Picking up drag in the “anything goes” San Francisco scene, this performer now sports refined glamor and elegance (not to mention an impressive array of self-styled wigs) as The Queen of The Rockaways. One of the few who are successfully balancing a domestic family life with the specific rigor of nightlife, Ginger Ladd’s digital performing perseverance through Covid lockdown is a uniquely personal mission.
Thotyssey: Hello Ginger! Thanks for chatting today! Happy October… are you a fan of the spooky season?
Ginger Ladd: I love Halloween. I would say that I’m very much into camp horror: Elvira, Lily Munster, Winnifred Sanderson, the Addams Family (Mortica Addams is such a babe). Spook with a nod to comedy! Currently, I am filming thirteen camp horror looks to release in October. I can’t wait to publish them.
And we can’t wait to see them! Besides those Halloween looks, I see you’re also gearing up for a digital drag competition finale.
Nan Tuckette is currently hold a “Digital Drag Showdown” in conjunction with her wig company Butch Kweens. We connected last year at NYC DragCon, and I absolutely adore her and her wigs. The competition started with fifteen girls, and we are down to the final three. Our final lip sync is this Saturday (9pm EST) on Instagram Live.
Good luck with the pageant! It’s one of many digital venues you’ve been partaking in these past few months.
[Digital] drag during this time has been such a driving force in my life. I lost my dad to COVID-19, and I found it very hard to push on. But I didn’t have a choice. The same month that my dad died, I became a dad with my husband; we ended up home schooling our son. I would have to say that knowing our son was relying on me so much forced me into surviving, and making his life a blessing.
Wow. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m glad to hear that your family’s remained strong.
Another thing that got me through besides my family was drag… and specifically my weekly show with Dreama Belle. She and I have worked together throughout NYC as the Rockaway Babes, and prior to the pandemic had three residencies in the Rockaways and Brooklyn. I adore Dreama Belle.
Just this last weekend, we traveled the ten and a half hours to Floyd, VA for her Pride event. I would do anything for her.
How long have you been a Rockaway girl… and where were you before?
Prior to New York, I lived in San Francisco, CA. I met my husband at a Shequida show in Manhattan. For the last six and a half years, Rockaway has been our home. The Rockaways is such a special place to [my husband Mike] and I. The community has embraced us, and he and I were honored in being named 2020 King and Queen of the Poseidon Parade, the sister festival to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.
I love all of that! How did you begin as a queen?
I first dipped my heels in drag in San Francisco. I had become friends with Sister Roma, and would go every week to Heklina’s show at The Stud. I have some absolutely terrible pictures of me in drag over a decade ago! It’s hard to explain… every time I geared up to begin my drag career, I usually made an excuse not to go all in.
As far as my name… well, it serves a few purposes. I am a ginger lad, so it did make total sense in that regard. But it also hearkens back to Cheryl Ladd from the 1977 second season of Charlie’s Angels… and to Ginger Grant, the bombshell redhead from Gilligan’s Island. I love the 60s and the 70s; I pull a lot of inspiration from those eras.
What do you observe as being the big differences between drag in San Francisco and New York?
Over the last few years, the lines have been blurred a bit with RuPaul’s Drag Race. Here alone, drag is different throughout the various boroughs. I found San Francisco drag to be very avant-garde… but the same can be found here, especially in Brooklyn. I’m not trying to be politic, but the regional differences are far less than they used to be, in my opinion.
I can imagine! Rockaway certainly doesn’t have a lot of it’s own obvious drag revues. Have you been able to perform there a lot over the years?
I have. Dreama and I have been able to book and host some amazing talent for our weekly shows including Tina Twirler, Islaya, Stella D’oro, FiFi DuBois, Jack Dahlia, Crimson Kitty, and so many more. Obviously things are on hold for now, but I recently worked with Matty Glitterati’s Femme Party to co-host a socially distanced, outdoor Rockaway Pride event this summer with. We performed at the venue, and then moved the party to Rockaway Beach. That was amazing. I have served as a judge for various competitions and events here in The Rockaway. My community is so loving and supportive.
