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Quotes from the Best and the Brightest

The “Best of the Best,” the crème de la crème, the aristocracy of New York City’s most talented in gay nightlife, clandestinely gathered together amidst the eclectic background of Lips adorned in their finest for a photo shoot recently. It was just a small prelude to the frenzied excitement and anticipation scheduled to be unleashed at this year’s 17th Annual Glam Awards. The spectacular extravaganza will be unveiled on November 18 at 9 p.m. at Stage 48 (605 West 48th Street, New York City).

As I entered Lips I was greeted by audacious nightlife personality and producer of the celebration, Cherry Jubilee, embellished in a tiny, dazzling chartreuse dress, coincidentally matching the sparkling stage curtains at the venue. She appeared shy and humbled by the fact that one of the most splendid phenomena of the year, her own creation, was in its 17th year just a few short weeks away.

In just moments the winners of last year’s honors would be filling the all-embracing, liberally chic backgrounds surrounding the famous New York drag domain, while Getty Image photographer Santiago prepared to conjure up some memories.

Hosted by the one and only, viciously lovable queen, Bianca Del Rio, this year’s awards promises to be a crazy and enchanting array of nightlife’s finest talents, all being recognized and applauded for their uniqueness, their hard work and their gifted artistry and genius.

It was a completely overwhelming and all-encompassing honor just to be standing in a room with artists such as Bianca Del Rio, Michael Musto, Bob the Drag Queen, Brenda Dharling, Kelly King, Chris Harder, Paige Turner and so many others, let alone be privileged to speak with last year’s illustrious heroes, and especially Cherry Jubilee.

When and where does the event take place?
Cherry: It’s on November 18, and it starts at 9 p.m., and Bianca is very punctual. She’s good like that. She’s the ringleader again this year, because she’s perfect when it comes to that. It should be about two hours, and VIP tickets will be sold online. They are $30 for VIP, and general admission is $10, but with the VIP tickets you get to be right up front with Bianca, close to the stage. There’s express entry, so you don’t have to wait. You get right in your seat. It’s a beautiful space this year.

So why do you do it?
Cherry: I do it because I love the community. I love New York nightlife. I’ve been in the nightlife scene for so many years. It really is like a family…a dysfunctional family, but still a family. Everyone in the community is really supportive. This is something where people kind of check their egos at the door. They don’t really come in here trying to get that award. They really support each other and are happy for each other. It’s such a celebration of everyone’s accomplishments over the year. So that’s how I look at it, like a celebration, not a competition.

Who do you want to see win Entertainer of the Year?Cherry: Well, this is the first year Bianca Del Rio has not been in the running. I think she’s won for the past three or four years in a row, so it will be nice that there will definitely be a new winner this year. Who will win, I don’t know, and I can’t say that I have a favorite. I may have a favorite, but if I say it…

I know.
Cherry: There are some really talented people. It’s really hard this year, and that’s the coveted award, so we always keep that for the end, so it will be very exciting to see.

How can people get tickets?
Cherry: You just have to go to my website, which is glamawards.net. Click on Tickets, and click on Buy, and it will direct them where to buy the tickets.

Last year it was packed. I bet Bianca contributed to that.
Cherry: Bianca’s “Drag Race” ride, after she won, has been quite amazing. She’s been traveling the world. She’s been selling out venues all over—the U.K., Ireland and Australia. She has literally traveled the globe, so she has a whole following that goes beyond New York, beyond “Drag Race” even. She’s really taken that “Drag Race” crown and really used it to get out there. She’s selling out her “Rolodex of Hate” show, her stand-up show. I saw it when she was here in New York, and she’s amazing. I’m so happy for her. She really deserves it. She’s all about coming in, doing the work, being kind to everyone. I mean, she’s a bitch on stage.

That’s why we love her.
Cherry: We do love her. That’s why we go to see her, but behind the scenes she’ll be the first to fix your hair, give you a little powder…makeup, that is.

Who besides her is hosting?
Cherry: It’s just Bianca. I can’t afford anyone else, but she can handle herself.

Oh, I am sure.
Cherry: I’m happy to have her. That’s all I can say. She’s a very in-demand lady. She took time off of her crazy, busy schedule to do this. She came to New York from New Orleans and hit this place like a hurricane, and ever since she’s grown and grown and grown as an artist. Now she’s ruling the world.

And what do you do besides this?
Cherry: I have a day job, a normal day job. My claim to fame is being more of a nightlife personality. I hosted some gigs at Splash. I don’t do it that much anymore. I did a cable access show when I first started. It was pretty popular. We interviewed boys in bed. We would have models, actors, porn stars, anybody that was willing to get in their underwear and hop in bed with us, and we would interview them.

