A true showgirl, this multi-talented queen made her New York debut as an Ultimate Drag Pageant contestant and was later crowned an All-Star season winner. And in late September, you can catch her in Central Park… performing, of course. Behold the beautiful Bambina! [Cover photo: Corey Rives]
Thotyssey: Greetings Bambi! Actually, here’s the first thing I wanna ask you: what’s your name, exactly!? I’ve seen Bambi, Bambina, Bambina Kyle and Bambina the Don Diva. How do you prefer to be billed these days?
Bambina The Don Diva: Lol. I’m a queen of many names…. Bambina the Don Diva is the official title, but I mostly prefer Bambi, lol. I honestly always wanted to be just Bambi, but I guess being a queen “from New York” I felt pressured to have “full name.” And at the time I was a huge fan of Azaelia Banks, who would frequently called herself the Lil’ Bambina…. so I went with that. And I just added “Don Diva” to the end for a slight rhyme!
Got it! So, here we are now, officially in autumn.
OMG, where did she go, though!? Summer came and left! It felt like it went by so fast despite everything that happened.
That’s for sure. How did you like livestream drag during this lockdown?
Well, I personally didn’t participate in performing live shows… only because the lack of audience made me feel awkward. but watching [other queens’ shows] was so amazing. I’ve been binging Tina Twirler slaying on her rooftop! The online platform has definitely forced me to explore different forms of presenting content, though. I’ve definitely done a few prerecorded / edited music video style type things, which were really fun!
So, where are you from originally?
Silver Spring, Maryland. Right outside DC.
And what were your early creative pursuits that ultimately led to drag?
I sang a lot as a kid, and started dancing by middle school. I was exposed to musical theater in high school… definitely thought I’d be a Tony winner by 25!
Where were your first performances?
Mostly in school, church, family reunions, lol! My very first solo was in the first grade (I think) at the school talent show. It was “Wind Beneath My Wings ” by Bette Midler. I remember a few years after that, my parents put me in a boy choir. That was pretty amazing. A few of us got to perform on the main stage at the Kennedy Center; I literally felt like I made it! No one could tell me shit at 9. But after that, most of my performing was in high school shows… sometimes other community and regional theaters. Then I discovered drag in college.
And where did Bambi first twirl?
I got my start at West End Lounge! The Ultimate Drag Pageant hosted by Marti Gould Cummings and (at the time) Nedra Belle was my very first drag gig in the city. Since then, I’ve mostly guested at other queens’ shows all over the city. I’ve done Marti’s show at Hardware a couple of times, Vodka Soda, Suite, and shows out in Brooklyn (though I don’t remember where cuz I’m terrible with names… and that includes that of bars.)
But West End Lounge is definitely home; I perform there the most. I did their second cycle of “All-Stars,” which I actually won.
Yes, congratulations! And you also gave us some memorable numbers on the large stage of Sony Hall.
Oh yes! Leg Up on Life’s “Night of Life” is a huge dance and talent showcase featuring dancers, choreographers, drag queens and singers. It usually happens twice a year, produced and hosted by my really good friend Daniel Gold. Miz Diamond Wigfall and I did an epic performance of Britney Spears’ “Me Against the Music (featuring Madonna)” [in February]… one of the coolest numbers I’ve ever gotten to do. Night of Life gives production quality, so it’s always fun to feel like Beyoncé! For every Night of Life, all ticket proceeds go to the Trevor Project. We raised $4000 in February!
Generally, what’s a Bambina stage performance like these days (pretending that we still have stages, of course)?
Well, definitely high energy: hair flips, kicks, splits that actually kiss the floor. We love to twerk! We love to be seductive. We love to give a sultry moment, and I love a belting ballad type of motif as well. I give different vibes, but I think what all my performances have in common is passion. Most of my numbers have subtle messages, even if just for me. It’s not something I necessarily expect the audience to catch. But it gives every number meaning to me. I think that’s what people take away from my numbers… passion and meaning. Also, I encourage anyone to check out my Insta. I have a couple a videos that give a taste of me, and I plan on creating and adding more.
And soon we’ll have a rare chance to see you perform in person! You’re going to be participating in a really interesting showcase on Monday, September 28th in Central Park. Cherry Poppins, Elise Navy-Dad and AndrogyNY are presenting Dragged in the Park, which will feature several programming queens situated throughout the park, including yourself!
It’s honestly a really cool show. All the queens are representing different gay diva icons! Well, the divas aren’t gay… but they’re icons to the gay community, lol! You got Barbra, Xtina, Beyonce, Diana and Liza. All the queens are going to be located at different parts of the park while audience members are taken on a tour, through which they experience different performances. Because it is outside, we will all be practicing social distancing!
It’s combining two of our favorite gay things: drag, and lurking in the park!
Exactly! Tickets are only $35, but you can use Code: DIVA for $5 off!
Is there anything else coming up for you, or anything else you wanna discuss?
I will also be featured in Cicatrix’s Halloween digital show. We don’t have a set date… look out for that! As of right now, that’s all I have planned. And I’m really looking forward to Dragged Through the Park on Monday!
It’s gonna be so much fun! Okay, last question: what was the song of the summer for you?
“Rain On Me!” I know I’m basic…. but that song is a bop.
Thank you, Bambi!