This big hearted, big voiced diva has a lot going on this month–including a weekly presence across the state line, and their producing debut right here in NYC. Staci the Drag Artist has got it going on!
Thotyssey: Hello Staci, thanks for chatting with us! So, we are already in May… how was your April?
Staci: Hi! I cannot believe we are in May already, this year is flying by so fast! My April went well, pretty busy, and pretty fun! I started off the month traveling up to Hartford where I performed in a benefit show at The Chez. We raised money for AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) and it was such a great night. I did several competitions and open stages across NYC and Connecticut. I performed in a benefit show earlier in April at 3 Dollar Bill where we helped raise money for Camp OUT Florida. I also participated in “Supernovas” at Pink Metal last week, which was a wonderful benefit show. April was the month of giving back for me, and it felt good getting to participate in several benefit shows.
And May is giving as well! You have something in common with another local performer, Boxa Crayonz, in that you both do lots of stuff in Connecticut as well as here. Are you a Connecticut native?
I’m not, but I live on Long Island which is only an hour drive from there. I started doing shows in Connecticut a year ago when I heard about a new open stage called “Wacky Wednesdays.” I signed up one week, then kept going back. Now I’m doing things in Connecticut on a weekly basis. I really enjoy Connecticut and the scene there. I am a native at heart, and have considered moving there! PS, I love Boxa and got to work with them several times… such an incredible performer!
You’re known as a live singing drag artist… have you been singing your whole life?
Yes! I’ve been singing on stage since I was four. I’ve done various musical theatre productions, talent shows, sang in school choirs, etc. Once I started singing, I never stopped. I knew once I started drag that I had to incorporate live singing in it. I keep my voice in check by doing vocal lessons weekly. My vocal coach is Makon Mayhem, who also happens to be an incredible drag king in the scene. Lessons every week have been helping me to sing properly, and keep my voice in check. I’ve been doing vocal lessons consistently for a year, and I’m so grateful to Makon for coaching me, I couldn’t do this without him!
How did you discover drag, and begin your own drag journey?
I discovered drag the summer of 2013 when I was 15. I was in theater summer camp one day and I heard a group of kids discuss RuPaul’s Drag Race.” I interrupted the conversation by saying: “What’s RuPaul’s Drag Race?” The whole group turned around and gasped. They told me everything about the show, and showed me photos. I was in awe of drag and the craftsmanship. Two years later, I was involved in a community theatre production of a La Cage Aux Folles. I was helping behind the scenes, and saw drag artists in person for the first time. Seeing what they did I thought to myself: “I want to do that one day.”
I attended every drag show under the sun once I started college. My freshman year, we had a costume contest. I dressed in drag for the first time, and won first prize. Two years went by, and I haven’t thought of doing drag again. In 2019, I did my college school musical playing a diva and incorporated the character into a drag artist. Two weeks after that I did my very first drag show.
At the time I only performed occasionally. I wasn’t sure if drag was the perfect fit for me yet. I started off dressing in drag, and just live singing. Ten months in, the pandemic hit and the world stopped. I quit drag briefly during that time thinking, “am I sure this is what I want to do?” In 2021, I got myself back out there doing a few shows. I realized how much I enjoyed drag, and wanted to pursue it. I made a pact January 2022 to do drag on a consistent basis (weekly), and I stuck with it.
I would say 2022 is when I truly started doing drag seriously. I did competitions every week to learn and grow. I still do them often to learn more about myself. I’ve grown tremendously over the past year, stepping myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I signed up for every open stage I could put my hands on. I’ve done shows consistently in the New York City and Connecticut drag scene, and achieved more things than I could ever imagine. I’m still learning and growing but proud of myself for my growth and development over the past year and a half.
You identify as non-binary; was it ever a struggle to reconcile that identity with drag, which is traditionally thought of as gender play?
Yes, at first it definitely was. When I first started drag, I thought I could only present feminine or only present masculine. My first few months doing drag, I considered myself a drag queen and only did feminine numbers. Then I realized that I was struggling to reconcile my gender identity. I was getting misgendered left and right, and felt dysphoric.
When I did more research, I saw “drag things.” Drag things do masculine personas, feminine personas, androgynous personas, and in between. Seeing them perform made me realize that I could showcase my gender expression through my art. I played around and created multiple characters. I started doing more androgynous and masculine drag in addition, which gave me euphoria. Days where I want to be more masc presenting I do masculine drag numbers, and days where I want to be more femme presenting I do femme drag numbers. There are many shows where I’ll do my first number in boy drag, then change to girl drag for Act Two, and vice versa.