You should do that again.
Cherry: I want to bring it back now that we have YouTube and everything online. It would be amazing.

At that point one of the funniest people I’ve ever met walked in the door—partially shaved head, except for a long wisp of hair, draped in what resembled drag. He introduced himself as Markus Kelle.

Cherry: [looking toward Markus] And what did you win last year?

Markus: Best door, three years in a row.

Cherry: She’s a door goddess.

Markus: That’s what my Grindr says, believe it or not.

At what door can you be found?

Markus: Right now I do Strut on Tuesdays, The Black Rose on Thursdays, Friday and Saturday at Industry.

Cherry: But she’s also nominated for other categories.

Markus: Best comedian, because I’m so funny to look at. People are so happy to be offended these days. It’s very tiring.

I would love to see you on Fire Island this year. You’re very funny.
Markus: I hosted The Invasion this year. I ended up donating the money I got to “God’s Love.” So the biggest mistake anyone can ever tell me is, “Don’t say this.” So I got off the ferry, and they handed me my check in cash and a list of things I couldn’t say. They said to me, “No Ian Reiser jokes,” which I was like, “How do you not make Ian Reiser jokes?” The thing is, everyone was so tense about it anyway. If you don’t address it, people get very uncomfortable about the whole thing. So I got on the stage and said, “I’m so happy to be here, and I’m so nervous to stand near a body of water with Ian Reiser, rub a dub dub in the tub.”

Jesus.

Markus: Everyone clapped and laughed, and that was it.

Markus, where are you from?
Markus: I’m from the other Long Island, New Jersey.

How long have you been a queen, or whatever you are?Markus: I was dressing from a very young age. I started doing doors eight years ago.

Very cool. 

With that, Chris Harder, Boylesque star and adult entertainment wizard, walked in.

Chris what did you win last year?
Chris: I’m nominated for Best Burlesque Performer, which I also won last year. I’m very honored to be here again, and I just feel lucky to do what I love. Right now I’m doing something really sexy. I’m fixing a harness, and I’m sewing it.

What have you been doing lately?
Chris: What have I been doing? I’ve been taking off my clothes and putting them on, and taking them off again and putting them on, then going to the bank.

I’ll rephrase the question. What have you been doing new?
Chris: I’m writing a burlesque parody play, because I turned 30 in January, so I’m producing this play for the end of my 20s. It’s a parody of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and it’s called “Nancy Drew and That Harder Boy,” because of my last name. It’s drag and burlesque and some boylesque.

Cherry: [turning to Markus] How many people have you insulted in the last 20 minutes? If Shequida were here she’d be screaming at you.

Markus: Whenever we’ve gone at it, we’ve had so much fun. She’s great.

Cherry: Except when she’s not nominated.

Was she nominated this year?
Cherry: Of course she is! I was just kidding. I love Shequida. She’s won a whole bunch of awards over the years and was honored recently with the LIVING LEGEND award. This year the LIVING LEGEND recipient is Kevin Aviance. I’m very excited about that. He’ll be performing live too! The Glam Awards is really a celebration, not a competition.

Moving on. What’s your name? I feel like I know you.
Sutton: It’s Sutton Lee Seymour.

So did you win last year?
Sutton: I did. I won Breakthrough Artist of the Year. That was really a treat.

Jesse Lutrell, you were in his show?
Sutton: Yes I was. I was a drunk, pregnant nun.

And a fabulous one at that. Are you nominated this year?
Sutton: I was. I am nominated this year for Best Comedy Performer—don’t know why—and I’m nominated for Best Vocalist. I’m very happy to be nominated. I don’t consider myself the best singer. I do sing, and I sing well. When I’m in the same category as Shequida and Kelly King, and here is me just doing my silly song, it’s a nice validation of all the hard work I do.

What do these awards mean to you?
Sutton: Community. I think this night in particular is a special night for the whole community to come together and celebrate each other. We are all off doing our own gigs, and we don’t get to see each other a lot. When we do this, it is a nice celebration of our achievements.

What’s your name?
Santiago: First name is Santiago, last name is Felipe.

And you are today’s photographer?
Santiago: I’m doing the group photo for the Glam Awards. I’m with Getty Images.

What were you nominated for?
Santiago: Best nightlife photographer.

Did you win?
Santiago: No, actually, my roommate won.

Who’s your roommate?
Santiago: Jeff Eason. He’s pretty much the king of the city.

Tell him I said hello.

Next I moved on to a beautiful Latin queen. 

What were you nominated for?
Horrorchata: Best event of the year. Bushwig.

What does that mean to you?
I got invited to be a part of this photo shoot, so I said why not. It’s making new memories.

Thank you. And then back to Cherry. 

