This Texas tornado of a drag queen has lit up the city’s venues with funny numbers and fresh fashions. Making her mark via The Ultimate Drag Pageant and its All-Star season back-to-back, she’s since appeared practically everywhere else in the city… and soon she’ll be turning it beyond our borders! She’s not a girl, she’s something resembling a woman, she’s Chola Spears!
Thotyssey: Hola, Chola! So, are you still basking in your successful run through the Mother: A Drag Musical premiere reading / workshop at Icon on Wednesday?
Chola Spears: Yas! Mother gave me LOIFE! I went to school for musical theatre, and it was the first show (as an actor) I’ve been in since… so the experience was quick, but such a great experience! How did you like it? Thanks for coming out by the way, it’s always good to see you!
Likewise! I really enjoyed it. Great songs and so many cute moments, and it was great to see so many great NYC nightlife stars on one stage. So, when you’re a real drag queen playing a fictional drag queen… do you think of it as a character to portray, or are you basically just playing yourself?
I think it’s always good to develop a character! Why not? Isn’t that kinda what drag is anyways!? Fortunately, my character in the musical is a loud mouth, crossdressing homosexual, so I didn’t have to do TOO much research to get into character!
How and when did you become involved with Mother?
I saw Whendy Whaxwood (stage manager for Mother) post a flyer looking for drag actors a few months prior, and I reached out to her!
You gals barely had time to rehearse… was that a high pressure situation?
I think it was 50/50, lol! We all have different levels of experience, and we mainly focused on working group scenes and solo numbers during rehearsals… so it never felt quite like a cohesive musical (no shade!). But once we were on that stage and got to feel what running the whole show was like, that pressure disappeared.
A lot of funny, magical moments happen when drag queens are being themselves (but still in character lol) and Julie, the creator of Mother, really embraced that idea when it came to moments in the show… and I think that alleviated a lot of pressure, too.
Were you able to see the Jayse Vegas / Jessie James kissing scene? It got quite a reaction from the Icon audience!
I did!!! My tuck popped right out!
Lol! Is there any word yet on any future developments with Mother? I’m sure that it’s going to be re-tooled a lot before we see it again.
I think you’ll be seeing Mother: A Drag Musical in the future! I’m sure Julie has a lot to reflect on after this performance, and hopefully Chola gets to be a part of the future of Mother.
I hope she turns that Jesse / Jayse kissing scene into a full on sex scene! Did you get a chance to meet Julie while you were there?
I didn’t, unfortunately, but we’ve spoken online a bit! She’s lovely.
Okay, now let’s backtrack a bit and tell the Chola Story! Where are you from, and was musical theatre always a Thing for you?
I’m originally from Taylor, TX, which is a country town about 30 minutes from downtown Austin. Musical theatre was not always a thing! Besides Disney movies, the first musical I ever saw was the RENT movie! (Actually, it might’ve been Carmen with Beyonce on MTV! Omg.) I grew up in the country and went to school in the suburbs, so most of my early musical inspiration is Britney and S Club 7 and all the pop music on MTV at the time. I picked up theatre in middle / high school. Then when I came to NYC in 2009, I went to AMDA! My classmates were Cicatrix, Carmen Sidemi, Leo Gugu and Karmen Korbell in Seattle.
Another AMDA queen! Drag U keeps churning them out!
OMFG, Drag U… lol! AMDA might as well have an “alternative performers” class, or some shit like that. Why aren’t there classes about doing drag, or being a cabaret act, or an impersonator, or for puppetry? Where’s that in the AMDA handbook, huh!?
How was Chola Spears born?
I have friends named Terrence and Hannah who visit every year from the UK, and one year they brought a bunch of wigs. We went out and got shitfaced and wore them all day, and I got my wholeeeeeeeeeee life from the lavender wig. I asked to keep it, and then it only escalated from there. By Halloween, I was Chola!
Did you start performing in the weekly competition shows across the city?
My first competition was The Bodega Ball, which is a punk show with a drag competition, put together by my friend Che in Brooklyn. But I’m an Ultimate Drag Pageant Girl! And All-Stars, too!
Aw yeah! What was the difference between the experiences of doing that standard season of The West End’s Ultimate Drag Pageant versus coming back for All-Stars?
I expected that I was gonna be a sinking ship in the pageant! When I saw the 9 weeks of themes, I low-key shit a brick. But I did my best… and by the end of my season, I was proud of the numbers I presented. When All-Stars happened, it felt more like a night of showcasing our best, and less like a competition… if that makes sense. We were all friends during All-Stars, so there was a mutual love / respect between the girls.
