Peace, Love and Powderpouffe
Prince Powderpouffe, aka Eric Strauss, is an amazingly creative and captivating soul, ordained minister and costume designer. Powderpouffe has awakened the curiosity and added life to New York City’s fabulous evening creatures.
Adorned in an ensemble fit for a royal prince, Powderpouffe is beginning to make his presence known as an apparel master. Upon meeting him, and immediately loving him, I felt a rage of jealously pass through my body at his unique choice of wardrobe, and longed to have a similar uniform generated for myself. However, there is a lot more to my newly found friend than a mere costume.
Compelled to speak with him, I learned what the Prince was about. And now, so can you!
Are you really an ordained minister, and do you perform ceremonies in drag?
Yes, Prince Powderpouffe is really ordained! Well, Powderpouffe is a fictional character, but the person inside the Pouffe is legally ordained to officiate your wedding. I’ve done ceremonies both in and out of drag. The ones in drag are obviously so much more fun and exciting.
Where did you learn how to design these costumes?
I’ve always been a creative person. My mother has always been the creative type. Growing up, I excelled at arts and crafts in summer camp. I spread glitter like a pro! My brothers and I—I’m actually one of identical triplets—have always enjoyed the arts. By the time I turned 14, I was submersed in an after-school community arts center performing in plays, painting, building and crafting. It was there that I picked up my very first hot glue gun. I instantly fell in love. Fast-forward to living in NYC, my 20-something-year-old self loved to dress up for Halloween. Once a year I would create these fanciful, masterpiece character costumes to wear. Once my friends caught on that I could create these looks, they wanted costumes too (although they would usually wait ‘til the week of to decide what they wanted). In the past I’ve thought about doing “traditional drag,” but the thought of wearing a dress with padded boobs and a padded bum just didn’t appeal to me. With my drag dream stunted, after nearly a decade of Halloweening, this holiday that comes just once a year was not enough! I needed a way to express my creativity. Then, this life-changing event occurred. It was June 5, 2014, and I was invited to see a little show called Queen of the Night. On my ticket, it said, “Dress to impress the queen.” Well, given that I had a closet full of wigs and sequins from years of Halloweening, I put together a look that resembled a royal prince. At that time, I still did not have my drag name; I was simply Eric, a boy in a wig and lashes. That first night out was magical. Everyone wanted to know who I was. They were taking my picture and even tipping me for it. People were giving me money for selfies? This was amazing! I felt like Cinderella. I didn’t want the night to be over, but sadly, it came to an end. After getting a taste of “the good life,” I knew I had to chase that feeling again. Two weeks later there was a costumed masquerade ball I had caught wind of. I put together another look, and off I went to the ball. From there, as they say, the rest is history—and behold, Prince Powderpouffe was born.
Do you have a drag mom?
I do not have a “drag mother.” The role of my drag mother would be my husband, Jasen. He too is a talented artist and my biggest fan. Together we bounce ideas off each other for new looks. He is my edit button, corset lacer, purse holder and cab hailer. Without him I would not be the Royal Bitch that I am today.
You are a fabulous creature. What exactly are you about? In other words, how many voices do you hear in your head?
Thank you. I’ve always been attracted to old things, whether it be antiques (cliché, I know), vintage clothing or my grandmother’s pearls. These old items have history, and it’s no wonder that my drag persona is historical. Sometimes Powderpouffe is feeling vintage Victorian, donned with lace, ribbons and bows. Other times, Powderpouffe is feeling more glitzy and glam, covered in sequins, diamonds and everything shiny. And on a rare occasion, Powderpouffe’s cousin comes to visit (whom I’ve unofficially named Powderpunk). He is Powderpouffe’s core but dressed in black leather and latex, channeling Powderpouffe after dark.
What’s the funniest experience you can recall having in drag?
I’ve been called a lot of names while in drag. As I walk down the street, people will shout catcalls, like, Lady Gaga. I have no idea why— is that your only gay reference? I’ve been called George Washington, or, on some occasions, Martha Washington. Most recently, with the rise of the popular show, Hamilton is a common name I hear as well. But a few weeks ago, while walking to hail a cab in the West Village, I passed a group of guys getting out of a car. As I approached them to pass, I heard them laughing and snickering as they pointed at me. As I was passing them, I heard one shout out, “Hey, look, it’s Edward Scissorhands!” Um, thank you? That was definitely a first for me.
What do you hope to evolve into?
I would love to become a famed costume designer, creating one-of-a-kind looks for the nightlife, club kids, drag queens and everyone in between. I would love to be the drag wedding officiant. What RuPaul has done for drag queens, I would like to do for same-sex (or straight) spouses-to-be.
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Long Island. As a kid, I would often take trips into the city to see Broadway shows. I’ve always loved the city, and after going to school here (Marymount and FIT), I’ve called it home for more than a decade.
How long have you been in New York’s nightlife scene?
Prince Powderpouffe has been gracing the New York City nightlife scene for almost two years. I do not see him slowing down anytime soon.
Have you designed costumes for anyone famous or well known?
I designed a costume for the opening number of one of Axel Jordan’s fashion shows.
What inspired your look?
Prince Powderpouffe is the royal cousin of Louis XIV and his infamous Aunt Marie. I’ve always loved the idea of the way people dressed in the 17th and 18th Century. Gentlemen truly dressed like gentlemen. Their hair was coiffed, their fashion was decadent—simply a beautiful and elegant point in time.
Why do you do drag, especially such a unique type?
I always say drag happened to me by accident. If it wasn’t for that one night out to impress the queen, Prince Powderpouffe may never have been born. Drag queens are amazing. They are talented, hardworking and the most dedicated bitches in bras and heels. Yet I love the idea of a drag boy, a club kid, where the lines of gender are blurred and gray. As dragged up as I am in glitter, lashes and lipstick, when it comes down to it, Prince Powderpouffe is a boy. He doesn’t wear dresses. He doesn’t have boobs. Yet he is still soft, feminine and fabulous! My motto when it comes to my boy drag: “No tits, no tuck.”
What does drag mean to you?
Drag for me is an art. When a painter paints on a canvas, he creates a beautiful masterpiece that is immortalized in time. Drag is the best kind of art because it is what I like to call “disposable art.” We artists spend hours painting our “canvas” and head off to present our art to the world. At the end of the evening, we go home and wash our canvas away. We are chameleons; we can change looks, change hair, even our eye color and body shape. We are ever-evolving. I am so excited to see what drag will become in the next 10, 20 years and beyond.