Figuring out the term “drag thing” and experimenting with my drag helped me feel more comfortable in my skin. It helped me be able to represent myself more as a non-binary person and showcase my gender identity through my performance and everyday life.
I saw you perform at a benefit at Stonewall for the Colorado Springs attack several months ago, and hostess Islaya introduced you as one of the city’s most talented younger queens! Do you get a lot of love and support like that from the New York drag folks?
Islaya is an incredible performer, and she’s so down to earth. I feel fortunate to get love and support from many of the NYC drag legends. I look up to them, and hearing their kind words means a lot to me. I’ve received great advice from many of them when I’ve competed at Polish the Queen. It means a lot to me, seeing the more seasoned professional drag artists uplift and support us up-and-coming artists. They were in our shoes when they first started, and have been giving us encouragement and support to learn and grow.
Let’s talk about some fun things coming up: firstly, this Sunday you’ll be doing a Taylor Swift drag show at Sand City Brewing in Lindenhurst, Long Island with some other great queens!
I am super excited about this show! We are doing a Taylor Swift Eras drag show documenting music from all of Taylor’s past albums. Every performer will be serving Taylor Swift realness and it’s bound to be a fantastic night! The show is hosted by Awhora Borealis and features performances from Alice Noir, Stella Virgin, Annie Manildoo, Vivi Alma, Cassie, and myself. If you can’t afford to see Taylor Swift in concert then come on down to Sand City Brewing!
Then I see that Thursday, May 11, you and many queens from this same cast will be back for another LI event… this time, drag bingo at the Village Idiot Pub in Oakdale!
Yes! I am very excited for this event. It will be my very first time ever doing a drag bingo. After going to drag bingos for years, I have the lingos and jokes prepared for when the balls drop.
Straight folks can make for pretty fun, enthusiastic audiences compared to those cynical, hard-to-please gays!
As it’s Long Island, I think it’s going to be a mostly straight audience. The straight women bachelorette parties especially make performing shows on the Island very entertaining. I’ve also seen middle-aged women in their 40s come, get drunk, tip the house down, and have been on their feet for us. I’ve had very good experiences catering to audiences of all genders and sexualities!
And this is really exciting: May 23rd will be “Staci’s Quarter Life Crisis Drag Show” at Starr Bar! That’s gonna have a big cast, and I understand that besides your birthday it will be you your big show producing debut.
Yes! I am super thrilled about it. I’ve been wanting to give back to the community; I’ve done many open stages, and wanted to return the favor by having an open set cast in my show. I have a co-host, two special guests, and an open set of 14 performers that make up the cast. I wanted to celebrate my 25th birthday with a bang and figured: “why not produce a show?” I am bringing performers in from NYC, LI, and CT with me! I am so excited to be producing my show and showcasing incredible talent!
I will be hosting the show alongside Sitanya Face. Frankie Cyanide and DJ Santiago are my special guests. The open set cast includes Lucia Fuchsia, Chrisy Fabs, Damien Demise, Ellis Dee, Oliver Bliss, Ann Arky, Mystikuntt, Songbird Angel Love, Guen Reign, Paxx Headroom, Lady Andromeda, Frankie and Cassie (drag twins), and Trash Ketchum. This is going to be a stellar night.
I am crossing off one of my biggest drag goals producing this show and I am hoping to produce more in NYC after this, as well as produce on Long Island, and Connecticut to help give performers opportunities to shine!
What else is on your agenda?
I have a few exciting things coming up in June that I’m excited to share. June 3rd I will be performing at Middletown Pride in Connecticut. June 11th, I am performing in a benefit show for TRCLI (Transgender Resource Center of Long Island) at Station Pub in Sayville. You can also catch me on Wednesdays at Trevi Lounge at 9pm, and I have more things in store that I can’t wait to announce when I can!
Much to look forward to! Okay, to close: who had your favorite Met Gala look this week?
I love watching the Met Gala every year; I was constantly refreshing my feed to see all of the looks. My favorite look from this week was Doja Cat. I was especially impressed with the makeup! My other favorite was Lizzo. Not just the carpet but the looks she served at the after party.
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Staci’s upcoming performances, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.