Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Drag365: Show #13- Get Happy Hour at Pieces

Vita Summers, Cherry Poppins // photo by Michael Block
Day: Saturday, January 13th 

Show: Get Happy Hour  

Location: Pieces

Queens Seen: Vita Summers (@vitasummers), Cherry Poppins (@cherrypoppinsnyc), Whendy Whaxwood (@whendywhaxwood)

*Disclaimer: Drag365 is a series of articles depicting my experience as I attempt to attend 365 drag shows in 2018. I intend to write about my full experience in each of these write ups, which will include incidences that may occur during the show which that directly resulted in altering my experience. This is not a reflection of the performers or the establishment.*

While Moana plays, there’s a show on stage. Vita Summers and her special cohost Cherry Poppins guide the crowd through happy hour specials with shows paired with a little bit of mayhem. There’s an old saying that says you get what you give. Well this audience, present member excluded, was simply not in the mood for a drag show. Despite every attempt of engaging the crowd, even trying “If You’re a (Insert Sexual Position Here) and You Know It Clap Your Hands”, this crowd was simply here to take advantage of the happy hour deals. As well as partake in drunken debauchery. Once she started the show, Vita played her part. In a gig like this, Vita brings her pageantry and throws the good demeanor aside in exchange for a little attitude. It’s not all smiles and rainbows with this one. She’s got a bite. But she does manage to refrain from using it even when a very drunk patron took focus as she sang “She Used to Be Mine.” For the most part, Vita and Cherry went back and forth, offering whatever numbers they were in the mood for as this crowd was a lost cause. Even when Vita exclaimed she’d “do anything strange for a piece of change,” they weren’t receptive. Though Cherry was fully on board for this once she found the token straight man and made him her seat for part of the afternoon. There was a nice blend of lip sync and live vocals, but new life came into the room and the afternoon picked up during a late-in-the-game drag suicide offering. The afternoon also featured a cameo appearance by none other than Whendy Whaxwood. Once they revealed some personal facts about their bond, the banter between Vita and Cherry mirrored those dating contestants on TV game shows of yore as they playfully bickered and threw jabs at the others’ expense, often funniest if you’re inside the joke. Their only lip sync duet was appropriately “Take Me or Leave Me.”
Whendy Whaxwood // photo by Michael Block
Get Happy Hour was truly a show within a show. While there may have been a drag show billed, it’s what was occurring around the room that left the deepest impression. There’s a certain etiquette that should be instilled when attending a drag show. Whether you asked for it or not, if there is a performer on stage, it is your responsibility, as a decent human being, to show respect, sit down and shut up. If you’d rather find an establishment sans performance, kindly throw a dollar or two at the queens, tip the bar staff and see yourself out. There’s also a certain etiquette every person should have, regardless if you’re at a gay bar, a straight bar, hell even an office or the set of a movie. You do not have the right to inappropriately touch another person, especially when they ask you to stop. It is deeply unfortunate that my experience at Pieces and Get Happy Hour was tainted due to an unruly and disrespectful patron who physically and sexually harassed me. And the incident occurred twice during this four hour set. No means no. Just because it is a gay bar does not mean every person in there is looking for action. Some of us are simply “looking for a good time” by watching a performance. I am fortunate to have had the incident handled eventually. This won't deter me from attending the bar, but it will leave an impression.

Block Talk- Episode 23: Misty Mountains

She's a queen on the scene! I was joined by NYC drag rising star Misty Mountains to discuss everything from her GLAM award nomination to her show at Icon, Turn Back Time! 

To listen to the podcast, visit iTunes or Soundcloud! And make sure you subscribe and leave a 5 star review! 

And be sure to visit our Patreon page at patreon.com/theaterinthenow to learn about the perks of becoming a patron! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Drag365: Show #12- Legend Wednesdays at Rise

Aquaria // photo by Michael Block
Day: Wednesday, January 10th 

Show: Legend Wednesdays  

Location: Rise

Queens Seen: Aquaria (@ageofaquaria), Bootsie LeFaris (@thebootsielefaris), Ephiphany (@epiphanygetpaid)

