Lets talk gigs with singing / comedy queen on the rise, Liz B.N.!
Thotyssey: Hello Liz! Thanks for chatting with us today! How’s April treating you so far?
Liz B.N.: Pretty good! It’s Arab Heritage Month, so it’s always nice to celebrate my roots.
Happy AHM! What exactly is your heritage, if I may ask?
I am Lebanese… which is part of what inspired my drag name.
Ah, I love that! Blanche’s misunderstanding about a word meaning in The Golden Girls has become kind of a classic bit.
So to leap right into your origin story: where are you from originally, what kind of things were you into while growing up, and what brought you to NYC?
I grew up in suburban Massachusetts, but I always knew NYC was where I was going to end up. Growing up, I was shockingly enough a little jock kid. I did soccer, hockey, tennis and baseball… but then I found out about theatre. As a closeted gay kid, I was never really able to make many friends through sports, so theatre was one of the first times I could really connect with a few other people.
I ended up dedicating most of my time to theatre and absolutely dominating my local children’s theatre scene… as an icon, obviously. That kind of brought me here to NYC, where I came for college to study film and theatre… and I just never left!
How did drag enter your life?
My first exposure to drag was RuPaul’s Drag Race! I found it on my mom’s Amazon Prime account and started watching it, and the next day she kind of made a comment about it… which only made me want to watch it even more. Then once I moved to NYC I was able to start seeing some local drag, which truly inspired me with all the variety and creativity.
I didn’t really start doing drag myself until my senior year, but it was like an epiphany. I’ve always been a comedy person, I love performing and singing, I studied costume design in college, I love doing makeup… so it was like the perfect combination of everything that made me happy, and everything I couldn’t decide between what I wanted to pursue.
How would you describe Liz as a queen today, for the uninitiated?
Oh, she is definitely a trip. I’ve described it before as being the physical embodiment of undiagnosed ADHD, but my sis Ginger Von Snap likes to call me the Nick Kroll of drag. I love giving body, and showing off my curves. I love some lace or fishnets all over my body and some big hair, but I try to be versatile and have my outfits in some way match whatever numbers I’m doing. My stage numbers kind of alternate between comedy mixes and live singing parodies of songs, but I also throw in some spooky horror numbers on occasion, too.
You’ve been a favorite of the weekly drag competition shows across the city. How do you like doing that scene–are you in it to win it, or is it mostly about having fun, showing your art, networking, etc.? And, do you have a favorite competition?
I’ve loved doing the competitions; it can be extremely rewarding, but also it can get very taxing. I’ve been able to meet so many incredible people and friends through these shows, and we have all been able to grow together. Obviously winning feels great, but I try to go in with the purpose of sharing my art and connecting with people who understand it… because in reality I’m not that backflipping, dancing diva dip queen that so often wins these kind of competitions.
I gotta say, one of my favorite competitions (and it’s not just because I’ve won it a bunch, lol) would be “Open Call” at The Ritz. It was one of the first ones I did when it reopened after quarantine, and the more diverse crowd was able to latch on and understand my drag–so it was very fulfilling. I will say, I’m in my transition out of competitions now, and into guesting and hosting my own shows!
You did Bushwig back in September, for one thing. That must’ve been a great stage to perform on!
Bushwig was a blast! It was my first time fully creating an outfit from hair to ankle, and I was really happy with how it all turned out. It was my first time there, and it is such a fun stage to perform on. It’s just filled with all the most creative, unique queens and creatures, and I’m hoping to elevate even more this year!
You’ve also got some cool stuff coming up this month, like “Werk of Art” on Tuesday the 19th at The Slipper Room! Pink Pancake, Ruby Slay Monroe and yourself will be guest performing in a showcase hosted by Robin Rose Quartz, with queer art vendors on site.
Yes! Robin, I think, was actually the first queen I met once I started drag, and this show is going to be amazing. It’s a great lineup of queens, and The Slipper Room is such a gorgeous venue… I’m excited to bring some new stuff. The queer art vendors are amazing, and it’s a really cool way to bring together different queer art forms. So people should snatch up their tickets quickly!
Yes! “Munchiez” is me and Nella’s monthly show at Wonderville, and we thought how fitting to have a 420 show! Last time was a kii, and the song requests got heated… so we are super excited to show everyone what we got this time. And of course, we will have this giant sequined joint for everyone to take pictures with and celebrate the holiday. Plus we have a special guest, Islaya, who always turns it out… so it’s a “do not miss” show!
What else is coming up for you?
I’m working with The Drag Crawl now, leading some tours in Hells Kitchen, which is exciting. And you might be able to find me as a door Goddess at Katch in Astoria pretty soon. And I’m starting to pitch a new Drag Drunk Musicals show, so people should keep their eyes peeling for some exciting stuff coming up!
Excellent! Okay, last question: now that this long and kinda polarizing season is nearing a close… who’s your favorite to win Drag Race S14?
Ooooh, a lot of the queens have really grown on me, so it’s a hard one. But I’m pulling for Willow Pill. Her drag has just been so smart and unique; I’d love to see her take the crown!