She’s lived in Honduras, Miami, New York and Boston (but never Germany), and now she’s a true digital diva. But now the fierce Lady German is also a full fledged Drag Ambassador, and she wants you to get out (or mail in) your vote in 2020!
Thotyssey: Hello Lady German! Thanks so much for talking to us today! These are crazy times, how are you holding up?
Lady German: I’ve just started pushing myself even more, learning new things, trying to adjust. In all honesty, this pandemic has reminded me of who I am in so many ways, that at times I feel like a younger drag queen again–learning things and going through them all over again.
It’s true… not to sound like Madonna, but there is something equalizing about the lockdown. Everyone is in the same boat, and we all have to stretch ourselves creatively and practically in new ways to continue making art.
You know, I think it’s very true… we are all very much in the same boat. But like Madonna also said, “express yourself!” And that’s what I see these kids doing–they are practicing new things, they are open to learn from others, and performers with higher platforms are helping out local performers. It’s very beautiful, and amazing, because you really, truly get to see how we as a community stick together no matter what! And that’s drag to me: celebrating each other.
These days, you are a podcaster and a digital drag diva. What are the joys and sorrows of performing and being expressive without a physically present audience?
I was saying this to myself and my co-host from [our podcast] “No Brows Given” Erika Knodler that even though I miss being live on a stage with people, I’ve expanded myself into meeting new people. I’ve learned so much from the guests I’ve had on my podcast, and gained some new sisterhoods and connections.
Now going to the actual performance in full gieshhh… it’s hard at times. But every time I co-host “College Tuesday” [digitally] with Zarria Powell, I have so much fun. Words can’t describe the feeling, because I don’t feel like I am in my room when I’m doing the show; I feel like I am with everyone at the Ritz, having a blast. But then the night comes to an end, and I’m like, “oh no, time to log out.”
But I am so grateful for that though, because I’ve been homeless through this pandemic and I’ve gone through tough things. But like I always say: drag is my survival skill. And that’s why College Tuesday is my self care, and I know it’s others’ self care as well. After every show, I get messages from guest performers saying “it’s so much fun any time I’m there.”
Tell us about how Boston is doing now. Here in NYC, despite really low Covid infection rates, venues are still closed aside from limited outdoor seating… and even that is being strictly policed.
Well, Boston is Boston; there is never anything really going on here. Only joking! I mean, Boston is practically still closed; like, right now no venues are open. I think it’s more strict than New York. I know that the performers here have their weekly Twitch show. I’ve personally have had the blessing to have a drag mother that is a producer and promoter who has connections to get me some side gigs, like a documentary film that’s still undergoing about POC drag artists and trans women.
But like New York, in Boston we’ve had the BLM protest, Trans Lives Matter, and a really cool [demonstration] that was very spiritual, led by the Taino and indigenous people of Boston [calling for] the “dismantling of white supremacy.” For a moment, Boston was a very dark place. It was truly scary; words can’t describe, because it’s such a small city. But some states went through this [so the people could have] equal rights. Violence isn’t the answer, but people who riot have nothing left to lose.
As far as Boston nightlife goes, the queer bar Machine closed earlier this year, and now the building was recently demolished. Some people had problems with the management there, but it was still an important part of the history of the queer Boston scene. Did you have a connection to that bar?
When I left New York two years ago, I messaged my drag auntie Cynthia Lee Fontaine; she said to message Dusty Moorehead, one of the hosts at Machine. So I put on my best drag and I went and promoted myself, and the next week I was hosting Latin nights upstairs with Ever Vega, one of the promoters at Machine and many other venues. Ever is my legendary [Boston] drag mother, who focuses now in club promoting and has been in the game for 13 years… one of Boston’s best Latin hosts and promoters. She [currently] has her residency at Boom Saturdays in La Makina. Ever is an amazing person to the Latin community in Boston, and does so much.
Machine was home, and the start for so many performers. There wasn’t any performer that could say that they weren’t welcomed there, because everyone was. Downstairs was 18 plus, so you had an open stage for basically any performer. Even though a lot of Boston queens don’t dance or do stunts, one thing I have to say is they know how to tell a story or make you laugh.
The best Machine memory for me was opening up my very own drag competition, helping young artists push themselves and giving them a platform to perform. Even then there were rumors that [Machine] was going to close, but it kept going. My memories there were great. I’ve never had an issue with management; they were very professional. But again, when you act professional people say you’re a bitch… so no one is ever happy, lol! But I believe Machine was the heart of drag in Boston. It celebrated drag like crazy, so it hurts that some people will say that [they had problems with the management there].
