Halloween – like everything else about 2020 – is likely to be very different this year. That said, it provides the perfect excuse to get creative with a facemask!
As bars and clubs remain closed across much of the U.S., and house parties are not advised, those wishing to mark Halloween may be interested in a spooky-themed drive-in drag show set to tour the U.S next month.
Voss Events organize events featuring many of the former RuPaul Drag Race queens. It’s already organized drive-in drag shows featuring Canada Drag Race queens in Canada.
For October, it’s running a U.S. Drive ‘N Drag: Halloween show featuring: Asia O’Hara; Aquaria, Yvie Oddly; Kameron Michaels; Kim Chi; Violet Chachki and Vanessa Vanjie.
It costs $69 per car per two people (with $25 for additional passengers). VIP tickets cost $139, and get your vehicle closest to the stage (which going by comments on online forums, is worth the extra expense). Tour dates are as follows:
The queens will be appearing live on stage, with the action relayed on big Jumbotron screens. Each queen will be playing the part of a trapped soul, recounting how they came to die “from obscure causes … Each soul will share her chilling tale of death in an immersive stage performance that is sure to fright and delight.”
Food will be available from food trucks and there will even be Drag Brunch options for performances earlier in the day.
Producer Brandon Voss said in a statement, “Our wildly popular drive-in productions are proving the drag show must go on even through a pandemic! The show has been adapted to be even more interactive than the original arena production, bringing performances and haunts into the parking lot for an immersive experience we are dubbing a Haunted Parking Lot for a good scare.”
Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Uplifting: We’re Here
Fans and non-fans of Drag Race take note: though the new HBO series We’re Here features three alumni of the beloved drag competition, do not expect tantrums and epic throwing of shade. We’re Here stars Shangela, Eureka O’Hara and Bob the Drag Queen. Each episode finds the three riding their handbag-shaped RVs to a different conservative city around the country with a singular goal: unite the queer and straight communities by putting on a drag show. For the three queens, that means finding drag protegees to add to the show in each episode. And, as anyone familiar with the work of Bob, Eureka or Shangela will attest: each drag number throbs with energy and joy.
What we didn’t expect, however, was just how poignant and moving We’re Here gets. All three queens experience moments of vulgar homophobia and racism at times, which serves to remind viewers that attitudes towards race and LGBTQ people still vary wildly around the country. Moreover, the stories of family rifts healed through drag performance had us reaching for the tissues. We’re Here reminds us that the great power of the queer community comes from its sense of love and joy, not just fabulousness. The kind of forgiving love on display here is hard to find in any TV series, scripted or reality. That earns a winning recommendation from us. The fabulous handbag RVs are just a bonus.
With COVID-19 having stymied Frameline44–at least in person, anyway–the San Francisco-based queer media arts foundation has done something extraordinary. A second Frameline44 arrives later this month, allowing viewers from all over the world to take part in the celebration of queer cinema, and to view this year’s titles from home. In another charming twist, the festival will host a drive-in screening at the Solano Drive-In in Concord, CA on September 17. The title on the docket: the new slapstick comedy Sh*t & Champagne.
Related: ‘Buck,’ ‘Disclosure’ and ‘My Mom’: Meet the winners of Frameline’s film competition
Sh*t & Champagne takes its cues from 1970s exploitation schlock movies, which often featured ridiculous action, ridiculous costumes and even more ridiculous plots. The film follows stripper Champagne Horowitz Jones Dickerson White (played by drag queen Darcy Drollinger) on the run from a criminal enterprise. When the cops refuse to investigate the murder of her sister, Champagne dives head-first into a criminal underworld. There, she discovers a link between the retail chain Mall-Wart and a dastardly plot to conquer the world. Think of it as Girls Will Be Girls meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Stephen Lim, also known as Nadia Business, had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for six years. (nadiabusinessqween/ Instagram)
A drag queen fighting chronic kidney disease has become the first patient post-lockdown to receive a life-saving kidney transplant at a Manchester hospital.
Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) was forced to stop performing transplant surgeries for four months during the coronavirus pandemic, but in July doctors were able to resume the life-saving operations.
According to Manchester Evening News, the first patient to get a call saying they would be undergoing transplant surgery was 27-year-old Stephen Lim, otherwise known as his drag persona Nadia Business.