Bootsie LeFaris // photo by Michael Block
Every bar has at least one high profile drag show on their weekly rotation. For Rise Bar, it’s Legend Wednesdays. The poster has a quartet of queens as their hosts but the night I was there, two were MIA due to other gigs (Marti Gould Cummings was being international in Amsterdam while Brenda Dharling was downtown with Holly Dae). On this Legend Wednesdays, we had Aquaria and Bootsie LeFaris with special guest Epiphany. While there was little of the trio on stage together, each brought their own brand to the evening. Bootsie is an exceptional host. She is quick on her feet and has innate ability to read the room, even if she deems it too small for her liking. Aquaria on the other hand may be a little flimsy on the mic, as she hosted a runway game, she is a look and performance queen ahead of the game. Just look at her Instagram. There is no one who can turn out a look quite like her. She’s a drag chameleon. Her three looks at the show were extraordinarily distinct. Her Vegas showgirl get up was divine. Epiphany can easily be described as a cheerful pessimist. Her smiles shines bright, but when she speaks, be afraid of what will come out! She’s quite a comedian and was a good foil for Bootsie and Aquaria.
Epiphany // photo by Michael Block
Legend Wednesdays is billed as an interactive drag revue. What is an interactive drag revue you ask? Well, I actually don’t think I could answer that. To me, this show was exactly like every other drag show you would attend in the city. There’s no more or less interaction between performer and audience. Maybe the most interactive part is that no matter where you are in the bar, you can still see the show as it is streamed on the televisions throughout. Nevertheless, Legend Wednesdays is a great place to go to see exceptional drag queens at a bar with a rare late night drink special. It’s no secret that we may be seeing Aquaria on our television screens real soon. Don’t miss your chances to see her before she travels the world after her rise to fame.

Drag365: Show #11- Petra Fried Presents: Allegra Spread at Rockbar

Allegra Spread // photo by Michael Block
Day: Wednesday, January 10th 

Show: Petra Fried Presents: Allegra Spread 

Location: Rockbar

Queens Seen: Allegra Spread (@allegradrag), Jessie James (@jessiejamesny), Cream Victoria (@reginastargazer)

Jessie James // photo by Michael Block
Cream Victoria // photo by Michael Block
While Petra Fried is away, a special guest host gets to grace the stage at Rockbar. This night was hosted by the professional asshole herself (a term of endearment she personally deemed) Allegra Spread! Joined by Jessie James and Cream Victoria, the audience spent the night watching some fascinating numbers, from sultry to bonkers, as Allegra urged everyone to leave tips with her dear friend, Filma Box, her clever tip bucket with her name on it. She begins her two act set with a live sung rendition of “Nowadays” from Chicago. It’s a number that has great weight on many levels. Nowadays, it seems everyone is a performer, but not everyone has the poise and confidence that Allegra has. Even with a tiny crowd, Allegra was welcoming, ensuring each member was a part of her experience. Both Jessie and Cream Victoria were rotated into the set, showing off their greatest assets. Jessie James looked like a Twisted Sister Princess. Rock on the top, innocent on the bottom. Jessie’s in-your-face essence as a performer translates in her numbers. They have an edge to them while maintaining the drag integrity. This was my first time seeing Cream Victoria and boy does she bring a show with her! In both sets, Cream Victoria had an apropos costume that matched her mix. She got us high in her first number while she defiled pasta in her second.
Whether she intentionally integrated the thematic elements of mother issues or they all just so happened to fall into place, Petra Fried Presents: Allegra Spread had a desirable cohesion some shows lack nowadays. Allegra and friends left you wanting more. Maybe we didn’t need that intermission. Maybe we needed that extra number or two to cover up the costume changes. Nevertheless, I’m excited to see what Allegra Spread does next because she sure spreads joy!

Drag365: Show #10- Drag Swap at Hardware

Jasmine Rice Labeija, Pixie Aventura // photo by Michael Block
Day: Tuesday, January 9th 

Show: Drag Swap 

Location: Hardware

Queens Seen: Pixie Aventura (@pixieaventura), Jasmine Rice Labeija (@jasminericenyc)

There’s no one quite like Pixie Aventura. She’s a high energy dancing diva with on-point comedic timing. Every Tuesday at Hardware Bar, Pixie Aventura hosts Drag Swap with a monthly guest. This month’s special guest happens to be a diva in her own right, Jasmine Rice Labeija. After a sizable discussion about, well, size, the show up and it’s a hoot. Pixie and Jasmine are kind of like high school seniors that are just too cool for school. That energy translates into what makes them a hilarious combo. For some odd reason, Jasmine was told that it was Chinese New Year and thusly wore a dragon mask to the gig. After discovering that the twink told her wrong, the dragon mask lived on top of the curtains and basically became the third cast member of the night as it flapped in the wind. She also wore a Sailor Moon outfit and admitted she had never seen Sailor Moon. It wouldn’t be the only revelation of the night as the crowd exclusively learned the origin of the rat in the toilet story. If you haven’t heard about Jasmine’s rat saga, go visit her Facebook page. Pixie is an exquisite host. Her adaptability and quick wit keeps the energy high. Rather than a dance or walk off, the game Pixie plays with her adoring fans is “Ask the Drag Queen.” In exchange for a shot, you can ask the girls any question and get all the tea. As an interviewer, I had one of my favorite questions lined up and ready to go. I asked “What drag queen that they’ve yet to work with would they like to work with.” Pixie said her was Merrie Cherry while Jasmine said hers was Crystal Demure. Like any good drag show, the evening ended with a drag suicide. Of course I had to put in my request for Yma Suma and boy did Pixie deliver! Jasmine even got to sing live opera. This was a drag suicide like no other.
Drag Swap is guaranteed to light up your Tuesday night. You only have a few more chances to check out Jasmine with Pixie, so make sure you do!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Drag365- Show #9: The Brita Filter Show at Hardware

