NYC Drag Queen Of The Week- Ruby Roo
There is no shortage of drag queens in NYC. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some twink in a dress thinking he’s got what it takes to shantay down the runway just because he’s seen every season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race while practicing YouTube makeup tutorials. There’s a difference, though, between learning how to just paint your face and turning that face into a work of fucking art. This weekly series highlights the queens who stand out from the crowd and rock those heels til they bleed.
Meet Ruby Roo.
I understand you come from a pretty religious background. What was that like?
My parents, when I was growing up, were super conservative Christians. We were Nazarenes, which is basically like in Footloose – no drinking, no dancing. When I came out I was really afraid I was going to be disowned. I had one of my best friend’s families waiting in the wings. They were like ‘If this goes wrong you get back in your car, you drive here, and we’ll pay for your college.’
Did they disown you?
No, it’s amazing how understanding my parents have been and how much they’ve grown.
Are you still religious?
No. When I was 15 we were sitting in church and I looked up and turned around and saw all these people bowing their heads and I thought “This is really insane, and I don’t believe in this. I’m part of a cult and I don’t even know it”. And from then on, I didn’t believe in god and I got a job on Sunday’s so I didn’t have to go to church.
When did you get into drag?
I went to NYU and I double majored in Journalism and Religious Studies and I was going to be a journalist. I have a big acting background though. By the time I was 18 I had been in over 30 shows, so I was really missing that theatrical outlet in my life in the city. I started working as a party promoter meeting all these queens and then some queens wanted to put me in a drag for a photoshoot and they were like “We have a show after if you want to come perform”. That was on the 4th of July six years ago and now here I am.
How would you describe your look?
A lot of my drag is inspired by women from past decades. I love the 50’s, I love the 60’s but I also love wearing absurd 80’s and 90’s clothes. My drag is less glamour and more like campy fashion.
Is there that much of a difference between Manhattan and Brooklyn drag?
The distinction kind of comes down to the kind of art that the audiences are expecting. In Manhattan on a Thursday night you’re getting high kicks and choreography with matching costumes and if you go to Brooklyn on the same night you’re gonna get a guy with a hairy chest and pasties shitting out an apple. I was not accepted in the Brooklyn scene in the beginning because my drag was too polished and classic whereas these kids are wearing trash bags. That’s still art and it’s still cool but that’s not what my drag is.
Does Drag Race create unfair expectations for audiences of drag shows?
Drag Race is its own little bubble because they’re asking you to do things on that show that not every queen does. Not every queen can learn an 8 count in 30 seconds and drop into a split and then also do an incredible impersonation. That’s not what drag is necessarily. Drag Race does have its drawbacks for the drag community in general but also, it’s not going anywhere.
What’s been your worst night in drag?
I was performing at The Duplex in the West Village. We have a live pianist and I do this number where I sit on the piano and I lip sync to the piano player singing a song. When the number was over I went to slide off the piano, but I slipped and fell sideways and instead of just falling to the ground I fell and I hit a table and I rolled off the table and I hit a chair then I hit the stage before I finally made it to the floor. It’s just hard to stand up in heels in general for so long let alone when you’ve thrown back a whole bottle of Tito’s Vodka.
Please tell me there’s a video of this.
Bitch, if there’s a video of this I will murder whoever posts it.
You can see her perform Sundays 7pm for Superstar Sundays at Lips Drag Restaurant, Sundays at midnight for I’m Still Here at The Duplex, Monday’s midnight for Monday’s on Monday’s at Macri Park, Fridays at 11pm for Frisky Fridays at Pieces, Saturdays 11pm for SLAY at Hardware.