What do you think the highlights of this year will be?
Cherry: We have several exciting and diverse male performers like Marty Thomas, Will Sheridan, Aaron Pfeiffer and Big Dipper. It’s always fun to see what the performers come up with. Unfortunately last year we has two performers with similar Wizard of Oz themed numbers and one had to bow out. I felt so bad because everyone puts so much work into their Glam Award performances.

Who got to do it?
Cherry: Tina Burner chose not to do her number and Bob the Drag Queen did her fantastic performance. But Tina is opening this years show with an amazing number that I believe will be one of this years highlights. I’m very excited!

Are you going to perform?
Cherry: Never. I’m not a performer. I’ve never performed. I’ve never stepped my foot on stage. I’m more of a personality, like I said.

You should for the 20th year.
Cherry: Yes, the 20th year. Maybe I’ll come up with something.

Next I made my way to famous celebrity columnist, critic, ex-“Village Voice” writer, current “Out” magazine journalist and Logo co-host of “Cocktails and Classics,” Michael Musto.

Michael, what do you think about the Glam Awards?
Michael: I worship the Glam Awards. They celebrate the fabulous people in nightlife. I have actually won six years in a row, but who’s counting. I’m the Meryl Streep of the Glam Awards. More than anything, it’s not a competition, it’s a reunion. It’s a chance for the entire community to get together, see each other again, and feed off each other’s energy and positivity. So that’s what it really is. It’s a party. It’s a family gathering. The awards are kind of the cream on top of the whole pudding.

Were you nominated this year?
Michael: I’m nominated for Best Blogger/Nightlife writer. I’m kissing babies, I’m taking out ads, whatever it takes.

I’m sure you will win, again.
Michael: Well, that’s what they told Lauren Bacall when she was up for the Oscars.

What’s that feeling like, when you’re announced as the winner?
Michael: It’s a very exciting moment. Not to bring up the old cliché, but you feel the validation of your peers, you feel loved, and it’s important that what you do is recognized. But even if you’re not nominated, it’s a great feeling to be part of the community. It’s a family for people who weren’t loved enough as kids. Let’s face it. We all come together, and we appreciate each other. We say, “Love your outfit, love what you do.” It’s a real boost to walk into a nightclub and see your family there, basically.

If you were me, but you were you, what would you ask you?
Michael: I would ask what my astrological sign is, and I would say, “Sagittarius. Who gives a shit?”

Do you have a favorite category?
Michael: I never reveal who I’m voting for. If I did, I’d be pretty crazy. You would have literally 100 angry drag queens out there, so I hope it’s an eight-way tie in every category, except mine.

Do you have your speech all ready?
Michael: I’ve had it ready for the whole year.

So why are you here?
DJ Scotty Rox: I’m here because I won last year. This is my third year in a row, so we’ll see if I can win four years this year.

So you are nominated again?
DJ Scotty Rox: I am, gratefully.

How important do you think these awards are to the community?
DJ Scotty Rox: I think it’s really important just to recognize the hard work that we all put in night after night. People come to us for entertainment and to have a good time, to take away whatever they’re trying to get away from, and just to come out to the bars, and we give our all, and it’s just nice to come together once a year and get everyone under the same roof. It’s really good to see everyone and experience it. To recognize everyone’s hard work in town and award those who are deserving of it. I think everyone did, especially my DJ category. They are all super talented, and I’m super honored just to be amongst them.

Next in line was Pixie Aventura. 

What did you win last year?
Pixie: I won best duo with Bob the Drag Queen.

Are you nominated again this year?
Pixie: I am, for best duo again with Bob the Drag Queen, and for Entertainer of the Year and for Best Dancer.

Will you be nervous the night of the awards when they announce your category?
Pixie: I’m not nervous. Hopeful is not getting me a pay raise. Nothing’s coming out of it like an Oscar, but it’s definitely a chance for all of us to get together once a year and just see each other. That never really happens. We’re just all too busy to see each other’s shows. So I think it’s more that for me, but of course winning is just recognition from your peers that they really respect what you’re doing.

The beautiful and talented Kelly King also arrived. She is an amazing and internationally recognized vocalist and is extremely popular amongst the community’s gay nightlife scene. 

What did you win last year?
Kelly: Best vocalist. The best singer in NYC. It was such an honor to be nominated. I’ve been a New York singer all of my life, and it’s true what they say: If you make it in New York, you make it anywhere. I feel like I’ve constantly been making it. I make a living as a singer in New York, but when you get that accolade from your peers, it’s pretty cool. I have my trophies. I won an award in Chile as the best singer in the world, but when I won this award, this award meant more to me. It’s my home, it’s my friends, it’s my fans—literally my family.

