Known for bringing beautiful weird humor to bar stages all across NYC and Long Island, Ballz McMoon will shine in a massive drag rock showcase this weekend.
Thotyssey: Hiya, Ballz! How’s the season been treating you?
Ballz McMoon: I’ve had a pretty great summer so far. I know lately this heat has definitely been takin’ a toll on us all, though. But summer usually brings with it some nice, loftier vibes for me. I’ve had a few lovely private gigs, and am very much looking forward to “Warped Whore” this weekend.
What are private / corporate gigs like for you? A bunch of queens hate them, but I’ve also known a few who like them so much that they abandoned the bars to do them full time!
I really enjoy them! I definitely tend to prefer the bar gigs, because you never really know what to expect… and the atmosphere is usually a little less inhibited. But the private gigs were actually really nice and decent pay, in addition to the tips. It may have helped that they were mostly for LGBTQ-centric organizations — whether Jewish organizations, a Jewish queer youth organization, or simply an LGBTQ youth organization.
Tailoring your drag for a younger audience can of course be a bit of a (pun intended) drag, but also kind of fun and inspiring in a way. It’s fun to share drag with queer youth; I remember being a teenager and wanting so badly to get to go to drag shows when I got older. So it’s cool when I get booked for a gig that allows me to be that gateway or middle ground for teens to share queer art with them, that hopefully resonates without compromising their safety by bringing them to a bar or otherwise 21+ event.
You’re the Gateway Queen for America’s youth! Isn’t it bonkers how organizations like Drag Story Hour, and the whole concept of drag performers being in the same room as kids, has gotten this renewed interest from the hysterical Right? It’s one of Florida Gov. DeSantis’ favorite talking points! This is serious political discourse from a likely future presidential candidate. It’s crazy!
Legit! It’s so sad to me. And I think it reveals a lot about those speaking up against it in terms of their ignorance, as their opinion reflects very little of what having drag performers in youth’s spaces actually looks like. Those on the Far Right are very quick to sexualize drag artists and thus demonize them, but I have seen and heard far more perverse things come from the cis-het Republican population around children and teens than the gender-bending queens, kings and things with flashy costumes and makeup — of whom they’re so fearful.
Absolutely! It’s all insane. Which brings us in a bad segue to the part where we discuss your origin story, lol! Where are you from originally, and what were your early interests as far as art, performing, etc.?
I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon [RuPaul’s Drag Race]; Pandora Boxx was on it, and I thought it was hilarious and captivating… and immediately became obsessed. I remember being like, “people dress up and lip sync and dance to music for a living?!” And basically deciding that that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. There was a courtyard right in the center of our school; I was always fantasizing while listening to my music about performing for my peers and teachers there, but was kind of too shy and introverted to really make it happen.
In high school was when I joined theater. I mostly worked as crew (stage manager / ASM), but I started performing monologues and doing makeup for people (which sometimes people would pay me for). Then when I went to college, I started to be a little braver and went to on-campus events and drag shows in drag, but still didn’t quite have the… ballz… to start performing until after college.
I believe you’re a native Long islander. When did you start performing and competing as Ballz in NYC, and how did that drag name come to you?
I started performing in NYC in 2019, at Drag Wars. While I like to crack jokes about my name (Ballz ’cause I don’t have any, and McMoon ’cause I’m usually caught with my ass hanging out), the name actually comes from the balsamic moon, which is the final phase of the lunar cycle and the lunar phase I was born under. I was just standing outside one day, looking up at the moon and said it out loud in a southern accent then realized it kinda sounded like a name and I liked it so I kept it.
Were there ever moments in your career when people — or even an inner voice — told you that drag was only for one type of gendered person, and that audiences weren’t “ready” for anything different?
Oh definitely. It wasn’t really until I saw a non-cis male drag performer in my hometown (The Only Labyrinth, she’s amazing) that I really felt inspired — or I guess you could say, permitted — to perform. I’ll be honest, I’ve been lucky to be met with more support from other queens of all genders since starting drag, both on Long Island and in the City, and even in other cities and countries. People are more accepting than one would think. I mean, yes — there is definitely still less representation, and it can be hard to get a booking… but I attribute that to a few other factors for myself, at least, in the last few years. But like I said, it’s mostly been support. I have been lucky enough not to have met anyone who has ever really made me feel like I don’t belong, or shouldn’t be doing drag for whatever reason.
This Friday (5pm), you’re gonna be part of a huge show at 3 Dollar Bill, care of producer / host Amanda Pörq: Warped Whore! This is obviously a tribute to the punk / metal / emo / nu metal acts that played the Warped Tour in the 90’s and 00’s. Tell us a bit more about what this show’s gonna be like, and where your musical tastes lie in that era of music!
Oh, my gosh! Yes! I am very, very excited for this show in particular. My musical taste in high school was actually largely influenced by Warped Tour, though I never got to go myself. My parents basically said I was too young, but my older sister got to go and would always share her music with me. She’d get a sample CD from the show, and that’s where I was introduced to Motion City Soundtrack. The first song I heard by them was “Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die.” They quickly became my favorite band, and I learned their entire discography. My favorite thing about MCS is what I think will be especially exciting about the show itself—that punk vibe of self-expression that deals with all of these dark themes and feelings, but oftentimes in a way that is somehow lighthearted? Or like, makes you wanna get up and move your body and dance or jump around and just… scream lyrics into the air above you, in a crowd full of people.
Something about this era of emo / punk / rock / ska / metal music is so
symbolic of the natural rebellion of a teenage soul, and I think it unites that nostalgic part of all of us. Especially for those of us who have ever gotten to see these bands live, whether at Warped Tour or elsewhere, and know that feeling of being in a room or space with all of these people who might be vastly different from you… but get to share that part of you that loves the music, knows the band, knows all of the words, and wants to scream them together. I think this show is really going to be paying homage to that experience.
I remember at one of my first MCS shows, they had signs up that said “No racism. No homophobia. No transphobia. No misogyny. One strike, you’re out!” And they were partnering with and promoting an organization called Everyone is Gay; that was very much the vibe there. It felt very inclusive, and sort of like coming home even you didn’t know anyone else there. But you knew the band, and the music, and that you were welcome there. And I think that’s very much what you can expect from Warped Whore.
What’s next for you?
In the future I’m actually looking to make some short video style content, so keep an eye out for that! Otherwise, come out to 3 Dollar Bill for Warped Whore! It’s a killer cast and fun music, and you won’t wanna miss it!
Indeed! To close, do you know what you’re gonna be for Halloween yet?
Oh my gosh, no! I don’t know yet. I used to be so much better at planning these things (when I was a kid I was Kim Possible or Susan Blackwell/An Original Musical from [title of show]. I tend to keep things simple these days. Maybe a witch? But great, now you got me a little stressed, lol!
We’ve got plenty of time to cast the right spell! Thanks, Ballz!