Derek Please!
Beauty for Everybody 

By Derek Murawski-Harguth

The Always Fresh Peppermint Talks Pride, Janet Jackson and Touring the Midwest

June 5, 2024

Peppermint is a force to be reckoned with. As a drag queen, singer, actress, and activist, she's made a name for herself on stages across the world. From slaying the competition as runner-up on “RuPaul's Drag Race” season nine, to becoming the first openly trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway (in “Head Over Heels”), Peppermint is a true trailblazer. We chatted with her about touring the Midwest, Janet Jackson, and what Peppermint is up to this Pride season. 

Hi Peppermint! I loved you as Bea Eeep in the VH1 holiday film “The Bitch Who Stole Christmas”! What was your creative process like when finding Bea Eeep as a character? 

I can appreciate that. It's definitely not the deepest character that I've ever delved into! I think the character was initially written for Trixie Mattel or someone way more famous and successful than myself. But I think when they turned it down they just asked me, I auditioned and sent in a tape. I had the job offer before seeing the full script about 30 minutes later. Initially, in addition to being a bad driver, Bea Eeep was an alcoholic but at some point I think they changed that — but nobody ever told me so I played it like she was drunk. You win some, you lose some. [Laughs]

You recently reimagined Janet Jackson’s classic music video “Together Again”! What was your favorite part of the shoot?  (Watch the video in the Music Scene)

The arrival on the set was magical. And packing up and leaving was a huge sense of accomplishment. Everything in between felt like a Mad Dash to the finish as we were on a very strict timeframe. But we did it! Of course with the help of a really talented group of people.

What’s your favorite part of Janet Jackson’s original video? 

The original video is just beautiful, the song is uplifting, and the visuals are stunning — so colorful! It reminds me of a sort of futuristic Africa. There's something so stunning and so simple about the original video.

What do you respect the most about Janet Jackson?

You mean besides her singing and dancing? Obviously, I'm a big fan, but I think the thing that strikes me the most — that resonates more on a personal level — is the relationship that she seems to cultivate with her dancers.

What does Pride mean to you?

Probably can take on a different meaning depending on what's going on in the world. Obviously, it's an opportunity for people both in and out of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate our visibility and accomplishments, while we refocus on the task at hand. Beyond that, though, Pride is an opportunity for people to self reflect and hopefully come to the conclusion that a lot of the struggles that we face are very intersectional, regardless of how you identify. The LGBTQ+ community is one of those communities that's touched by every race, every religion, every gender, every sexuality, every nationality, and even begrudgingly every political party

How are you celebrating Pride month this June? 

I think I'm going back to basics. I started out celebrating Pride in gay bars and gay clubs primarily. Over the years I've had more opportunities to partner with companies and organizations that wanted to demonstrate a partnership with people from the community. The last year we saw a real pushback and distancing from corporate interest in partnering with the queer community. Many drag queens I know who have done floats on the parade and partnerships, endorsements and commercials were not seeing a lot of those offers come in over the last year. Myself included. So it's time to pull out the glitter and the rainbow lipstick and get to the club, my darling!

Do you have any fun memories from touring in Minnesota or the Midwest region? 

A year and a half ago, I went on tour with Jujubee to promote our new albums with a live band, and it was absolutely unreal. Getting to meet our fans and people who respected us for our drag and were really interested in our music. Which we were both releasing R&B projects at the time. I can't wait to get back on the road again.

Interview: The Acclaimed Kiesza Is Back Better Than Ever

May 8, 2024

Electro-pop artist Kiesza blew our minds in 2014 with the release of her breakout, billion-streaming single “Hideaway.” Since then, she has cemented herself as a dance pop superstar. Her highly-anticipated new album, “Dancing and Crying: Vol. 1,” is out Friday, May 24. Kiesza and I spoke ahead of the album’s release, touching on her creative process, working with “Canada’s Drag Race” icon BOA on a music video, and what the legacy of “Hideaway” means to her.

 

Your new single, “The Mysterious Disappearance of Etta Place,” just came out! How does it feel now that it belongs to both you and your listeners?

It's surreal. This song truly signifies a new chapter for me, one where I share more depth and storytelling. I've been waiting a long time for this moment, and it's beautiful knowing it has already begun.

The music video is gorgeous. What was your visual inspiration? 

The music video is the fourth video in a connected narrative telling the tale of Diana “Wyoming” Jones, a character that came to life during a time when I decided to change course internally, causing a tectonic shift in my life. The narrative turning from black and white into colour holds deep meaning. I was fortunate to be able to take a few days to shoot this while I was dinosaur digging in Wyoming and it was so much fun to make! The core inspiration was focussed around the breathtaking beauty of Wyoming, combined with my secret desire to star in a western movie! I’m so honoured this song could feature a poem and presence of my dear friend Clay Gibbons. His heart and soul are pure magic.

How long did it take to record your upcoming album Dancing and Crying: Vol. 1

It was written over the course of two years, during a time when I wanted to dig deeper and expand the wholeness of my artistic expression. It took time to hone this particular fusion of sound, but many songs came out of it, which have yet to be released!

What does it mean to you that “Hideaway” is such an anthem for your fans and the world? 

I am so grateful that the world has so much love for 'Hideaway.' It keeps going and going and, in many ways, is the reason I am able to express myself so freely in my career as an artist. I love the connection people have to the song, as well as the connection I share through it with all of my fans.

It is an iconic, billion-streaming hit. Do you remember the first time you heard it on the radio or in public? 

I was on my way to my first performance, where I was opening for Katy B. That was the only show I played as an opening act; from then on, I was a headliner, so this particular show always stands out in my memory. I was in a car heading to the show with my whole show crew when it came on the radio, and we all screamed together!

You are a noted LGBTQIA+ ally. What does being an ally mean to you? 

I am the biggest supporter of pure self-expression and the freedom to love who you love. This community embodies these values to the core, and when I was emerging as an artist, they were the first to ever support my music, long before “Hideaway.” I would not be where I am today were it not for the genuine love and support of this beautiful community, and I will never stop loving and supporting them.

Drag artist extraordinaire BOA from Canada’s Drag Race is in your “Heaven Ain’t Calling” music video. Any fun stories from working with BOA on set? 

Boa was the sun in this production, and the rest of us were all in orbit around her. She was incredible to work with, a magnificent performer. We shared lots of fun and laughs in the dressing room. Quite frankly, the whole experience of working with Boa was a fun story!

What do you hope fans take away from Dancing and Crying: Vol. 1

Dancing and Crying is less about what I have to take away and more about what I have to give. This whole stream of self-expression is so alive, and the writing process alone encapsulates a whole series of adventures, both in life and in the soul. I'm just grateful I was brave enough to leap into this new chapter. There's more to it than what appears on the surface.

Interview: Out Country Music Star Brian Falduto Talks Covering Dolly Parton

April 24, 2024

Country music is becoming more inclusive, according to out country music star Brian Falduto. Falduto first won our hearts as “Fancy Pants” in the classic 2003 Jack Black comedy film “School of Rock.” Now he’s covering Dolly Parton, adding queer storylines to his covers, and even directing music videos. He talks about how he made it to this moment, how country music has opened up to new voices, and what’s next for it to be more inclusive. 

What is your favorite memory of playing "Fancy Pants" in the modern classic School of Rock?

Oh gosh, there's so many great memories to choose from. I think probably just how close we all got. The other kids and I shared a very unusual developmental experience by being in a major motion picture at such an early age. A lot of people won't ever be able to quite understand how that bonded us for life, but we're all still in an active group text 20 years later. And even Jack Black, Mike White, and Sarah Silverman… They've all stayed in touch and are so supportive, which I think is a testament to how much impact that movie had not only on everyone who has seen it, but those of us who were in it as well. 

What drew you to country music?

I was always a fan of country music. Faith Hill was my first album. But it's really when Carrie Underwood won “Idol” that I fully converted. I was a huge fan of “American Idol” and voted for her many times. So when she began performing on the country music awards shows, I would watch. It's then that I discovered other artists within the genre and began to expand my knowledge of the format. And then my first job out of college was in country music radio, so I quickly became immersed in it professionally.

What was your inspiration behind covering “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That?” by Dolly Parton? 

I love covering songs in general. I think it's a fun opportunity to connect with your audience around something familiar, while also sharing your influences. Deciding on what song to record for my first-ever released cover was difficult. I had narrowed it down to two options that I had fun ideas for arrangements of, but Dolly's legacy ended up being the deciding factor. She's just such an icon in so many ways and I felt like I couldn't go wrong following in her footsteps. Plus, this song is very tongue-in-cheek, yet sincere — as is much of my current catalogue — so, I felt like it fit. 

Your version includes a queer storyline. Can you tell us more about your queer interpretation of the song?

It's kinda just become my M.O. with country music at this point. There's not much difference in the meaning of the song... it's just gay now. Which is the exact lyric I sing on my song "Same Old Country Love Song.” "It's the same old country love song, but it's gay." For whatever reason, there seems to be this misconception that country music can't be queer — or at least that's the message I got growing up. My intention has been to revisit the sounds I grew up on, but to just tell them from an earnest point of view that is mine (and therefore is also incidentally gay). 

You directed the music video! Do you have any fun stories from directing?

I did! It was my first attempt at it, too. The most fun part was probably coming up with the ideas for the dating profiles featured in the video. The story of the video begins with me swiping on a dating app, trying to find a match. We needed to create some profiles that would be obvious choices for "swiping left," and we had a good time being silly with that. A few fans have already expressed that the video is too relatable because we've all seen these guys on these apps. The world of queer dating can be tough to navigate sometimes! I'm glad we were able to capture that in a funny way.  

