A queen on the rise with a new show and a strong message… it’s Rockbar’s Harriet Tugsmen!
Thotyssey: Hello Harriet! Thanks for chatting with us today! How was your week?
Harriet Tugsmen: This week has been amazing; it’s been a lot of preparation for our new monthly show “Unfriendly Black Hotties” at Rockbar. I’m currently taking a break from rehearsal right now to chat with you.
Thanks! I’ll ask you more about the show in a sec, but first let’s get a little background on you! Where are you from originally, and what were the things you were into growing up that may have put you on the drag path?
I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I grew up in Spring, Texas. I think what started my path to drag is… I remember sitting in the black hair salons and just looking at the mountains of black hair magazines, and just being infatuated with the artwork the artistry and the pure genius of those hairstyles. And so, I always love playing in wigs and making my own wigs.
When did you become Harriet?
Harriet was born during the pandemic, more specifically watching all of the civil injustices happening. She awoke so that she could say what she thought. I also wanted to add another black face to the sea of mostly non-POC drag queens. to make sure that as we fight for equality, I want equality in our queer spaces. Even though NYC is a very diverse city, we have had to call out bars that have refused to pay people of color or even put us on flyers. I watch Honey Davenport stand up and walk off the stage because of that treatment. So I want to make sure that as other POC drag leaders push the way forward, I’m stepping right behind them pushing them as they continue to make steps.
Do most of your live numbers have political messages?
I would say a majority of my numbers have either very upfront messages or read between the lines nods. but most of my ideas come from wanting to share my black experiences — the good, the bad, and the hilarious.
You were a Miss Rockbar contestant this past year! How did you enjoy that whole experience?
Miss Rockbar was an amazing experience. I got to meet some really dope human beings, and a lot of us have been able to maintain relationships. “Unfriendly Black Hotties” is formed with the former Miss Rockbar 2019 Victoria Williams, and with Ratchét Marseilles who was also a contestant with Miss Rockbar [and myself]. I’m also in a group with [fellow Miss Rockbar contestants] Ivory Snow and Taina, so it has been a wonderful experience; the friendship and camaraderie are phenomenal.
Victoria’s from a famous New Mexico drag family! Did you know her from when you were back home?
Actually, no! I met Victoria during Miss Rockbar. But it turns out that her family and my family ran in the same church circles… so we did have a little bit history without us knowing it.
“Unfriendly Black Hotties” returns to Rockbar on Thursday, February 24th (8pm). What’s in store for us this time?
We are back, and officially a monthly show, at Rockbar. this month’s show is focusing on the legacy of history-making black artists. You’ll be seeing some iconic, trailblazing performances, and some group numbers.
And next Sunday (February 27th, 8pm), you’ll be part of the cast of Zenon Teavee’s “Queer Ole Opry” variety show at C’mon Everybody!
I’m really looking forward to that show as well. It will also be my Brooklyn debut; I live in Brooklyn, and it’s my first show actually in the area. So I am very excited to be part of Zenon’s cast, and really looking forward to working with one of my really good friends [comedian] Justin Covington, who is going to be in the first gay romcom movie with Billy Eichner.
You can also cash me this Wednesday at Maddelynn Hatter’s [drag competition] “Mother.” I’ll be competing in the semifinals, so come out and support the girls at Hush.
Excellent Okay, lastly… Drag Race! Whose team are you on?
Kornbread for next season and team Angeria and Willow for this one.
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Harriet Tugsmen’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram.