Starting her drag life as a digital queen, the spooky and mysterious Obscura eventually made herself known in NYC via the Ultimate Drag Pageant and other gigs. And now that lockdown has forced all drag into the unfamiliar territory of livestreams and videos, it’s quite the homecoming for this ghostly gal.
Thotyssey: Hello Obscura! Happy October! How is Halloween Month treating you so far?
Obscura: I’d say it’s treating me pretty well. I have a lot of projects I’m working on, and I feel this month is definitely the one month out of the year I can truly let some of my weirder concepts out into the world.
You’d say that your aesthetic is in line with Halloween?
Yeah, I’m definitely attracted to the macabre and more sinister side of drag. A lot of my references come from horror films, vintage spooky fashion, and just creepy things overall.
Do you have a particular favorite horror movie creature / killer?
That’s a very hard question… but I’ve always loved Stephen King and his film adaptions. One that always stands out to me is Christine the killer car. I’ve always loved classic cars, and to have one as the main antagonist in a film is very unique.
It would be something to see a killer car drag ensemble.
I have some ideas for a Christine look!
So where are you from originally, and how did you begin as a creative person?
I’m actually from NYC, and I’ve always been a very creative spirit. I’ve been doing painting and drawing for as long as I can remember, and I started photography and film when I was quite young– all skills I’ve been able to use in my drag since the beginning.
How did you begin performing as Obscura?
I had done theater and choir when I was younger, so performance was never something super out of the box for me. Obscura actually began as an internet queen when I was 16. I was doing Instagram and YouTube competitions, and that’s really what pushed me into being very conceptual. I went out (not performing at the time) in Brooklyn primarily when I started, because I felt I fit in a bit more there and everybody seemed to welcome me with open arms.
Then I started performing in bars and restaurants in Manhattan when I was 18 (oops), thanks to a few local queens I met through a brunch I went to. I feel like I was very much flying under the radar for a while until I did Ultimate Drag Pageant at the West End (RIP), and I really found my drag voice through that competition. I felt like I made such great bonds with the queens of my cycle; I can honestly say they are some of my favorite queens in the city.
I saw a few of those YouTube shows, they were fun! I had no idea you were so young at the time. Is it a weird full circle moment for you that all drag is digital now?
It really is, because a bunch of the internet community–people too young to go out, or from places with not much of a nightlife scene–pushed so hard to do virtual shows, I wanna say around four years ago. There were plans for so many that never happened… so I find it so strange that virtual shows are now the main medium for drag. I’ve always been very attracted to virtual shows because coming from a film background, I love to create stories and numbers that are fully immersive. I’ve started to do new numbers for virtual shows (one so far that happened) that truly show off what I’ve wanted to do with drag for a while.
It’s really a great way to reach and engage so many people beyond just pretty pictures on Insta.
Truly! I’ve been working on my own digital show for awhile, and it’s been very cool going about drag beyond a ring light and a backdrop. I also feel like my Instagram has been dead for awhile and isn’t really super planned out anymore, I just post whatever I can… but I’m working on fixing that!
Probably the only downside to being a virtual queen is that you don’t get a lot of personal interaction with audiences and other drag performers.
It’s why I tend towards more artistic numbers digitally, since it feels almost inorganic to do anything too theatrical and comedic in front of a camera lens. That being said, I’ve met so many queens online and throughout the city that I’m lucky to call sisters.
Speaking of Instagram, I’ see many shots of you on stage with the cast of Sasha Velour’s Nightgowns. That would be a perfect live showcase for what you present virtually, as it includes multimedia elements.
I haven’t performed at it, but I’d love to if it makes a return! Sasha has always been such a kind soul to me and the rest of the Nightgowns regulars, and it was such an honor to be invited to the filming of the Quibi series. I’ve also been able to meet so many talented queens and kings through that community that truly are innovators in their crafts.
You’ve got some shows of your own coming up, starting with Friday, October 23 (7pm). That’s when you’ll be in the digital lineup for Michael Block and Haireola Grande’s monthly Zoom show “Elation!” Great cast for that… how do you think that will go?
I’ve been planning the craziest number I could think of, so I think it’ll go great! And yes, the cast is amazing. I feel I was definitely chosen to do the October show for a reason… because people are always expecting me to do something spooky, which I don’t blame them for. I was toying with doing a digital version of my haunted mansion number I’ve done a bunch of times, but settled on doing something a bit more story-based and fresh that I think will be exciting to watch.
Yes! So thrilled to work alongside another fantastic cast this month! And my number for this show is also such a fun one that I’ve been working on for a while. Opal is such a good friend who I actually met through online drag, and we’re working on another project together that’ll be revealed at a later date!
What else is coming up for you?
Aside from the many photoshoots I’ve yet to upload, I’ve been working on my own digital drag film Visions that I’ll be teasing clips from soon! Additionally, I’m working on music projects that are outside my drag persona, that I might tie Obscura into. Overall, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me online!
Much to look forward to! Okay I’m closing: what is the best Halloween candy?
Another very hard question! I would have to say anything with caramel, you really can’t go wrong with it. Twix are always a favorite!
Now I’m hungry! Thanks, Obscura!