Hollywood actor Dan Amboyer (TV’s “Younger,” “Uncoupled”) stars in the video. What was the most exciting part of working with him?

Ha, well the most exciting part of working with him was that I've had a talent crush on him forever (And also maybe just an actual crush… Who hasn't?), so to get to work with him was a real “pinch me” moment. We've actually been neighbors in Brooklyn for a while now and have had some run-in's at the gym. On the day of the shoot, I kept saying I was basically Hilary Duff now since she played opposite of him in Younger. He's so charming and professional and easy to share time with both on and off camera. I was incredibly grateful he said yes to this. 

In your opinion, what are some of the next steps to make country music more inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community? 

It's happening! Slowly but surely. There are many queer artists like myself emerging. Luckily, in this world of streaming and TikTok and Instagram, we no longer need the gatekeepers of mainstream country music's approval to create more lanes within the genre. New types of country music artists are telling new types of stories, and it's great to see. But I think if country music radio and the country music awards shows were to push forward more diversity, it would help the cause more. It's still unusual to hear back-to-back songs by women on country music radio, so clearly there's work to do.

David Archuleta Is Out and Unveiling His Next Moves

April 10, 2024

It’s a safe bet that our readers remember a wide-eyed, teenage David Archuleta as the runner-up on season seven of “American Idol.” After all, those were peak viewership times for the TV singing competition. It was birthing new stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood left and right. Later Archuleta joined in by releasing his unstoppable, Billboard Hot 100 number two hit single “Crush.” It permeated radio and pop culture. 

What no one was expecting next was for Archuleta to become ex-Mormon, and to come out publicly as a gay man. These profound acts of bravery have ushered in a whole new era for the artist. Archuleta was eager to talk about his new single “Hell Together,” coming out, his fans, Paula Abdul, and what’s next. 

I'm excited to talk to you because I had your first CD in my car in high school and I used to blare it and drive around.

Oh my gosh. How fun!

So multiple generations now have come of age listening to your music. How does that feel?

Multiple generations?

Like Millennials, Gen Z.

That's true. You know, “American Idol” brought me to like, the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. And then a lot of people who are too young to watch those come across “Crush,” or they come across “iCarly” and “Hannah Montana” still — or like remember it — and they usually are like, wait, you're a real person. We thought you're just a character on those shows. Because I played myself. 

Oh, yeah! 

That’s kind of funny, but yeah that's kind of wild to think. I have had people be like, “Hey, I watched you on “American Idol,” I loved you in high school. This is my son. I'm bringing my kids to your show." I am like, “Oh, my God.” That's fun. 

That must feel cool. Your debut single “Crush” has sold over two million copies in the United States alone. What's been your favorite experience with this song?

My favorite experience with this song? I think at this point, the longevity that it's had — and that people still love it to this day — is really fun. I think that is always a beautiful thing. And hearing people's stories, like, “I used this on my crush.” I like them. This was how I met my wife or whatever, you know. Stories like that are fun. 

Your riveting new single “Hell Together” celebrates being out. How have your fans been there for you since you came out? 

I feel like fans, you realize that they really will go through life with you. And they treat you like family, and they can feel like it's like this other, outward family kind of unit for you. You know where they are there to learn with you, be there for you. Be excited for you during your successes… cry with you when you're in your low points. And it's like, wow, these people really are genuinely just excited to be there with me on my journey. And I think that's so beautiful. And you think, “Oh, I'm a different person.” And of course there are people who just like your song — and that's it. Some people may take it personally where they're like, “Oh, you're not what we thought you were.” But there's this group of people that really stick… like, they celebrated me when I was not out yet, still figuring myself out, very religious. They were celebrating me and my successes. Now that I've like deconstructed, and left my religion, and come out. Then I was discovering a new part of me, and fans are celebrating it. And I think that is really, really beautiful. I've had new fans come along the journey as well. And I just welcome everyone, and [I’m] thankful for all of them. Just them supporting me as I go through life, and write about it, and share songs about it.

Congratulations on your GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist. How did you celebrate your win? 

I celebrated by going out dancing. And there was an after party that I performed at, so we just danced there. And then I went to Vegas to see John Summit the next morning — which was a little bit much — but when I say I'm going to do something, I like to stay committed to it. So my friends were like, “Hey, will you come see John Summit, this EDM DJ with me in Vegas?” I really wanted to, okay, and then the GLAAD Media Awards are announced. Like, “Hey, you're nominated,” and they’d like to have you perform at the after party. I was like, “Oh wait, that’s the day before” — I told my friend I’d go to John Summit. I could just tell them no. Or I could be a good friend, and that sounds really fun. I get FOMO, and it might be a great way to celebrate. So then I went to Vegas to celebrate after that.

Awesome. You're currently working on more new music. Can you give us a taste of what's to come?

Yeah, I think the next song I'm going to release is going to be more vulnerable. The first song I released this year was “Hell Together.” More triumphant. The next song is more about what I wrote before I wrote “Hell Together” — so it's a bit in reverse order. It's about feeling a little broken, I guess. Like why do I still notice insecurities? Why do I have a hard time feeling like it's okay to be loved, and receive love, basically? So that's coming next. But even with that, I've been experimenting with other things. Like I've written a lot more singer-songwriter songs — that are more vocal, more heartfelt — and then I've written more dance-y songs, because I do love to dance. I love to move. So I've tried writing stuff that would make people dance.

Awesome!

We'll see what ends up coming out. I'm still figuring it out. As an artist… what artist do I want to be?

What was your biggest takeaway from your experience as runner-up on “American Idol” season seven?

My experience. That life can change really fast — and quite drastically. But there's a lot out there. Life is different for everyone. And it can change depending on where you live, because I started traveling to different countries and different parts of the US. And everywhere you go, people see life differently — and experience it differently — but you can still connect with them. Like, through music.

You just honored Paula Abdul with the Straight Up Ally award at the 2024 Queerties. What was it like catching up with Paula? 

That was so fun. I love Paula. She has accomplished so much, and she's gone through a lot recently. But to honor her like that, after she's been such a cheerleader for all of us on “American Idol.” She was just always there. Making a point to like come be with us. Make sure that we were okay. If we needed a word of advice — or like a pick me up — she would give it to us. Like, without the cameras there. It wasn't for show. It wasn't like, “Look how good of a person I am.” She just genuinely cared, and didn't matter who was watching or who wasn't. She just wanted us to feel supported, that’s just the real person she is. It was so fun to be able to honor her, do a medley, learn her choreography, sing her songs to celebrate her. Kind of just give her a big “thank you” — not just because of her to being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, but also just as a former “Idol” contestant, and being able to tell her thank you in that way, too. It’s really special.

Definitely. That's all the questions I have for you today. Thank you so much. It was a joy to speak with you. 

Thank you, Derek!

RuPaul’s Drag Race Winner Sasha Colby is Coming to Minneapolis 

March 27, 2024

Sasha Colby is everything. Fresh off of winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 15 last year, the multi hyphenate drag entertainer is bringing her Sasha Colby: Stripped Tour to The Fillmore Minneapolis on April 7. We spoke ahead of the show, discussing exciting topics like the reaction to her win back home in Hawaii, being a successful trans drag performer in today’s climate, and the process behind bringing her show to life. 

What was the reaction to your “RuPaul's Drag Race” win back home in Hawaii? 

Back home in Hawaii, the reaction to my win on RuPaul’s Drag Race was so incredible. There were many videos and tags on social media of viewing parties, whether it was at bars or people's homes. The amount of pride that you could see Hawaii have, it was really beautiful and it felt really great to really make my hometown proud. 

As a trans performer, how does it feel representing the community on the scale you are now? 

The best thing about being a successful trans drag performer during this climate is that we’re surrounded by rhetoric saying trans people aren’t valid, so our existence is already in question. Showing up and being proud about it is so important because it gives all of these really scared youth hope. It conveys the message that even though they may not feel safe in the environment they're in now, there are people just like them that will make them feel safe when it's time. I also feel especially grateful to be able to represent trans drag, because my example allows trans people to feel included in the drag community as well. 

Your drag daughter, Kerri Colby, is also taking the world by storm. What lessons have you learned from drag motherhood? 

I think drag motherhood, first and foremost, makes you the child in a lot of scenarios. I've learned how to be a better mother through my drag kids, understanding their needs, and what they need from me as a mom has been evolving. We all grow together, so it's nice because I get to heal by doing the mothering that I never was able to get. I have made some really strong queer connections and get to make a bunch of really cool performers and goddesses like Kerri and all my other kids. 

How did you come up with the premise of your new tour, Sasha Colby: Stripped Tour?

I wanted it to be called “Stripped,” not just because of the double entendre. If you know my drag, you know, I like to show a lot of skin, body positivity, and sex positivity. The “Sasha Colby: Stripped Tour” is really about stripping it back to why I love drag and dancing, which was really the focal point of the whole intention behind this tour. After so much high gloss and high production, it’s really nice to get back to my roots. 

What, what has been your favorite part of the development process? 

I think my favorite part of the development process would be co-creation with some of my oldest and dearest friends. We have all grown together throughout the years, and now we get to show the labor of our love and our friendship through storytelling. I feel so lucky to be the one to tell the story and to be the spokesperson for our magic. 

Any funny behind the scenes stories? 

I love that we are making memories in each city, everywhere we go. We're starting to get some more inside jokes and a little more delirious through each travel period. The funniest behind the scenes stories definitely come from traveling to all kinds of cities as dancers and LA kids, and seeing the people that can tell that we're not from there. It's always kind of hilarious. When we're going to the airport together, people usually think that we're moving because we have so many suitcases, but then we end up getting to tell them that we're putting on this amazing show. 

What do you hope audiences take away from your show? 