Who are you up against this year?
Kelly: All of the best. Shequida, I’m most excited about Shequida. She’s a rare gift as a vocalist. I think it’s one of the toughest categories. I’m proud to represent the females with a real vagina, but also just honored to be in the mix.

Suddenly there stood Bob the Drag Queen, standing literally seven feet taller than myself.

So what did you win last year?
Bob: The last year I won Best Host and Best Duo of the Year. Then I got an honorary award, because Bianca gave it to me. I guess she felt bad for me. She gave me her Best Comedy Award. Probably because she knew I was going to steal it after the show. She was like, let’s save a mugging and give Bob the Drag Queen the award.

What personally do you feel these awards mean to you?
Bob: I came into the Glam Awards for the first time probably about six years ago. I was with people like Amanda Lepore, Hedda Lettuce, Shequida, Bianca Del Rio. I was just a baby drag queen. I was like, I want one of those awards, it would be great. And so here I am. Trying to be somebody, girl.

Those Halloween pictures in Get Out!, how did you ever do that?
Bob: I had three makeup artists.

My baby grandson saw your picture, and he never wants to do Halloween again.
Bob: I love to scare children.

Vinny Vega was next, after he finished changing his underwear for the past half hour, in front of everyone. 

So what is it that you won?
Vinny: I am a go-go boy and performing here in NYC. I won the best go-go boy.

I bet you did. (I couldn’t help staring at his harness, and his package.) I can see why you won. How excited are you this year for these awards to happen?
Vinny: It’s always exciting. It’s always an amazing occasion, cause it’s the best and the brightest of New York nightlife. It’s always an honor to be part of it, and to be nominated is kind of a big deal.

He continued to keep changing his underwear…

Keep doing that, I can live with it.
Vinny: I’m a big fan of Get Out!

Thank you, Vinny.
I then moved over to an adorable creature sitting down in a fur vest. 

And who are you?
Shameless: Shameless.

I bet you are. What did you win last year?
Shameless: I won Best Bartender last year and the year before.

What bar do you work at?
Shameless: The Cock.

It figures.
Shameless: Of course it figures. We should go to a private place. Do you want a free blowjob?

How about I give you one? Are you looking forward to winning this year? Who are you up against?
Shameless: Oh, I don’t even know their names. If I did know their names, I probably wouldn’t know who they were.

What do you like about being a bartender?
Shameless: Oh, it’s easy. It’s like vodka, sodas and beer bottles. I get to talk to people and yell at people for being stupid.

Anything else?
Shameless: I think that Vinny Vega’s backside looks really good right now, and I will keep on looking. You wouldn’t think that dressing up a go-go boy could be so complicated.

Paige Turner, an established New York nightlife queen, was next.

Paige: I was nominated last year for the “Grindr Connection” music video that I made, and I won. This year I’m nominated for Entertainer of the Year and “So You Think You Can Drag,” the event I do, for Best Hostess.

Where do you do this event?
Paige: New World Stages, and it’s in its sixth year. It’s going on right now. We cast 10 queens, and every Thursday they compete in a different challenge. It’s a $1,500 max prize, and the winner gets their own show on the main stage. There are celebrity judges, and it’s really great. The final is November 14.

Just then, Frankie Cocktail, Lips bartender and nightlife diva forever, walked in to set up, undragged.

Frankie: This is the least glam I’ve ever felt.
So you get dressed here? You don’t like walking through the city in drag?

Frankie: I usually walk to work. I live on the Upper West Side. I usually walk through Central Park on the way to work, taking pictures.

You should do a book with those pictures.
Frankie: You actually inspired me when you said that one of my pictures looks like an oil painting. I am in the process of doing that.

We will certainly look for that.

All at once, Bianca Del Rio arrived and was ushered into the dressing room to finish painting and getting dressed. Cherry offered me the chance to join Bianca in the back and speak with her privately. Even in half drag, she looks amazing, and not to blow her cover, but she was absolutely the sweetest, most accommodating queen ever!

The champions of New York’s nightlife do not attend the Glam Awards only in hopes of winning the ultimate prize, but rather to support one another and celebrate each other’s victory as friends and as family.

The 17th Annual GLAM AWARDS celebrates the best of NYC Nightlife in categories like “Best DJ”, “Best Host”, “Best Dressed” and “Entertainer of the Year”! The event is hosted by Bianca Del Rio and will include special performances by Aquaria, Big Dipper, Bootsie Lefaris, Brenda Dharling, Brita Filter, Crystal Osbourne, Marty Thomas, Mila Jam, Miz Cracker, Monica Blewinsky, Sweetie, Terra Grenade, Tina Burner and Will Sheridan.

WED, NOV 18, 2015
AT 9:00 PM

STAGE 48
605 W 48th St.
New York, NY 10036

glamawards.net

 

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Eileen Shapiro
Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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