Meet The Drag Queen Who Went From Farm Life To Fabulous
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 Madame Vivien V.
What was it like for you coming out to your family?
My grandparents were the first family members I came out to. They put me on speakerphone like grandparents do and I was like “Grandma and Grandpa I’m gay”, and Grandpa said “Well Scotty, we’re not that surprised’. They always gave subtle hints that I could be whatever I wanted to be. They were always very supportive.
What does your family think of you being a drag queen?
Now that I’m good at it they love it.Photo Credit- Brendan Burke
Describe your look.
Larger than life. I don’t have one singular aesthetic. Someone once said “Why be one woman when you can be every woman?” No matter what I do I do it the largest and grandest I can. I work at the House Of Yes and every night we change the theme. We transform the club every night for every single event. As the club transforms it’s my duty to transform with it especially since I’m the first person you see when you walk in so I set the standard for the looks.
That’s a lot different than some other queens who stick to one look.
They find their one way to do their makeup and they do it every time and they’re really proud they can get their face done in 45 minutes. That’s boring. Variety is the spice of life, change it up. I do not like repeating outfits, I do not like repeating faces. I haven’t worn the same thing in over two years.
Isn’t it expensive to buy all those outfits?
I’m resourceful and a hoarder. Sometimes I’ll indulge and spend more than I probably should but that’s drag.
What was it like growing up on a farm?
I was raised on a pig farm in Washington State. We not only did pigs we did poultry, wool and goat’s milk products and I took care of the poultry primarily. I would haul the feed, I would haul the hay. I would dig pits. I assisted with slaughter. When a pig was killed I would help remove the body. I also had a hand in some of the skinning. When it came to the chickens I would remove the chickens heads and I would boil the bodies to remove the feathers.
How did that affect you?
The way I view farm life now is farms are just internment camps where animals are held prisoner, they’re raped and they’re slaughtered. I’m a vegetarian now, borderline vegan. Farm life always sounds cute but it’s a different kind of life. You wake up and there’s work to do. You go to bed and there’s work to do. There’s always work to do so you learn to be quite the hard worker. That’s really helped me in my career.
What’s a Madame Vivien V show like?
Shocking. You will never see another thing like it. It’s one gigantic hot mess. At House of Yes I have a competition the first Wednesday of every month. I invite all drag creatures to come and we get an equal mix of drag kings, drag queens, gender jesters, un-namables you name it and the drag performer is there giving it their all. I like to set the standard and make an absolute fool of myself and be as reckless and intense as possible to show everybody there are no limits.
What’s been one of your most memorable nights in drag?
It was right after my very first Manhattan gig. I made my way back to Brooklyn and I was hanging with the Brooklyn queens and got beyond twisted then I decided to hop on the train to go home. Before I know it I’m waking up and I’m at JFK airport, clutching a pole in a gold sequin dress with my wig halfway on my head and my makeup falling off and there’s school children getting onto the train. I’m like “Well girl, this is your life”. I’m just sitting there trying to act casual, fighting the worst hangover with no sunglasses as the morning sunlight is creeping in just letting you know how much of a trash monster you are.
Catch her the first Wednesday and the third Friday and Saturday of every month at House Of Yes in Brooklyn. She’ll also be there Friday, April 5th for the Glitter Unicorn Sparkle Spectacular.