What I always hope for when anyone watches a Sasha Colby show, is that they feel empowered after. Whether it's through my vulnerability that allows them to feel stronger, it's really a feeling of universal human connection that I hope people experience. Whether you’re queer, cis, trans, or anything, it's all about being human and feeling empowered. 

Jimbo Will Be Clowning Around The Fillmore Minneapolis April 9

March 27, 2024

The lovably zany and funny drag queen Jimbo was the 2023 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season 8. Jimbo is bringing her trademark, actually clown school-inspired drag to Minneapolis on April 9 at The Fillmore Minneapolis. The show is called Jimbo’s Drag Circus, and audiences are loving it. It’s everything amazing about the queen in one show. We talked about the show, as well as making TV, in this candid phone interview.

Hi Jimbo. I'm such a big fan of yours. How are you doing? 

Thank you so much. I'm doing great. I'm down here in Orlando, Florida. I'm getting ready to do my big show Jimbo’s Drag Circus and things are awesome.

From competing on “Canada’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. the World,” to winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars”… what a journey! Congratulations. How have things been since your win? 

Everything has been so amazing. I love competing. I love being on TV. And now I get to travel around the world and meet incredible fans and just make people laugh — which is my favorite thing to do.

And “Drag Race” is still growing rapidly worldwide. What are your go-to favorite “Drag Race” series to watch? 

Well, I always love “UK vs. the World” and the “UK” drag and sensibility. It’s always so fun to see the European like style and vibe. I also like seeing all the different countries kind of meet somewhere. Then of course I always love seeing who's going to be on an “All Stars” season. Always like fun to see someone get a second chance or a third chance or however many chance so and then of course I'm watching season 16.

Yeah, it's been so good so far!

And it's been a lot of fun. I haven't been able to see all of it but I’ve seen a bunch of it.

Last month you competed on “Family Feud Canada”! How was that experience? 

Oh, it was just so fun. Like, I love making TV. I love being in studio and filming, and so it was really magical to be able to be there with my family and my brothers and my sister, and my partner, and so it was so exciting and I loved being on Family Feud, such an iconic show and the show I grew up watching always wanting to be on there and seeing how I would do. I had so much fun I really liked the host, he was really funny.

What excites you the most about touring America?

You know, I'm loving seeing all the different cities. It's amazing how many big, amazing cities there are all around America. And each one is so different and has some unique thing or queen or friend or something to see there. So it's amazing.

What was the development process of your tour Jimbo’s Drag Circus like?

Well, it's sort of a show that I've been working on in the back of my mind for a really long time. I love doing character work. I've always wanted to have backup dancers. And so it's been really amazing to bring together some of my favorite things. I was a set designer, a costume designer before being on “Drag Race. So I really put all of my past history in theater and creating a spectacle. My own story and my own career. So that's really exciting to be able to dream really big and then to be able to achieve that. 

Definitely. Any funny rehearsal or performance stories? 

I guess I do this number where I come out with these really, really big huge breasts and I spray everyone in the audience. It is so fun going around and everyone kind of opens their mouth like a little baby bird. Then I just cover their face in cream, and they're all sticky and happy, and having a little snack — and feeling kind of a little bit crazy at the same time. It's really just fun and exciting.

Classic Jimbo. What do you hope audiences take away from your show, Jimbo’s Drag Circus, playing April 9 at The Fillmore Minneapolis? 

I really want people to just come. I want people to witness an unusual, fun spectacle. I really love that circus vibe. I really love creating a magical environment for people to just come and like relax and just know they're in good hands for an entertaining show. So people have been coming, they've just been laughing their asses off. They’ve been saying it's just weird and unexpected and really clever. I love making people think — and I love making people laugh — and at the end, people just really want more. So that's a sign of a good show, people wanting more. 

Yeah, always leave them wanting more! That's all I have for you today. Thank you so much for your time!

Review: Ryan Beatty Feels the Music at Fine Line

March 13, 2024

California-based, gay singer-songwriter Ryan Beatty had a full house audience for his Calico Tour stop at Fine Line in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 5. Enamored by Beatty’s music, his chill and loving crowd clapped and cheered loudly at every chance. 

Beatty was totally in control of the room while singing fan favorite songs like “Andromeda” and “Casino.” He even referenced having played the Fine Line previously, when he was 17. He is now 28. 

Beatty’s great band was comprised of six members and Beatty himself, all giving out a chill vibe as they expertly played his soft rock tunes. The most impressive part of the live performance were Beatty’s smooth, dreamy vocals. At times, they soared. His vocal tone was hypnotic, guiding the audience along for a thrilling ride. 

Beatty identifying as a gay recording artist lends a special dimension to his romantic lyrics, something the crowd clearly loved. Crowd members were singing, swaying and cheering all night long. The feeling was mutual, as Beatty told the Minneapolis crowd, “I’d love to come back, if you’d have me.” He went on to state, “Minneapolis, thank you so much for having me.” 

Review: Queen of Pop Madonna Lives to Tell at Xcel Energy Center

February 14, 2024

The ever-provocative musician took St. Paul, Minnesota on an epic quest through her hit-filled songbook as part of The Celebration Tour

Four decades. One artist. One show. Madonna’s The Celebration Tour stopped in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday, February 13 to the delight of its Xcel Energy Center audience. The show told the life and career story of the undisputed Queen of Pop, Madonna, while re-inventing what a greatest hits tour can be. 

Whereas typical greatest hits tours tend to focus on musical hits, Madonna took it a step further, adding her visual iconography to the mix. Anything iconic was fair game. Actors even popped up throughout the show dressed as eerie, near-faceless incarnations of Madonna — wearing only red lipstick. This included her classic “Madonna wannabe” look from the early ‘80s, and the black catsuit from her ‘90s music video for “Human Nature.”

An actor later dressed up in Madonna’s iconic, Jean Paul Gaultier gold corset from the 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. Here, Madonna took her concept of making any career highlight a "greatest hit” one step further, grinding on her 1990-self in a recreated red bed from that groundbreaking tour. Here Madonna proved that any successful past incarnation of herself was fair game to titillate her audience — even specific “hers” from past tours. This scene is famous for simulating masturbation on stage.

If you’ve never been to a Madonna concert, you may not know she likes the venue environment to feel like a nightclub. This means noticeably warm temperatures, and warnings at entrances about haze, pyro and strobes being used in the live production. The club floor-like stage reflected this, taking up almost the entire floor section of the arena. It’s no surprise; Madonna has always been at the cutting edge of tour video screens and video interludes, ever since her touring career began. 

The stage consisted of a back video wall, a large carousel stage with a giant, tilted ring light above it, and various runways with end stages attached to them. It was nothing short of the most exciting pop concert stage the Twin Cities has seen in quite some time — maybe since Madonna’s own Rebel Heart Tour at the same venue in 2015. The stage was capable of so many configurations and special effects, it was mind-blowing. 

Comedian and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen was billed as Madonna’s Special Guest, playing various roles throughout the sprawling, two-hour-plus show. He opened the show, walking through the crowd wearing a stunning tribute to Madonna’s Marie Antoinette-inspired 1990 MTV VMAs “Vogue” performance look. Many audience members were confused where Bob the Drag Queen’s voice was coming from. Catching on, the boisterous comedian teased the crowd by mimicking them, asking, “Where’s that soft, dainty voice coming from?” 

Bob the Drag Queen explained that Madonna arrived in New York City in 1978 with $35 in her pocket, only to "become the undisputed Queen of Pop.” This made Madonna’s grand entrance feel even grander, as she spun on the carousel stage singing a surprising opening tune, the impeccably-selected “Nothing Really Matters." Her entrance look was an ornate, draping black outfit with large, hanging sleeves. The sleeves featured large circular cutouts midway down.

Bob the Drag Queen appeared several more times throughout the show, playing a club bouncer, a sad clown with a red balloon, a rodeo clown during “Don’t Tell Me,” and a Ballroom emcee during the “Vogue” section. His fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race star Manila Luzon joined him and Madonna on stage. Manila Luzon and Madonna rated dancers 10s or “CHOP” as they came down the runway, including Madonna’s young daughter Estere, duck walking and vogueing. Estere received 10s across the board.

Estere wasn’t Madonna’s only child on stage; in total, four out of six of the Queen of Pop’s children performed in St. Paul. Daughter Mercy played piano during Madonna’s sizzling performance of “Bad Girl.” Daughter Stella was one of the many dancers recreating the iconic “Don’t Tell Me” country choreography. Son David played guitar throughout the show, and even sang verse two of the 2003 deep cut “Mother and Father” solo, as pictures of his and Madonna’s mothers played on screen. Tuesday night, Madonna proved her children are some of her greatest hits as well.

Not every artist can pull off big sing-a-long moments in an arena concert. Not every artist is Madonna. Whereas many musicians desperately point their microphones toward their crowds and beg, Madonna achieves better audience participation results by just being herself. Her songbook stands for itself. Throughout the night, the crowd roared along to her hits from the ‘80s (like “Crazy for You”), ‘90s (like “Vogue”), ‘00s (like “Hung Up”) and ‘10s (like “Bitch I’m Madonna”). 

In a surprise setlist change, Madonna performed “Take a Bow” in the spot where she usually sings either “Rain” or “Frozen.” It was a special treat, as she hasn’t performed “Take a Bow” since 2016. The audience loved every second. She even did acoustic renditions of “Express Yourself” and Prince’s “Kiss.” 

On Minneapolis-St.Paul’s own Prince, Madonna said, “I’m in the birthplace of Prince Rogers Nelson. I’ve been here so many times.” She went on to speak of spending time with Prince, Michael Jackson, and all the fallen icons she pays homage to. “There’s death everywhere. So let’s celebrate life.”

