I had the amazing pleasure of seeing Brenda Dharling perform for the first time recently in Fire Island. I felt compelled to meet her. I found her to be extremely funny, humble and very sweet. She has graced the drag stages of New York City and Fire Island for the past three years and has made a huge impact upon her audience. I had an awesome conversation with her and thoroughly enjoying learning more about her.
So what inspired you to start doing drag?
Well, I started about four years ago back in Philadelphia, before I lived here. I did it for a competition. I kind of just entered for fun, and it was really bad drag. But it was entertaining, and so they invited me back the next week, and I looked at the pictures and said, “Oh!” So I started looking up makeup tricks on the Web, and then after that week, there was another week, and it was like a cycle. I just wanted to be better.
Now you have won several titles?
I have. I did drag in Philadelphia for six months, and then I ended up in New York, and it’s so competitive here. I’m a competitive person. I love competition. So I went out and I won “Miss Hell’s Kitchen,” I won “Miss Ice Palace” last year, I won “Fire Island Entertainer of the Year” in 2011.
So why aren’t you competing for Miss Long Island then?
Well, because I’m actually going to Miss Continental Labor Day week.
You go, girl. That’ a big competition.
I said, I like to compete.
So you’re a pageant queen.
A little bit.
Who is your favorite queen?
My favorite is Victoria LePaige. She’s from Chicago. She was a former Miss Continental, and I used to do backup dancing for her. She’s just one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. When I look up to someone, that’s who I look up to.
After your morning coffee, what inspires you?
I wake up in the morning and I try to go outside, get some fresh air, then I just try to be productive: go see a movie, go see a show or go get a book. I try to do something instead of just sitting in the house, cause then I’d probably just go back to bed.
Brenda if you were a superhero, tell me what you’d want your powers to be?
I would definitely want to fly. I think that would be so cool just being in the air and zipping around. I think I would also want to read people’s minds.
That could be dangerous, though. Not for you, but for someone else.
What’s your boy name?
Are you single?
I am kind of seeing someone. We have a date later.
Nice! Now, if you were on the front cover of the newspaper, what would it be titled?
“Brenda Dharling Wins Miss Continental!”
I love it! Were you born in Philly?
No, I was born and raised in Connecticut. All my family is in Connecticut. I went to college in Rhode Island.
What was your college major?
I had a double major in elementary education and dance performance. I really just wanted to be a dance major, but my parents were like, “We know you can dance, and that’s great, but we want you to have something else to fall back on.”
In your spare time, do you audition for shows on Broadway, acting roles, anything like that?
I have been a couple of times, but it’s not really what I do. I don’t sing live. I kind of like sing in the shower, but I take dance classes here in the city just to keep it up.
Brenda, how tall are you – with heels?
I’m probably 6’2”. I’m 5’10” without heels, but I have to wear big hair so people think I’m really tall. Big, blond and lovely.
What’s your favorite thing about New York?
My favorite thing about New York is that it’s so big. I live in Harlem on the West Side. I very rarely go over to the East Side, but when I do it’s like a new city. It’s like taking a mini vacation.
Favorite color wig?
Brunette, definitely brunette. With blonde highlights.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I guess it can happen. It hasn’t happened to me, unless Stoli Ras was talking.
What do you look for in a relationship?
I think it’s really important that you have someone you can have a good time, laugh with. I’m an Aries, so I’m definitely a go-getter. I like to talk to people, I like to go out and have a good time, but I also like to come back and watch a movie. But I need someone. Well, we don’t have to have all the same likes, but it’s important to laugh, love and live.
Anything coming up that you’d like to tell us?
Right after Miss Continental I’ll be back on the island for “Miss Fire Island.” I did it last year. I’m a go getter, not a quitter.
Do you have a regular home where you can be seen?
I have a regular schedule. I work Tuesday through Friday. Tuesdays I’m at Boots and Saddles at 11 p.m. Wednesdays I’m at The Monster at 11:30 p.m. Thursdays I’m at Industry at midnight. And Fridays I do two shows. At 10 p.m. I do a show called “Distorted Disney,” and at midnight I’m at Suite Bar.