‘I’M DOING WITH MY LIFE WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING’
I know that you are involved in doing a couple of weekly shows around town. So where and when can someone see you?
Well, I have two regular nights in the city. Every Tuesday I’m at Therapy with Peppermint, and we do a live show. Then every Wednesday night—Wednesday night is the only night that I do what I call my “adult content parody comedy show,” solo. That’s every Wednesday night at Industry. And the big thing I’m working on is trying to take my YouTube channel to the next level. So we’ve been creating a lot more content, and it’s going to be called SVTV, Sherry Vine Television. It’s going to launch in February. That’s the big thing that I have been working on.
So you sing with your own voice?
Some would call it singing, yes.
And you write your own songs as well?
What inspired you to begin to do drag?
I started performing in drag in 1991. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but next June it will be 25 years. Crazy!
That is kind of cool though.
Oh, it’s great! “Wait a minute, I used to be the baby.” Everyone calls me mom or grandma. I used to be the baby. It goes really fast.
Do you remember the first time you ever put on a dress?
Totally! Absolutely! I remember playing dress-up when I was a kid, but it didn’t have to be a dress. I could be dressed as a cop or in a dress, whatever. I just liked to play dress-up. Then in college I had to do a project in acting school. I had to create three different characters. I created this one kind of geeky nerd guy who worked on the “Pee-wee Herman Show.” They were based on real people. We spent time with these real people and created these monologues. That was one character. Then there was this businessman. The third was a drag queen. I thought I would make them all very diverse, which they were. That was the first time I got in to drag to perform. It just kind of clicked. But even before I did drag, I remember reading “A Streetcar Named Desire.” I thought Blanche is the fun part. I always wished I could play Blanche. It was really more like from an acting perspective.
So how did you get your name?
Well, it’s funny, I was always complaining because I wish I had a funny name like Lady Bunny or Hedda Lettuce. It was just Sherry for a while. I didn’t have any intention of doing this as a career. I was going to be this broken-down ex-showgirl character, and I was just going to do one show in L.A. as Sherry Vine. It just kind of took off and turned into a career. It was just Sherry the first year. Then this guy that I worked with in a restaurant said that there was this building on Vine Street called The Sherry. It looks like this broken-down crack whore house. I said, “Oh my God, I love it—Sherry Vine.” That is exactly where it came from.
I love that! So what do you like best about doing drag?
It’s really the performing. I like the ritual of getting in drag. Getting in character, in costume, is like a ritual, so I hate to be rushed. That’s when it’s not fun for me. I need like two hours. Painting is like meditative. I like the zen’d out feeling, and no matter what kind of mood I am in, tired, or if I don’t want to do it, once I start, by the time I’m finished, I’m ready and excited. Let’s go! So I love the whole kind of ritual of getting ready, and then performing is the best. That’s what I’ve been doing since I’m three years old. It’s all I’ve ever done. I’ve never had a boyfriend that could fill that place when you do a show and it’s a great show.
That must be an awesome feeling being on stage. Can you try to describe that feeling for me, the feeling that you get on that stage?
I’m sure everybody says it’s hard to describe. It’s transcendental. It lifts me. I feel elevated. It’s that feeling of when you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Meaning, in the big picture, I’m doing with my life what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s no question, and there’s no doubt about it. I’m not meant to do anything else.
That’s an awesome answer.
Oh, good! I’ve never told anybody that.
Can you recall the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever had onstage?
I’ll tell you a true story. There used to be this bar in the East Village—I think it’s still there. It was called The Cock.
I know that place.
Back in the old days, in the ‘90s, it was quite scandalous. It’s probably tamer now. I was on stage performing. You stood in front of this curtain, and behind the curtain was the “dark room.” Real glamorous. We used to make fun of it and say, “It’s really hard to compete with the dark room.” I was going to do a show, and there was this go-go boy, and I thought, OK, I guess he’s going to stay on stage with me. All of a sudden, I thought there was a pipe leaking or something. I looked down, and he was urinating on my leg. People in the audience—their jaws were on the floor. I just made a joke out of it and went with it, but I thought, how do you continue after that? I was like, these shoes better come clean or you’re buying me new ones.
Do you have a favorite queen, one you look up to and admire?
There are so many that I love and respect. Jackie Beat is the smartest, fastest, funniest performer. She’s in L.A., and he, out of drag, makes a living writing comedy. He used to write for Joan Rivers. He’s written for Roseanne, Margaret Cho and he just wrote a Halloween thing for Elvira. So that is what he does, but as a performer, no one is smarter or faster. Lady Bunny is the funniest in a silly way. Jackie is smart funny, and Lady is silly funny.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A gay retirement home? I just hope I’m going to be blessed to just continue what I’m doing. Certainly at this point I don’t know what else I would do. There’s nothing else I want to do. So unless they force me into retirement, I’ll keep doing this.
Hey, listen, China is 80—whatever.
Exactly. China and Charity. I adore Charity. They are still gorgeous.
Charity paints better than anyone I know.
Totally. Absolutely. I see her and I say, “OK, girl, talk about an inspiration.”
I think that doing drag is one of the most fun careers to have.
You know, it really can be. It can be very joyful.