Despite coming from Texas, this slender and edgy young queen has a very impressive New York drag pedigree. And while she’s serving us fierce looks on stage and on camera, Morocco Marrakech Kennedy is also gracing our retro punk fantasies while paving the way for the new generation of drag.
Thotyssey: How is August treating you so far, Morocco?
Morocco Kennedy: August has been so busy. I’ve been running around Brooklyn and the city like crazy.
It’s a blessed time to be busy! I guess you’d be considered a Covid Queen, i.e. a new generation of queens that sprang up here in NYC during lockdown, doing socially distanced and digital shows?
Well, I’ve been doing drag on and off in Texas since 2016; I jumped into the Brooklyn drag scene three months ago. I started with the lip sync competitions–the first at Janelle No. 5’s “Are You the Next Diva,” and then [“Drag Wars” at] Pieces and “Polish” at Playhouse in the city.
So you’re a post-Covid NYC queen! The scene has already changed so much here in those three months, I imagine.
Yes, nightlife has definitely picked up. There are so many shows, and I think people being trapped inside for so long has motivated a lot of queens to take this as their opportunity to really glow up. There’s so many queens up and coming in the scene right now.
I loved your Cabaret number for the Lady Liberty competition a few weeks ago… very sultry, but I was nervous when you stood up on the chair!
Those chairs are never the most stable; I was nervous too But Lady Liberty was so fun! I actually got a job there because of it; after performing and helping queens there after every week, I asked if they needed help… and I’ve been working the door the past three days!
Tell us about starting drag as a Texas queen!
I started drag at a bar ironically called Stonewall Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, while I was going to school at Texas State University in San Marcos. My drag mother Chitah Daniels Kennedy was the former Entertainment Director there. She also lived in NYC a while ago ,and was a pretty successful queen here; her drag mother was Miss Sweetie, an iconic and legendary figure in the NYC drag community and a lip sync diva.
I started at my drag mother’s lip sync battle on Tuesday nights, where every week there was a different theme when you’d compete. Eventually she put me in her shows, and through time I became one of her daughters and attached the “Kennedy” name to mine. After I got comfortable I moved to Austin, TX and competed and performed at Rain on 4th and OCH–two really popular gay clubs that were home to a lot of talented queens in the pageant community, and a huge alternative drag community.
I was always obsessed with fashion, and drag was my muse to express that. I didn’t know for the longest time that my drag mother’s roots where from NYC until a little later. She always had this very chic and glamorous aura to her–it wasn’t ever what she was wearing, but how she wore it. She is a fashion icon herself; a model socialite superstar slut is what she’d say!
You’re also a model! Do you mostly do runways, or editorials?
I haven’t walked just yet for a runway show, but I’d love to. I’ve done a few editorials; I moved to NYC to purse modeling, and ended up working on drag more. Eventually I’m sure both paths will fuse together. When I first visited NYC, one of my favorite queens was West Dakota, whose is really a great example of the direction I’d love to take my drag and enter the modeling world.
I’m slowly becoming known for my walk in drag; I’m always strutting and giving them drag runway wherever I’m at performing, or off-stage. It’s part of the character that Morocco loves to portray. She’s a 90s supermodel at heart.
Tell us more about Morocco—who are her other inspirations, and how might you describe her persona?
I choose the name “Morocco” because it sounded very strong, very powerful. I love that it also sounded androgynous; most names you hear are very feminine or girl names, and I wanted something that phonetically stood out. Also, all the greatest supermodels were known by their first names: Naomi, Linda, Yasmeen, Katie, Nadage. I liked that although my full drag name is Morocco Marrakech Kennedy, I’d be the only queen in all of NYC with that one first name.
Morocco’s drag inspirations include my biological grandmother, who was a Moroccan Jew and also a model in her day when she was very young. She was also very free-spirited, and fun even up until now. She use to be a Cher impersonator at the Hard Rock Cafe, so definitely performance runs in the family.
My character and persona for Morocco, I definitely borrow from Fran Drescher’s character Fran Fine from The Nanny. She’s naturally hilarious, always helping people, super stylish, always looks skinny… and sometimes is slightly annoying, haha!
And what about your stage numbers?
A lot of the numbers I do are heartbreak songs. Morocco is a romantic. She’s nostalgic, and I grew up around a lot of 80s pop and rock music; I love Blondie and Pat Benatar and Joan Jett, but I also do a lot of contemporary music as well. It’s a mix between the two, depending on the performance space or theme or venue.
You actually did a “Sad Girlie” revue at Mad Tropical recently, which I hear went well!
OMG, yes! It went amazing; we had a huge turn out! People were really surprised by the show. “Sad Girlies” is where we take video or film and we incorporate it into our performances; whether it’s an ASMR visual piece or a combination of lighting and colors, it’s meant entertain people in a way you don’t normally see at drag shows. Very Sasha Velour-inspired. The performances range from very light, fun, sad songs to performances that actually made people cry because queens are sharing their stories and vulnerabilities. It went so well, it will be a re-occurring show every month! Next month (September 8th) is “Sad Girlies: The R&B Edition!”
You’ve also been doing shows in an eatery that’s become a recent drag hub, Palomas BK.
Right now I host a recurring show there, where we do different themes every month. the first was “Fuego,” a Latin inspired night; the second was “Disco Inferno.” And this month, on Friday the 20th, we’re celebrating Madonna’s birthday where every queen is doing a different time stamp on Madonna’s discography.
Then later this month, you have a special showcase at Club Cumming in the East Village! Actually you’ll be joined by several amazing queens: X-Emma, Angel Au, Ember Suxx, Shay They, Oliv, MysterE Mel, Taraye and Privilege.
“Gender Fuck” is August 27th… and yes, there is a very sickening lineup. It’s less of a drag show and more of a queer variety show–there’s a drag king, performers dancing and singing live, and slam poetry. The whole purpose of the show is to showcase the talent outside of the traditional drag platform. We’re exploring the theme of gender and it’s impact on the community, as well as the other alternative forms of queer entertainment. It’s here to support our POC, gender non-binary or non-conforming and trans communities.
Every performer is affected by the labels associated with gender, and are outsiders. The Lower East Side use to be a hub for that kind of drag, and I wanted to bring it back in a very Boy George, punk fuckery kind of way.
What else is coming up for you?
I’m supporting X-Emma for her “Are You the Ultimate Diva” [finalist package]; she’s became a real sister and partner in entering this scene. I’m also doing [open stage] shows at Metropolitan with Maddelynn Hatter for “Madd Mondays” every Monday–another show people need to come out for, because it really is so diverse and a good time!
Between hosting my own shows and performing at lip syncs and open stages, I’m really working my ass off. I’d just like to encourage everyone, even if it’s just one show, to come support. Every show [I’m doing] is supporting a diverse cast. So stay tuned, follow my Instagram page for updates and support local queer entertainment and the drag community by coming to one of those shows! Brooklyn queens turn it out.
Oh, lest we forget… you’re doing a number for Bushwig in September! That’s major!
With everything that’s going on, my mind has been operating only three weeks out… but yes, the last of shows for me so far is Bushwig, which I’m very grateful to be selected to do! I was surprised because I just only recently entered the Brooklyn drag scene, and Bushwig has been the epicenter of the Brooklyn drag scene for 10 years! [Showrunner and creator] Horrorchata is one of the mothers of Brooklyn drag I just met recently, who is also from Texas–San Antonio, not far from where I started drag! So I’m really, really excited, and have a very special performance planned for that!
Speaking of Texas, let’s close with a reflection on this lunatic governor there, Greg Abbott, who is doing everything he can to get his state to go maskless. And now he has Covid, too! Like, what’s up with that guy?
I’ll never understand Texas politics, but with the new census out demographics are changing; in ten years, things will be very different in Texas. He’s feeding into his own ideology, in what he thinks will get him reelected. But yes, my friends still in Texas think he’s just as a nut, too. Lord help us all. Haha!
Amen! Thanks, Morocco, and have great shows!