inspired by 70s disco girls like Amanda Lear and Jerry Hall, and performance-wise by my forever queen Madonna. I guess I’m Chili, because I always force my way into the middle.
What are the circumstances of how you three and DJ P_A_T started doing Fake Nudes?
TJS: Have you ever seen our T.I.M. scene?
SS: Treasure Island!? More like Casting Couch, sis.
CS: LMAO! Tiff and I went to FIT with P_A_T, and we’ve all been close friends with Daddy Sterling for years. He got asked to try out a Saturday night at the Rosemont shortly after the bar had opened. He asked me to perform, I asked Sookie to join me, and… who asked Tiffany again? Lol JK.
The three of you are not necessarily at the Rosemont for every FN all the time… sometimes you take turns.
TJS: We all have day jobs so sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming, or we have scheduling conflicts. The funnest nights are when it is the three of us, though! That being said, I have tremendous respect for full-time queens.
I love the posters for these parties, which feature some of the best / worst fake nudes on the internet. Who makes those?
SS: Daddy Sterling is a nudes connoisseur!
TJS: P_A_T somehow has time to find the perfect fake nudes.
CS: I send him one of me every week, but he never uses them!
Which non-porn celeb has the best real nudes on the internet?
TJS: Tom Hardy… and I still play with my clit to Colin Farrell.
SS: I love a partygirl moment–Paris Hilton and Rick Salomon.
CS: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee invented nudes.
Pop superstar and trans icon Kim Petras performed for Fake Nudes back in January! What was that like?
SS: As a longtime Kim Petras stan, it was a dream come true for me. She was the best: such a good performer, and a real sweetheart. Love you, Kim!
CS: KP fucked us up! We love her so much, and dubbed her the fourth Sterling Sister that night. Or maybe it’s the fifth–after Bucket Sterling, who collects our tips.
TJS: Oh girl. I broke my leg that night, it was so fun! Kim is such a doll, so talented and kind. It was one of the best nights! So fun that I fell off a fire escape and broke my leg and fractured my ribs. I was out of commission for a few months, but I’m back now bitch!
TJS: Never! I’ve seen videos and heard only amazing things. I’m so excited to have her join us. We are all about a queen who hits the ground running, and I think that’s exactly what she’s doing: giving 200%.
SS: Jasmine’s amazing. Unfortunately, Candy and I are going to be in the Pines with Gayletter on Saturday for their party with Babe Rose. But we know Tiff is gonna hold the fort down, and that she and Jasmine will give amazing shows.
CS: Tiff and Jasmine are going to slay boots the house this Saturday. so everybody in Brooklyn better be ready!
Is the Haus up for recruiting another member anytime soon?
SS: Ask Candy.
TJS: Ask Candy lol!
There’s a recent revival of Houses / Hauses in NYC drag nightlife: Sterling, Aja, Femanon… it’s mostly all in good fun and an homage to the past I’m guessing, but are there any wars or rivalries between Hauses happening yet?
TJS: No wars, only love. Haus of Aja always inspires me how they have a strong New York vibe of sisterhood. I loved MoMo since I was able to sneak into TNT. The Femanons are killing it: cohesive looks, and super edgy and dark–which I LOVE.
SS: Yes, we love both those Hauses a ton. No drama at all–we want the best for everyone, and there’s room for all queens and Houses in New York.
CS: We’re constantly inspired by other New York Houses, and we’re flattered to be listed in the same breath as Aja and Femanon. Both amazing groups of girls. Each House is also so unique, and we each bring something different to the table, so we never compare or compete.
Anything else in store for you all, as a Haus or individually? Bushwig, perhaps?
CS: I had so much fun at Bushwig last year, and can’t wait to fuck up that stage again. Other than that, September 22nd is going to be a House of Sterling “Be Cute” at Littlefield, which will be iconique.
TJS: I’d love to do Bushwig again. It was amazing. Anything that Horrorchata and the Bushwig team puts together is always the funnest time. She really knows how to throw a party, and it’s evident! I’m only a queen for a year now, so I’m excited to see where Tiffany is in a few months, years, lifetimes.
SS: This year will be my first Bushwig, and I’m so excited. Love our sis Horrorchata too, and can’t wait for that kiki with all the Brooklyn sissies!
And finally: Madonna is turning 60 this month! What’s the best ever Era of M?
SS: Erotica’s my fave–love a twisted, sex-positive queen.
TJS: I gag for the late 90’s / early 2000’s. But the 1990 ”Vogue” performance for MTV gets me every time.
CS: She is my everything, and I could never choose a fave era. But Confessions probably matches my style the most. Speaking of her 60th, Mini Horrorwitz and I will be doing a party at C’Mon Everybody on August 17th to celebrate the Queen’s birthday! Going to be a monumental gag.
Werk! Thank you, queens! Have a great summer!
The Haus of Sterling perform twice a month on Saturdays nights at the Rosemont (usually second and fourth Saturdays, 10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for their upcoming appearances. Follow the three Sterlings individually on their Instagrams: Candy, Sookie & Tiffany Jones.