This fringe Brooklyn drag performer got their first inspiration from an unlikely source, and has kept us guessing and gagging ever since. Thotyssey brings you Filthy June, In Living Color!
Thotyssey: Hiya June, happy holiday season! Are you going to stay in town these next several weeks, or will you be traveling anywhere?
Filthy June: Hi! I’m going to my hometown Fort Branch, Indiana, for a couple days around Christmas, but otherwise I’m here in the city.
Are you a fan of the holidays, a hater, or indifferent?
Definitely a hater of Thanksgiving–fuck all celebrations of white supremacy. But I love Christmas! It’s kitsch, camp, gaudy, and tacky. Everything the gays love. Plus I’m a Cancer, so I love some sentimental indulgence.
Are you planning any kitschy holiday looks for upcoming shows?
“In Living Color,” the show I produce with Junior Mintt and Juniper Juicy, is coming up next week and the theme is “HOLIDAZE,” so I’m hoping to do something kitschy and weed-oriented for that. But I’ll be figuring that out this weekend! And Sterling Tull and I are producing a show called “The Bible Ball” later in the month where I’m gonna play David and Goliath on stilts, which I’m very excited about–not holiday themed, but definitely kitsch.
You and several other Brooklyn girls served us a pretty unique show on Halloween weekend in a very interesting venue… the L Train! how did that go? Did passengers respond positively?
The train show was a blast! It’s the third time we’ve done it now, and every time there’s that little voice that’s like, “are people gonna hate us, are the other commuters gonna be pissed?” But so far they love it! There’s usually a little hesitation at first, but then the shows start and they’re won over: grandmas with their grocery cart filming on their phones, little toddlers tipping with money their mom gave them. It’s the best drag audience you could ask for.
Tell us, if you will, a bit about growing up in Indiana, and what your earliest creative interests were that may have ultimately put you on this path.
Totally! I grew up in a small farm town with like 1,500 people, home to two stoplights and a Dairy Queen. I honestly think a lot of my earliest inspiration came from my dad, who’s a high school football coach. So much of what I know about storytelling and crowd work, I learned from watching him coach. He knew that coaching was all about telling a story: helping a player, a team, a school, a town, understand that they were a part of the story of winning a state championship. By placing themselves in that story, they have a purpose, a role, something to belong to. And ultimately, the story is about empowering people by helping them see the power that they already have inside themselves. My dad’s just there to help them access that in themselves. I think my drag, and so much of the drag that I’m excited about, is doing the same things: telling stories, creating experiences, giving people something to belong to. And at all times, helping us empower ourselves.
And… football is all about spectacle! Marching bands, cheerleaders, half-time shows, spirit rallies. It’s shows, shows, shows across the board.
That’s the very last source where I would suspect you’d draw the inspiration for your counterculture drag from, but it makes perfect sense! What ultimately brought you to New York, and how did you discover drag?
I had done some drag in undergrad, while I was studying theatre. Shout out to my home gay bar in Indiana, Someplace Else–still some of my favorite drag performers I’ve ever seen. I did shows there from time to time just cuz I thought it was fun, and I loved getting dressed up and indulging in the drama. But I never intended to do it seriously; it was just a fun hobby.
Then I came to NYC, as so many of us do, to do theatre. Junior Mintt and I actually met in undergrad at a technical theatre conference, where we were both studying scenic design. Neither of us did drag at the time. Then two years later, we met up again in New York and she was like “I quit theatre and I’m doing drag; you should come do the open set at a show I’m starting, called ‘In Living Color.'” And it spiraled from there!
You, Junior and Juniper Juicy all have “Jun-” names! Is that just a coincidence, or did any of you name yourselves to match the others?
Total coincidence! We all had our names before we met each other.
How might you describe what your drag is like to the uninitiated, as far as your looks and numbers go?
I’d say it’s like Brecht directing Reba at an anarcho-communist rally. Kitschy country German agitprop, with some good old fashion showtunes thrown in!
Yes, we started as a weekly at the Gradient–then transferred briefly to Macri before Covid. And now we’re thrilled to be at 3DB!
What do you think makes that show so durable, special and popular?
At the top of every “In Living Color,” Junior says that we empower her by showing her the power in ourselves, which I think captures exactly what makes “ILC” so special. It’s church, it’s a spiritual fill. You leave knowing a bit more of your personal power and our collective, organized power. And it’s killer shows. So that’s infectious!
Your next installment of “ILC” will actually be at another popular Brooklyn venue, C’mon Everybody, on December 1! It will include an open set for performers.
Yes! We had an open set at the Gradient, and it was so fucking fun. It’s where I met half my current drag friends. But it doesn’t work with the flow of the new show at 3DB, so we decided to make it its own show and call it “Open Set.” I’m so excited for it!
Werk! And you already mentioned that upcoming “Bible Ball” show with Sterling, what more can you say about that?
Each performer at the Bible Ball is bringing a number inspired by a different bible story. True vacation bible school fantasy. Pure sacrilege. Thank god for Sterling Tull.
What else is coming up for you?
Should be amazing! Okay, in closing… what do you want for Christmas this year?
I want a Carhartt overall dress and snow.
Get on that, Santa! Thanks, June!