This queen is a work of art, her dad is kinda famous and we think she’s a legit unicorn: meet Canadian icon Wendy Warhol! We talk starting in drag, snatching titles and how to slay the social media game!
Dragadventures: You recently turned one year old. Congratulations! Can you tell us about your start in drag?
Wendy Warhol: Thank you! I actually started doing drag 2.5 years ago, but as Wendy, it’s been a year. It all started in 2016. At that time, I used to have a blog about Montreal and I covered the Montreal FRINGE Festival. That year, a drag house, the House of Laureen, had a show during the festival and I wrote an article about it. They invited me to see their show saying they would put me in drag for fun! I didn’t know back then that women could be drag queens so I was really excited. They put me in drag and I had lots of fun that night. For the following months, I was going to their monthly show at Cafe Cleopatra in Montreal dressed as a queen. I wasn’t performing, I was going there more like the club kid you can see in that kind of events. But because I didn’t know any other female drag queens, I started to feel like a poser.
This is when I decided to try being a drag king and I did that for about a year. This is how I actually started connecting with the queens of the gay village of Montreal. I entered a pan-Canadian drag contest and reached the semi-finale with my drag king persona and started to have lots of bookings after that. But while I was having some success, I wasn’t really enjoying being a king. The community had also shown me that being a female drag queen was not only possible but also accepted (with some minor exceptions). So after reaching out for advice from some queens I know and respect, I decided to change to go back to what I started with. I officially started doing drag as Wendy on October 14th, 2017.
DA: Most memorable moments of your first year? Would you change anything if you could go back?
WW: Oh my God, so many awesome things happened in my first year! I feel very blessed for all the opportunities I have received in such a short time. I would say performing during the Illusion show at Pride Montreal was quite a high. I had the chance to be part of several numbers of that show that was held in a park where about 8,000 people attended. Being on stage and seeing countless people cheering was quite something!
DA: How has drag impacted your personal life? Does Wendy influence your off-drag persona?
WW: Wendy came into my life when I was having a really bad time. My personal life was spiraling down and drag really was a way for me to express myself in a positive way. Now that my life is back on track, Wendy still has a big impact as she is quite bubbly, fun and positive while my off-drag persona tends to be more on the dark side. She teaches me to look at the bright side and to never give up.
DA: We live in crazy times, especially when we look at the political landscape of the world. What role plays the art of drag in the resistance?
WW: First of, just by being a woman doing drag is a resistance. Of course, as time flies, we get more and more accepted but they are still some issues we need to fix. Not every venue will book us because we’re not men doing drag. Lots of corporate events will do the same. Some people still think that being a drag queen only means being a man dressed up as a woman. This is only one side of drag. There are so many forms of drag nowadays but some only see it the old-fashioned way. I found it really sad to read, a few months back in The Guardian, RuPaul saying that being a drag was a big f*ck you to patriarchy while at the same time saying that RPDR should remain a boy’s club. The biggest f*ck you to patriarchy would be to embrace our presence fully and not just saying we’re good for underground clubs.
DA: You’re a woman doing drag. What would you tell people and especially women wanting to get into doing drag but may be hesitating because of the fear of being judged? What’s your take on the “women doing drag are just stealing the jobs of men” – drama?
WW: I would say to go for it. No matter what you will do, you will be judged anyway. Men doing drag are judged too, only differently. People shouldn’t be afraid to do what they really want because of the fear of being judged. You don’t want to think later in life “I should have tried”.
WW: My biggest fangirl moment was not only when I met lots of RPDR queens but what I call being the Adore Delano Gate. It all happened at Drag Superstars during Montreal Pride. I had gotten a VIP ticket to meet the RPDR queens who were invited to perform that night. When I met Adore Delano, she looked at me and said “Omg, have we met before?” and I was like “No” but she was like “I feel like I’ve met you before” and she hugged me really hard (I know she hugs all of her fans, but still) and then my drag fairy, Phoenix, with whom I had gone to the Meet and Greet took a picture of Adore and I. When I posted it on my account, she added me and she shared the picture on her account saying “This beauty” and my own account just exploded with new fans. But not only that, on the night of Drag Superstars, after her performance, my friend Sam who works for Pride Montreal saw her walking around backstage shirtless saying she had nothing to wear.
