On Point With: Purss’ophonie

Taking over Brooklyn nightlife with fierce numbers and fabulously faux fashions, Purss’ophonie is ready to be crowned Queen of the Underworld! [Cover photo: AJ Jordan]

Thotyssey: Hello Purss’ophonie! I understand you were unable to watch Zavaleta host the “BitchFest” grand finale at C’mon Everybody. But do you have the Tea for us as to who won, how it went, etc.?

Purss’ophonie: Unfortunately I was at work, and the clips / vids were virtually non-existent… so I know for a fact it was crazy. The one small sliver of information I was able to pry out was that my brother Gray Aria won!

That’s great! He’s amazing. Isn’t it annoying though, that we now have to rely on people posting these news items to IG stories, which disappear in 24 hours? These updates were so much easier to find when we all just dumped everything onto our boring old Facebook feeds!

Oh yes, definitely! If you miss something posted about you, you would have to rely on word of mouth… and then find the person who posted the story to then ask them to go in their archives to send it to you. Can you all just send me a telegram? A pigeon message with footage?

Good old-fashioned smoke signals!

[Photo: Anthony Leo]

Well, no doubt the BitchFest competition played an important role in your drag… you made it all the way to the wildcard semifinals a few weeks ago! What were your overall thoughts and impressions of partaking in the competition?

Overall, my experience with competitions hasn’t been the best, so to say. Under the fire and confident exterior, I’m a pretty sensitive person. When I was asked to do BitchFest, it felt sort of like an honor… but I did have a moment like “Okay Purss, you’re a bitch, but more of a ‘Mrs. Bitch Without the Ring.’ Where do you fit in?”

My season’s cast was pretty stacked, and I’d competed against one of my castmates before (and lost, shoutout to Oliver Herface). The first two weeks, I had to pull myself away from my own thoughts and pick up my big girl panties to make it through the next week. I’ve gotten some great feedback from Zavaleta and the judges, but the one important thing I’m able to walk away with is that I have the ability to change and adapt… all while being aware of external factors (space, audience, how a performance will be received) pretty quickly.

That’s the greatest skill set for a performer to have, and not the easiest to learn!

Thank you, it’s definitely coming in handy with these few gigs coming up!

So, where is your original hometown, and what were the things you were interested in while growing up that might’ve led to drag?

I was born and raised in Queens–Astoria, specifically. I’ve always wanted to be an artist and learned the basics: drawing, painting, and dancing by the time I was a teen. By then it was a matter of time that I settled on my niche, which was graphic design. I spent so much time until I was in my mid-20s working on that craft, and eventually becoming the go-to designer for a few artists and party promoters. It was a great gig, but I didn’t feel comfortable being behind the scenes anymore. I randomly thought “I can do that” after watching Bob the Drag Queen win Drag Race Season 8.

A great inspiration! Your name is funny because “Persephone” was a tragic Greek goddess, but it also reads as “Purse So Phony” which celebrates Beauty on a Budget!

Exactly! Everyone take notes! The drag persona has been in the stew for a long time cooking–and I knew the name had to have meaning, be funny, and also tell people what I’m about. Growing up poor and in the projects definitely comes with its own stigmas that I had to navigate, especially when I met other people while I started in nightlife.

A lot of that started as a kid because my mom (love you!) couldn’t afford name brand things, so most of the time I was in Old Navy clothes and Payless shoes like a lot of the kids around me. While brainstorming the name ,I noticed a lot of fashions–the same fashions I would get made fun of for–were in style. During that time I was heavily into gaming, and my main game was Smite, based around a MOBA play style with different pantheons of gods. And like any good sign, Persephone was released. Not long into reading up on her, I realized I might not come from the Underworld, but I do come from under a manhole cover to bring fake bags. The Purss is so phony.

How might you describe the kind of performances you like to do today onstage?

I usually perform music by artists that are POC. I best describe my performance style as someone who gives good face and can move their body. “Is it great?” Is a question I’ll let the audience know, lol.

Have you had an all time favorite stage moment yet?

It’s pretty niche and probably one that most people would be embarrassed from, but I fell while performing at “Amigas” [at the Rosemont] my first time and I recovered so effortlessly that I didn’t even realize it happened! Aside from that gag factor, performing my eight minute Nicki Minaj mix on a whim to a packed “Madd Mondays” crowd at Metro and having the crowd know all the words definitely takes the cake.

Incredible! So these days you’re hosting monthly bingo (second Fridays) at the Big aLICe Barrel Room in Brooklyn’s Industry City.

Yes! The gig came about so randomly, by chance encounter. I had a last minute brunch, and then zoomed into Icon to do about four to five more numbers. And while outside, a random person (at the time) came up to me and complimented me, and chatted me up. After about two minutes of her telling me my hair was beautiful and stunning, she said “the brewery my partner works for is looking for a queen to host bingo.” Yeah, sure, here’s my Insta, take care babes. What shocked me is that Monday I got a DM for my email, and by the next day I was on the phone closing the deal (look at me).

It’s a very laid back gig. We play bingo for free beer, and then have a final lightning round played for a bigger prize (a 4-pack of beer to take home). The crowd is mixed as there is a queer happy hour beforehand–but I have to say that whether they are there for bingo or not, they always end up staying and having a good time. That part’s the most important, ’cause I would say roughly about half of each month’s audience has never been to a drag show. So a lot of the drive comes from wanting to connect with those that it’s their first drag show, but also to create a community to leave people with the feeling of wanting to go back, even if it’s just for the vibes.

Sounds super fun! You’re also gonna be with your fellow “BitchFest” alum MissMa’amShe for a takeover of DJ Sean McMahill’s party “Yes Homo,” this Saturday at C’mon Everybody! That should also be a ki!

Yes! I’m so excited to work with my best friend, and be able to take over the stage with her mama Mx. Iodine Quartz. I know for a fact that night is gonna be a ki… I’m already tired for work the next day!

Anything else on the agenda for you?

I’m part of a cast for a themed show for August 26, so keep your eyelids peeled!

Indeed we will! To close, we’ve had about three days of Renaissance in our lives now… what’s your verdict? Bop, Bomb or Mixed Bag?

I’m such a horrible Beyoncé Stan; I listened to it the first time in full last night at work. It’s a bop, I fear… she’s stepping on my neck again, your honor!

Thank you, Purss’ophonie!

[Photo: MissMa’amShe]

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Purss’ophonie’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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