The runner up winner of this past season of the Iconic drag competition, drags newest singing sensation with an impressive pedigree is proving that she is much more than even that. You’re not ready for Castrata! [Cover photo: @currentlymouserat]
Thotyssey: Hello, Castrata! Thanks for chatting with us today! So it’s been a day and change since the finale of Iconic, the long-form and extremely challenging drag competition at Icon Bar where you won second place. How are you feeling about it all today?
Castrata: I honestly feel great! When I decided to do Iconic, I told myself I didn’t care if I won, because for me it was about challenging myself to create new numbers, new looks, and to introduce myself to the Astoria community! I’m so glad it’s over now, haha! I am such an anxiety wreck during competitions.
In the finale you did two live sung numbers, a themed runway and a final lip sync battle with Jax (who ultimately won). That first number of yours was particularly great… super stylish and jazzy! You must’ve been super proud of that performance.
OMG! After we finished the jazz number, I felt SO happy! I can’t stop watching the video! I could feel the whole bar invested and attentive, which is always nice.
Your backup dancer was cute, too!
Gavin Calais was my dancer! He is a friend of mine from college, and I’m so grateful for his help! He helped me so much through the competition, too. He filmed and edited my video for the video challenge in the Phobia week, and danced in my second week number.
It’s been a very eventful Iconic season, to say the least. Did you have a favorite moment during the prelim rounds, on or off stage?
So, the week of the duo/groups was probably the most stressful, but most rewarding of them all. I was originally in a duo team with Laurel and we ended up absorbing Zeta because there were an odd number of queens. We had an idea that ended up not coming to fruition, and we came up with our whole concept, choreo, mix and costumes in a matter of days. We were the Powerpuff Girls, and we were the BEST number that night! We worked so fast and so furiously to put it together. I was so proud of the number, and everyone in the audience was living! Definitely one for the books.
Amazing! I know there was some controversy surrounding Essence’s elimination at one point, but there is always going to be drama in these competitions when everyone is working so hard to put out their best work. Did you ever feel bogged down by any of that stress?
Oh absolutely. There were a few moments in the competition that left everyone gagged. It is what it is, though. There was nothing I could personally do to change any outcome, so I never let any of those feelings play out for too long.
Overall it seems like it was a positive experience for everyone. Would you return for an All-Stars season, if that ever happened?
Oh wow… my initial thought is “no,” because I’m so burnt out from this one! But, if you asked me in, like, a year, and if it was four or five weeks instead of eight, I would consider it more!
So where are you from originally… and was music and performance always a part of your life?
I was born and raised in Houston, TX! I started singing when I was young. My sister would sing a lot at home, and I basically listened to whatever she was listening to: lots of Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls, Céline Dion, etc. I played french horn from 5th to 11th grade, and in middle school I started doing theatre. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I realized I was going to try and make singing my career. Musical theatre was a wonderful medium for that, so I went on to major in it. And now I’m here! I performed successfully in Houston and got my Equity card, and then decided to make the move to NYC to elevate myself!
Have you worked in any productions here yet?
I had a few good callbacks when I was auditioning my first year here, but I wasn’t booking anything. When the audition season ended, I was bored; I had been saving a lot of money from work, and then that’s when I decided it was time to try drag. So I put the auditions on the back burner. I do want to get back into it, though.
How did you come into drag exactly? Did you immediately start showing up to the competitions with your name and look down?
I went to the Kryolan store and got the essentials. I took a stage makeup course in college, so I had an idea of what I was looking for and what I needed. For about a month or so, I would sit down on my days off and paint. I was always very worried of this element, because I always feel like I’m not artistic with my hands… but I always surprise myself. I was not bad on my first few tries. It took me a while to get the brows blocked, though!
As I was learning and practicing, I started shopping for looks and thinking of my name. My name actually came to me on the bus on my way to work. I wanted it to be one name, and show in some way that I was a singer, and be clever. Thus, Castrata was born! I didn’t think a lot of people would get it, but I have actually had lots of people come up to me and they’re like “OMG your name is perfect!” So, I know I made the right choice.
My first outing was my actual birthday. I wanted it to be symbolic of Castrata’s birth, because I’m a nerd! It was at Albatross for karaoke. I met [host] Jacklynn Hyde, and I was so nervous… but she was so sweet to me! It ended up being a preliminary audition for Albatross Idol that night and I was like, “why not?” So I ended up doing the finale! I didn’t win, though. I didn’t have enough drink votes in my favor that night!