You have a very elevated look, with giant gorgeous wigs and flawless beats! How long do you think it took you to really get that polish down?
I have always dabbled with makeup, even as a little boy. As a tattoo artist, my makeup follows some of the same rules as I follow as with tattooing–you really have one shot to make the tattoo correct. And as a portrait artist, I’ve learned how to play with contrast, shading, and exact lines to create a tattoo people love and cherish.
I didn’t know you did tattoos! I guess there are indeed a lot of similar “rules” with tattoos and drag. And you’re also a Puppet Queen!
Puppeteering is something I have always dabbled in. My parents bought me my first ventriloquist dummy when I was nine years old. The pandemic prompted me to find new avenues of reaching a larger audience. That’s where Minnie Ladd comes in. Minnie is a non-binary 9 year-old who loves to dress up, play with makeup and lip sync at home or with her friend Ginger Ladd. Definitely art imitating life. I know several non-binary children under the age of 10, and I wanted them to see Minnie and know that they are not alone.
Do you think balancing domestic family life and a drag career might prove to be a challenge for many… especially when considering the two very different schedules involved?
It could… if you didn’t have a family like mine. My husband and son are such fans of drag and of Ginger. If anything, having a career mostly at night frees me up during the day for things most people can’t get to until after school. That’s why my new job with UK-based Rockbabywigs is so ideal.
I have been styling wigs for some time, and often go live when styling. During the pandemic and after my dad passed, I threw myself into drag, hair, nails, and sewing. It was during a few of my online styling videos on IG that the owners of Rockbabywigs UK asked me if I would like to get to know them better. We spoke a few times, and hit it off so well. Rockbabywigs USA launches next week! I’m literally surrounded with wigs at the moment to style. So with two shows this weekend, [my weekly digital show] “Totally Tuesdays” with Dreama Belle, the wigs, my husband and son… I’m booked and blessed.
Those two weekend shows: Nan Tuckette’s digital drag competition finale that you’re participating in is Saturday night, as we mentioned earlier…
And then Sunday (7pm EST), FiFi DuBois presents a digital “Not So Spoopy HalloQween Party!” Queens from all over the land will be joining you for seasonal numbers, including NYC’s own Seraphim, Viva Vidalia and Avant Garbage, plus DJ Chauncey Dandridge. We love us some FiFi!
So do I. She and I have a similar ethos of always being busy. She is also fun and professional to work with behind the stage. Her show is going to be amazing… great diverse lineup of talent. Plus, I adore Halloween and Disney!
And I’m happy that you and your fellow Rockaway Babe Dreama are continuing your Instagram show “Totally Tuesdays” (7pm) through all of this… hopefully soon to return to your in-person Rockaway and Brooklyn shows.
On a more personal note, it must be very upsetting and rage-inducing for you when you see evidence of people disrespecting social distance / masks or even straight up denying the severity of Covid, given that you have such a personal connection to the pandemic’s effect.
It hurts. My dad… he did nothing wrong. He ended up having a mild heart attack, and had to go to the hospital during the apex of the first wave. He barely left the house. I have plenty to say about this off the record; at the same time, I have had to come to the realization that I can’t police the world. I will say this… wear a mask. Please. My heart is still healing from the loss. I wish I could be more forthcoming about my feelings… but I’m still coming to grips with it. My Dad… he loved his ginger lad. And he really did adore Ginger Ladd as well.
My heart goes out to you and your family… he would be so proud of all you’re doing today! Besides all we’ve discussed, you are dedicated to the extremely important cause of getting out the vote this year.
If I can ask anything of your viewership and followers at this important time of the year… VOTE. As a Drag Out the Vote Ambassador and as a queer artist with a trans-racial family… please vote. Our lives depend on you this November.
Amen! To close on a light and festive note: what is your best, go-to Halloween song?
“I Put a Spell on You.” Nina Simone or Bette Midler.
Love! Thanks so much, Ginger!