Brita Filter // photo by Michael Block
Day: Tuesday, January 9th 

Show: The Brita Filter Show 

Location: Hardware

Queens Seen: Brita Filter (@thebritafilter), Poppy (@thecolorpoppy)

Poppy // photo by Michael Block
If you’re a fan of drag in New York City, than you’ve certainly heard of this next queen. Within just a year alone, her career has catapulted into stardom. From almost a gig a night to hosting one of New York’s premiere drag competition, and being one of the eight personalities on “Shade: Queens of NYC,” Britia Filter is easily a top tier entertainer. It was only a few months ago that her weekly solo show, The Brita Filter Show, began and it keeps on getting better. As her tagline says, she is anything but pure. She’s loud-mouthed and brazen, and that’s what makes her so special. If you’re at a Brita Filter show and there is a microphone in her hand, be prepared to have tea spilled. She won’t hold back, no matter the topic. Even if it’s with a recent encounter with a shockingly rude queen during another gig. Hell, she even made two big announcements on the stop. First, this is the year she is auditioning for Drag Race! Second, her cohost of the night, Poppy, would be her first monthly rotating guest! While there’s no excuse not to know Brita, you can have slight reprieve if you don’t know Poppy. But now? No more excuses. Poppy is a rising queen on the scene. Having recently been crowned winner of the fourth season of the Ultimate Drag Pageant and Lady Liberty’s Witch Hunt in November, 2018 is the year Poppy breaks through. Looking at her stunning, flawless mug, you’d never imagine the quirky, weird persona Poppy gives in her performances. Her “Do Dogs Have Brains?” remix brought the house down. Her mixes are so good, Brita said she wouldn’t do a single mix with her there.
This week’s The Brita Filter Show was bound to get you drunk. Not only did the Beyonce drinking cues come frequently, but we were graced by a nice gentleman handing out what seemed to be an endless supply of free Jack Daniels shots. He even gave away JD Honey stress balls, which made Brita admit that she was, shockingly, afraid of balls. If you need a fantastic Tuesday night show to attend, The Brita Filter show is it. Brita Filter is on the verge of world domination.

Drag365: Show #8- Stage Fright at Therapy

Marti Gould Cummings // photo by Michael Block
Day: Monday, January 8th     

Show: Stage Fright 

Location: Therapy

Queens Seen: Marti Gould Cummings (@martigcummings)

The Venn diagram of theater fan and Drag fan has a pretty giant overlap. So when you find a way to unite the two, the queens get excited. Cue Stage Fright. Every Monday at Therapy, Marti Gould Cummings and Bradford Proctor, on the keys, take the crowd on a fun journey of live music with a special guest from the theater community. To kick off 2018, Marti welcomed Tony winner Nikki M. James to the stage. Sitting front row center for this exclusive show, Stage Fright is the only place you can see your favorite stars sing the songs that made them famous, for free! Part drag show, part talk show, Marti’s ability to balance the kooky entertainment with serious topics keeps the show stimulating. Having met at a political fundraiser, it was clear that Marti and Nikki were going to have an easy, breezy chat. Nikki sang “Sal Tlay Ka Siti”, a song from The Book of Mormon, for which she won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Marti is a natural as a talk show host thanks in part to the comfort and ease she has. Stage fright who? It’s a night of fun and games, literally, as Marti invites audience members to play a round of Heads Up. It was Team Shade Queens with Marti and Brita Filter, out of drag, took on Team Nikki with Nikki and my pal Cole Smith, also known as Nicole Onoscopi. Team Nikki did defeat Team Shade Queens in this rousing game of Broadway rapid fire.
If you find yourself at Stage Fright, expect nothing but a good time. And make sure you have a Marti-tini or three while you’re at it. They’re dangerously good.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Drag365: Show #7- The Late Late Show at Hardware

Marti Gould Cummings // photo by Michael Block
Day: Sunday, January 7th    

Show: The Late Late Show 

Location: Hardware

Queens Seen: Marti Gould Cummings (@martigcummings), Haireola Grande (@haireolagrande), Izzy Uncut (@izzyuncut)

