Author: Deborah Nelson
Annecy Thornton Kenny is a high school student who has just auditioned for a local production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Unlike her potential fellow castmates, Annecy has a professional resume that includes playing Toto alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Sharon Needles. She performed with Sharon and other well-known queens such as Peaches Christ, Raya Light and Heklina this summer at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. She also has her own Facebook fan page, complete with photos shot by Jose A Guzman Colon, and is close friends with Sharon and many other queens. In her spare time she is a creator of drag art, which includes an impressive collection of drag collages (see them at the end of this article).
Annecy lives in North Carolina and plans to move to New York for college to study theater and film and become a “famous sort of something who is rich enough to make everyone else have lots of nice things” (according to her Facebook bio). She harbors a not-so-secret desire to appear on World of Wonder’s ‘Transformations’ where she would like to remake James St. James into a cheese quesadilla.
I spoke with Annecy about drag, bullying and depression and tested her drag super knowlege with a question about “Wigs by Vanity.”
Deborah: First of all, let’s clear up who and what you are. Are you a drag fan, a drag superfan or a a drag queen yourself, especially now that worked with queens like Sharon and Peaches?
Annecy: I don’t even know what I am – I guess a drag bean! I am a drag superfan. I suppose, due to the many people calling me their drag daughter, I could also be defined as an international drag daughter. I like dressing up and trying to look like a drag queen myself, but I’m not very skilled with drag makeup or really basic makeup in general. I think underneath all the fangirling I’m really just a teenage girl who lives through performing and is overwhelmingly inspired by drag queens.
D: How did you come to be invited to go on the Drag Cruise last year? I am insanely jealous!
A: I saw that Al and Chuck were doing a contest so immediately I ran up to the top of my stairs and spent about an hour filming myself talk about drag queens. I shortened that to 5 minutes of sloppy footage, posted it, and before I knew it the video was being shared all over the place! The next day I got home from school and Al posted a huge announcement saying they were so moved by my video that they would be inviting me to go on the cruise! It took a ton of persuading my parents but they finally realized they had no choice.
The day Al and Chuck announced my invitation, I made a terrible ballad cover of “Peanut Butter” by RuPaul. The following Saturday morning I woke up to a tweet from Ru. World of Wonder had found it somehow, then posted an article about it and my YouTube in general, which Ru somehow found and tweeted!
D: You had mentioned to me that you had been withdrawn from school for a while. What was your situation like at school? Were you being bullied? If so, was the administration doing anything about it?
A: Oh boy yes. That was back in 8th grade. Middle school was horrible for me – like most kids. When I started sixth grade I was leaving from a fancy, preppy uptight private school full of rich kids that made fun of me for acting weird and were always trying to make me change how I dress for a crowded and loud middle school. I went there with an open mind, but it was basically the opposite of my original school, just with kids who were mean by being direct rather than the “caring” – fake – kids at that private school. I had very few friends. Everyone was still weirded out by me. I got shoved into lockers several times whether on purpose or because kids were fighting in the halls. I was put in a remedial reading class with kids reading literally third grade material when I was tested to be reading at a college reading level.
Most of my teachers and administration were assholes and I don’t care if they read this. The principal was horrid. My teachers made fun of me in front of the entire class for misunderstanding tiny instructions or wouldn’t accept long book reports because they “didn’t have time to read it.”
The summer before eighth grade I began to get suicidal and was cutting myself. When I started school, a friend of mine killed himself. I was put in therapy and my only escape from anxiety was reading books from L. Frank Baum’s Oz series and covering myself with markers and pretending I was a drag queen. After several mornings where I would be screaming and crying and throwing fits to stay home from school, my parents finally just took me out. One of the teachers from my school would come and give me my work twice a week and she was wonderful. I was pretty much free from that hell hole and that’s when I began really getting into drag race as well.
D: Drag has been something that so many people have found uplifting once they discovered it. I believe it really does give people purpose and a sense of belonging. As RuPaul said in one of the “Tic Tac Interviews” – “You have to find your tribe.” For me I know I found my tribe when I got started writing about drag. How did you get into following drag and how has it helped you?
A: I’ve always been into draggy people thingies like Boy George and I was fascinated by Jeffree Star when I was 8. I began using the internet a bit too early and I ended up getting a terribly creepy and embarrassing obsession with Matthew Lush when I was in 4th grade, as well as a creepy but less regretful obsession with Chris Crocker who is now a very good friend of mine. I even discovered pre-American Idol Danny Noriega – aka Adore Delano – who is also my pal now. I basically intruded a group of teenagers when I was 10 and claimed to be 14 and I would annoy the heck out of them but try and be their friend.