Lim comperes a karaoke night at a club in Bolton as Nadia, and also takes part in outreach programmes for his local LGBT+ community.
He was born with chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, which causes a gradual loss of kidney function over time.
When he was very young, Lim suffered irreversible scarring to his kidneys because of an infection, and he had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for the last six years.
The drag queen said: “My family and I have been speaking about the possibility of getting a transplant for about 20 years… There’s so much that goes in to finding the right match, and a year or so back I’d been called in for a transplant that unfortunately could not go ahead, so I was starting to think it might not happen.”
But on July 7, Lim wrote on Instagram: “Guess who got the kidney transplant call he’s been waiting for for six years, this morning around 4am?”
He was brought in to have the operation on the same day, receiving a transplant from a deceased donor.
Lim said: “I’m so thankful to him and his family for all he’s given me. To lose a loved one is never easy, so I will pay my respects by living well and looking after myself as best I can.
“I can’t say thank you enough to everyone in the transplant team for everything they’ve done.
“The whole team have been professional, welcoming and friendly throughout, and are always very quick to explain stuff so I know what’s going on.”
He added: “I feel especially lucky and grateful to be the first MRI patient to receive an organ since after lockdown.
“I know that COVID-19 precautions will have added another layer of complexity for the team’s work but they were so professional that you couldn’t notice… Due to COVID-19 restrictions my parents unfortunately weren’t able to come with me into the hospital, but the team were great at making me feel comfortable.
“My mum’s a nurse so I’ve had to distance from her in the house which has been interesting, but we understand we need to act responsibly so we’re taking all precautions.
“I now feel really well, even better than I was expecting to after the operation. My surgery wound is healing well and it looks like everything is going in the right direction in terms of my condition improving which is great.”
Zavion Davenport, better known as drag superstar Chi Chi DeVayne, has reportedly died. She was only 34.
The RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 and All Stars season 3 contestant became a favorite among fans and fellow queens alike with her magnetic personality and ability to destroy a performance.
DeVayne had been open about her health struggles, including her diagnosis with with scleroderma, a “rare, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the immune system attacking the tissue under the skin, and around internal organs and blood vessels, which can also cause scarring and thickening of tissue.”
In July, DeVayne was hospitalized due to suspected kidney failure. She told fans she began dialysis treatment before being discharged.
A crowdfunding campaign to support her had grown following her most recent hospitalization last week, reportedly to fight pneumonia.
In an Instagram story posted just days ago, DeVayne told her followers: “Hey guys, I’m back in. Keep me in your prayers, I’ll be back soon.”
Many fellow Drag Race contestants and queens who knew her have taken to social media to share their condolances:
This is so heart-breaking ?? RIP Chi Chi DeVayne ? My heart goes out to all of Chi Chi’s family, friends and fans. https://t.co/g6ZXoF2RAO
Chi Chi Devayne was such a light during her season and beyond. She always showed how being humble, honest and your true authentic self will get you far! She was a TRUE STAR and her legacy will live on forever #RIPChiChiDevayne ? pic.twitter.com/Q0VGgyCngr
Countless actors fancy themselves overnight sensations. In the case of actress Mya Taylor, however, the claim is accurate.
A chance meeting at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Community Center paired Taylor–then a 23-year-old sex worker–with aspiring director Sean Baker. Baker convinced her to appear in his new movie, a film about Hollywood sex workers set to film on iPhones. The resulting movie, Tangerine, became a festival sensation. Taylor scored rave reviews for her work, and would go on to win the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress–the first-ever transgender performer to win the award.
Now Taylor returns to movies with Stage Mother. The film teams her with two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver, Lucy Liu, Adrian Grenier and Jackie Beat in a story about a conservative mother (Weaver) who inherits her son’s San Francisco drag bar. Taylor plays Cherry, a transgender queen who regularly takes to the stage, and who could use some maternal care herself.
Mya Taylor’s work in Stage Mother has earned her yet another accolade: this year, she receives the coveted Next Wave Award at the Provincetown Film Festival. The Next Wave Award recognizes distinctive artists who take artistic risks and have a passion for independent film. Past honorees include Chloe Grace Moritz and Jillian Bell.
So things are crazy in the world at the moment. How are you doing?
