This colorful spinning object has become one of Brooklyn drag’s most important fashion designers, and is a beautifully batshit performer in her own right. Debuting her new show at Macri Park on Thursday before slaying the Bushwig stage this weekend, it’s the queen with the name that bears repeating: Pinwheel Pinwheel!
Thotyssey: Pinwheel Pinwheel, hello! Thanks for chatting with us today! I understand that you just went on a fabric haul with a client and judy, DiDi Disco… how did it go?
Pinwheel Pinwheel: It went fabulously! She is a gem to work with, strong ideas. And that’s what I love as a maker. I love clients who know what they want, and let me use my creative ability to aid them.
These days, aside from being an increasingly popular Brooklyn performer, you’re also designing and constructing looks for lots of the other performers as well.
Yes! Design is my forefront passion. I’ve been designing for stage for almost 10 years, and am making a transition into drag fashion. And I think with my background in costume history and tailoring ability, I’m going to be able to carve out a really cute niche.
You designed costumes for a local production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest last year.
That’s so many productions ago now! That was with a small, and amazing production company, “The Glass Eye,” It was out in Central Park and was so much fun to design for. The director, Kyle Metzger, and I have a great rapport. We agreed on a concept, and a small budget, and then I just went wild. I made something like 40 garments, finished, with zippers, from pattern to completion in a week.
Amazing! Is working so fast something that you’re known for?
It let’s me take a lot on at once. I am regularly working a 9-5 in theater, while designing (and now producing) shows, and looks. I am very grateful for the amount of work I’ve drummed up, but I would be lying if I said that I am never overwhelmed. I have an incredible craft / sewing support network. And let me put it this way, the rent is never late.
We clearly have a lot to talk about, so we better start at the beginning! Where’s your hometown?
I was raised in Setauket, New York (Suffolk – Long Island), but I grew up into adulthood in a cross of Buffalo (undergrad) and Kansas City, Missouri (grad school).
Were art and design always a part of your life growing up?
I doodled a lot and dicked around on Photoshop as a kid, but I’d always panic in art class. I wanted to be an actor. I auditioned to 12 schools, got in nowhere, chose the school that gave me the most money for my academics. I remember looking at the class selection roster and going, “oh my gosh, I didn’t know you could study costumes!” I’d been drawing anime for so long, and I just decided to go for it. And design stuck. Since then I’ve designed, directed, and taught workshops in Europe, and designed all over the US.
Growing up I was a serious bedroom body. I played MMORPGS from the moment I left school until I went to bed. I’d do all of my homework in class, and play Final Fantasy XI, and WoW all night. So it was a wild transition from never leaving my bedroom to this whole world existing in undergrad Bedroom body ™ by APATHY.
Brand it, gurl!
So you must look at the world now as, like, patterns and textures and shapes.
Yes, bingo! My aesthetic was shaped so much by those games. And I think you can see it in the way I combine clashing colors and textures. Everything becomes about making the most delicious combinations. I mean, is there anything more divine than Square Enix design? Well, Comme Des Garçon, and Viktor&Rolf…
Do you have a single creation of yours, a design or an actual finished product, that you hold above all else as being the most amazing?
Every project has a different purpose, and I have different reasons for loving them. That being said, today the answer is the gown I produced for Fool’isha for Look Queen. The tailoring was lovely, the colors, the draping, the fit, the understructure… it’s my August masterpiece. So now I have to surpass it!
It was indeed exquisite!
So what brought you to the world of Brooklyn drag?
I’ve been doing drag for 6 years now; I’ve had a lot of phases, and three different names. I first moved to Brooklyn August 2016, before the world ended, and then left again to take a year-long professorship. The first time I did drag in NYC was at one of the one-night competitions. And I was so used to being praised for my uniqueness in Kansas City that I was ready to be applauded. No one even looked at me. And I was shattered.
I didn’t do drag for three more months and when I did again it was at Ladyfag’s Battle Hymn. And it was also the first time I took molly. I went in this larger janky paper costume. And that night I put my 3-year long alter-ego, Archimedea the Trainwrek to bed, and Pinwheel was born.
I remember it was my first come-up, and I looked at my friend and said, “no one understands my name in the dark. All these other girls have names like Muffy and Linux. I need a name that easy to remember. I’m like a child and I spin like a PINWHEEL.” And Boom, it was done.
The second Pinwheel, as in Pinwheel Pinwheel, came because on FFXIV (some things don’t go away), you need a last name. And it just made sense, because it’s better in the mouth twice.
