*Photo by Mathu Andersen
Season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race upped the bitch factor – let’s be honest – unlike the intial run, the contestants were chosen more for their ability to be catty off the cat walk, rather than the talent of their characters. While RuPaul kept the main episodes focused on gender issues, queer history and empowerment, fans of the show talked just as much about the “Untucked” out-takes and their cold, stiff drinks in the Interior Illusions Lounge. That contrast is what made Pandora Boxx a favorite among viewers – she was always herself, and that person was a warm, hilarious queen with her eyes on the stars, not the prize. She was candid, real and communicated her frustrations without being defeated; in her exit scene, her kiss off “Fuck ‘em!” sounded at peace and ready for the next chapter. Chicago is lucky to get Pandora Boxx at Berlin Nighclub this Thursday for Stardust. I was lucky enough to get some e-time with this smart sweet-heart!
On Season 2 Of Drag Race, you were the odd woman out. What has always separated you from other drag queens? What do you think makes you special?
Are you calling me odd? How crude! But seriously, I think what makes stand out from others is probably that I consider myself an actor before a drag queen. For me the most important part of drag is entertaining people.
Did you take any formal lessons of get specific training over the years?
Do they teach lessons in drag? They should! I’ve seen some bad queens in my days. Ha! I did study theatre in college for awhile but then graduated college with a BA in Communications/Journalism. All of that definitely helped me with my drag career. I’ve also been acting since I was about five years old. When I was in the fifth grade I wrote my very first play that was performed in front of our school. You can catch my latest theatrical endeavor called The Lipstick Massacre. It’s a play I wrote and will be starring in starting May 27 at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY (Info for ticket sales are on my site www.pandoraboxx.com)
It seemed like comedy was your strong suit. Can you tell me about your favorite comic right now or in the past? When did you first hear a comedian, and how did that inspire you?
There are so many great comedians that have inspire me and do inspire me. We always are learning if we are open to the possibility. I am constantly learning from great comedians. I would probably say the first comedian may have been Carol Burnette. I adored her show (though I watched it in reruns). She is truly gifted. I was in awe of all the different characters she would do, from the wigs to the costumes to the character voices. Watching her, I knew that was what I wanted to do! There are so many greats that I draw from like Madeline Kahn, Lily Tomlin, Bea Arthur, Lucille Ball and of course Goldie Hawn (a huge inspiration behind Pandora). I’ve always loved when a beautiful woman can be a complete goofball! There are so many modern-day gals that inspire me like Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Jenny McCarthy, Kathy Griffin, Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and the list can go on and on. Of course, Betty White has always been a favorite but she may have very well jumped to the head of the pack with that amazing stint on Saturday Night Live!
Drag queens have always had a spotlight on them, as purveyors of edginess and outlandish femininity. How do you think that contributes to people’s perceptions of gender? Where do you see your role in the larger queer rights movement?
I think drag throws gender rules out the window. It is only society that dictates who wears what type of clothing. It’s also society that dictates that men must act masculine and women must act feminine. Drag also tosses that into the recycle bin. We are meant to be who we are meant to be. Society’s gender rules suck. They are also completely unfounded. Some boys are feminine. Some girls are masculine. Get over it! I would hope that I can break down more of these gender rules so we can move one step closer in just being able to be who we were born to be.
Rupaul’s Drag Race is notable as a show that doesn’t prioritize white people. As in, more than half of the constestants are usually people of color and so far, two African Americans have won. Can you speak to that in any way? What was it like for you as one of the strongest white contestants?
I never thought of myself as a white contestant, I thought of myself as a contestant. Race was inconsequential. I think RuPaul’s Drag Race is amazing in the fact that there is a complete blend of races on the show. America is full of people of all different races and so RuPaul’s Drag Race reflects that, I believe.
Your style was criticized on the show. Has anything about your presentation changed since the show?
I will say that I have learned not to second guess myself. For every outfit that got so harshly criticized, I had another one that I was going to change into but at the last minute went against my gut feeling. Though, the thing about fashion is that’s it’s subjective. People like different things and have different tastes. I take it with a grain of salt when someone is riding my style or when they are dressed like a vagabond. I do think that the show has given me a new-found confidence that I was lacking during the show. I can change my clothes but if they didn’t like my personality, well, that’s a harder fix. The over-pouring of support I’ve gotten from fans has really shown me that I do have something people like and want to see. People like the character of Pandora. They will be happy to know they can see me in the new show, RuPaul’s Drag U! Coming in July to Logo!
What is your performance like? What can Chicago expect?
I hope people will laugh! I always have an element of comedy to my act. My ultimate goal, wherever I go, is to make people have a good time. Chicago can expect to have one hell of a time with this fake lady!