Well I’m perfectly healthy. I haven’t gotten the virus, or been exposed to it. I do work as a nurse, so I am in the field where I could be exposed to it. But we’re tested every single week—I was just tested yesterday. I’m getting tired of getting stabbed in the throat…
Oh my. I can’t blame you for that one.
It’s a lot.
Well, thank you for your service. I’m so glad to hear you’re alright.
I just work and come home. I do auditions, tape them, send them in. I don’t know what’s going to happen if I actually get a job. A set is made up of a lot of people.
And you have a new movie coming out, so congratulations. Stage Mother is really adorable. It’s a sweet film.
I really loved it.
And you’re getting the Next Wave award!
Thank you. I’m excited.
How did the role of Cherry come to you?
In the beginning, I had done a ton of auditions. I was waiting for my next audition to come, and I expected my manager to call with one. But he called with my agent at ICM and said “We have this script we want you to look at. The director really wants to talk to you to see if you’re interested.” So I read the script, and…
[Her voice breaks. A beat]
It’s kind of emotional to me. When I was 18, I came out to my grandmother. I knew she already knew, but I came out as gay at that time. I didn’t start my transition until I was 22. Just the way she looked at me, and the way she started being different with me, I ended up leaving home. And that’s what started my journey.
Now, when I talked to Thom he mentioned that you were fairly uninitiated when it came to drag; your background was as an actress and singer. What kind of research did you do for the role?
Well, on set I was around professional drag queens. Even our make-up artist—she did drag too. And she did a little bit of coaching me. She was like ok girl, you’re going to wear these tall, platform heels. Walk like this and stick that ass out. Now, in my day-to-day life, I will wear heels, but no heels that are platform. But just to soften it up a bit, I was known as a trans drag queen. That’s my role. My character is a little bit more classy than my sisters.
You’re working with some heavyweight actors here, obviously. What do you learn from working with a great character actress like Jacki Weaver? How does it challenge you?
You know, I don’t even think about that. Here’s what I think about: there was a director that I worked with on the TV show Dietland. She’d been directing for a long time, like before I was even born. I asked her: “What makes a good actress? How can you be the best you can be as an actress?” She said, “The best thing you can do is just know your lines. When you get on the set, it will be totally different from what you imagined.” A director gives you the direction you need to go with that character. So that’s what I do. I just know my lines. You’ll never hear me say “Line?”
Related: Director Thom Fitzgerald on how the pain of loss fueled the comedy of ‘Stage Mother’
Well that’s good.
You have to take yourself out of the element, and really think how a character would react. That’s why you have to read a whole script: so you know the outcome. There’s a lot that comes along with it.
One of the themes of the film is motherhood, of course, and Maybelline’s arc is primarily one of redemption for failing her son. You’re someone who has been very honest about your relationship with your own family, and how it’s improved. Is it a difficult experience doing a film that echoes your own life?
I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. I’ve pretty much overcome everything with my own family. I think some of my problems with my own family had to do with me, internally, not being entirely comfortable with who I was.
Feeling like my family members were judging me, or not accepting me. I’m one person who will overact about something. For instance…
I have a BMW that has turbos in it. I had it tuned. Then my car started misfiring, and the check engine light came on. I was like oh hell no, bitch! I’m about to buy an X-5!
So I took it to a mechanic, and he said I needed new spark plugs. The tune gave it more power, so I needed new spark plugs, which is why it was misfiring. So I had overreacted. I was already on Cars.com looking for an X-5. I’m one to overreact. And my family—they just talk. I feel like sometimes they have diarrhea of the mouth.
They’ll say stuff and not really think about what they’re saying, and they don’t mean what it sounds like they’re saying. So that’s where I’m going with that. But the film, in relation to my life—I could pull from my life as far as the emotions.
Some of the things that happen in the film—if I’m doing a scene where I’m turned away or not accepted, all I have to do is think about the moment when I told my grandmother that I was gay. The look she gave…I remember how she looked in that moment. That’s how I pull out my emotions.
And it works every time?
Yes. If you notice in Tangerine I cried. That’s not glycerine. Those are actual tears. Any time you see my cry on screen, they are actual tears, not the fake stuff.
Is that exhausting? Do you feel like you carry pain around all the time then?
Not at all. I’m able to turn it on and turn it off. I’ve been through so much—all the prostitution and drug dealing and fights. I’ve been so much with so many different people, I can turn it on and turn it off. I’m pretty much numb to a lot of the emotions. I’m not saying things don’t bother me or hurt me, because they do. But I know how to get over it really quick and move on.