During an emotional, vocally-stunning performance of her ballad “Live to Tell,” many screens came down from the ceiling all around the stage. The screens featured photos of legends and friends of Madonna that died of AIDS — many of whom were queer. As the song came to a close, the screens were flooded with countless images of those lost to the virus. It was heart-wrenching.

Just when the stage couldn’t get any cooler, the final end stage of the furthest runway grew into a cube on an epic scale. This was for “Bedtime Story,” containing elements of its Sound Factory Remix. A strawberry-blond Madonna was depicted floating in a dream world. She achieved this by being filmed from above the cube, with said video of her being pasted over other-worldly CGI visuals on the sides of the cube. There were also CGI visuals on the back video wall, creating a further world-building effect. 

Madonna was then picked up by a flying black square window, which served as a visual for a time portal. This led to my favorite performance of the night —“Ray of Light (Sasha Ultra Violet Mix)” — featuring Madonna donning a holographic catsuit, and the black, Alien eye-shaped sunglasses featured heavily on her Instagram. Madonna went wild with her dancing during this, free-styling to the beat in an energetic and flashy way.

The Celebration Tour was given deeper meaning after the North American leg was rescheduled from summer 2023, due to a viral infection Madonna had. She has explicitly spoken about her previous illness on this tour, stating she had to survive for her children. We are so fortunate that she lived to tell her story on stage with her children, and share her hits in such a profound way. 

5/5 stars

Coming Soon! Black Excellence: February Edition

February 14, 2024

February is here, which means excitement as Black Excellence: February Edition at Phoenix Theater approaches. 

This Saturday, February 17 event takes place at 10:30pm and is a celebration of fantastic artists that are Black trans/non binary. Join the ever entertaining Emcee Eun Bee Yes, and fabulous live performers Blackberry, Moe Russell, Cuntessa, Megan the Maneater, and this Edition's special guest artist, James Brown. This caliber of entertainers will deliver a phenomenal show to add to your Black History Month celebrations. The show will also be a touching farewell to troupe artist Cuntessa. 

Prices range from $12 to $22. 
Join live in person - or online, live or recorded.

Tips are shared by the artists:
Cashapp: $transcabaret
Venmo: @bab5mom
PayPal: transcendencecabaret@gmail.com

Review: Mean Girls (2024)

January 17, 2024

“Mean Girls” is back on the big screen. The franchise that began with “Mean Girls (2004),” and evolved into the Broadway musical “Mean Girls,” is now here as a musical film of the same name.

When Cady (Angourie Rice) moves to Illinois from Africa, she meets Janis (Auliʻi Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), two true friends who show her the ropes around North Shore High School. This includes a lesson on “The Plastics” — queen bee Regina George (Reneé Rapp), loyal minion Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood), and dumb sidekick Karen Shetty (Avantika) — three mean girls at the top of the school’s social scene. 

Sound familiar? Well, that’s because both the Broadway musical and “Mean Girls (2024)” don’t stray far from the perfect, Tina Fey-written path of the classic 2004 film. This means whole lines of dialog being performed anew from the original film, mixed with jokes from the musical, and with an added layer of new material just for the film. The result is a serviceable musical film that is just plain fun to watch. Check it out in theaters, there are big laughs. 

“Derek’s Dozen” 2023 Gift Guide  

December 20, 2023

Fun holiday gift ideas curated by local pop culture devotee and SCENE writer Derek Murawski-Harguth. Derek Please!

Shania Twain
Greatest Hits Target Exclusive Pink Vinyl

Get all the hits on this expanded edition of Shania Twain’s iconic Greatest Hits album, which spans her entire career up ’til now. Giddy up!

Britney Spears 
Official Store

It’s Britney, book! Buy her hot memoir The Woman In Me, or shop merch inspired by the book.

Sasha Colby
Get Tickets

Love RuPaul’s Drag Race? See the winner of Season 15 herself, the iconic Sasha Colby, live at The Fillmore Minneapolis on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

Heartstopper #5: 
A Graphic Novel

The latest chapter of this queer teen love story makes the perfect gift for any queer person who’s a sucker for romance. 

Beauty Kitchen 
Skincare

Shop skincare deals this holiday season for your friends, family — or yourself! Skincare makes a perfect gift for that friend that never treats themselves. 

Miley Cyrus
Bangerz (10th Anniversary Edition) Limited Sea Glass Vinyl

Gift this usually hard-to-find vinyl record, with the added bonus track “23.” Turn any vinyl collection up with this pop classic.

Lana Del Rey
Latest and throw back merch

Got a Lana Del Rey fan on your list? A selection of both her latest and throwback merch is now available on her web store. 

AMC Theatres 
Gift Card

Your loved ones will love getting to see one of the many hot new theatrical releases coming up, like the musical film Mean Girls (2024). Fetch!

Cher
Christmas Ruby Red Vinyl

Give a Christmas-related Christmas gift that doesn’t suck, with Cher’s fantastic new holiday album. They’ll be spinning it into the New Year. 

Flip Phone 
Drag Brunch Minneapolis

Enjoy the art of drag with a side of delicious cuisine! A drag brunch ticket makes the perfect gift you can experience together with your loved one. 

Gift Cards
Nicollet Diner & Roxy's

Never closed! Gift 24/7, 365 with this Minneapolis staple that’s always ready to serve delicious and hot breakfast, lunch and dinner food.

Banjo & Kazooie 
Plush Toy

Whether you have a kid or a kid-at-heart on your list, throw some nostalgia in with this ‘90s Nintendo 64 throwback Banjo & Kazooie plush toy. 

Review: Jinkx Monsoon & BenDeLaCreme Stun in the Self-Aware Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show

December 20, 2023

The wintry tradition was performed in the Twin Cities Monday, December 11 at Northrop Auditorium

Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are at the top of their game, and the 2023 edition of the “Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show” is further proof of such. The two are global drag icons and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” legends. BenDeLaCreme Presents — DeLa’s production company — produces the annual holiday show. DeLa herself directs, while Jinkx and DeLa co-write. 

Where do you go from the top of your game? Anywhere else! This year’s “Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show” begins with them intent on abandoning the show they’re already putting on, live. The comedic pair play like they’re out of ideas, and just want to go on vacation — but the show isn’t done with them yet. 

The fantastical, queer show becomes self-aware in a meta, “Scream” movie-like approach. Once the pair go on vacation, the show follows them and makes them perform. It lends itself surprisingly well to a holiday spectacular. The result is a wild night of comedy and drag mayhem headlined by two pros. 

Standout moments include one of the duo’s fabulous costume changes. The pair don matching red and white peppermint swirl sequin gowns. The dresses sparkle — and rival the classic light-up Christmas tree dress from years past. It is a moment of pure, queer holiday joy. 

The musical numbers were expectedly great, including DeLa’s holiday parody of the 2023 Kylie Minogue viral hit “Padam Padam.” The speakers went off during this, with a subwoofer-pounding beat like no other in the show. It was a welcome surprise. 

Choreography by Chloe Albin sparkles during this and all dance numbers throughout the show. Puppets were left off the cast list this go around, but the spritely and comedically-gifted dancers fill that void. 

The show decidedly drops the Jinkx vs. DeLa storyline of years past. During a post-show Q&A, the duo stated that this was an intentional change. With all the division and turmoil in the world, they didn’t want to add to the fight. This proves that not only are they two pros with a self-aware show — they themselves are self-aware. 

Missed it in Minneapolis? You can catch the show on a livestream December 21, broadcasting from Seattle!

Jinkx Monsoon & BenDeLaCreme Are Ready to Make Your Holiday Glow Brighter 

November 21, 2023

Holiday and year-round drag favorites Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are two queens on a mission. That mission is to surprise you with a refreshed and updated version of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, each and every year. Their signature, holiday comedy and music spectacle arrives in the Twin Cities on December 11 at Northrop Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. I spoke to them about their workflow and creative process ahead of the fantastical show’s arrival.

Hi, Jinkx and DeLa! How are you doing today?

Jinkx and DeLa: Good!

Great. What's the beginning of your creative process like together for a new holiday show?

DeLa: Well, I think, you know, pretty early into the year Jinkx and I start tossing around whatever weird ideas we think we might want to fold into our Christmas tour the next year. And then sometime in the early spring, we start reaching out to each other and freaking out and saying, “Oh my God, how are we possibly going to make another year of Christmas content?” And then at some point, we get together and start making each other laugh — and then we know it's all going to be okay.

Jinkx: Yeah. Imagine the movie The Shining, but it's a comedy.

DeLa: Yeah, we just lock ourselves in a haunted hotel, and what comes out…

Jinkx: A show. A holiday show.

How much have you had to cut out of a holiday show for time? Do you come back to those creative ideas for the next show?

DeLa: We're writing kind of a ton. I think Jinkx and I have gotten good enough at crafting this thing, that by the time we hit our first preview, we trimmed a lot of the fat; we don't generally cut a whole lot once it's in front of an audience. But I think part of that is that we are deeply unafraid to cut things as we go. I think we know that. We generate a lot of ideas, and the best show comes out of only keeping the strongest ones. But yeah, I mean, a lot of times Jinkx and I have folded in old desires that hit the cutting room floor because it didn't quite make sense that year. I mean, this year, particularly Jinkx is getting to do a number that I think she has fantasized about for six years. 

Jinkx: Just think sexy Krampus. One of the wonderful things about live entertainment is we work really, really hard on making sure that show number one — like, first preview — gets an amazing show. And then we get to learn from those previews. And like DeLa said, finesse the show a little bit as we go. But we settled into the show as quickly as possible. And it's it's amazing how much you learn from an audience. What I love about this production is we make sure that every single audience gets a fantastic show — even the preview audiences. Because we need those preview audiences. Really as a benefit, as a live entertainer to get to share something in front of an audience, and hear what works. 