Haireola Grande // photo by Michael Block
She’s an international comedy queen and tv star who spends her Sunday nights graciously putting a spotlight on the emerging queens of NYC. The Late Late Show with Marti Gould Cummings is a wonderful showcase for the new queens on the scene who get to spend an hour or so with a seasoned vet, performing numbers and entertaining the kids who don’t have to work in the morning. It’s not a Marti show without the following things happening. First, she plugs her show Shade: Queens of NYC because why? She’s a smart business woman. Second, her wig comes off at some point. It took the crazy drag suicide for that to happen!
Izzy Uncut // photo by Michael Block
While Marti is the title queen, her willingness to allow emerging queens their chance to show their stuff at one of the city’s premiere venues is just another example of how she gives back to the community. This show featured a double bill with Haireola Grande, who matched Marti in her first look and then was deemed PATH train sheek in her second, and Izzy Uncut, who flails her body on the Hardware concrete floor seemingly without a single bruise. This lineup was a wonderful compliment for one another. Haireola is a bearded comedy queen with a knack for a tight lipstick while Izzy is a quintessential dancing queen who isn’t afraid to serve you trick after flip after stunt after split. As someone who has frequented The Late Late Show recently, there is something that happens there that gives these emerging performers the artistic kick in the ass to keep putting themselves out there. If you look at the roster of girls Marti has showcased, these are the queens who are hungry for more.

Drag365: Show #6- Turn It On at Hardware

Miz Cracker and Monet X Change // photo by Michael Block
Day: Sunday, January 7th    

Show: Turn It On 

Location: Hardware

Queens Seen: Miz Cracker (@miz_cracker), Monet X Change (@monetxchange)

The dynamic duo of Miz Cracker and Monet X Change are back for more in 2018 at their weekly Sunday gig, Turn It On. And they certainly did just that. Being the Golden Globes, Miz Cracker and Monet X Change just happened to come on following Oprah’s iconic speech. Very few could follow that act, but these two sure did! These premiere queens know how to engage a crowd. With the minimal amount of numbers, their quick wit and effortless banter is all it takes to keep the crowd going. Hell, even a drunk man will shower the ladies with cash money simply for being present and existing! While the highlight of the night should have been Monet’s whimsical galaxy getup, it was the previously stated drunk man who was the center of attention. He found himself as one of the four contestants in a spirited runway walk off. Alongside Johan from Amsterdam, scared out of his mind Jimmy, and Angel from New Jersey, it was Clint who tested the nerves and found himself as the loser of the game. In a shocking twist of events, the abs of both Johan and Angel were no match for the meek charm of Jimmy as he became the night’s runway champion.
Turn It In is a staple of the Hardware Sunday lineup. These two know how to slay. And hey, you may even see them on your television screens sooner than you think. Their show is such a draw, they occasionally get celebrity guests like Bob the Drag Queen to watch incognito. If you haven’t seen them together, I suggest you do so before it’s too late.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Block Talk- Episode 22: Drew Lausch

It's the day of the show and yet that didn't stop Drew Lausch from joining me on the latest episode of Block Talk! We chat about his newest stand up adventure, Homo You Didn't!

To listen to the episode, visit iTunes or SoundCloud!

And visit our Patreon page at patreon.com/theaterinthenow.com to learn about the benefits of becoming of patron of Theater in the Now!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Drag365: Show #5- Snatched to the Future at Precious Metal

Gloria Swansong, Gina Tonic, Allegra Spread // photo by Michael Block
Day: Saturday, January 6th   

Show: Snatched to the Future 

Location: Precious Metal

Queens Seen: Gina Tonic (@itsginatonic), Allegra Spread (@allegradrag), Gloria Swansong (@gloria_swansong)

Gina Tonic debuted her new show Snatched to the Future at Precious Metal to room of fans and patrons alike. Paying homage to a singular decade or era at each show, Gina kicked off her series with the roaring 20s. With a little help from her friends Gloria Swansong and Allegra Spread, the crowd, some decked in period attire, went on the journey to the past alongside the queens in a boozy, jazzy evening of entertainment. Precious Metal is a unique spot with their own clientele. It’s maybe not necessarily a place you’d expect a drag show of this nature. But everyone was ready to play along, even the hipsters of Brooklyn, who were not quite ready for the show. Gina’s strength in bringing a night together was evident in Snatched to the Future. The night flowed seamlessly, while it was able to adapt to the unique setting. While she may be the center of attention, Gina graciously gave the spotlight over to her guests. Gloria Swansong’s ability to command a room is incomparable. Like a bug to a light, she has an inimitable aura that draws you in. Gloria Swansong is a premiere vintage queen. Allegra Spread has a spirit and soul that was perfect for the decade, yet easily transcends. Allegra has a sexy, sultry allure that keeps you wanting more.  The majority of the set list was inspired by songs or stories of the time, including the musicals The Wild Party and Chicago and a jazz-stirred rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” Gina did jump up a decade with some Cabaret numbers, but the audience didn’t seem to mind.
If you’re looking for theme shows, Snatched to the Future may be exactly what you’re looking for. If you haven’t been to Precious Metal before, it truly is a special space to drink and be merry. Next month, Gina will time travel to the 80s for what is sure to be a party