If there’s one queen that everyone knows and loves in this business, it’s the internationally known, viral sensation and the filthiest queen in town, Sherry Vine!
Celebrating her 25th drag anniversary this April, I decided to sit down with this lady and try to figure out just what is her secret to maintaining 25 years of success in one of the toughest cities and industries to stay relevant in.
Photo Credit:Jax Koyote
Hey, babe! Twenty-five years in drag; that’s incredible. I’ve only been around for a fraction of that time here in NYC, but I’ve loved getting the chance to work with you every Tuesday night here at Therapy. More importantly, I’m honored to call you my friend. So let’s do this before the dementia sets in…
Wait, who are you?
Hahaha! What made you start doing drag?
I loved playing dress up, as most kids do, and never outgrew it! LOL! When I was in college, I was studying theatre, and when I read a play, let’s say “A Streetcar Named Desire,” I thought, “Blanche is the fun part!” So it really came from a theatrical place. After college, in L.A., I went out in drag with Candis Cayne for fun, and someone asked me if I performed, and I said, “Um, yes,” and that was the beginning. But I really wanted to do something different that I had not seen in a gay bar in West Hollywood. Most of the bars had glamour queens lip syncing to pop divas (which I love!); it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. So Sherry was a broken down showgirl! I started with a monologue about being down and out and then sang a Torch song, “Black Coffee.”
What was New York like for you back then as a new drag performer? What challenges did you face?
NYC in the early 1990s was so exciting! I was young, right out of school, and had never experienced that before. There were so many clubs and parties, and “anything goes” was the theme. Pre-Giuliani! Because of that, there were 1,000 drag queens. You had the East Village scene, which was completely different from the West Village drag scene. Club kids, Boy Bar beauties—it was so diverse, and there was work for everyone. I literally worked every single night, sometimes 30 days in a row! So the only challenge I felt was making myself stand out and trusting that I had something to offer that maybe people wanted to see.
There are so many queens that look up to you. Who were your role models back when you started?
Wow, so many! I certainly looked up to Joey Arias, Lady Bunny, RuPaul—all who I knew about before moving to NYC. Raven O became my drag mother. Certainly, coming from the theatre and doing drag, I worshiped Charles Busch.
How has the drag scene changed for you significantly over the years?
You know, it really hasn’t. I’ve witnessed numerous, what I call “drag renaissances,” over the years. Every so many years, a crop of new queens pops up. And you have the whole mix: super talented queens that look good, sing, dance, act, etc. You have your look queens. You have your “I want a free drink” queens.
Where did your knack for parodies come from?
LOL—this is the TRUTH. In high school I auditioned for the Wizard of Oz, sure I was going to be cast as the scarecrow. When I didn’t get it, I was so bitter I rewrote every song into a filthy parody and planned on putting copies of the new lyrics in all the programs. Of course, that never happened, but I still remember the words. I have always been the Carol Burnett of drag. I learned at a young age if I could make people laugh then maybe they wouldn’t tease me. I was in control of why they were laughing. It empowered me. That feeling never left. Someone recently came to me after a show and said, “I lost my job, my house, I’m lost, but you just made me forget about that for an hour.” That’s my job.
Who are some of the most influential people in your life?
I am influenced by different people every single day. My BFF, Jackie Beat, inspires me, because when we are together we are always laughing and thinking of ideas. My best friend and creative partner Josh Rosenzweig is always giving me inspiration. Sometimes when I need to start a little fire I watch videos of Debbie Harry—FLAWLESS!
Who are some of your favorite people to work with here in New York?
Well, I do love working with Peppermint. She’s so easy going and nice and talented. We’re so different, but together it just works. She has no idea how funny she is! Joey Arias is fearless. I’ve never seen anyone do what she does. I’ve seen her walk onto a stage with hundreds of people out there and tell the orchestra “just play something,” and improvise a song. It’s amazing! Absolutely no fear.
What do you think the drag community needs more of?
I think they are supportive for the most part, but it’s rare I see another queen at one of my shows. I wish the girls would go out more. I try to see shows and show support. I know it’s hard; everyone’s working every night, or you’d rather watch “Westworld.” LOL. I wish there were more big group shows. At Boy Bar we would rehearse all week and turn it out in a big show. It wasn’t always about money. But honestly, I love the NYC queens! They been incredibly supportive of me, being in my videos, performing at events, etc.
Tell me, what’s your secret?
Semen. Honey, I sincerely love performing as Sherry today as much as I did 25 years ago!
Lastly, Sherry, how old ARE you…REALLY?
Next Tuesday we can go into the bathroom together, and you can count the rings around my hole!
Haha! Thanks for sharing, Sherry. It’s always a pleasure. See you next Tuesday. Tell all the kids where they can find you!
Love you doll! Tuesdays BiPolar at Therapy with Peppermint. Wednesdays at Industry for my only NYC solo show Adult Content, and always on the road!
For tour dates and cities, check out sherryvine.come.
Twitter and Instagram: @misssherryvine
Catch GaySVTVworld and all Sherry Vine’s parody videos at YouTube.com/misssherryvine