Social media spawned quite a few digital drag stars during the global pandemic lockdown, but few as unique, hilarious and memorable as Atlanta recording artist Ocean Kelly. And just as she’s started to become a star of the live stage as well, Ocean’s now crashing onto NYC’s shores for a week of fierce shows!
Thotyssey: Hello Ocean! Halloween is nearly here–how are you, and how excited are you?
Ocean Kelly: You know, this is truly my favorite time of the year. I’m not sure if it’s the spooky season or if it’s the candy, lol! But I’m doing amazing.
What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
Literally I’ll eat anything except for candy corn. And whoever eats black licorice is a serial killer, I’m sorry!
So much fun! Honestly, that was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever done. Landon and Adore were both so damn sweet! Took shots (water shots, for some) with the whole cast to get everybody to deliver an awesome show! I can’t wait ’til the world gets back to normal so we can do the parades again!
So is Atlanta your original hometown?
Yes! I was born and raised!
You’re so well-known for your hilarious, bouncy, raunchy songs and videos… was music your first love before drag?
I’ve been writing, performing, and producing music since I was a kid. I’ve always had an obsession with drag, but it wasn’t ’til I gave it a go during quarantine and fused it with my music visuals that I really noticed a viral reaction… so it honestly just stuck. I love feeling like a powerful woman in drag, though I will still perform out of drag in the future. Because of this, I am fluid in my gender expression as a music performer, and I’m excited to carve a path for myself.
So you got your drag start as a quarantine queen! You’ve already released tons of tracks and videos this past year. Did you start getting a global response to that content immediately?
Shockingly, yes! And it’s all because of TikTok. My first rap cover I did was on my birthday–June 18th of 2020–and my sister put me in drag for it… and the response on TikTok literally made me gasp. From there, I saw a window and just went in gunz-a-blazin’!
Do you have a personal favorite song of yours? There are so many great ones to choose from! I’m personally impartial to “Wanda’s Cunty Vision.”
That’s totally understandable! I am obsessed with “Wanda’s Cunty Vision,” as if it’s not my song–mostly because I was just acting a fool and not giving it much thought. But that truly is the best art, I think! Also my current fav is “Jenifah” off of my summer EP Black Pamela. It’s very fun and unapologetic, and makes me feel like myself when I perform it!
And how cool was it to appear and perform with Drag Race star LaLa Ri in her video?
LaLa Ri is one of those sweetest people I have ever met. The fact that she even allowed me to share that moment with her is crazy. She always thanks me, and I’m like “excuse me? Thank you!” Lol. Our chemistry is so easy and natural, and “Bad Bitch Tip” was truly one of the highlights of my year.
Is it weird now, going out there to perform live after making your mark as a digital darling… or does it all fit like a glove?
That is such a good question. The weirdest thing about going out to perform now versus before is that I show up to venues not dressed. Obviously for any drag queen, this is not shocking–but at the beginning, it sent me into panic mode because I felt like I wasn’t fully ready, lol! I’m not used to getting ready at venues and clubs. I also sweat a lot… so that’s new, lol!
But when I get on stage, I honestly feel the same. I love connecting with people, and when I have a microphone in my hand I genuinely feel in control of the room… no matter how many people.
For your live shows, are you primarily doing your own music, or are you also lip synching other divas?
To be honest, the reason why I struggle calling myself a drag queen from this perspective is because I only perform live; I’ve actually never lip synced before. That’s a whole other art form in itself! I view myself as a gender fluid recording artist who has found a home within my community through drag. If you check out the music video for my song “Tik Tok” that I released at the beginning of quarantine, it kind of explains my journey musically… and in a way, it set the tone for this current era I’m in.
We’re gonna be so excited to see you all over new York next week! Are these NYC queens and promoters folks that you’ve met or connected with online, or just totally random business opportunities?
I’ve honestly met everybody on social media, which is what’s making this so much more exciting! All the NYC queens are very welcoming to me; I might have to move, lol!
OMG yes, you must!
Aside from these area shows, what else is coming up for you?
I’m constantly performing here in Atlanta, so I have some pretty exciting shows when I get back from NYC. I have a very exciting collab coming up that I’m not ready to announce or speak too much on, but I promise you… everybody is literally going to gag! I’ll be launching a Kickstarter for my “Jenifah” music video as well, that will feature some well-known queens. So I cannot wait to see what the rest of this year and 2022 has in store!
All things to look forward to! Last question: in light of the season, have you ever seen a ghost, UFO, etc., or had a supernatural experience?
I have not. I’m going to be very pissed off if I live my entire life and never see a ghost, or experience something supernatural. Somebody will have some explaining to do… so I’m looking forward to it!
Ghost World be warned! Thanks, Ocean!