Whether you love or loathe Valentine’s Day, the February edition of drag demon Chevy Lace’s long running “Villain Edit” at Club Cumming has something for every monster! [Cover photo: Izzy Berdan]
Thotyssey: How’s February treating you so far, Chevy?
Chevy Lace: It’s been good, and also busy. I feel like a lot of projects have just gotten teed up for me in the last few weeks.
How would you describe the types of performance projects you do to the general public?
I’d definitely call them drag shows! The more detailed description I’ve been using for the last few years is specifically “drag shows that focus on alternative drag.” So I put a lot of emphasis on booking underrepresented performers–drag kings and drag artists of all types who defy category, as well as focusing on showcasing trans performers. And lots of spooky performers, lol!
I see venues these days not quickly rising to the opportunity to book alternative drag performers, even at the risk of over-stagnation with that “one type” of bar drag that’s “popular.” How can we convince these venues to add different types of entertainers to their rosters, for everyone’s benefit?
Oh man, if only we could solve this. I hate to say it, but sometimes the best way to convince businesses who maybe don’t share the ideal of diversifying their performer lineup because it’s good art is to show them the evidence that it makes money. Lots of shows featuring alt-performers are wildly popular, and routinely bring in full houses. My show at Club Cumming is pretty regularly sold out, and looking at the evidence of the great stuff The Cake Boys have done at 3 Dollar Bill (for weeks in a row!) and tons of the programming at Purgatory–there’s lots of customers who want to see this kind of performance, and will pay to be there! They should also do it because the artistry is amazing, but you know, money talks.
She sure does! So tell us a bit of your origin story, if you will: where are you from originally, and were you always interested in art or performance in some way?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, but I’ve been in New York for almost ten years now- I moved here right after college and stayed put. I actually had almost no performance experience before I started doing drag; I used to be a lot more shy, and when I first told my friends that I was going to start doing drag they were all like “…you’re going to do what, now?”
But art has always been important to me; I’ve been drawing and painting and sewing for almost as long as I can remember. And I think that experience with visual arts really translates into my drag and the way I design looks for myself around silhouette and character.
You design and construct all those amazing looks yourself!?
I do! I make almost everything I wear, with very few exceptions. It started out as just me not being able to afford the kind of costumes I wanted, so I began making my own out of necessity. Now I love making my own looks, and it’s sort of spinning into a whole side career!
How did Chevy Lace make his debut as a performer, producer, etc.?
My first show was “Moxie” with Switch n’ Play, back when they used to do those! They were new performer showcases that anyone could apply to, and you were pretty much guaranteed to get a great crowd… so it was a wonderful experience. I started producing pretty soon after that–partially out of an overflow of ideas for shows, and partially just as a way to build the performance opportunities for myself I wanted!
How might you describe your own performances? You have an attraction to the ghoulish, I see!
Haha, definitely! I think haute couture cartoon villain is a good summary of what to expect from me.
And are you a big Chevy Chase fan, lol?
I’m not, actually! That was the origin of the name, and I stuck with it–mostly because I think it sounds cool on its own. Almost no one gets the reference, though!
Tell us a bit about “Villain Edit,” the recurring showcase you’ve been producing at Club Cumming for a while now. What’s the origin of that show, and how would you describe what it is today?
Initially, when I pitched VE I didn’t feel like there was a recurring show in the scene that focused on spooky drag… so I really wanted to create something that could be a hub for alt performers, and to see drag that explored horror themes and visuals. There’s historically such a tie between horror and queerness, and also queer-coded villains in media, that I felt like it was a genre that lots of people could explore for a long time!
I think it’s mostly stayed true to that initial concept, although I honestly didn’t expect the level of support and excitement from the community that we’ve had for the last year and a half–people have been so wonderful! And the other thing I didn’t expect is how well-received the open set portion of the show would be–half the performers every show are open set, so anyone can apply, and they consistently turn it out, every show! I’m blown away every time! And in the process, we’re letting performers of all levels build up stage skills and get in front of an audience that’s enthusiastic about the weird shit… it’s such a wonderful community experience.
“Villain Edit” returns to Club Cumming this coming Sunday, for it’s annual “Villaintines Day” edition! The billed cast will include Allie Saint Surreal, Muscles Monty, Noctua, and Lucky Pierre with open set shows by Chico Raro, Sir Dallan G, Kurt Cocaine, SupaNova and Oliver Bliss! What can we expect from this installment?
I think we’re going to have a little bit of sideshow, a little bit of burlesque, and lots of heartbreak and villainous romance! Last year, people went all out for Valentine’s Day… so I’m expecting that, but more this time!
You hinted earlier at some other upcoming projects… can you tease any of them?
Ooh, I don’t know how much I can talk about… but I’ve had a lot of very exciting conversations about costume collaborations recently that I truly cannot wait to get started on! We’re gonna make some onstage magic!
We will keep our eyes and ears open! Lastly… who is your all time favorite Villain?
OMG, I should’ve been ready for this and I’m not! I think off the cuff, I have to go with Hexxus from Ferngully: 1) voiced by Tim Curry, 2) extremely gay, and 3) weirdly sexual?
A formidable choice! Thanks, Chevy!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Chevy Lace’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.