Coming into prominence firstly as a Soundcloud music maker, the artist known as Dreamboi emerged onto the Brooklyn nightlife scene giving us all the lewks, beats and drama our bodies could stand both on the stage and within the DJ booth. And now a Brooklyn Nightlife Award nominee as well as a MR(S) BK pageant contestant, they are on the verge of making all of our wildest dreams come true.
Thotyssey: Dreamboi, hello! Nice to meet you!
Dreamboi: Hi! Thanks so much for having me.
You’ve been under the weather… feeling any better?
I’m a lot better. Lots of anime, challah bread, and hot lemon and honey concoctions to thank for that!
God’s remedy! Well, I’m sure you could’ve used the rest, because you are definitely a busy bee. If somebody asked you “what do you do?” How exactly would you respond?
I guess it depends on the audience! I have always done too much, so I’m never short of personas or passions. Depending how much time they have, I could keep them entertained for a while. I think the hardest thing for me about that question is deciding which parts I won’t mention. I think growing up gay and hiding so much of myself for so long, I struggle to find succinct ways to describe myself that feel honest.
Where are you from… and what were you into growing up, artistically?
I was born in Illinois, and I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up, I only wanted to be an actor. I came out as gay when I was 18, but I had known since I was a kid. My relationship with acting when I was young was as an honest emotional outlet in an otherwise closeted life. After I came out, the roles reversed, and I could explore my honest emotions offstage better than on. I didn’t want to play straight anymore, but that’s the only kind of roles that existed.
Acting became quite arduous for me. I was learning for the first time how to hold my body as a gay boy, how I talked, who I was, who my friends were… and acting had no space for people like me to discover ourselves in that way. I went to a conservatory program, and was told by liberal New York theater artists that the way I held my body was too effeminate, my voice was too high in my instrument, etc. — and I think a lot of gay actors can relate to that. I loved performing, but it was clear that these stages did not love me, and had no intentions of welcoming me. That was a hard realization for me, and it took me a while to find the confidence to perform again after. So I spent a few years after college just hiding from performance.
I think that’s why I’m so in love with the Brooklyn drag scene right now. We are all about challenging the spaces that we are disinvited from, and about empowering our bodies, and loving our bodies in tangible ways… creating a culture unlike any other that really celebrates our difference, and the courage to be loudly queer in an unloving world. I think we are creating the most intelligent and exciting stages in the world.
How exactly did Dreamboi come about?
Well… the first time I started releasing art as Dreamboi was in a Soundcloud scene of Nightcore DJs in 2014 or 2015, which was such a ridiculous and fun little internet bubble to be a part of. On the surface, we were just speeding up lost pop songs and turning them into hyper dance tracks, but we were also fostering a really loving and supportive community. There were people of all experience levels learning how to make music together and talking about new music, so there was a lot of skill-sharing and workshopping. It’s because of that community that I started teaching myself how to produce music on Ableton, and it also inspired the way I look at the artistic community now… as a way to foster each other and become better artists together.
Dreamboi only became my drag persona later, once that project was secure enough that I just didn’t want to add another new name to my repertoire (I still think about creating a separate drag ego, but for the time being it’s housed in the Dreamdoi project along with DJing and pop music edits).
Do you perform this music live in any way, or play it in your DJ sets?
Oh, definitely [DJing]! there’s a lot of them that are a regular part of my repertoire, some are even from 2015! That was a really good year for Soundcloud, lol. DJing is really about curating other people’s experience, so I try to prioritize how the room is feeling. For drag gigs and dance parties, Nightcore edits work great and blend in alongside the more expected things.
In terms of performing it — I haven’t yet. I really love to tell stories in drag numbers, and often the songs that speak to me in that way are pretty raw, rambling, unprocessed — the opposite of polished pop music. It’s definitely possible, though! My inspiration is quite wily and hard to predict, lol,… so I go where my heart leads me most of the time.
Did I hear that you have some sort of connection to the House of Velour?
Sasha and I went to college together. When I moved to Brooklyn, Sasha was the first person I knew in the drag scene. I was somewhat involved with [Sasha’s show] Nightgowns early on — I was at the first one, I DJ’ed the second one. But for the first couple of years I thought I’d just be an audience member. I think watching Sasha perform and grow and create queer spaces helped radicalize me. It took a while to divorce myself from capitalist structures. I was scared to be an independent artist, but it’s the only life that I can imagine now.
What inspires your aesthetic and performing style as a queen?
I am HIIIGH FEMME. It’s like shaking a bottle of soda and then twisting the cap. I’ve got so much femme energy to give to this world, and drag definitely broke the seal! As a performer, emotional honesty is at the forefront for me. I’m an emotional person, so I like to bring that into my drag.