The build into Brooklyn was really sponsored by Devo Monique. I met her at an Elizabeth James night, and she basically taught me how the hustle plays. And she wears lace front wigs now. So.
There was an ancient ‘80s, forgotton kids show on Nickelodeon called Pinwheel, and the theme song went “Pinwheel Pinwheel spinning around…” I didn’t think there was any way a youngin’ like you could know that.
It’s part of the opening to my new show, Good Morning Pinwheel. She wasn’t aware, but it was sung at me enough times that I’ve seen a handful of episodes now.
Werk! How would you describe a Pinwheel performance today, for the uninitiated?
Like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but if your trip was bad and you have a confusion erection.
Sign me up!
You’ll be debuting your brand new show “Good Morning Pinwheel” this Thursday at Macri Park! Aside from the amazing theme song, tell us more!
So!! I’m excited to talk about this! I have this vision for a night that abandons the traditional structure of a drag show. No “host, then shows, then host,“just a seamless night of bizarre games, improv, lip sync, and general nonsense.
Everything is the performance! Like Pee-Wee fucking Amy Sideris, fucking a talk show.
The idea is to create a full experience for the audience that goes beyond giving shows. And I mean we gonna give SHOWS, but we’re also going to put you in drag, write erotic fan fiction, eat too many marshmallows, cry about my dead mom, laugh so deeply, and make too much eye contact.
Also my actual dad and little brother are coming.
Wow! Have they met Pinwheel before?
My dad has! He came to a show in June. But he hasn’t met Pinwheel quite like this. No one has, though. And I’m excited for you all to see it. Brooklyn doesn’t have anything like this yet, so it won’t be a night to miss. Also it’s my birthday party… I accept gifts!
Congrats on winning the Mx. Nobody pageant prelim, by the way! How did you enjoy that experience?
I almost dropped out the night before, actually. I was so nervous / panicky about getting everything done and I almost just abandoned ship. But when I realized I was willing to quit, I also realized that my personal stakes weren’t that high. Almost like a life-changing realization, that if I just relax and trust my instincts, my own brand of stupidity will just flow. Also it was dope.
And I’m very proud and excited. And also, I mean, GOD COMPLEX. Like hello.
Between God, Kiko, Theydy, Shanita, Dum Dum, and myself, [the September 14th pageant finale at Brooklyn Bazaar] is going to be WACK.
And then… Bushwig! When will you be performing, and how psyched are you for that?
Saturday, on the indoor stage! I’m honored to be included, and I have no idea what I’m doing for it… and several commissions to complete for queens who know EXACTLY what they’re doing. I’m sure I’ll end up eating spaghetti on stage while Mulan plays softly. Actually, put a pin in that!
Looking into the not to distant future, I see you’ll be joining Vylette Tendency for their “Queer As In Fuck You” drag punk revue at Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village! I still haven’t been to that show but I’ve been meaning to! Have you experienced it?
I haven’t, but I love Vy! They’ve been an incredible friend and ally, and I’m excited to fuck shit up. I’m so bad about getting out. I pretty much work 16 hours a day, so if I’m not booked it’s really hard to convince myself to leave my bed. It’s so comfy! And there’s so many reruns of Project Runway.
You’re one of the few queens who could just as easily wind up on that show as That Other One!
I want to apply to Project Runway starting this next cycle. I feel ready to compete and go home for being too costumey.
Speaking of designers, Pierretta Viktori is another successful BK design queen that usually does Vylette’s show… do you get to interact with her a lot?
Pierretta and I don’t know each other super well yet, but they’re also a wonderful support line. And I really respect their work! We do different things design / construction-wise, so it doesn’t feels competitive… very much the Sisterhood of the Traveling Sewing Machine.
Go Sisterhood! Anything else?
I still have slots for Halloween, and one slot for DragCon. Commission me. I make hats, too!
Watching Aretha’s funeral reminds us that, in our lives, we all need more amazing hats.
Yes. And also that you shouldn’t grab Ariana’s boobs on national TV, or any woman, or touch literally anyone without consent.
Preach to the creepy preacher! So okay, final question: what’s your favorite part about being a drag queen, and what’s your least favorite part?
Being a drag queen gives me a platform to be who I want to be–it’s helped me discover the confidence to approach men, and I get to act as ridiculous as I want. But I hate cleaning up after Pinwheel. She makes such a mess of my bedroom!
How dare she! Lol, thank you Pinwheel Pinwheel!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Pinwheel Pinwheel’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.