DeLa: Yeah, absolutely.

Jinkx: You don’t get that in film and TV.

What memories do you have from individual and duo touring in the Twin Cities at all?

DeLa: Oh, wow. You know, I mean, I gotten to do a couple of my solo shows there. And I at those times have always just had the most incredible reception and audiences I mean people are so enthusiastic just out of the gate and will really go on whatever journey that you that you want to take them on. I mean, I find the Twin Cities audiences are great. Great in that they're there to be excited. They're willing to laugh, but they also will go on a ride with us. 

Jinkx: I like to call them the “Sin Cities," and that's the perfect place for me.

Derek: I was actually going to ask you Jinkx because you're a roast master what you would roast about the Twin Cities or the Midwest, but that's perfect right there. The sin cities.

Jinkx: Well the Midwest there’s almost too much material to get into it right now. We don't have enough time. 

Derek: Exactly!

Jinkx: The Midwest can take a backseat to Florida any day.

Would you ever consider a sequel to your holiday special film, or a live taping of your stage show?

DeLa: Well, if you all wear your masks, then no. I mean I think Jinkx and I had such an incredible time making that film, but it's so rewarding to focus on the live tour. Because we get you know this this particular production is so much about community and gathering together. And so we really get to manifest that in real time when we're touring live, but you know, I think Jinkx and I would love to make more films together, but as long as we can be with audiences in person for the holidays. We're going to make sure that we can be. 

Jinkx: Yeah. We’ve never replace our our live shows entirely. You know, we never convert fully to digital. But you know, it's fun to have, you know, like The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special, which is still available at JinkxandDeLa.com It's fun to have this like this time capsule, that no matter what, we created a film and it came out of the strife of the pandemic. So it's a testament to the community we're talking about because that film came into existence through community, and now it exists forever. So you can always watch it, and it's a wonderful companion piece to our live show. 

DeLa: We probably won't do another full production anytime soon the way that we did during a pandemic. We do give people who can't make it to the show an opportunity to stream it, every single year. So every year we will do a live streaming of the show that people can watch from home if you're in a city where you're not able to catch it, or if the show's already sold out.

That's a fabulous idea. Yeah. I was wondering, on the note of community, why do you think the holiday show has become a yearly tradition for the queer community and drag fans alike?

Jinkx: I think because you know traditions like this rise out of a need, you know, and I think there is an annual need of feeling not alone. 

DeLa: The holidays can be a really difficult time for a lot of folks, but specifically in the queer community. Even if these ideas of homecoming and togetherness are not things that we've always had access to — or that have rung true for us. We can create our own traditions and, you know, the queer community can be its own family, if we if we choose that. So that’s I think something that resonates with a lot of queer folks throughout the year. But, you know, on top of it, you have to remember that Christmas is aesthetically basically pride in a different color scheme. It's the time of year where everybody starts singing, and wearing sparkly sweaters, so it's pretty inherently gay to begin with.

I love that. What can audiences expect at The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show at Northrop Theatre on December 11?

Jinkx: Every year we try to bring bigger, bolder, flashier ideas to the stage — and this year is no exception. I call it theatre magic. We've got a lot of theatre magic planned because we have a wonderful cast of dancers that is going to allow for some visual spectacle… and some really big, lively, choreographed numbers. It just makes us excited, because we have so many resources now to put on a good show. So expect all the like glamour and sparkle that you would from two drag goddesses like ourselves, but also expect like just a really well-crafted production with really talented people and designers.

DeLa: Every year Jinkx and I feel so bolstered by our audiences, who every single year respond so well to what we do, and every year we get a little bit older and bolder about how crazy we're willing to get with this thing. Because we learn that our audiences really respond well to the authenticity of us just leaning into how bonkers and weird we like to get. So every year our way of addressing Christmas gets a little more wacky and off the rails. Last year we did a bit of a sci-fi. Then this year, we’ve got a sort of supernatural Twilight Zone element. We keep it Christmas, and we love that people really seem to — every single year — embrace the madness. It makes it so much more fun for us, and that makes the relationship between us and the audience really just a blast.

Thank you so much Jinkx and DeLa! It's always a pleasure to speak with you. I've interviewed you before, and met you in person at the shows, and you're just delightful. Thank you so much for everything.

Jinkx: Thank you.

DeLa: Well, thank you. It’s great to talk to you.

The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show Starring BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon 
You better watch out, you better not cry, because “The Queens of Christmas” (Entertainment Weekly) are coming back to Minneapolis with a brand new edition of the internationally acclaimed The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show! Another holiday season brings another year of fabulous spectacle, whip-smart comedy, brand new songs, and annual favorites. Join the sugary DeLa and spicy Jinkx for an evening  “sure to lift your spirits and make you howl with laughter.”

Northrop
Mon, Dec 11, 8:00 pm 
Carlson Family Stage

Review: Writer-Director Emerald Fennell Does It Again with New Film “Saltburn” 

November 22, 2023

Read this spoiler-free review to learn more about this grandiose new film, which is being widely released on Thanksgiving. 

Emerald Fennell has done it again. If you’ve seen “Promising Young Woman,” her Academy Award-winning 2020 film, you know what she’s capable of as a writer and director. “Saltburn” makes “Promising Young Woman” seem tame in comparison. She may very well receive a second writing Oscar for her impeccable original screenplay here. 

The homoerotic tension between the two lead male characters Oliver and Felix, played by Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi respectively, is real. The pair are students at the University of Oxford in England. 

Unlike many films, “Saltburn” goes there and explores that homoerotic tension in thrilling visual ways, like unexpected closeups. The kinetic friendship that brews between the pals gains Oliver a summer-long invite to Saltburn, Felix’s family estate.

A literal manor with a butler and team of staff, Saltburn is home to lavish parties and formal dress family dinners. Commoner Oliver, who is estranged from his own family, struggles to fit in with Felix’s ultra-wealthy family. Felix’s sister and cousin are classist and give Oliver grief about how he doesn’t belong at Saltburn.

Queer audiences can sympathize with the struggle to feel like you truly belong somewhere. Somehow Oliver has the strength to hold space and not let go. The result is a wild thrill ride through a film that is being billed as a “psychological black comedy thriller.” Highly recommended.

Review: John Waters Confronts 2023 at The Parkway Theater

November 8, 2023

John Waters is bringing his “trash” comedic sensibility into the 2020s with vigor. He’s facing the reality of “Pink Flamingos” playing on the Turner Classics cable TV channel. He says it comes across worse to audiences today. As if the drag queen Divine eating dog excrement wasn’t enough of a shocker in 1972. 

The Academy — that holds the Oscars! — is restoring his early films. The ultimate cinematic seal of approval. Though Waters warned his sold-out, Minneapolis audience at The Parkway Theater that if only your mother and the person you’re f***ing likes your film, it’s not good… 

Waters is getting to see his own legacy unfold into prestige territories like The Academy and the Criterion Collection. Those held for only the best films. His new exhibit at the Academy Museum is said to be a must see, and sells fun merch online. 

He told us the last time he saw Divine was ideal… the world’s previous Queen of Drag — years before RuPaul — met Waters all dressed up in a men’s suit at a fancy restaurant. After all, Divine was a queer man. 

On RuPaul, Waters gave him his flowers for somehow making drag mainstream, in a time where “conservatives are just now finding Rocky Horror.”

Have a lot of Facebook friends? John Waters says that doesn’t matter, it’s lazy friendship. You have to meet in person. Don’t have friends? You cannot be bored in public — eavesdrop. Join in a conversation. In today’s cultural climate he jokes you need three lawyers just to ask someone on a date. 

He has “youth spies” in his native Baltimore, who go to rap clubs at 4am and tell him what it’s like. They tell him horrible new things about the world in general that he should know, as THE preeminent auteur of trash. 

Seeing John Waters grapple with modern ideas with such vigor and edge at 77 gives me hope. Hope that our younger pop culture heroes will hopefully be able to stand at 77 and give us their advice about the past, present and future, too. It certainly left me with a smile knowing Waters is still out there, spreading trash art and restoring his beyond classic, essential queer films. 

Review: “Dicks: The Musical” is Queer, Campy & Subversive 

October 25, 2023

The Larry Charles-directed “Dicks: The Musical” is making waves in early screenings. Subversive as it is hilarious, this jaw-dropping film is also the first musical released by film studio A24. Audience favorite A24 has a knack for releasing daring content that other studios might not be able to pull off, like “Spring Breakers,” TV’s “Euphoria,” and this year’s Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“Dicks: The Musical” opens with title cards that reveal the two lead, straight male roles would be “bravely” portrayed by two gay men. These men, Josh Sharp & Aaron Jackson, also wrote the film. It is based on their off-Broadway musical “Fucking Identical Twins.”

Despite the actors not looking identical at all, their characters discover that they are in fact not only workplace adversaries, but identical twins. What ensues is a parody of stories like Disney’s “The Parent Trap” franchise, where the newly reunited siblings try to get their mom and dad back together — so they can have the nuclear family they never grew up with.

Enter mom, played by the brilliant and vocally gifted Megan Mullally. She is so camp in this role, playing a shut-in that hasn’t had sexual relations in so long that her genitals “fell off.” It’s this type of absurd comedy that also brilliantly suits Nathan Lane, who plays the dad. Having recently come out as gay, getting back together with his ex-wife is a hard sell. He’s also the father of two Sewer Boys. These goblin-like little creatures live in a cage, and upon being fed provide some gross-out comedy with Lane that feels destined to become a meme.

