A newer addition to the New York nightlife scene with vintage inspirations and one of the classiest drag moms in the City, Phoebe Jeebies is about to get up close and VERY personal with her audience. [Cover photo: Dillon Blake Wright]
Thotyssey: Happy Pride Month, Phoebe! How’s it all treating you so far?
Phoebe Jeebies: Pride Month has been so exciting! It’s my first official Pride as a drag queen, since last year we weren’t really able to celebrate. The energy is absolutely incredible. There’s this abundance of joy and excitement in all of the queer spaces I’ve been in. It’s like we are about to have two pride months in one. And I’m so thrilled to be performing this month!
Yes, Double Pride is a good way of looking at it! You were able to do some digital drag this past year, notably a virtual cooking show. How did you like those experiences?
It was a double edged sword. On the one hand, I loved the way I could finish a gig in my living room and walk to the bathroom to immediately get out of drag! On the other hand, I got very tired of the sound of silent applause after I finished performing.
I learned a lot from digital drag, including becoming skilled enough with video editing to freelance. And I had the opportunity to refine my makeup and my aesthetic. But I was craving audience interaction the whole time, because that’s what I love most about performing in drag.
Where are you from originally? And did you have a background on the stage prior to drag?
I’m from a city in Westchester called Peekskill; I actually grew up about an hour north of New York City. Just a train ride away from my folks!
I was a musical theater kid. I did a lot of theater in college, and I continued it as a hobby after I graduated. When I moved to New York City, I explored the possibility of doing the audition scene and pursuing it professionally, but I didn’t enjoy it.
How did Phoebe get born?
It’s a fun story, actually. A friend of mine wrote a short play that he was producing at the PIT. He wrote a role with me in mind. The role was a drag queen named Sera Tonin. It sounded like fun, so I agreed to do it.
As the show grew nearer and nearer, I realized I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. No idea how to do makeup, no wigs, nothing to wear, no shoes… nothing! So another friend of mine introduced me to my drag mother, Gloria Swansong. She was so kind. She taught me how to do my makeup, let me borrow a dress, a wig, a corset, and shoes. Truly my guardian angel. A few months later I made my official drag debut at “Drag Wars,” and I haven’t looked back since!
What kind of a queen is Phoebe now, as far as her looks and stage presence go?
I’m definitely a comedy queen. My favorite thing to do is to make people laugh. I’m heavily inspired by people like Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers, Barbra Streisand, and Julie Andrews. I think I definitely channel Lucille Ball in a lot of what I wear. But I’m definitely still exploring what fashion means to Phoebe.
I am also really passionate about talking about mental health. I believe the more we talk about it, the more we can eliminate the stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment. My own journey with my mental health heavily influences my art.
That’s brave and inspiring! Mental health is a hard thing to protect in the entertainment business, I can imagine.
Thank you. Yes, it definitely is. It’s certainly challenging to prioritize self-care when you are an entertainer, and it’s something I’m still learning.
As for Lucille Ball… do you like Nicole Kidman in the role for the movie biopic? She’s getting a lot of crap from the gays for it!
“Look over there!”
Lol, good save!
Well, you have a few cool things coming up. First of all, you and Mother Gloria will be entertaining Sunday brunch diners at Oscar Wilde in Chelsea on June 13th and 20th! Tell us what we can expect from those shows!
Yes, I’m really looking forward to brunch. Gloria is a seasoned pro, and I’m new to drag brunch… so the brunch is going to be familiar, but very unique! We have very different, but very complimentary, performance styles. So it’s going to be a lot of fun. And you know if Gloria Swansong is involved, that we will be bringing you perfectly coordinated lewks! And maybe more than just one per show!
Then on Wednesday, June 23, you’ll be on Don’t Tell Mama’s cabaret stage for a show called “Drag Therapy.”
“Drag Therapy” is a really raw and personal one-woman show that I have been working on for over a year now. In the show, I recount my own journey with mental illness, and the many diagnoses that I got along the way. It’s a mixture of storytelling and lip syncing, featuring some of my most personal mixes. It’s probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever been on stage, and it both frightens and excites me to perform it live.
I was supposed to produce it last spring, but that obviously didn’t happen because of Covid. I did a digital version of the show back in September, and it really resonated with people.
I think it’s especially important for us to talk openly about mental health in the LGBTQ+ community. We deal with a lot of trauma just in being who we are. So I hope this piece can let people know they’re not alone, and bring some catharsis. It certainly has for me.
Anything else on the horizon for you?
I’ve been doing some pop up shows at the Toolbox, so hopefully those will be continuing every week. And I’m working on some exciting video editing projects right now that I can’t wait to share. Other than that, I’m just enjoying the ride. We’ll see what’s to come!
Okay werq! And lastly: Who are you gonna root for on All Stars 6?
Thanks again, Phoebe! Happy Pride!