But I’ve been evolving a lot this past year. I used to host and produce a show called Nite Heist that was very theatery- it was 7-10pm, sit-down crowd, so that was my imagined audience: sober, attentive, and ready to get emotional with me. I’m starting to perform at bigger parties and be way more involved in nightlife, so my performances are changing. I’m learning the joys of performing in chaotic environments where you have to fight for people’s attention.
The Nite Heist Show at Bizarre Bushwick is where I first heard of you… any thoughts on that venue and it’s growing unpopularity with queer performers, who seem to be largely moving their shows elsewhere due to lack of payment from the management and generally unfavorable conditions?
Once I took my show out of there, I realized how exhausting trying to produce with no financial guarantees from the venue was. I’ll never do it again, and it’s definitely an exploitation of show producers and queer performers.
I love The Rosemont because of the work that Troy Carson (the owner and manager) does to improve that space for us — new lights, mirrors, new audio equipment — not to mention the guaranteed pay from the bar. Troy is doing right by us, and you can see it in the shows that are happening there: Oops, Sad Songs, Bitch Nasty, Fake Nudes, Untitled’s solo showcase… the list goes on, including the shows I’m involved with there: Theydy Bedbug’s Wannabe (first Tuesday of every month) and Emi Grate’s Last Month Tonight (Last Tuesdays). There are so many iconic nights at the Rosemont because that space is fostering us, and it’s obviously mutually beneficial.
On that note, congrats on your Brooklyn Nightlife Award nomination for DJ on the Rise! That must feel super validating!
It absolutely does. It’s easy to forget how radical what we do is. It’s important to remember that assembling with other queer people and making space for ourselves to be together and open is a privilege that a lot of queers in the world right now could be killed or rounded up or abused for doing. When we make space together, we are inventors of the future of how queer people love each other, and how queer people are loved. For a lot of us, these spaces are some of the only times when we truly get to belong. So, I hope to keep creating conscientious queer spaces where we treat each other with dignity and respect — like family — and make spaces that are safe for all people to self-express proudly and in the name of fun and love. I really love this community, and to be nominated means that people recognize me as a community member.
Well said! And speaking of our queer community and earlier of the Rosemont, you will be DJing a special fundraiser on Sunday called On Welfare, hosted by Strawberry and, um, [Unintelligible Screaming], along with many great performers. Can you tell us more about this night and this cause?
Yes, we’re fundraising for Akrum Salem, a friend of the scene who’s been dealing with homelessness and health issues. We’ve fundraised before, for Aeliana Nicole, a trans woman who was the victim of a hit and run and who has had to deal with physical and financial costs of that accident for years. These benefit shows are a way to redirect resources to the most vulnerable in our community without any bureaucratic nonsense or red tape. and we’re going to have some really great performances and raffle prizes to boot, so it’s a cute night for a great cause.
And on Wednesday, you’re back DJing at Brooklyn’s new favorite venue The Vault for your new twice-a-month show with Blvck Laé D, Blvck Out! How was March’s premiere, and what are your hopes and goals for this night?
That show is definitely growing. The Vault is a really cute space, and Wednesdays have become a staple Brooklyn drag night thanks to parties like Oops and Cakes, so we’re currently aiming to be sort of a pre-game space where people can hang out and amp up for the shows at those parties. The premiere was cute, and I think as the summer approaches it’s gonna be a really fun night.
You and Blvck are gonna compete in the third prelim round for MR(S) BK! Will this be your first pageant?
it’s actually my second — I was in one of the Dragnet rounds in January. I’m not really a competition person; if you can tell from my personal statements, I’m a big believer in fostering diversity and community. But pageants are an important part of the scene, and I think being a community member means showing respect for the things that have helped this community grow. So, that’s why I’m participating. But whatever happens, to me a competition is a success if you get a new dress or wig or number out of it that you like. As long as you’re growing and pushing yourself.
On May 3rd, you’re in a large roster of performers at 3 Dollar Bill for this year’s Razor 5000, which functions as Horrorchata’s birthday party, a benefit for the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, and an all around megakiki! That should be pretty amazing.
I cannot wait. Currently planning my stunts! It’s Horrorchata, so I know I’ve gotta do something big. I love her. She’s one of the most amazing event producers ever. All of her parties — Razor 5000, Be Cute, Yas Mama, and a little party called Bushwig — they all have her mark on them. Her vision for nightlife is aspirational. She recently hosted at the Brooklyn Museum for the Frida Kahlo exhibit, which was so awesome. I could gush about Chata forever!
Are you doing Bushwick this year?
If I do, it will be my first one… so I’m gonna plan something people will remember.
Amazing! Anything else to mention?
Well, Pride month is my favorite holiday… and so far, I’ve never been booked for Pride! So I’m hoping to have some cute Pride gigs this year!
Book this queen, Pride venues! Okay, last question: if you had to pick one super basic pop song to Lip Sync for Your Life to, what would it be?
Is Gaga basic? I’m a huge Gaga stan. Who am I kidding, the answer is Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”
That would do it! Thank you, Dreamboi!