The film also features the fabulous Megan Thee Stallion, real life rapper and global sensation. She plays Sharp & Jackson’s boss, and comedically stokes the workplace rivalry between the two. She also performs the standout number of the entire film, “Out Alpha the Alpha,” with full-out floor choreography… in high heels! Otherwise, the film’s music is catchy, funny and gets the job done. All told, the film feels like a subversive and queer instant cult classic.

“Dicks: The Musical” is in movie theaters nationwide now!

Interview: Jiggly Caliente Talks “Drag Race Philippines” & “Pose” Before Her Roxy’s Cabaret Visit

October 11, 2023

Jiggly Caliente is a reality TV star & judge, and a Hollywood actress. She is known for roles on TV shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” “Pose,” “Drag Race Philippines,” and more. We spoke ahead of her visit to Roxy’s Cabaret for Julia Starr’s birthday bash Saturday, October 14 at 10:30pm. Caliente gets candid about becoming a “Drag Race” judge, working with fellow trans icon Janet Mock on “Pose,” and more in this interview. 

Hi Jiggly! How are you doing?
Still alive [Laughs]!

You’re a judge on “Drag Race Philippines”! How has that experience been? 
It's been a lot of fun. Being in a place of power was something I never knew could feel so good and bad at the same time. [Laughs] 

How did it feel evolving from a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “All Stars,” to a judge on “Philippines”? 
From contestant to judge has definitely been eye opening, because you're responsible for judging fairly and unbiased from your personal feelings. You have to judge what's presented to you — not what you know from the outside world. You're judging artists, and I personally judge it as how would I like to be critiqued. It can be to the point but still done with respect. 

What was it like to work on the hit FX show “Pose” with co-creator Ryan Murphy and company?  
It was great working on “Pose.” I got to see a masterclass upfront watching Mr. Billy Porter on set. The production of “Pose” truly made me feel seen and respected as an actress. Not just some girl from a reality TV show. I also got to work with amazing people like Janet Mock and Steve Canals. Like I'm a very lucky woman. The cast was also super great. It didn't feel like work with them around. The work atmosphere was definitely such fun. 

What did you learn from playing your character, Veronica Ferocity? 
I'm an actress and can act — like I knew how to sew and make shit for the house of Ferocity [Laughs].  She's definitely an outspoken diva like her friend Candy that recruited her to the house. 

Do you have projects coming up we should look for? 
Hopefully another season of Drag Race Philippines. And I'm hoping to get back into more acting work.

Any tips for drag queens looking to get into acting in Hollywood? 
Study your lines show up prepared. Be professional. 

What can audiences expect from your visit to Roxy’s Cabaret? 
Mediocrity at best! [Laughs] 

Interview: Sasha Andreev Talks “Falsettos,” Early Childhood in Russia & the Craft of Acting 

September 27, 2023

Minneapolis-based actor and television host Sasha Andreev has appeared in stage and screen roles — most recently in Guthrie Theater’s “Into the Woods,” and the mega hit Netflix show “Stranger Things.” He also hosts on the home shopping network ShopHQ, based in Minnesota.

Now he stars in “Falsettos,” playing September 20 through November 5 at Theater Latté Da in Northeast Minneapolis. We spoke about his upbringing, acting career and “Falsettos.” 

Where did you get your passion for acting and singing?
I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, as an only child, so I was always putting on performances and puppet shows for family and neighbors and even in front of a mirror when I was by myself. Plus, my father was musician, so there was always music in the house. After we immigrated to MN (when I was 9), a family friend lent us a camcorder, so I started making little movies and hosting fake TV shows. I think that laid the groundwork for pursuing acting in school and then on a professional level as an adult, on stage and on camera. I’m still in awe that I get to do my childhood playing as my actual job. 

What was your first role in a show? 
My first professional role was as Tony in “West Side Story” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. I replaced another actor halfway through the run, so it was both an opportunity to learn a part through observation as an understudy would – a skill that came in handy many times - and then to perform an iconic character with arguably some of the greatest musical theater songs ever written. I didn’t expect I’d be a musical theater actor since I’m not much of a dancer, but fortunately there are those exceptional non-dance roles, and the role of Tony opened the door to them.  

Do you have a favorite song you’ve performed live? 
There are a few, but a recent experience comes to mind. My “Falsettos” castmate Max Wojtanowicz hosts a monthly event called Musical Mondays at LUSH where a group of actor/singers perform a program of musical theater tunes they’ve chosen. This past spring I, apprehensively, chose to sing “You’ll Be Back” from “Hamilton,” fearing that such a recognizable song would be highly scrutinized and whether I’d be up to the task. I actually get pretty anxious singing in those types of settings, but it ended up being an exhilarating time because it gave me the opportunity to really let loose in a way I hadn’t in some time. 

What can audiences expect from “Falsettos” September 20 through November 5 at Theater Latté Da? 
I like to describe “Falsettos” as a play that happens to be fully sung-through. It tells the story of Marvin, who leaves his wife and son for a man, and then deals with the fallout that follows, navigating relationships, watching his psychiatrist marrying his ex-wife, trying to plan his son’s bar mitzvah and inception of the AIDS epidemic. The show is both hilarious and heartbreaking, weaving from realism to abstraction to downright fever-dream-like numbers. It’s a fast-paced complex roller coaster ride that will certainly get many people reflecting on the idea of family, both chosen and given, and and how the impact of the AIDS crisis resonates in a post pandemic world.

Tell us about your character in the show.
I play Marvin, whose optimism about the consequences of his actions is quickly shattered. Even in his relationship with his lover Whizzer, Marvin is very much stuck in a traditional heteronormative dynamic. He wants Whizzer to “play the wife,” all while expecting his ex-wife Trina to bend to his needs. It all comes to a head and Marvin learns some lessons that lead him to make better choices in the second half of the show. It’s exciting to play a flawed, complicated, fully formed queer character who gets to evolve through the play. “Falsettos” is one of the few shows in the musical theater canon that provides such an opportunity.    

Do you share any personality traits with your character?
I see a lot of myself in Marvin. I relate to his inclination to “want it all,” believing that if he tries hard enough, things will turn out as he envisions. It’s a quality that can certainly backfire, but one that often drives my own optimism to make things happen. Marvin can be stubborn and temperamental, but also deeply caring and loyal, with a dash of neuroticism and insecurity. If I dare say, I connect with Marvin on all those fronts, and it’s been interesting to mine my personal experiences during the rehearsal process.    

What’s your favorite part of working with your fellow stage talent in the show? 
This cast is so impressive that it’s honestly been slightly intimidating to share the stage with them. Without exception they give such fearless performances in this show. It’s been a joy to watch them work, and it inspires me to deliver all I can to match their energy and commitment. Writer/composer William Finn’s music is also gorgeously complex, so to harmonize with this talented group, backed by Jason Hansen’s impeccable band, is really exciting.  

Interview: Mistress Ginger Talks Liza Minnelli Ahead of Crooners Show

September 13, 2023

The multi-hyphenate cabaret performer Mistress Ginger is ready for her closeup at Crooners Supper Club in Minneapolis, MN for Mistress Ginger Presents: Looking for Liza on September 22 at 7:30pm. I spoke with her about her Juilliard background, Liza Minnelli and more thought-provoking things in this charming interview. 

You’ve been described as a “charismatic cabaret queen” — how does that feel? 
Finding the right words to describe someone of my, shall we say, “special talents,” has always been a challenge. Yes, I've been described as a "quadruple-threat diva" (singer, dancer, actress, and vegan know-it-all) and yes I've been described as "flawless and lawless," and yes it's me who's describing myself in all these ways – but STILL, it can be tricky to find the right words. I've most recently landed on "cabaret queen." Cabaret: sharing stories and songs with the occasional fan kick. And queen: well, need I say more? Bring me my diamonds!

You are Juilliard-trained. What was that experience like? 
Have you ever seen the movie Black Swan? How about Center Stage? Or even The Turning Point? These films depict the dance world as a dog-eat-dog hellscape teeming with deranged divas putting glass in each other's pointe shoes. Well I'm here to tell you: That's exactly what it is! I'm lucky I made it out alive. On the plus side, it gave me a butt like Baryshnikov and thighs that could choke a bear. (Shout-out to The Golden Girls for supplying those similes!)

How did you start working with Junkyard Cabaret?
Junkyard Cabaret is essentially my performance company. In 2009, a few years after my debut cabaret performance, I wanted some entity through which to present all of my work for the cabaret stage. Thus, Junkyard Cabaret was born. The name "junkyard" came from the idea of rediscovering relics, quite often old songs, and presenting them in another context, stringing them together with sundry stories to conjure some grand new adventure we can all go on together. "Cabaret" can have many meanings, but I think of it essentially as live, intimate performance where there's no “fourth wall.” I'm connecting directly to the audience rather than pretending they're not there.

Your upcoming show with Junkyard Cabaret is called “Looking for Liza.” What’s your personal favorite Liza Minnelli moment of all-time?
Ooh, probably the 1972 made-for-tv concert film "Liza with a Z." Have you seen it? If you haven't, you must. I'll lend you my DVD... But anyway, It's Liza singing and dancing fabulously. But also Bob Fosse's tremendous direction and choreography. It's just sensational. Powerful, raw, sexy, smart. I first saw it maybe about 15 years ago, though I was aware of Liza long before that, from my childhood – seeing her in Arthur, the Muppets Take Manhattan, or even Cabaret. But I was struck seeing her perform on a stage for a live audience. Even though it was on film, something about the special power of live performance came through and impressed on me her special genius. 

What do you like most about working with backup dancers in a show?
Well THESE dancers who are joining me for Looking for Liza, Scott Stafford and Jarod Boltjes, they make it worth EVERYBODY's while! They are the sweetest, the most hardworking, and the most dreamy. They light up my life, and they light up the stage. But in general, adding dancers to the mix brings more visceral power to the work, like when you add percussion to a band; it gives it more heft. And they give us the opportunity to further illustrate the songs' stories. Ya know, when you can make "Arthur in the Afternoon" a dance for two – lots of potential for fun there. "I have my coffee in the morning, my brandy in the evening, and ARTHUR in the afternoon..."

