One of a few recent transplants from Boston drag, the queen known as Civilization has already made her mark in NYC… and has her first GLAM nomination to boot! [Cover photo: Eric Magnussen]
Thotyssey: Hello Civilization, Happy holiday season! Are you watching stupid Christmas things on TV every day, or is that not your thing?
Civilization: ‘Ello! I’m actually not much of a holiday special watcher, but I have been finishing up the winter anime season.
What do you think of the live action Cowboy Bebop?
My coworker was just trying to convince me to check it out today! I usually have a very strict no live action policy because most of them flop, but they said it’s actually really good… so I might give it a watch.
Would you say that anime and genre stuff make up a big part of your drag identity and style?
I think in a more subtle way. I’ve been into it since I was in elementary school, and I’ve always kept up with it over the years. I feel like it’s definitely a part of my identity of me out of drag; it’s pretty much most of what I watch, aside from brain rot reality shows. For in-drag, I feel like I take away more overarching themes and storytelling that I put into my numbers rather than evoking it in my looks. Although I do enjoy a cosplay from time to time.
So you were originally known as a Massachusetts queen… is that where you’re from?
I am actually a military brat! Growing up, I moved around a ton. I started drag in upstate New York (Poughkeepsie area) when I was in college, and moved to Boston after I graduated for three years. But I’d definitely say that when I moved to MA was when I started to take drag more seriously.
What was it about drag that drew you in?
Honestly, I think I was drawn in at first by how people treated and reacted to me. I never really did anything in my life that garnered me praise until I started doing drag. I felt very much invisible to the gay community until I started doing drag… then I suddenly had people treating my like a goddess! I was hooked, lol.
And what’s the story behind your name?
My government name is Maiyan, like the civilization. Growing up, people would never pronounce my name right when I introduced myself to them, so I always introduced myself saying “Hi, my name is Maiyan, like the civilization.”
What’s been your overall experience with Boston drag?
Being a POC performer in Boston for me personally was very difficult. I was one of the only POC queens in the entire city, and at times felt it was hard to connect with the audience and my peers. I refuse to compromise on the type of music I perform and my performance style, but at the same time I wanted to make a name for myself… so I really had to be selective on what I was presenting at shows there. I think every queen wants to make money and entertain the audience, but I think it’s important to do that while staying true to yourself… which is not always easy for POC performers in white dominated spaces.
That being said, the community of queens there were all pretty accepting and open to letting me express myself how I wanted. There are a lot of older queens that I look up to from there who taught me a lot about drag in general. There is also a very talented group of younger queens that are on the rise there as well, many of whom I consider good friends.
One POC queen that made her name in Boston and has since become a NYC presence is Neon Calypso. And since Covid, we’ve had an influx of Boston girls come in like Robyn Edges, Poise’N Envy, Yune Neptune and yourself. How has the transition to NYC drag been so far for you?
Honestly, it’s been great. I truly feel like I can finally express myself fully how I want to, without having to worry about whether the audience will “get it.” I honestly couldn’t even have imagined the amount of support I get here, and how much people really seem to appreciate and value my type of drag. But mostly, it just feels good to be surrounded by so many POC performers that come from the same shared experiences as me.
It’s been really cool! I started working the door as a fill-in one week during the summer, and Devo kept me on as the resident door goddess. It’s the first weekly gig I’ve ever had, and it has taught me so much about constancy. I’ve known Devo for years before I even moved to New York, and it’s been so fulfilling to do this show with my sister after talking for so long of what it would be like if I moved here and we could actually do drag together. I also have loved getting to know the staff and the regulars that come in!
You often do the door there as well as numbers, and now you’ve been nominated for “Best Door Queen” in the GLAMs! Congratulations!
Honestly, I didn’t even expect it. I had no clue anyone was even nominating me… but I’m honored. Most of the things I’ve been performing are numbers that I’ve done for years with new content sprinkled in, and It’s been so cool to see how the crowd reacts.
And I see that on Friday you’ll be part of a showcase at Brooklyn’s Purgatory called “Neverland Collective!” What can you tell us about that?
Yes! It’s the first installment of the show, and I’m super excited to be on the cast. It’s a POC-ran show for fellow POC artists! It’s an open space for different POC artists to come together to perform drag, music, poetry or anything, really! It’s run by Sailor Malice, who is lovely. You can get tickets online, as well as at the door Friday. But yeah, come by and watch me feel my puss!
By the time this publishes, you’ll have done another show in Boston! Do you plan to continue to work regularly in both cities?
Haha, sure… if they book me! I go anywhere there is money! But I’d love to go back to Boston, and I’m so thankful for my sis Majenta with a J for asking me to be a part of the second live “Full Spin.”
Anything else to report?
I have been taking a bit of time off from drag in November, but I will be back in drag at “Dream Queen” starting next week! And I am making my burlesque debut at House of Yes next month on the 19th! Been working on a few new fits, so keep your eyes peeled!
Also, I am a formally trained cook and have been trying to do some catering on the side. If anyone is interested in signing up for a meal plan, please contact me! Trying to gauge interest right now.
Drag cooking gigs to the front! Last question: even though you’re not so festive this time of year, what do you want from Santa?
The dick down of my LIFE! #bottomrights
Tie a bow on it, Santa! Thanks, Civlization!