Come play with this December birthday queen on the rise this and every Sunday at Playhouse: Taraye! [Cover photo: Brae Lawren Howard]
Thotyssey: Hello Taraye, happy Birthday Week! How do you usually celebrate… do you go big or intimate?
Taraye: In my older age, I’ve learned to appreciate doing my birthday intimately. When you are born in one of the cold months, it makes it hard to gather people around to celebrate.
And so close to Christmas, too!
Well, what’s funny is that my mother’s birthday is at the end of November… and my family would combine her gifts [with Christmas gifts] sometimes. As her only child, she made sure I wasn’t treated the same. And the fact that my birthday and Christmas are on the same day–but three weeks apart–gave her some room to do it! Not as much now though, lol.
Well, now Taraye is here to serve all the children this holiday season! So where is your original hometown… and growing up, were you always into things like dancing, performance, fashion, etc.?
I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan. Growing up, yes… I would watch Janet Jackson and attempt to learn all of her routines. I read a lot of Stephen King, Goosebumps, and Vogue magazines. I always wanted to be in fashion and entertainment.
What brought you to New York, and how did drag enter your life?
I always had a desire to move to NYC in hopes of becoming a signed and booked model, but the journey to get here was rough. I was finally able to come and move here… and then the pandemic happened. Bored in my apartment, I decided to use some of that stimulus money to teach myself how to do makeup.
It wasn’t until I saw Janelle No. 5’s competition “Are You The Next Diva” that I decided to put on the only pair of heels I had and some lingerie, and I went out there and performed my little life away… almost breaking my ankles in the process. Being on stage gave me the rush I had always wanted, and then I just continued to do it.
Where does the name “Taraye” come from?
So one of my government last names is “Terry,” and Taraye is an exaggerated form of it.
My mother and father never got married, so she hyphenated my last name (Terry-Robinson). The problem with this is that when you are looking for my documents, people tend to look at Robinson instead of Terry. And then when you go to a predominantly black college, you would also happen to run into someone who ironically has the same first name, middle initial and last name as you… so I always made sure to differentiate. My friend said that I say “Terry” with an attitude, so it’s not Terry… it’s Taraye.
There is only one Taraye! You are a young queen, but how might you describe the types of looks and numbers you serve?
It’s always an honor to still be considered young whilst in your mid 30s! My looks and numbers are always a mix of Naomi Campbell supermodel served with a little Carol Burnett funny to it. I like to serve a bit of fashion and funny at the same time.
You’re definitely a mix queen! So besides “Diva,” you’ve done probably all the weekly drag competition shows, and frequently win the night. How do you like doing those shows… are you in it to win it, or is it more about learning / growing / networking etc.?
The competition shows are fun at times; I feel like networking and learning from my own performances are always key. Winning is always top goal because I can utilize the finances, honestly… but I love to watch my performances back and try and improve on everything.
These days, we’re happy to have you in the cast of “Playthingz,” the newest drag revue at Playhouse! Thotyssey produces that with “Polish the Queen’s” Phil Chanel, and the cast also includes Pietra Parker, Milan Garçon, Lana Del Trey, A’Nylah The Doll and VJ OhRicky! It’s every Sunday 3pm to 7pm and it’s a true ki! How fun has this show been?
Honestly, I’ve been very grateful for the opportunity. I truly adore my castmates, and it’s already been a fun ride. I personally can’t wait to make more girl group memories with everyone, and make sure this show is a hit.
We’re off to a good start, and this weekend is your birthday show! Any ideas what numbers you’re gonna do yet?
I love a good high energy number, so always expect that. Come out and support the girl, have a drink, have a laugh and be entertained!
It should be a blast celebrating another Sagittarius on their birthday. It will be spectacular, I’m sure of it.
That’s the ticket! And lastly: what’s your favorite Christmas song?
Whew… I actually don’t like Christmas at all, including the music, lol! But if I had to pick a Christmas song, it would be “Sleigh Ride” by TLC.
That’s the spirit! See you Sunday, and happy birthday Taraye!