Whether she’s turning it in the Upper West Side with a drawn-on beard or making the Brooklyn children weep with a melancholy dirge, drag vampire Martyr is rapidly becoming a nightlife presence we’ll all be kneeling to soon enough!
Thotyssey: Martyr, hello! So today isn’t nearly as gross and sweaty as recent days, which reminds us that summer is coming to an end. Is that good news, bad news or whatevs?
Martyr: Hey hey! Oh, it’s such good news. I’m not much a summer goth… Fall is where I really shine.
Fabulous! And of course, before you know it it’ll be Halloween. I know a lot of queens are all “meh, everyday is Halloween,” but I bet you are all about October.
Oh, for sure! I try to do a different costume or theme each week in October. I love an excuse to dress ridiculous!
Where did you grow up, and how did this drag journey begin?
I’m a Florida boy (which doesn’t really mesh with the aesthetic, but what can you do). I started performing in 2014 for FSU’s amateur drag show. I looked like a brick, but somehow wowed the judges enough to end up in third place. I’ve always been a closeted lip-syncer at home, but that was the starting point of Martyr. I honestly didn’t really consider myself a queen ‘til moving to Brooklyn, where I had such a quick development.
How would you describe your aesthetic and performing style today?
Carlos the Uber Driver called me the “Spooky Ooky Brooklyn Ghost,” and I think that pretty much sums it up. I always lean more towards the sad / emotional / dramatic performances, ‘cause it’s very easy for me to tap into. I feel like a lot of drag is about celebrating our queerness–and that’s so important–but I also think we need time to mourn / get our feelings out. I think I really shine when it comes to performing and movement. I love channeling different emotions, through my fingers… a style I picked from Untitled Queen.
Not yet! But I’ve met Patti before, and she’s honestly such a sweetheart. And “Sad Songs” is always amazing. Here’s hoping in the future!
I saw clips from performances of yours at both MR(S) BK & the Ultimate Drag Pageant, and at both you performed Sufjan Stevens songs from the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack. Unusual choice, but effective! So you don’t consider the gender of the singer when you’re choosing a lip sync?
Haha! I just love my boy Sufjan. He uses a lot of gay imagery. Also, I feel like I already read so androgynous, that gender has never been an issue. Half the time, I’m not even in a wig.
You’re actually one of the few queens I’ve seen who regularly applies fake facial hair, with makeup or two-dimensional pieces. Is that to make you look more Antichrist-like?
Yeah, kinda! When I first started, I didn’t even know bearded queens existed. I was super uncomfortable with my masculinity, and I saw beards as, like, a point of envy. So to do this weird hybrid of masculine and feminine drag was to help get comfortable in my own skin. The Christ-like thing was a whole other story, but certainly a part of the beard.
How did you enjoy the whole MR(S) experience? That was a pretty epic pageant.
Absolutely loved it. It was my first exposure to the Brooklyn scene, and I made a lot of friends because of it–like my good sis Emi Grate, Laé D. Boi, Linda Felcher and a dozen other girls. I’m already prepping for next year’s showcase.
There was a lot of drama amongst the finalists.
I was far removed… just eating popcorn in the back!
I hear that! And now here you are with a very different group of queens, competing weekly for this season’s Ultimate Drag Pageant at the West End! What made you want to enter this competition… and do you feel a very different energy from those queens as opposed to your Brooklyn fam?
I saw last season’s UDP when I went to support Carlos and Tiffany Anne Coke, and saw it as a different venue to try new things out. I love getting feedback about performances and looks, so a competition setting works best for that. And it was also a completely different crowd and mindset, but I think I’ve generally been accepted, haha! I went in thinking “these Manhattan girlies were gonna hate on the Brooklyn weirdo,” but everyone has been so friendly and kind. I’m looking forward to the finale stunts!
By the way, how did you know Carlos and Tiffany?
I’m using my one skip for UDP for it! I was booked for Mx. Nobody before UDP came up, but knew I wanted to be part of both. I’m bummed to be missing Hollywood Week, ‘cause I wanted to try something more glam. But I’m super-excited and nervous for Mx. Nobody, as I’m doing a performance about how I got my drag name! It’s gonna be one interesting night.
I haven’t quite decided yet! I’m thinking of bringing my “Ignorance” performance I did a few weeks ago at UDP. Who knows? But bet on something spooky.
What else is going on in the world of Martyr?
I’ve been trying to do some more performance art pieces out and about in the city that question queer bodies in non-queer spaces, like a going to specific museums / exhibits in drag and such. I’m also working on my Masters at NYU for Museum Studies. All that academic nonsense.
Good for you! Side question: The new American Horror Story season… will it be everything, or godawful?
I always get hyped for the new season (I blame the promos), but then I’m left disappointed by the end of it. This being a crossover season has me intrigued, but with my two least favorite seasons? I’m not too hopeful.
Agreed! Okay, in closing: when you die in 200 years and come back as a ghost, and you have to haunt one place forever, where will you haunt?
OMG gag! I already feel like I’m haunting everywhere. Hmmm… but probably the Whitney Museum. Great art, great view, and tons of cute artsy boys. Gay heaven right there.
Boo yeah! Thank you, Martyr!