This charming Virginia queen will become a full-fledged New Yorker fairly soon, but until then she and her drag family have been gracing / gagging us with a twice-a-month showcase at The Phoenix. Thotyssey rings in the new year with Dreama Belle!
Thotyssey: Hi Dreama! Thanks for chatting with us, and happy New Year! So, I understand that you’ll be moving here to NYC soon.
Dreama Belle: It is the prospective plan to move to NYC by May or June!
Oh great… you have plenty of time! What made you want to become a New York queen?
I have always had such great love for NYC, as many others share the same feeling. I had performed a few times in NYC before making my producing debut at The Phoenix Bar. I produced an afterparty show for DragCon back in September of 2018. The Phoenix and I enjoyed working together so much that they kept me on as their Sunday night show hostess of Yas Queen Sundays. I’ve felt an overwhelming amount of support from the NYC nightlife community, and that feeling has kept me coming back for more.
I know you’re a Southern Gal… where are you from, exactly?
I am from a small, conservative town in southern Virginia called Wytheville.
What’s your history as a performing artist?
I have been performing since I was five years-old in regards to drumming and singing. I found theatre while in high school, and went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Radford University.
While in high school, I started producing small scale theatre at the school where a theatre program was non-existent, as well as the local library. I also produced my own cabaret / recital shows around Virginia starting at the age of 17.
And when did drag come into the picture?
I discovered drag a little over four years ago, through friends encouraging me to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, and went to my first drag show unexpectedly. My sister and I stumbled upon a charity drag show at Virginia Tech when out for an evening and fell in love. I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do, so I’ve been hitting it hard performing and producing work anywhere and everywhere I can.
What’s Virginia drag like?
Virginia drag is extremely versatile and intense. Virginia drag predominantly showcases pageantry styled queens and what many would refer to as a classic, southern drag approach. However, more alternative styles of drag have become more popular across the state, especially in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and of course the capital city of Richmond.
Virginia drag, in general, holds drag artists to a very high standard. For example, in MOST venues, you are required to have a full costume and accessory change for each number. Additionally, you are required in MOST cases to wear nails and also wear a different costume to walk around the venue in that you did not wear in your performances. Not all venues follow those guidelines, but these rules and many more are not uncommon to see in a performance contract.
As a working drag artist in Virginia, you better be prepared to drive. Aside from Richmond and Norfolk, many of Virginia’s cities and towns only house 1-3 drag shows per spot. So, working across the scene requires being on the road frequently. I currently live over an hour away from the closest drag show to me, and am almost 3 hours away from the shows I run and where I am on show cast at.
Wow, that’s pretty daunting!
How would you describe yourself as a queen to the uninitiated, as far as your aesthetic and the types of numbers you like to perform?
I love and embrace all facets of drag. I’ll give just about any genre a try. As I tell people, I go from country to club kid in two seconds. It’s not out of the ordinary to see me perform Stevie Nicks, Marina and the Diamonds, and P!nk all in the same set.
My primary passion in drag is being live on the microphone. MCing events and live singing are my main gigs when in a wig!
I’ve seen references to “The Haus of Belle.” Are you the mother of a drag family in Virginia?
The first drag show that I formally produced was the Haus of Belle. I wanted to name the show that, because I see everyone that I book as family. My goal in every show I am in/produce is to make it feel like a family reunion each time, even if it’s my first time meeting my fellow cast members. I do only have one drag daughter, Ivvy Dripp, who is a femme queen. She also has a drag king persona, Sterling Silver.
The Haus of Belle is my most successful regular show, and is produced every second Thursday at Rapture in Charlottesville, Virginia where I am the show director.
What’s the difference between New York drag audiences and drag Virginia audiences?
From my experience in the two: In general, New York audiences are more interested in the performance quality and Virginia audiences are more interested in the spectacle of the piece.
In Virginia, tips generally are substantially more than in New York and are easier to come by. In New York, it is imperative to completely sell the piece to make tips. In Virginia, if you look good, you’re going to make good tips regardless.
Tell us a bit about the show you’ve been doing at Phoenix, Yas Queen. First off, how did you discover the Phoenix from Virginia?
I ran across The Phoenix when I was brought into town on my summer tour this past July. I was headlining at the Under St. Marks Theater for the Varietal Hour hosted by Yas Queen Sundays’ DJ, Lucas Womack. I reached out to the bar to see if they had any openings while I was in town. One thing led to another, and I became a part of The Phoenix family.
Yas Queen Sunday is on the second and fourth Sunday of each month with shows starting at 10pm. I try my best to book as diverse talent as possible, with at least one alternative and one glamour queen per show. My co-host is Paige Monroe, a seasoned pageant queen. Between the two of us, audiences are guaranteed plentiful costume changes and quick whit humor all night on the microphone. I’m not embarrassed of my southern twang, and my NYC audiences love it!
The title of the show comes from an annoying tradition that I implemented years ago of having the audience say, “Yas Queen” after each performance. I can guarantee that if you didn’t know the name of the show coming in, you will know it going out!
by the way, your DJ is adorable.
Yes, he is! I always announce him as our resident cutie. Unfortunately to us all, he is taken.
I hear you have something coming up in Brooklyn as well.
I do! My follow-up meeting with the venue is this coming Sunday, and we hope to release an announcement as soon as the details are squared away!
I am very blessed to be a part of this wonderful nightlife community, and I am looking forward to what 2019 has to offer!
We can’t wait to hear more! Okay, last question: as a Stevie Nicks enthusiast and in honor of her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction: what is the ultimate Stevie song?
In my opinion, “Seven Wonders” is one of her most iconic songs and is a go-to number of mine to perform!
Dreama Belle hosts “Yas Queen” (10pm) at The Phoenix on second and fourth Sundays every month. Check Thotyssey’s calendar for her scheduled appearances, and follow her on Facebook (also her Fan Page), Instagram and Twitter.