Of the many things I found through them, I was significantly weirded out and fascinated by the movie “Party Monster.” One of them played the “Money, Success, Fame, Glamour” scene from the movie on a Livestream one day that summer. I went to bed around six a.m., woke up at 3 p.m., then spent the rest of the day searching club kids on You Tube. I couldn’t find the movie, but the shockumentary was on You Tube. Ten-year-old Annecy watched that thing and was terribly confused at why she was fascinated by a documentary full of drugs and penises. I didn’t tell a soul that I watched that but I just was so mesmerized and spent the summer getting obsessed with James St James and then Amanda Lepore.
This somehow made me come across those Tom Rubnitz videos, which lead me to finding Lady Bunny, which brought me to the movie “Wigstock,” which gave me my first taste of RuPaul. The funny thing is though, I didn’t realize how major Ru was. I was a fucked up fourth grader.
In sixth grade I found those Tom Rubnitz videos again and quoted them at school a lot without ever realizing they were full of sexual innuendoes!! Towards the end of sixth grade I saw a few episodes of Season Two of Drag Race and was in love with Raven – who hates me. I thought it (Drag Race) was a parody of Americas Next Top Model. Flash forward to seventh grade when I thought I was a reincarnation of Jesus and we just got DIRECTV. I specifically remember watching the “Untucked” episode of the comedy episode of season three one day but I wasn’t hooked yet.
In the summer of 2011 I fell in a deep depression. I ended up on Logo’s website and found Sharon’s “Meet the Queens” video. I thought she was the complete opposite of me, yet everything I wanted to be. I was very confused. I was 13 and slowly got more and more into Sharon. She distracted me from the depression that had begun taking over me. I was going through so much darkness I found a beacon through Sharon. With so much interest in her already, I realized I absolutely had to watch the fourth season of drag race. I started watching it online but finally found Logo on my TV.
While I was out of school, Drag Race and drag queens became a big source of relief and happiness for me. I would think of drag every time I found myself depressed and then I would get so happy. I even wrote several pages about how much I admired Sharon in my journal one night, which I still have. I’m not afraid to talk about that depressy stuff because I want people to know that I am not just some lucky kid with everything handed to her. I like talking about it because I want people out there to know that there is a light after shit storms and they’re not alone and it gets better and blah blah.
D: Bonus Question! Do you know what TV show the story behind the name of the Wigs by Vanity “Uber Riah” wig is associated with?
A: I do not, so please tell me! (D: It’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”!)
D: What queens are you dying to meet that you haven’t met yet?
A: Adore!! I’m probably meeting her September 27th and I can’t wait. She’s so sweet and as I mentioned I’ve loved her since I was ten! I also am dying to meet Ben, Joslyn, Vivacious, and everyone on Season Six – my friend got me an autograph from Milk and she wrote “I need to meet you in person!” So I guess I need to meet Milk. I also absolutely have to meet Tammie Brown! My old hamster was named Pootsie Lou which I took from her (my current hammy is Ruzy Q as stolen from Joslyn Fox). I actually want/have to meet everyone from the show and I want to meet everyone that I already met again too. There are billions of queens I’m dying to meet that haven’t been on drag race (yet) such as Heidi Glüm and my original drag mother Discord Addams and all the Pittsburgh queens too.
D: Have you seen every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race and do you know each cast by heart? (I don’t!)
A: Yes duh. (“Ru Girl” by Alaska Thunderfuck helped me memorize each name.)
D: Your social media posts are so funny and smart. Are you really a kid or are you a 23-year old actress pretending to be a kid?
A: I’m six years old
D: How do you make those amazing collages? Do you do them by hand or on the computer? How long does it take to make each one?
A: I work on them over the course of a few days but my Sharon collage took 12 hours pretty much. I draw a pitiful sketch of who I want to make down on paper then I dig through magazines and create the person then look for pictures that I feel represent the person! I cut each thing up and then glue it on paper and it’s sticky. I can’t make them unless I’m watching something so I’ve probably watched at least 100 movies since I started.
D: I don’t know if you realize but you are a hero and inspiration to a lot of younger drag fans out there. What advice do you give to kids whose families and friends are clueless or really mean about drag?
A: My advice to the kiddies is don’t give a shit what people think, but educate the world on drag. Some people won’t listen, but some will. I’ve inspired some of my friends who didn’t know anything about drag before they met me to actually start doing drag themselves!! Put yourself out there in the drag world though and try and make it become beneficial to you. If your parents think it’s bad, do extra well in school and blame it on drag queens! If your friends think it’s weird, either ditch them or get queens to tweet you and show your friends and say “look these people think I’m hip and funky and they are celebrities.” Make them jealous but be nice to them so they want to be your friend!!
D: Are you the one who runs the Lil’ Poundcake Twitter account?
A: Nah but I’m basically Lil’ Poundcake in real life.
Connect with Annecy on Social Media
Here is a gallery of Annecy’s collages. She makes each one by hand and they can take 12 or more hours to create.