One crazy memory: there was one night when an audience member tried taking my microphone out of my hand to read a queen, who was my finalist in Evolution Queen… and you know people were like, whhhhaaaaaa!? So I am like, “nope not today!” Then I grabbed the microphone and said, “no, let her. She wants to talk, let’s give her a moment.” So when she come toward me to grab it the second time, I bopped her gently on her head and read her, and reminded her I am from New York. One thing about New York queens: bitch, we always have a costume underneath for lip sync battles. The crowd went crazy!
Let’s review your origin story! Where are you from originally?
I am a first generation immigrant from Tegucigalpa, Honduras; I came to this country at a very young age illegally. I grew up in Miami, but it never felt like home to me. So when I got awarded to the State of Florida I got my papers, and at the age of 16 ran away to New York City.
You had a hard time in Miami?
Growing up in Little Havana was hard because being told I was gay without me even voicing my truth–THAT I AM TRANS–hurt. Seeing my mother letting the “hood” get to her with drug addiction and other things made me want something better. But I was always told even by teachers that I would never be somebody. When I started working for a nonprofit, I became an activist and a met a women named Sarah Downing who I loved. She introduced me to Paris is Burning and many [other aspects of] iconic LGBT culture and history.
And even at that age, I didn’t realize I was a drag queen–even though I played with makeup. The crazy thing, looking back, is when I got to New York the first place I went to in nightlife was Webster Hall. There I was, sitting VIP with iconic legends like Amanda Lepore, Susanne Bartsch, Kayvon Zand, etc. But that night changed me–I saw kids my age wearing makeup and dancing and being fierce. That’s when I said, “this is me!” I felt like Justin from Queer as Folk… just amazed.
What else was inspiring you at that transitional time?
I really got into disco; I started listening to Miss Ross, Donna’s “On the Radio” and more music, and it liberated me. Disco brought colors to my life, and pushed the dark clouds away.
At the time, I really didn’t have fashion sense, to be honest–I was a club kid making art on myself–until I watched Bianca Del Rio on Drag Race. I said, “wow there’s someone like me on TV–Honduran and Cuban! I want to be just like that!” So I remember just practicing makeup even more, and trying to learn how to sew by myself… and at the same time, be authentic to myself.
Side note: my first Pride in New York was hosted by Bianca. And after that year, I was always on the Pride stage doing shows… but full circle moment, I opened up the first World Pride fest as a host! Crazy, isn’t it?
That’s amazing! So when did you officially become a performing queen yourself?
One day I went to Stonewall, and Jacqueline Dupree said to me, “hey girl, you look great! Want to do a number?” That was when I started performing on the stage. It felt like this is me, this is who I am. Even though it was just a bar show, I remember thinking [at one point] that I might be alone in this world, [but in that moment] I felt celebrated for the first time.
And as my drag career began, I learned fashion from being inspired by local queens and being open to learn more things from others. My first drag mother was Kristy Blaze; she taught me a lot about performance and how to control all that energy I have, and to just practice. Then I went solo, and learned so much about comedy by others like Brita Filter (whom I love dearly), Pissi Myles, and many more talented artists. A part of each performer I’ve come to cross paths with molded me to the queen I’ve become; they were all like the mothers I never had, and it all felt full circle.
Where did your drag name come from, by the way?
People always called me a sissy or said I am too feminine… and I would tell them, “no, I am not… I am a Lady!” So my best friend [suggested I go by] Lady German, and that I should always then add “I don’t speak German, but I can if you like,” when introducing myself. So it was a balance: a way of taking power over things I’d been called, with staying authentic to myself.
Is performing in Boston a lot different than performing in NYC?
Boston is very natural; a lot of amazing art. But you see the same crowd you saw Monday on Wednesday at the next venue, and the same for the next day. It’s such a small scene that it’s always the same people, just different venues. But in New York, you have to keep up. You need to say “I am great… but how much better can I get?”
In the words of Bob the Drag Queen,” New York has the best drag queens in the world.” So to those who say New York is dead, no it’s not. Tune in to Holly Dae’s shows on Facebook. [See online shows from New York queens] AndrogyNY, Novaczar and Lyra Vega… and even College Tuesday. In this pandemic, the gals are keeping the community alive and full of joy.
But that’s definitely why I like traveling, networking, doing Pride in different parts of the country and world–because just like my drag grandmother Naomi Vega told me last night, “don’t get stuck in Boston after this pandemic like I have. You have so many opportunities and doors open for you, go for them. Don’t just stay here because we’re here… keep chasing what your chasing.”