Even though you’re an amazing singer, did you ever get any criticism for being a live singing queen when so many bar queens solely lip sync?
It’s funny, because I didn’t really consider it. I knew that what I was delivering was unique, and I always wanted to push my talent to the forefront. I pretty much only sang for the whole first year. I did my first lip sync to “Gorgeous” from The Apple Tree, and I remember the girls were like “I didn’t know you could lip sync and show comedy!” My thought process was, “why lip sync it, when I can just actually sing it?”
The first person to say anything directly to me about it was Lagoona. She told me that when she started, she was all about singing… and it was fabulous, but it wasn’t until she started lip syncing more that people started to see all of her star power. So she really inspired me to start. I made my first mix for Iconic, and it was a mix of live singing and lip syncing… which was super fun!
How did you meet Lagoona Bloo, and when did she become your drag mom?
I met Lagoona at her show at the West End. My co-worker and I were closing up the restaurant I work at, and he was like, “I’m gonna go to Lagoona’s show,” and he invited me. Of course, I knew who she was already, because I admired so much of what she was doing with Jan and Rosé [as the singing group Stephanie’s Child].
So after her first number, she looks at me and she’s like “oh, you’re here… now I don’t want to sing.” I was so gooped that she knew who I was. She was super sweet, though, and afterward she told me if I wanted to guest, to message her. I was so shocked that she asked me, but I hopped on it, and I think I guested the following week with her. And then I did another night with her a couple weeks later.
Pride rolled around, and I bought tickets to go to a party that she was performing at. After her performances, we I got to sit down with her and kiki for real. We actually have so much in common, and we really bonded that night. I started going to more of her shows, and then we graduated to hanging out and she would give me little pointers here and there on my drag.
I never pushed the drag mom storyline on her, because she told me early on that her and the other girls said they would not have any drag children because they wanted to focus on their careers… which I totally understood. I was just happy being her friend! Eventually, she just gave in. We were hanging out a lot, she was helping me a lot with my makeup and other drag elements, and we were becoming very close—it just made sense. So she bit the bullet and was like “Okay, you’re mine.” Of course, I happily accepted and since then, I have grown even more. She says I follow direction well, haha!
I loved that Lauren Ordair was in the audience for the Iconic finale… she’s your drag great grandmother!
I know! I’ve been learning about all of the lineage, and it’s so interesting. It’s a pretty iconic drag lineage, and I’m honored to be a part of it. Lauren has been so kind to me, and I hope I get to work with her!
Did you want to throw a shoe at the TV when Stephanie’s Child was on AGT and Simon Cowell was kind of a dick to them? Lagoona did let him have it, though.
Ugh… I watched it at Hardware with them for the viewing party. Simon is such a troll. I was cracking up when she put him in his place! I was running around screaming; we were beating the walls. It was everything. I was like “THAT’S MY MAMA!”
You and your mama have been performing together for a few dates at Don’t Tell Mama, in a duet cabaret called Mamacitas! You’ll be back there on Friday, and then again for three more dates: December 6th, December 20th (a holiday edition) and January 3rd.
And we are going to be featured in Don’t Tell Mama’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza! More details on that soon!
Tell us about Mamacitas!
The show is 98% live singing, and we try to focus on musical theatre. A lot of people only want to hear pop music and top 40 lip syncs, so this is a niche show for the theatre queens in the city. Lagoona and I both did musical theatre in college and after, so it’s nice to have a space dedicated for it. We use the first half of the show to talk about how we met, became family, and our relationship. Then we just do whatever we want. We have had different songs each time, so it is kept fresh for repeat audience members.
That sounds amazing! Anything else coming up to report, as far as appearances or projects?
When Jackie Cox came and judged for Snatch Game [at Iconic], she told me I needed to start writing a Mariah Carey impersonation show. So, I’m working on putting together a Mariah Carey Christmas show… which is perfect, because it’s the 25th Anniversary of her iconic Christmas Album. So look out for that! Just need to convince someone to let me play in their venue!
That would be everything! Okay on that note, last question: what’s the top item on your Christmas list?
To be booked! I’m staying in the city for the holidays, and I wanna do a ton of shows! And… tickets to Mariah’s Christmas concert at Madison Square Garden!
Get on it, Santa! Thank you Castrata!