What’s your favorite show you’ve ever performed in?
That's a hard one, but any show where I get to work with live music – with musicians right there on the stage – is a treat, sometimes even an utterly profound experience, to be surrounded by those vibrations. And this band is led by legendary Lori Dokken, who was playing at the piano bar at the Gay 90s back in the 80s and also accompanied the likes of Bea Arthur in many AIDS benefits back in the day! Plus David Stanoch on drums and Jenny Case on bass. It's a stellar band, and that adds a special magic to the show. 

What can audiences expect from “Looking for Liza” on Friday, September 22 at 7:30pm at Crooners Supper Club? 
Expect to be swept away on a thrilling journey back to your dreams with Liza’s songs lighting the way. It’s an homage to a legend, but not an impersonation. I certainly serve up many of the songs that Liza made famous and a few of her more obscure gems, and I take inspiration from her brand of Fosse-infused pizzazz, but I do it in my own voice and from my own perspective. 

There are soul-stirring ballads, high-energy showstoppers, and quite a few cheeky, campy moments (often involving my backup dancers). And we'll be at the Main Stage at Crooners Supper Club, rated as one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world by Downbeat Magazine, so the vibe is swanky supper club, and the sound will be primo. And how thrilled I am to be the "cabaret queen" who's bringing my Liza tribute there. I hope you'll join me!

mistressgingercooks.com

Review: Bop-Filled Tove Lo Show Rocks the Palace Theatre

September 13, 2023

The Swedish pop singer-songwriter was firing on all cylinders, all night long as part of her Dirt Femme Tour in St. Paul, MN 

Tove Lo took the stage of a sold-out Palace Theatre in St. Paul, MN flanked by 2D cloud art, with a live band behind her. She was dressed in brilliant gold, with shiny white go-go boots. 

Her first song, “Pineapple Slice,” was a sensual banger with explicit and instructive chorus lyrics. It was a great way to introduce her “Dirt Femme” album sound to an audience that hasn’t seen her since the Sunshine Kitty Tour at the same theatre in late February 2020 — just days before news of COVID-19 swept the world, and lockdown began. 

The “Dirt Femme” sound is liberating and sexual, and the instrumentals are always dance floor-ready. The banging sonics of this 2022 album sounded great with a live band and her raw-yet-polished vocals. 

Throughout the night, with two additional costume reveals, Tove Lo would turn around and shake her backside for her crowd, which made them roar. She also flashed the crowd at one point. Fans on the general admission floor — and even the huge balcony — were up and dancing to the artist’s provocative tunes. That is, until Tove Lo had the whole crowd crouch down, and then jump up as a final chorus in her song “2 Die 4” began. 

Later in the evening, Tove Lo came back for an encore that began with the first time she’s sung a song in “Eight years,” “The Way That I Am.” It was a local fan’s request on social media. Tove Lo was accompanied by piano for the emotional tune, which comes from her first studio album, “Queen of the Clouds.” 

The classic rock tour vibes of a minimal set with no video screens was refreshing. The stage also had color-changing LED lights that kept the party pumping. Overall, the show was edgy and thrilling; a great escape from the day-to-day. 

Review: Sam Smith is Unabashedly Queer and Artful at Xcel Energy Center

August 3, 2023

The non-binary pop icon’s GLORIA the tour sizzled at the St. Paul, MN venue  

Fabulous costumes. Creative staging. Extraordinary live vocals. Everything you would expect, Sam Smith delivered it to their Xcel Energy Center audience in St. Paul, MN on Wednesday, August 16. 

From tender acoustic moments like “Too Good at Goodbyes,” to dance floor bangers like “Latch,” non-binary icon Smith brought all the coolest vibes out for “GLORIA the tour.” Wearing a flouncy white shirt and form fitting gold pants, Smith even got down on the stage floor and writhed around while singing “Diamonds” live — in killer, glittery platform shoes. 

The show was spread across three acts — Love, Beauty & Sex — but had all three of these vibes at all times. There were moments for every type of Smith fan. “If you are single right now, I made this song for you,” they said, before launching into their Normani duet “Dancing With a Stranger” with a backup singer. 

Smith had the most creative staging, starting with a giant sculpture of a golden human body resting on the middle of the stage floor. It was unveiled to the crowd’s delight, and remained there all evening. The live band played on risers behind the top of the sculpture, and the trio of backup singers performed on a stage near the sculpture’s head. Smith would come and go from entrances and exits atop the sculpture, and below it. 

To keep the stage visually moving, the stage had a black frame of a ceiling with lights around it. The ceiling would lower or bevel for emphasis during key songs, like “Lay with Me,” a piano duet with a backup singer. Sam stunned in a full ball gown — silver detailing atop, white tulle skirt underneath — during this moving performance.

The dancers were a delight all evening, but my favorite costume they wore was a head-to-toe bejeweled onesie of sorts, with an equally as bejeweled skirt around it. Visually thrilling the audience, the dancers would climb atop the giant statue on stage with no fear, and no protective equipment or wires. 

The climax of the night was the crowd going wild for “Unholy,” Sam Smith’s recent giant #1 hit single featuring pop star Kim Petras, who appeared on stage video screens to perform her part. The performance as a whole was worthy of a live TV taping, and really showed the kind of budget the tour was working with. 

After performing the final chorus of “Unholy” in a bejeweled devil costume, Smith took their final bow of the night — but left the stage open for their dancers. The dancers performed Smith and Madonna’s new, high-energy dance track “Vulgar.” 

Photos By Jacob Murawski-Harguth

Review: Golden Girls — The Laughs Continue Honors TV Staple’s Legacy at the Pantages Theatre

August 3, 2023

 The show is a very updated take on a beloved classic, now playing through August 6

If you’ve ever wondered what the Golden Girls would be up to in 2023, Golden Girls — The Laughs Continue has hilarious answers. Sophia (portrayed by actor Christopher Kamm) is on house arrest for running a drug operation at Shady Pines, and the rest of the cast is busy, too… 

Blanche (Vince Kelley) and Rose (Adam Graber) have developed CreakN, a hookup app for seniors. Out of character, Dorothy (Ryan Bernier) joins the app and hooks up with none other than the District Attorney on her mother Sophia’s case. Hilarity ensues. Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan (Jason Bowen) even stops by for a salty visit or two. 

Whether it’s off-the-cuff, explicit jokes that wouldn’t be “safe” enough for prime time TV, or Dorothy twerking, Golden Girls — The Laughs Continue had its audience roaring in laughter all night long. 

When Sophia continues to sell drugs out of the kitchen, like LSD-laced cheesecake, Rose mistakenly eats one whole and “trips.” She even finds herself in a mirrored dimension, where her and another cast member (Bowen) dressed like her have a hilarious confrontation. 

The magic of The Golden Girls — The Laughs Continue is that it updates the beloved classic TV series to today’s Zeitgeist. Dorothy even tries to make her CreakN user name, “DorothyTheeStallion.” 

On her way with ex-District Attorney Burt (Bowen) to New York City, Dorothy can’t say goodbye to the gals, and keeps coming through every entrance of the house for more group hugs. 

Each character’s story arc felt genuine. One liners like the rapid-fire ones each top-tier, ensemble cast actor shot toward one another are something sorely missed from the series. The crew and actors in this production really honored the spirit of the show with a fantastic presentation. Go see it if you have the chance.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Tour Frees Minneapolis’ Minds at the State Theatre

August 2, 2023

 The concert-style, The Matrix parody-themed live show thrilled its Tuesday night audience at the historic theatre

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 may have just ended, but the touring production of RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Tour is in full swing. The Minneapolis stop took place Tuesday, August 1 at the State Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis. The show is a collaboration between World of Wonder — the production company behind the juggernaut RuPaul’s Drag Race TV franchise — and Voss Events. 

The Minneapolis stop featured an all-star, Ru girl cast of host Asia O’Hara, and performers Naomi Smalls, Rosé, Daya Betty, All Stars 8 runner-up Kandy Muse (fresh off the audience’s TV screens), Mistress Isabelle Brooks and Lady Camden. Each iconic drag queen had a role similar to one in the original 1999 sci-fi film The Matrix. 

Asia was like Neo, drawn into a computer world called The Netwerq — by a cryptic message on a screen. Naomi Smalls recalled Trinity’s badass fighter style from The Matrix franchise, but in a more fabulous, hair-flip-and-a-slap type of simple fight choreography. Kandy, as the Oracle would, explained the prophecy that Asia needed to harness her “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent” to save humanity from the machines harvesting human bodies to further The Netwerq’s evil agenda. Daya Betty played an Agent Smith type, A.K.A. Asia and Naomi’s nemeses in The Netwerq. Mistress Isabelle Brooks was like Morpheus, getting captured and needing to be freed by our heroes.

After brief video interludes, the queens would perform high-octane, mashup dance numbers with backup dancers dressed about as scantily-clad as those on the RuPaul’s Drag Race TV franchise. Onscreen graphics were giving sci-fi treachery, fitting with the plot, and each queen lip-syncing to their medley, close-up. Act One’s dance numbers leaned on queer club classics, and camp moments, like Mistress lip-syncing a slowed-down, more dramatic version of “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. 

A special audience participation contest for two local drag entertainers divided Act One from Act Two, during the end of the intermission. The local queens lip-synced for their life in a “Red Pill vs. Blue Pill” lip-sync battle. The first lip-synced with Lady Camden, and the second lip-synced with Daya Betty. Lady Camden’s queen won. It was a fun audience participation moment in a show that elsewhere felt simply like a live concert.

