Meet The 46 Year Old School Teacher Who Became A Drag Queen
There is no shortage of drag queens in NYC. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some twink in a dress who thinks 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 interview series highlights the New York queens that stand out from the crowd, work their assess off and rock those heels til they bleed.
Meet Fritzi Valkyrie
What inspired you to start doing drag as a 46 year old schoolteacher?
There’s drag and there’s putting on a dress. I’d thrown on a dress when I was in my early 20’s. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gone from a very gender fluid twink to instant daddy at about age 35. I became used to people perceiving me as very masculine presenting and I wanted to disrupt that.
You use your drag to address one of the darkest times in queer history.
I came of age at the heights of the AIDS crisis. I was raised by a pack of wild drag queens and bull dykes, basically. For me, drag is not about just performing, it’s also an overtly political act. The kinds of queens that I knew back in the early 90’s weren’t afraid to embody performance as something that’s political. It’s kind of like embracing the experience I had in my early 20’s but also feeling and processing what I didn’t get to do and what I wish I would have done. It’s a way to honor the people that I knew.
Tell me about your first drag performance.
There was a competition, called Mx Nobody, in Brooklyn. After thinking about it and looking at what I do and the current political environment, I decided to enter. I performed a piece that connected very much to the AIDS crisis. Being 21 or 22 years old and having friends die, I didn’t know how to adequately process that in any way. It was really traumatic. It’s taken me 25 years to return to that and feel the grief and the anger and that performance came out of it. That was the starting point.
You started your drag career in Brooklyn. Could you have begun anywhere else?
No. Brooklyn audiences are amazing. They’re some of the most loving, giving people that I’ve ever been around. If I had to start on a stage anywhere else I would have pissed my pants, or panties, as the case may be.
Describe your look.
For me, my look is how I see bad-ass femininity. It’s a little bit of punk rock. It’s a little glam. It’s a little metal.
What’s makes you happiest when you’re performing?
Completely losing myself in a number, to be so present in what I’m doing that I’m not paying attention to anything other than the audience in front of me. I think the other part is being able to connect to people who I might not ever meet any other way.
It must be such a contrast for you thinking about what you went through in your 20’s and the LGBTQ youth of today.
What I see now in Brooklyn is these beautiful queer people, in their early 20’s, able to be themselves and go out and have fun and laugh and not have the oppressive fear of impending death hanging over them. That’s what I didn’t have in my early 20’s because everyone was so scared.
It seems to me you’re always teaching whether you’re in front of the class or on stage.
Drag is about telling a story. With me being a teacher I want to be able to have my students leave the classroom having learned something. How could someone know what it was like in the AIDS crisis? We didn’t even know what it was like then when we were living it. I can connect with younger queers in their 20’s and show them what it was like. That’s kind of my job.
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