Earlier that same day, there was a merch booth where merch from both RPDR and locals queens was sold and Sam had bought my tank top from that booth. When he saw Adore looking for something to wear, he gave her my tank top and asked if he could take a picture. She agreed! The Drag Superstars show was still on and I was not aware of all of this. Since I was front row, Sam knew where I was standing and came to me and showed me the picture. I couldn’t believe it! But most of all, what I could not believe is that after I posted the picture in a story, Adore asked me to have it so she could post it on her account. And she did with the caption “I love Wendy Warhol”! Both pictures were liked several dozens of thousands time and brought me fans from all around the world. That was in August and I still benefit from it to this day. I feel very blessed for 1- Having my friend having this thought for me and 2- Having Adore like me like that! (laughs)
DA: Speaking of Montréal, can you give us some local queens we should definitely look up?
WW: We are lucky to have very talented queens in Montreal and there are over 80 actives queens to look up to. Names I can say here are not only some of the best queens I know, but also some of the queens I love at a personal level. You definitely should look up to one I’ve already named in this interview, my drag fairy, Phoenix Vyxen. Also, Rita Baga, Miss Butterfly, Michel Dorion, Tracy Trash, Kitana Sweett, Emma DéjàVu, Franky Dee, Sasha Baga, Rainbow, and Matante Alex, just to name a few.
DA: Your looks give us serious pop art vibes. How do you go about creating them, i.e finding inspiration, preparing outfits and make-up? Do you have a favorite look you’ve done? What are three things Wendy absolutely can’t live without?
WW: My biggest inspiration is obviously my daddy, Andy Warhol, (laughs) I love exploring and trying things. Most of the ideas pop in my mind out of nowhere (while when I go grocery shopping for instance), but when I do have an idea, I make lots of R&D in order to deepen it as much as I possibly can. There’s always an issue with a budget, unfortunately, so I try to do the best with what I can! But you really can do miracles out of nothing when you are creative, believe me. One of my favorite looks would probably be this one, as I think it represents me quite well. But like I said, I love exploring and doing more extravagant makeups like this one, this one, or this one is something that always makes me super happy. I certainly couldn’t live without Sephora’s liquid lipsticks (they are my very favorite), highly pigmented and bright colored eyeshadows (I use on a regular basis N.Y.X., BH Cosmetics, and MAC) and Super White Clown by Ben Nye.
DA: We think it’s safe to say that you’re one of the queens that are absolutely slaying the social media game, going from 500 to 13k followers in one year. Some advice for artists or creatives wanting to achieve their goals of building a social media following? What’s the importance of social media regarding your life as a drag performer?
WW: (laughs) Yes, my Instagram account skyrocketed in the last year and I actually even won an award for that! Indeed, last Sunday was our annual Drag Gala and I won the Miss Social Media Award! I’m quite proud as I work really hard on my online presence. Most people don’t spend much time on their social media, but when you are an artist, I think it’s very important. It’s one of the best ways to communicate with your audience and it does actually bring you things in real life. For instance, because of my social media, I have made some collaborations. One with a makeup company, several with photographers, some other in the making that I cannot talk about yet. I also can say that my social media brought me a booking that I never knew could come true (for example, I’m going to Vancouver in January 2019).
So it is very important. It’s not just an “it’s only online, it doesn’t count”. No. There are human beings scrolling that feed and you never know who are those humans. They can bring you to the next level if you impress them just as they do when you perform in front of them in a show. My advice would be to interact with people. It’s called *social* media for a reason. If you don’t have lots of followers, go get them. Follow some hashtags and follow the people you like, comment on their stuff, like their pictures. When people comment on your stuff, always reply kindly. Be humble. Be grateful. There are millions of people to follow online. If you’re not nice, people will just look elsewhere. Oh, and follow your fellow queens and support them. If you want to be supported, you gotta start by supporting the others yourself.
DA: You’ve also got a YouTube channel, where you posted a video of you covering “Pancake” by Jaded that has over 11k views. Are you planning on producing more videos and what kind of content can your fans expect from you?
WW: I would love to! I have many other ideas but the problem is always finding the time, the money and the people to work with. But yes, there will be others, I love making these fan-made videos, so that’s probably what I’ll keep doing!
DA: Where can we see you perform? Are there any exciting projects coming up you can give us a sneak peek about?