It especially felt like a concert when Rosé came out in Act Two and sang her own, live vocal rendition of “Prisoner (feat. Dua Lipa)” by Miley Cyrus. Rosé was flanked by dancers and held her own with her dancing, all while singing live. She even belted notes while being lifted and turned in the air by the dancers. 

Act Two’s dance numbers were more modern, queer pop anthems, like “Malibu” by Kim Petras, and “California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)” by Katy Perry. The show ended with Mistress being freed by her sisters to triumphant musical moments, like the hit single “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. 

The show felt like the perfect celebration of everything RuPaul’s Drag Race promotes, like freeing your mind and using catchy, upbeat music as a storytelling vehicle. The audience seemed thoroughly satisfied, and was roaring for each queen throughout the whole experience. 

Interview: Vince Kelley A.K.A. Blanche of Golden Girls - The Laughs Continue

July 19, 2023

The actor talks all things The Golden Girls, a pop culture mainstay, brought to life again by a stage show August 2-6 at Minneapolis’ Pantages Theatre

Murray & Peter are putting on another great show in the Twin Cities area, this time “Golden Girls - The Laughs Continue” August 2-6 at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The show finds Sophia out on bail, Blanche and Rose founding a hookup app for seniors, and Dorothy trying to hold it all together — per usual. I interviewed Vince Kelley, who plays Blanche in the show. For over 30 years, Kelley has been acting, singing, dancing, costuming and writing. He is from Michigan, but is a southern belle like Blanche at heart. He’s long dreamed of bringing Blanche to the stage, a dream which Murray & Peter and their team have made a reality.

What is your personal favorite The Golden Girls episode?
So hard to choose, but the first one that came to mind is “The Flu.” It’s got everything; physical comedy, one of the best Sicily stories in the whole series, ‘80s glamor, and a heartfelt lesson learned in the end.

Do you have a favorite season? 
Probably 5 or 6. By this time, the show was a ratings powerhouse. Everybody had arm fulls of Emmys, and the network really let them tell some hilarious stories.

There’s a special relationship between The Golden Girls and the art of drag. What are your thoughts on this? 
Since the beginning of time, the gays have worshiped larger-than-life women. And this particular show features not one, but four. Aside from being able to see yourself in the archetypes these women portrayed on screen, the show itself also dealt with this particular ahead-of-their-time issue itself. Dorothy’s brother on the show was a cross dresser, and while some of the jokes that they made at that time might not pass today, they still loved him and accepted him.

What drew you to the character you portray? 
I love Blanche because I, too, am a huge slut. Kidding! Playing Blanche makes me feel like I’m portraying one of Tennessee Williams’ vixens. I am Vivian Leigh, I am Elizabeth Taylor. It’s a dream come true.

The legacy of The Golden Girls lives on in pop culture today. Why do you think that is?
Oh, I could talk about this all day. I think so many factors contribute to the legacy of the show. First off, when something is done right, it’s timeless. Bottom line. Also, it’s multi-generational fun. I remember being four or five years old, and begging my Nana to let me watch the “Old Lady Show” with her. And I think a lot of mothers and daughters, or mothers and gaybies, can relate to that. So then you have nostalgia. And now that I myself am older, I view the show as an aspiration. Old age isn’t the final chapter, it’s just the NEXT chapter. Age ain’t nothing but a number. Not only would there be no Sex and the City without The Golden Girls, but there DEFINITELY wouldn’t be a Next Chapter.

What’s your favorite Golden Girls on-stage memory? 
Every single performance has the potential to be my favorite on stage memory. This cast is so tight, and always on the same page. That synchronicity allows us to really play with each other on stage. One particular memorable night Rose’s slipper flew off the stage accidentally, and we all started freaking out that there was a hole in the “4th Wall.” I thought I was going to pee myself.

Who’s your favorite Golden Girl, and why?
Would you ask a mother to pick her favorite child? Honestly, it depends on the day. Whatever mood I’m in. Right now I would have to say Sophia, because I’ve been hanging out with too many younger gays.

What can audiences expect from Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue?
I think audiences should expect an ab workout. Some people use the saying, “A laugh a minute.” We try to average at about 27 seconds. Imagine if the Golden Girls never went off the air, and then switched to a streaming network so they could say a few things that you’re not gonna hear on network television. Grace and Frankie, hold my White Claw. I truly feel like if the girls were still around today, they would be so proud in how much care and honor we put in the show. And I know audiences will feel that, too. 

GoldenGirlsTour.com

Drag Icon and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Favorite Coco Montrese Is Coming to Roxy’s Cabaret in Minneapolis 

July 05, 2023

Coco Montrese is a drag icon. Beyond her multiple appearances in the acclaimed RuPaul’s Drag Race television franchise, and its Las Vegas live show, she is a queen that has cemented her legacy as the Janet Jackson impersonator. She has more to offer now than ever before. Snatch your chance to see her perform live in Minneapolis July 14th, 15th & 16th at Roxy’s Cabaret.

It is an honor to interview you. You’ve been a part of the rotating cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! What is your favorite aspect of performing in that show? 
I will say that for me, that show is a much different experience than any other cast member. When a girl is cast for the show, they come in and they learn only one role, and that is the only thing they perform throughout their entire contract. I am the ONLY cast member since opening the show that knows every single role (including the host role), and I get to perform different variations of those roles nightly, and that’s my favorite part of performing in the show. It’s a lot more stressful for me each night, but I love it. I worked for Walt Disney World for Walt Disney entertainment in Orlando for 11 years in all four parks, so my training consisted of this kind of work for a very long time, and that’s why it’s no problem that it’s a different show for me every night.

Your drag daughter, Kahanna Montrese, competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8, and is competing in The Fame Games. How has it felt watching her shine?
It’s been truly amazing watching her get to glow and be herself. When you come from a drag family as well known for excellence as we are, sometimes it’s hard to stand out and shine on your own without being compared to your mother (Coco) or your glam mother (Mokha Montrese, a legend in pageantry), and this time Kahanna was prepared and I am so, so proud of how far she’s come, I mean let’s face it, she looks incredible. And that, along with her talent, is undeniable.

All Stars 2 is considered to be one of the best seasons of Drag Race ever, if not the best. What is it like being a part of reality TV history like that?
Honestly it feels really good, although I would’ve much rather spend more time there and it felt good to get the apology from Roxxxy [Andrews] and her telling me it was a big mistake sending me home, because she felt like more than others I really wanted to be there. It did feel like the fans were robbed of getting to see more of me, and I was robbed of that moment to shine. It’s truly an honor to be a part of that season, and hearing RuPaul say, “Coco Montrese, you are an all star” And by the way, I was over the moon that ALASKA won. There was so many girls there from season five, that there was no way that All-Stars 2 wouldn’t become the holy grail of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A lot of the girls in that season were already legendary entertainers before appearing on TV, so it was the perfect formula. I don’t think they’ll ever be another All-Stars to cast.

You are my personal favorite drag Janet Jackson. What do you do mentally to channel Janet when you perform as her?
I have this ritual in my head that I go through every night while preparing to perform this icon. It’s called  the “WWJD moment” (WHAT WOULD JANET DO). It allows me to channel my inner Janet, and recreate the mannerisms, the demeanor, and the aura around this icon legend — then I take the stage, and recreate her on stage for people to enjoy.

What’s your favorite song to perform in drag?
Janet Jackson “Escapade” is my favorite song. It is so much fun, and it’s just a song that makes you feel happy. You can’t help but smile when you’re performing that song.

What’s one thing about the Las Vegas drag scene that people may not know?
One thing about the Las Vegas drag scene that people may not know is that they were not many places for drag queens to perform in Vegas, you would think the entertainment capital of the world was overrun with ample places for drag queens to display the craft. Unfortunately, that is a myth when it comes to Las Vegas.

Last year you performed with Katy Perry at her Play Las Vegas residency. What was that like?
Performing with Katy Perry was a lot of fun, she was so sweet and kind and just so down to earth just like most of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of taking the stage with, or sharing a one-on-one personal conversation with. Don’t recall meeting any rude artist.

You are most certainly a lip-sync assassin, and performed as such on All Stars 6. In your opinion, what makes a lip-sync assassin?
Being a lip-sync assassin does not require you to be a great dancer. The requirement is in the title alone, “LIP-SYNC.” Executing kicks and splits and death drops only means you may be a DANCE ASSASSIN. What makes a lip-sync, assassin an assassin is one who knows every single word to the song, be it fast or slow, no mater how complicated the lyrics are, and they deliver it as if it was coming directly out of their mouth. Being a lip-sync assassin is not as easy as it sounds, and for those who have been deemed such and think it is easy, you’re probably not a lip-sync assassin. You’re just a lip-sync survivor, kicking and splitting or jumping off of furniture on parts of the song that you don’t know the words to. Trying to cover up the obvious does not make you a lip-sync assassin, [Winks] IN MY OPINION.
I also wanted to say it’s truly an honor to come and work along side Nina DiAngelo at Roxy’s Cabaret. I think it says a lot for this community that this establishment is named after a drag legend, who I came to know through pageantry, and admired her artistry.

Reservations: RoxysCabaret.com 

Dance-Pop Musician Eric Gordon is Authentically Starting Over

July 05, 2023

Eric Gordon is a Twin Cities-based musician with a message of being your authentic self. In June of 2021, he came out as a gay man, while a worship leader at a big church here in Minnesota. After a “bow-to-fate resignation” from the church, Gordon went on a journey of self-discovery through experiences like Twin Cities Pride, and creating new music with a dance-pop direction. Take a look behind the curtain in this candid and heartfelt interview with the music star.