I’m not sure the way I do it is healthy. For instance, I just went through a divorce with my husband. But instead of being sad about it, I turn it to anger. I think about all the moments he pissed me off.
But I can get over anger faster than I can get over sadness. That probably sounds crazy, but that’s just how I deal with it.
I don’t think that sounds crazy at all; everybody is different. As long as it’s not taking a toll on you, it seems healthy.
You’ve been acting professionally for 5 years now. In that time—in part, thanks to your work—the images people have of transgender Americans has changed considerably. So have opportunities for trans performers. How have opportunities changed for you as an actress in that time?
You know, my manager Aaron Brown of Avalon Management—he shields me from a lot. I told him I didn’t want to keep getting offered roles and doing auditions for prostitutes or drug dealers. I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want to play a transwoman that gets killed. Bring me an audition that’s just a regular person, a cisgender woman. A lot of the auditions he’ll send to me won’t even have a specific character in mind. [The character breakdown] won’t say “Latina woman,” or “caucasian man.” It’s just for a person. And the director wants to find a person that fits the role. I’ve done a lot of those kind of auditions recently. Yesterday I did an audition for a cartoon. They didn’t say they wanted a transgender woman or a white woman, they just needed a female.
That’s fantastic. So what kind of characters are you really interested in playing? What your dream role?
You know, what I really want to do is be a hero in something, or be in a horror movie. Not a whore movie. A horror movie.
Thank you for clarifying.
A couple days ago someone asked me the same question. I said I do not want to be the bitch that falls down all the time. I will be the one that runs away or kills the killer.
The final girl—the girl that survives and beats the killer. That’s great.
It would be so fun. I have so much fun on set, and if it’s gonna be dull, I’ll make it fun.
How do you create that atmosphere of fun?
I’m just normally really comfortable with people, and I know how to bring that out of them. I love to see people laugh. I love to see happiness. If you remember, back when I did Tangerine, I was comfortable with Sean [director Sean Baker] because I said “Look, if we’re going to do this project, I know it’s a sad subject matter. So we’re going to make it fun.” That’s how I get through life. Let’s say you’re homeless on the street with your best friend. You’re at the bottom. All you can do is go up. You might as well make it fun. Go out to the club. Throw a party. Handle your business at the same time, but have fun. You don’t have to be down just because something bad happens to you.
That’s a wonderful outlook, and a healthy one. Obviously, Halle Berry just stepped in a gigantic mess for announcing she was going to play a trans man. She’s since backed off of that. Why do you think Hollywood, for all its advances, still can be so tone-deaf when it comes to casting a trans role?
Quite honestly, I do not know. I do not get it, for the life of me. We have made improvements, but it’s not enough. You see cisgender men and women playing their own roles, or our roles. It seems like we don’t get hired for much of anything, unless it has to do with prostitution or drug dealing or getting killed. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. It’s so hard and expensive to make your own work without others to help cover the bill. And by others, I mean cisgender people.
It still boggles my mind. On the subject of coming a long way in five years, obviously your life has changed so much. You’re playing higher-profile roles and winning awards. What are you most grateful for?
You know, it’s not even about the material things or luxury items. I don’t have to struggle anymore. When I did Tangerine and started making money, I don’t know if you noticed, but I gained a ton of weight. I was eating finally!
Fortunately now I’ve lost 36 pounds.
I’m back to being small again. But I said this is my foot in the door. Time to get everything done. So I went and got my name and gender changed. I got a stable job, because acting’s not always stable. That’s what I’m most grateful for: normalcy.
That’s wonderful. When do you experience that the most?
When I go to work and live a stealth life of just being a woman. I go to work, and I’m Mya Taylor. Other than the coworkers that actually know who I am have seen my movies…I’m like bitch, shut your mouth. Then I get to come home and feel safe, not worry about where I’m going to sleep or what I’m going to eat. I still have people in my life like my longtime friend Alfred Lopez, who actually makes an appearance in Tangerine. I’m grateful for that.
It speaks so well of you that it’s just the basic stuff, not a misfiring BMW.
So many people take for granted having a job, or food, or a place to live or friends. That’s beautiful.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
Stage Mother plays at the Provincetown Film Festival July 16-19.