Meet the drag queen turning garbage into gorgeous
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 Avant Garbage.
When did you come out?
I came out of the closet when I was 14. I was kind of forced out. I’m from a really conservative town about 25 minutes west of Cleveland. My best friend at the time came to my house crying in the middle of the night and she was telling my parents that I was going to burn in damnation and she had to save my soul and she wanted them to know this. It was like a Lifetime movie of the week. It was a lot for me to handle at the age of 14.
How did your parents react?
My mom was apprehensive at first. She reacted a little poorly and I’m sure any parent is going to face turmoil just because they’re going to fear for their kid’s safety. My day was a little quiet which in hindsight I kind of appreciate. He never told me that it was wrong, or he opposed it he just kind of stepped back.
Have they seen you perform?
They saw my show about two years ago and I told the queen that was co-hosting with me it was my parent’s first time in the audience can you please tone it down a little bit for me. She was like “Oh, absolutely, I won’t say anything embarrassing” and as soon as she got on stage, she looked right at my parents and said, “Last night I smoked meth and my anus prolapsed.” In a way it was kind of a blessing because my parents were so shocked that anything that came after that was demure.
Describe your look.
My look is a little bit Courtney Love, a little bit rainbow Bright Brite, a little bit Pee Wee Herman and a bag of trash thrown into a blender and hit puree. I had a very clear idea when I started. I realized that I wanted to be the trash queen. I make all my wigs out of mops or yarn. Right now, I’m making a wig out of duct tape. I’ve made a wig out of Brillo pads. I’ve made a duct tape bodice and a newspaper skirt. I’m constantly getting inspiration from everything around me like comic books, video games and cartoons. I have a very fantastical mind.
How was Avant created?
I’ve always loved the Universal Studios horror monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula. My friend asked me if I could create a new monster what would I make and I said I wanted to make a female monster because there was really only the Bride of Frankenstein. I was thinking what if I made a trash queen. I was conceptualizing what she would look like. She had to have mop hair. She’s always going to be garbage. She controls rats and cockroaches and she drives a garbage truck.
You address a lot of serious issue in your shows.
It’s important to push limits. I’ve done a number about police brutality where I end up getting shot to death at the end. I did a number where I pulled a straight razor out of my bra and I cut my arm open and I bled out on my dress and at the end it’s just a minute of music and I’m laying there motionless. People thought I was dying and they were getting uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to do. I want you to talk about it. I want there to be a dialogue.
What’s something you’re into outside of drag that might surprise people?
I used to compete in Super Smash Bros tournaments. I’m a huge video game fan. I’m playing video games all the time. I have a weekly video game night at Albatross and I challenge everybody to try and beat the queen and if they beat me they get a free drink.
What defines drag today?
The definition of things is changing in today’s world. I don’t really think it’s helpful to try and define anything anymore. I think trying to put a definition on drag is hindering it. Drag is constantly evolving. Drag is becoming whatever it wants to be. Drag is constantly on the cusp of being innovative, being different and pushing the limit. I think as long as you’re putting your heart and soul into something and making people think I think that’s drag.
Catch Avant Garbage every Thursday 9pm at Albatross.