A relative newcomer to the scene with a background in acting and marketing, former Ms. Barracuda contender Reese Havoc seems tailor-made to take New York drag by storm!
Thotyssey: Hello Reese, um… happy St. Patrick’s Day! Did you celebrate today?
Reese Havoc: Yeah, I had a big bowl of Lucky Charms this morning.
Festive! We’ve always been impartial to the purple horseshoes. So, it seems that the winter weather is nearly behind us… yay or boo?
I literally hate winter more than anything. I distinctly remember the groundhog being, like, “six more weeks.” But that was a rough estimate for sure, because it was still snowing like three days ago. I’m instantly happier in the heat and sun. Some gays are like, “time to tan,” but I’m like, “50 degrees and catch me at the Mister Softee truck.”
So many know that you are a queen on the rise, but what may surprise some is that you’re also a graphic designer responsible for some of the most eye-catching show posters in circulation!
Thank you so much! I taught myself Photoshop back in fifth grade… just dicking around on the computer to make my backyard photoshoots more chic, ya know. And then I graduated from the Tumblr School of Design… but never really had a formal graphic design education. I went to acting school and did a lot of posters for shows there, and my boy job is actually working as a Marketing Director… so I’ve been able to hone my skills just practicing.
In the nightlife world, I did my first flyers for my girl Morocco Kennedy–and I’m so grateful to have been able to work with so many icons since. Creating with other queens is the best, because it’s so fun to see how our points of view mesh and meld.
Tell us a bit more of your origin story! Where are you from originally, and did you see yourself as becoming an actor or performer from an an early age?
I was born in Durham, North Carolina, which is canonically the lesbian capital of the south… and one of the coolest places on earth. I started doing community theatre when I was six. Then as I got older, I started doing more regional work and some TV. More than performing, I loved the people I met–mostly sixteen-year-old girls–who taught Middle School Me everything I know.
I never really saw acting as a career or a craft–like, something you could learn–until I spent my senior year at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Then, I went to acting school at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. I’ve always had very eclectic creative interests, and going to school in New York City gave me the opportunity to write, direct, and just really fuck around artistically.
I sort of fell out of love with acting during the pandemic. I had one too many auditions for, like, “Ugly Kid #3,” and my idea of success as an actor started becoming so unappealing.
Reese was born from my love for performing and needing an outlet to express myself creatively without limits, and be a hot, hysterical, empowered queer person all the time. I never have to do the same thing twice.
Reese has made her way through several competitions and guest spots. Have you had a favorite drag performing moment or experience so far?
The Miss Barracuda finale was sick. The theme was games, so I had to pay tribute to the ultimate game: Survivor. I was a dragged-up Jeff Probst, with my torch and a buff and everything. I felt so cool that night! Looking back, I’m like… girl, you had to clean it up. But I’m so proud of that night, and honestly everything I did throughout the competition. I really felt like I found my voice through that whole process.
Miss Barracuda is not for the meek… well done!
I can’t say enough good things about Miss Barracuda because the talent level was insane, and I love a creative pageant where you can really take big risks.
Do you have any other big pageants or competitions you wanna throw your wig into?
I think I’ve brought the Reese Havoc Experience to them all at this point; “Trish” was a highlight, because [hosts] Rify Royalty and Charlene are the blueprint. And I haven’t done “Lady Liberty” since the literal first week back from the pandemic, and I was barely but four months into performing at that point–so I definitely want to strap my cowboy boots back on for that next season now that I’m older, wiser, and stunninger.
How might you describe the “brand” of drag you’re doing lately, as far as your style and the types of numbers you do?
Reese is a girl’s girl. My drag is Bangerz-era Miley meets Shego meets Abby Lee Miller meets the dumpster behind the Scholastic Book Fair. I’m basically if a VMAs performance was a person. I don’t like feeling glamorous or unapproachable. Like, Reese is not a main pop girl–she’s more of a cult following. Fans making me sign ridiculous items at the gig.
My sense of style is cheeky and rebellious. I tend to gravitate toward hoedown aesthetic a lot. I’d much rather be the court jester than the queen: Furby Eleganza, if you will. I think “southern suburban” will always be part of who Reese is, too. It’s in the name.
In terms of numbers, my superpowers are my sense of my humor and my intellect… so I like to infuse my work with that, and see where the ridiculous shit in the world intersects with pop culture. My favorite mix to do right now is inspired by pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing… so I’m cracking up thinking about it, like I didn’t make it. It’s good to be your own icon, I guess.
Truth be told, it was hard to narrow it down… because the British girls raised me. Like, Amy, Marina, V V Brown, Eliza Doolittle, Duffy, M.I.A., Kate Bush… I could go on and on. But I’m paying tribute to the one and only queen of cheek herself: Lily Allen, with one of my favorite songs. And then, pulling out some more androgynous male drag with another British icon. “Discography” is the best because it’s all your favorite songs playing, and Nicky and Jo are probably coolest people I’ve ever met in my life, bar none. It’s going to be iconic.
Looking ahead, you’ll be back with Nicky and Jo on April 21st, but this time at 3 Dollar Bill, for “Night of 1000 Mileys“… which is self-explanatory! You’ve already mentioned Bangerz was your jam… might that be what you serve us?
Honestly, you come to any Reese Havoc show, you’re getting Bangerz. For this, I’m doing a complete 180. We’re taking you on a journey through Miley’s entire career, and as the biggest Smiler in the world, I couldn’t let this particular cultural reset fall through the cracks. I’m already emotional.
What else might be coming up for you?
I’m making my debut at The Spot with Lexington Banks on Monday the 28th. I also have a few other fun guest spots coming up these next few weeks, so be on the lookout on my Instagram, which is basically the C-SPAN of Reese Havoc.
Werk! Okay, so in closing: when you get on Drag Race, what will your workroom entrance tagline be?
Entrance look: red wig, triangle boobs, black turtleneck, green cargo pants, blue PDA in hand. Corseted within an inch of my life. “Bum, bum, ba-dum. What’s the cinch?”
Poetry! Thanks, Reese!