Comedian, drag performer, whacky fashionista and performance artist Archie Ham aka Cuntyham and the kooky Haus of Quench are serving us a new age of drag… and we are here for it all! [Cover photo: MTHR TRSA]
Thotyssey: Hello Mx. Cuntyham! Thanks for chatting with us today! How is Tropical Storm Life treating you this murky Sunday?
Cuntyham: Hi Mx. Thotyssey! Hurricane Henri met me last night while I did debauchery in Manhattan until the early morning. I woke up on a friend’s couch at 3pm and we decided to watch Memories of Murder, a 2003 film by Bong Joon-Ho about a guy who kills women when it rains. I’ve been in and out of hungover sleep, but it’s a cool feeling while the French storm tap dances outside the window.
Glorious! It was just your birthday, right?
It was! A friend and I rented a car and drove out to Michigan to hang out under waterfalls. We stopped at another friend’s on the way back, and she made me a cake. For the next couple of days I sat in bed watching all of my favorite movies while eating the cake out of a Tupperware container. Not my liveliest birthday, but 24 is an age of change I suppose.
Is Michigan your home state?
Yeah. I spent 17 whole years there, but left as soon as I could. It’s a cute place to visit! So many trees.
#TeamTrees! What were your earliest creative interests while growing up there?
I was always putting on shows in the living room, the backyard, at school. Everywhere. I was the youngest kid, and my parents were usually always at work… so I would get into my costume trunk and put on a performance for them when they came home. A lot of loneliness disguised by getting into new characters–it’s what I still do, honestly. It’s in my blood to be silly and have a spotlight on me.
What ultimately brought you to New York?
I started packing to move out as soon as I could walk and talk. At a young age, I became enamored by the gay New York scene of the 80s; I pretended to know the Warhol Girls, like I was one of them. the image of sex drugs and rock and roll lived through me in a town of 1,000. So I left.
What were the origins of how you started mixing it up with the Brooklyn Dollz, and how you became Cuntyham?
When I came to New York, I started getting into standup. I would try to do a show every night, wherever I could. I would sneak into these bars with an older group of gay people, and we would get wine… and for some reason, this Liza Minelli-type character kept leaving my red wine-stained lips.
My last name is Cunningham, and I have a visceral memory of the first time I was called a cunt… which affected me in a negative way growing up. So I decided to take it back, and call myself the cunt. This character kept evolving, and I would bring it to these standup sets. This led to that, and groups of interesting queers would sneak me in to the bars of Brooklyn where I started doing Cunty as a drag character. I owe it to these trans queers, who took me under their wings and taught me the ways of nightlife.
Tell us what an onstage Cuntyham experience is like today.
I’ve been performing a bunch with a new house I started with some friends, Silly Brown, Paris L’Hommie, and Sterling Tull: the Haus of Quench. We found a gorgeous bar around the corner from Silly’s apartment called All Night Skate. It’s a cute little 80s-themed pink queer bar with an amazing staff. Our shows are extremely goofy and chaotic. We have some of the best drag artists in Brooklyn; we aren’t trying to prove anything, and we take our nonseriousness seriously.
Cunty has been giving world class finales in many of these shows. Our Pride-themed show ended with me crowd surfing as a disco ball. at My birthday show a couple weeks ago, I gave a live performance backed by cello (the amazing Anti M!) that had a death and resurrection. I was anointed by douche water. Someone spilled a drink on me that caused me and the entire audience to break out in an acapella of “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes. It will always be a party if Cunty is there.
Tell us what to expect for this Friday’s “Prxm Night: Cuntyham Couture” at All Night Skate.
This is not gonna be a show you wanna miss–Paris pitched an idea of a competition based around the 90s supermodel. Along with them, Silly, and Sterling, we came up with a sexy cast (Vena Cava, Young Viper and PSYREN) who will be playing as well-known supermodels of the 90s. They’ll be vying for the attention of me, an amalgamation of the “90s Designer” (think Versace, McQueen) to become the face of my new label.
It’s less of a drag show, and more of an off-Broadway junction storytelling. We have group numbers, choreography, storylines, a She’s All That moment, Russian accents, candy cigarettes, a red carpet. Come and see who will be the face of “Cunty Couture!”
What else coming up for you?
The day after “Prxm Night,” I’m doing a couple of sets for the Leslie-Loham Museum 4th Annual Block Party. Candystore and Alexander Paris will be there doing sets as well. It’ll be a fun outside party with popcorn and activities!
And on September 11, you’ll be doing a number for the first night of Bushwig! Epic!
OMG, Bushwig! I was a stagehand for the 2018 and 2019 Bushwigs, where I picked up tips, cleaned the stage (fake blood, water, milk, glitter, even spaghetti that one time), and it was both times the most fun experience ever. It’s my Christmas: hanging out backstage, getting to chat with the absolute best performers before they go on… ugh. Especially back then I was a super duper baby, and I saw everyone with such glimmering eyes.
But last summer I got adopted by Club Quarantine as their house darling. I did a bunch of super fun sets (did a show a couple of days after Charli XCX… like, wow) and they asked me to co-host their set with Brad! Hosting at Bushwig is going to be so stellar. Like… hosting! Whoah! The Knockdown Center isn’t ready, Gaga…
It’s going to be epic! Okay, so lastly… what has been the song of the summer for you?
It’s been less of a song summer for me, and more of an album summer. I like to walk to the park and sit and listen to a whole album, front to back. But I think my favorite one has been this half hour album from 2020 called Real Love Is… by a band called The Chairs. It’s a slower album, but when I listen to it I imagine myself on a private beach or something. It lowers my blood pressure, I guess. I don’t know.
That sounds like just what the doctor ordered, literally! Thanks, Cuntyham!