Were you contestants all getting along in your original season also?
We were friendly in both seasons. Some of my closest sisters, like Petti Cake and Miz Diamond Wigfall and Edie James, are from my original season. But after spending 15 weeks (including All-Stars) with someone like Petti, It alleviated that competition pressure just a little more than the first cycle.
The first time I saw you perform, you were competing in the one-off “Snatch Game” edition of Lady Liberty at the Ace Hotel. You did a straightforward Janis Joplin number. Is she an icon of yours?
She is! If her music ever played, my mother would always say “Man! She had soul,” a few times before the song ended.
It’s always refreshing to hear different music genres from queens these days. Am I being overly cynical, or do queens perform a lot of the same stuff over and over? And maybe that’s the audience’s fault for being basic?
I love seeing some new shit! No shade, but we have a lot of songs on Drag Rotation! I feel like there are so many factors that play a part in what queens do, and where. Some songs are classics, some songs need to be laid to rest, some audiences are basic, some queens play it safe, some queens murder songs we love, some queens don’t educate themselves on gay culture and music before their time, some queens don’t actually have their own taste in music… etc. Side note: one time I met a 21 year-old gay guy at Stonewall who didn’t know who Sid and Nancy were, and I got upset!
I do feel like NYC is getting better about showing off all types of drag. There’s definitely a conscientiousness about giving alternative drag a platform. What do you think?
Oh, yes to all of the above!
I bet you’ve given a lot of thought into what kind of weekly or monthly show you’d like to have, when that inevitably happens!
LOL, Oh, have! I’ve had such an amazing year performing at different shows and venues with so many types of drag, and I can’t wait till it’s my turn to host the fun and showcase the NYC drag I love. And my love for Britney Spears will be in there somewhere too, lol!
In the meantime, you’re certainly keeping busy making appearances all over. I see that Sunday night, you’re at the Offside Tavern for Court of Filth Cabaret, hosted by Lady Macncheese & EZ Mac!
Lady Macncheese and EZ Mac are great people! They host another show at Bizzare Bushwick during the week. Offside Tavern is kind of a Twilight Zone when it comes to the demographic. You walk in and it’s Football Bros Central, until you get to the private room with the stage that is filled with THE GAYS! LOL! However, the staff is so amazing, and the owner of the bar is good friends with one of my long-time friends, so I live for Offside Tavern! Now, if we could sit down and explain how drag queens and drink tickets go together like PB&J… LOL JK! Did I mention how grateful I am to be performing at Offside Tavern!?
Then on August 18th, you’ll be traveling to Salem, MA with Miz Diamond Wigfall for her show at Brothers Taverna, Gagged Saturdays! Have you performed in Massachusetts?
Never! Only in NYC!
And on Monday, August 27th, you’ll be part of a large cast of amazing performers at the Hudson Terrace for a benefit concert for The Trevor Project, “Night of Life!” That should be pretty epic!
EPIC!!!! SO MANY DRAG QUEENS AND DANCERS AND SINGERS AND MULTIPLE STAGES. Daniel Gold is the fucking best, and I hope he continues to do his thing and give performers a platform that benefit good causes!
Where else can we find you in August?
If you can’t see me on the 26th at Look Queen, or the 27th at Night of Life, I’ll be at The West End on the 28th for Queens for a Cause. I’m probably gonna take a three minute nap on stage for my number, but come watch!
Great gigs one and all! By the way… you have one of the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen! Are you conscious of what your face does?
I’m conscious of it, and I think that drag is a really fun way to show off all the ridiculous shit I can do with my face… lol! Not even show off… it’s just fun to move my face around!
Giving us face upon face, queen! Okay, in closing: what’s the worst thing about doing drag… and what’s the best?
I LOVE making a mix. It’s basically a pop culture puzzle, and if you put a good one together, it’s so rewarding when an audience appreciates the hard work and joy you’ve put into it. Annnnnnnd the worst part of drag is wearing motherfucking nails. Fuckkkkkkkkk nails. Remember those fake toy knives with springs? We need nails like that….like… lemme put you on, and then tuck you in so I don’t have to deal with actually having to deal with having nails on till I’m 0.025 seconds away from walking on that stage… then y’all can spring out and inconvenience me, or fall off, or get lost, or whatever. I hate nails.
Somebody invent this! Thanks, Chola!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Chola Spears’ upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.