As you mentioned earlier, since quarantine started you’ve been a performing hostess for College Tuesday on Zoom with DJ Steve Sidewalk, Zarria, cute gogo boys and guest stars! College Tuesday of course was originally a live party, most recently at the Ritz.
I think now people have seen me more on Zoom College Tuesday then back [at the Ritz]! I love College Tuesday–I used to go back when Honey Davenport, and Yuhua Hamasaki were hosting. But I feel like when Zarria Powell took over, I officially became a part of the family. Steve Sidewalk is an amazing DJ who is also great mentor; I see him as a gay father figure. The Ritz is home to me, and when I moved back to New York last year Zarria said to come do a show at College Tuesday… so I did! Steve and everyone have been nothing but kind and supportive to me.
We all put in so much work to make it happen: from Steve spinning and keeping the vibe going, to Zarria hosting and performing, to the boys dancing. They trust and believe in me, and that goes with me trying get sponsors, getting guests, making flyers and performing / hosting.
I love helping and supporting our community, and so do Steve and Zarria. Even going virtually, we still have the same goals: to make the community happy, and lift them up through times like this.
You are also Massachusetts’ drag ambassador to Drag Out the Vote. Tell us about that group, and what they do.
Drag Out The Vote is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization started by Jackie Huba whose mission is to educate, register, and turn out voters with the art and activism of drag. I am a part of Drag Out The Vote’s Drag Ambassador Program, which is a first-of-its-kind initiative to mobilize drag artists in all 50 states to increase voter participation in their communities this November.
As a the Drag Ambassador of Boston, MA, my mission is to get my community to vote and to remind them that they have the power to change the future with voting, and that it is important to be politically inclined. So that’s why I’m pushing Drag Out the Vote shows… to motivate and get us fired up and ready to vote this November!
Info from Drag Out the Vote
• 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ adults is not registered to vote.
• 100 million people did not vote in the 2016 election.
• Youth voter turnout had a historic high in the 2018 midterms… of only 35%.
Issues That Peoples’ Vote Can Make Happen:
• LGBTQ Equality
• Trans rights
• Queer workplace protections
• Better access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and gender-affirming healthcare
Calls to Action:
• Register to vote at DragOutTheVote2020.org
• Follow @dragoutthevote on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
OTHER WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Help us get voters registered and out to the polls in 2020 and beyond!
Every dollar donated to Drag Out The Vote™ goes towards civic education, voter registration, and getting people out to vote. Drag Out The Vote™ is focused on building our ability to make effective change by creating voter engagement all across the country in 2020 and beyond.
Donations to Drag Out The Vote are 100% tax-deductible.
Speaking of Drag Out the Vote shows, we should all tune in to the Digital Pridefest site on Thursday, August 27th, where you will be hosting a special event!
Y’all can join me and a fierce cast of Drag Out The Vote Drag Ambassadors, including Miz Diagnosis (Minneapolis, MN), Lacey Drawers (Nesbit, MS), and Kiki Von Kox (Norcross, GA) plus special guests from NYC Lyra Vega and Novaczar. “Politically Fishy” is a drag show extravaganza and voter registration drive. A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to @dragoutthevote efforts in 2020. Get your tickets!
You already talked about it right in the beginning, but tell us a little more about your podcast “No Brows Given.”
It’s about activism, embracing your truth, and standing up for others’ rights. We are now focused on POC performers: letting them voice their truth, their experiences in their careers as performers, and journeys as people. What Erika Knodler and I do is celebrate these performers by paying them a booking fee. And we make merchandise–whatever is sold is dedicated to that performer, all profits go to them. We want to help others in times of need. There are so many legendary queens that have been on; I am so proud of each one of them. Those podcasts are a great way to get to know your queens. And if you every want to hear what Boston has to say about life here, you should check out THE PEOPLE VOICE BOSTON. It’s amazing… we went out to interview people at the protest.
Anything else we need to say?
All I want to say is keep drag alive… whether it’s on the stage, your house, anywhere. Tune in this Tuesday or any Tuesday for College Tuesday, if you ever need some self-care. It’s totally free! Share your beauty, and remind yourself: even when you feel that others don’t believe in you, you should always believe in yourself first.
Lovely! And finally… what is a song from this summer you really can’t wait to perform live?
OMG yes… Dua Lipa’s album, lol! But especially “Free Woman” by Lady Gaga; as a trans women, it makes me feel free when she says “be free!”
Be free indeed! Thanks, Lady G!