From the rural Midwest to the biggest drag city in the world, the Toolbox’s own Heidi N. Dix plays and slays and sews for days!
Thotyssey: Hello Heidi, thanks for chatting with us tonight! So, we blinked and April is almost over.
Heidi N. Dix: Yes it is, wow! This month was pretty busy for me, so it went by quick. I had a great time, though. I got to take over for one of my Toolbox sister’s trivia / bachelor night shows for a couple weeks, which was very fun, I and started pumping out more new looks.
Are you mostly designing / creating garments and hair these days for yourself, or for other local performers?
I’m mainly designing and creating for myself lately. But in the past I’ve worked with other designers like Garo Sparo which gave me the opportunity to make outfits for legends like Amanda Lepore, Lady Bunny and even Nicki Minaj. But right now I’m just focusing on myself, and trying to elevate my style even more by pushing myself to work with new fabrics and techniques.
A true Renaissance Woman!
Haha! Yes,we love a well-rounded queen.
With all that construction and design work you’re doing, it must be a pleasure to just gag the children as a hostess and performer at your gigs.
One hundred percent! I always start my shows in a little black sequin coverup, then rip it off during my first number. People love coming to see what new thing I whipped out that week.
It’s been great to see how Toolbox has been utilizing their newly expanded space, with all these weekly drag shows and dance parties. Do you work that little caged platform they have in the front?
Oh, absolutely! I work every inch of the cage and dance area, climbing on the bar, and running outside onto the street when it’s nice and we have outside speakers going. I believe I’m also the only doll there who hangs upside down from her feet on the bars. Thank God for good insurance plans!
So, tell us a bit of your origin story, if you will: where are you from originally, and when did the drag bug first bite?
I started doing drag back in Iowa on 2014. Growing up out in the country, there wasn’t really much exposure to gay culture or fashion. But when I was around seven my family moved to the same trailer park, and my grandma taught me how to sew… which started my love of crafting. But the way I found drag is that I was actually looking for porn on the internet, and found the promo videos for Season 4 of Drag Race. Seeing Sharon Needles come from small town Iowa gave me a lot of hope that things could actually be better for me once I got the hell out of Iowa.
I’ve always been a bit of a performer, though. I was in band and choir in middle school, then did gymnastics and dance in middle school into some of high school, until I started doing drag at the end of my senior year going into fashion school.
Wow, what’s drag in Iowa like?
Iowa drag is very different than New York drag. We only really do straight forward songs, or maybe a Beyoncé mix… but there’s not really much for comedy. And because of the lack of access to great wigs and fabric stores, you’re kind of at the mercy of Joann fabrics and the one wig store I found there.
And it’s a bit of a mix as far as how accepting [the community there] is. It’s definitely becoming more of a left-leaning area in places, but a lot of the girls have to drive over an hour to a gig to earn just a couple of bucks.
How did your drag name come to you?
I actually went by my boy name for a little while, but when I started hosting charity shows and fundraisers I thought having a stage name would be more fun. Heidi comes from Heidi Klum, because fashion school definitely felt like Project Runway at times with having to sew whole outfits overnight. And the “N. Dix” just came from wanting something punny.
And were you annoyed when Heidi N Closet showed up, lol?
I thought it was kind of funny when Ms. Closet came on the scene, because I actually found her on Facebook and messaged her to see if she was auditioning for [the twelfth] season… because I wasn’t. And she got on, lol!
What ultimately brought you to NYC? Were you looking to expand your drag, or join a larger queer community, or to work in fashion?
Honestly, it was all of that. After graduating school in 2018, I knew I was either gonna move to LA or NYC to get a job in fashion and work on my drag. New York seemed to have a lot more performers that I knew I wanted to be around. Following people like Shequida, Lagoona Bloo, Kizha Carr and so many other amazing queens made the decision to come here over LA very easy.
And I’m guessing that, just like for most of us, Miss Rona showed up at just the right time to derail all your progress.
Definitely! Before Covid I was going to Susanne Bartsch parties, “Drag Wars,” and hosting my own competition with Queer Social… but then that shut down nightlife. I was just thankful to have been able to move back to Iowa for eight months to help out my family, because my parents were having health issues. But I didn’t get to do drag at all for eight months, which sucks when that’s your creative outlet.
But when I came back last March, I was able to jump back into performing and making outfits for a bunch of girls–even Shequida for “Drag Wars All Stars.” And a fellow drag wars alumni got me my gig at Toolbox.
Tell us a bit about your Saturday night gig at Toolbox… what’s the vibe?
The vibe is “come by and hang out” while I do some pop-up numbers throughout the night, and listen to some great music [care of DJ Thomas Trinity] and ogle at our sexy bartenders with me. I usually get there at 8, and walk around and talk with people for an hour before my first number. I walk up and down the street carnival-barking at people to come hang out and party. It’s a lot of fun!
Is there anything else coming up for you?
Not really anything else on the docket that I’m allowed to speak about, but definitely stay tuned for some possible upcoming collabs.
Okay, to close: Drag Race All Stars! The cast for the next season was recently announced. Whose team are you on?