Our current reigning Mx. Nobody is hilariously meta, wonderfully bizarre, and basically taking over Brooklyn nightlife. Thotyssey brings you… Brenda!
Thotyssey: Hello Brenda! Thanks so much for talking to us today! So, belated congratulations on your Mx. Nobody pageant win! Where at home are you showcasing your cardboard crown?
Hello Jim! Thank YOU! And thank you for the congratulations. It–the crown, along with the sash–is on top of my dresser at the moment, watching over anyone who happens to be in my room!
Werk! Tell us how you enjoyed the whole Mx Nobody experience. Given that you won it, I’m guessing lots!
Yes! It was such a fun and welcoming show, and a blast to be able to perform alongside so many diverse artists!
Can you describe what your performance for the finale was?
Of course! A lot of my current drag is sort of self-referential, meta performances that pokes fun at the state of “commercial” drag at the moment. My number began with a dramatized scene following me onstage after a “show” in my “dressing room” where I start ranting about basic-ass pop songs, recycling heterosexual content and the artistry of drag, while preceding to do a basic-ass Ariana Grande song. It’s me doing the number, while also satirizing the number at the same time!
Love it! That kind of is the state of drag though, isn’t it? So much “safe” pop numbers. Not that there isn’t a place for that and not that that isn’t fun, but… so much!
Yes. It feels as though It’s gotten very saturated with an affinity towards looks and glamour and “coolness!” It’s a blast, but yes… there is a lot of it.
Well, it ‘s probably all long overdo for a healthy meta dissection.
2020 is the year of deconstructed drag I hope!
You also were part of Mr(s) BK a few months ago, how did the two pageants compare?
They’re similar in structure, but different in tone I think. I tried to go for a bigger production of a number for MR(S) BK because it felt like a different sort of audience and group of performers.
So, lets get the full #brendabeat!
The #brendabeat, I love that. That’s a TV segment somewhere!
All in good time! Where are you from, and what were you into growing up as far as art, performing, etc.?
I grew up in New Jersey, where I was certainly a theatre girl. I did some regional productions, went to a performing arts high school, and went to a lot of shows in New York. I’ve always been a reader, but also a huge TV and news junkie, so as I finished high school I decided I wanted to move away from studying theatre in college and focus on journalism and film!
This is an exciting time to be a news junkie, I guess! Or, like, a terrible time… depending on where you’re coming from.
It’s true! I think a lot of people are either actively keeping up, or fully disassociating!
So, how did Brenda begin?
Brenda began when I got back to NYC last year! I had done drag in college with a few friends (my name was Gertie? Ha!) where we’d perform at house parties and theater events on campus. But after college, and living elsewhere before New York, I stopped doing drag until this past December.
And then where were you showing up?
I started doing open sets around Brooklyn—going out, showing up to places, putting together numbers. I had already been auditioning in theater again, as well as performing in the comedy scene, but I knew I really wanted to incorporate all of that by getting into drag.
Are you still actively involved in theater and auditioning, or has Brenda taken over?
I’m not auditioning at the moment, though I’d like to get back into screen acting auditions soon. I still do comedy shows and work on sketch videos and film production projects with people I’ve worked with, or good friends! But yes… Brenda is quickly becoming a full-time commitment! She’s soooo needy.
Is Brenda a completely made up persona, or is she more of a “heightened” Brendan?
I think she’s a bit of both. She’s definitely a heightened, extended version of myself, but I also gave her a full backstory and history.
And how did you come to decide that she shouldn’t have a last name?
With my given name being Brendan, the drag name “Brenda” was for a few different reasons. A.) Why the hell not!) B.) It really works for the archetypal character I wanted her to be—the sort of crass, forlorn middle class white woman from the northeast, and C.) I thought it would be interesting to use it as a vessel for my own transness and story to poke a little fun at how dichotomous gender still is today.
Do you think Brenda fits well into the landscape of Brooklyn nightlife? You seem like a true original in that scene.
Aw thank you! I hope so! I think it’s easier to be different in nightlife than to be “indispensable” or “needed,” if you will. And that’s what I try to go for.
You’ve been hosting a Tuesday show at The Rosemont called “What Are We Doing Tonight?” Tell us more!
We’re bi-weekly at the moment, actually! It’s a new duo show with me and Mthr Trsa where the two of us pull out all sorts of shenanigans–be it voiceovers, live singing, lip syncing to TV ads, dancing duets, ya di ya da. She’s away in Florida this week, so last night I made it a one woman show! It went over really well, and was a blast to put together!
And on Thursday, you’ll be at Father Knows Best for a celebration of Libras! Are you super into horoscopes, or just “average queer” into them?
It’s funny, actually. I’m a Leo, and did the first iteration of that party, which Evan Jambor produces, back in August. But someone pulled out last minute, so I’m filling in! The Insta group literally is titled “Lustrous Libras (and Brenda)” Ha! As for me, I’m not super into horoscopes or astrology.
It’s kind of becoming the New Old Gay Religion!
Yeah. I think a lot of queers believe they know a lot more about astrology than they actually do.
Friday, you’ll be performing with the Str8 to DVD crew over at Gold Sounds.
Yes! It’s a fundraiser show, which I’m very excited about! It’s also full circle, since Str8 to DVD was the first drag show in New York I was booked on!
And you’re also gonna be part of Rify Royalty’s fan favorite monthly Straight Acting on its 5th anniversary at Metropolitan next Thursday. That should be fairly epic!
Yes! I’m very excited! It’s an amazing lineup, and I’m hoping to really bring some new, fun work!
And looking ahead, on November 2nd you’ll be with the British-Jewish crew Buttmitzvah for a post-Halloween rager at 3 Dollar Bill! How did you get on that lineup!?
Yes! The organizer of the event, Josh Cole, was given my name by a couple of mutual friends we know here in New York!
Anything else coming up?
I’m working on a large solo show happening in November that I’m hoping to submit to some of the big comedy festivals for this coming season. So look out for that campaign!
Amazing! And I see you’ve ventured into podcasting… tell us about that show, VOICEMAILS!
Yes! It’s Mthr Trsa and I once again! The two of us dish about New York, drag, nightlife, queers, sex, etc. etc. We’re working to make it a regular thing and to have guests on soon for interviews!
Sign me up! Okay, last question: what’s been your favorite thing about drag thus far… and what’s been your least favorite?
Yay! My favorite thing about it is it’s interdisciplinary nature—that I’m able to act, dance, sing, lip sync, write, dress up, put on makeup all for the same show! To be able to create and perform your own work is the most thrilling feeling.
My least favorite is probably the money aspect. Drag is expensive, and drag artists are constantly underpaid for the work and art they create.
Tip these queens! Thank you, Brenda!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Brenda’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.