Once upon a time, before RuPaul‘s Drag Race, boys became queens for bigger reasons than reality stardom. It was for expression!
Drag, for many performers became a canvas on which their creativity could flourish. Drag personas were built from the ground up and seasoned with time. False eyelash laden eyes were on the prize, but the prize wasn’t TV. It was simply getting to do what you love.
I know about this firsthand. I love getting to write for Dragaholic. How could I not? It offered me the opportunity to chat with the iconic Sherry Vine and share her with our readers! When you meet Sherry, there is a warmth that is inviting. She connects and engages. Then the wit follows…just enough to let you know she doesn’t take anything too seriously. Her personality is infectious. I could have spoken to her for hours. I walked away inspired.
Listen to the full downloadable podcast above and read an excerpt from our chat below. Gather around, children and absorb from a legend!
Alex: Hello Sherry!
Sherry: Hi! How are you?
I’m so good! I’m so glad to have you.
I thought this was for alcoholics. ( we both laugh)
It’s for alcoholics that dress as women.
Perfect! I’m the spokesperson!
Perfect! I just referred to you as a drag legend and icon which I’ve heard many people refer to you as. How does it make you feel to hear that about yourself?
Oh my god! It’s so funny. Well, it’s a nicer way to say old. I think it’s really sweet. I’ve been around for a long time. I think the first time I heard someone say legend I thought, no that’s not possible. I haven’t been around long enough and then I thought, oh right. I have been around a long time. So, hooker…legend…whatever.
I’ve been watching, multiple times, your Living For Scruff parody video.
It’s silly right?
It’s silly, but I love it! Do you write all of your parodies?
Oh yeah. I only do one parody in my act that I did not write. People give me ideas and I’ll think they are great ideas, but I write the parodies. There’s only one I didn’t write which was Grindr Queen. When I was sent Grindr Queen to the tune of Dancing Queen, I thought it was really good and really funny and I didn’t even need to change anything. That’s the only one in twenty years that I perform and didn’t write.
How does the process happen for you to write a parody?
Well, the most organic way that it happens is if something pops in my head or if it’s a song that’s a hit like say Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, I think I’ve got to do a parody of that and her songs are, no offense, kind of simple so I can literally sit down and write in 20 minutes. It was super easy. Then some are really hard and take forever, like I’m working on one now which is almost done to Coolio’s Gangtsa’s Paradise called Drag Queen’s Paradise. That one is so hard. It’s taken a long time. I now have a lot more respect for rap artists. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
I know you started out pursuing acting. How did Sherry Vine come about?
It really was kind of an accident. I was living in L.A. and was acting and doing theatre as Keith and I was roommates with Candis Cayne and we thought to get dressed up and go to the bars and it really just started at that. Someone asked me to come to their club to perform so I started performing and met Jackie Beat the first or second time that I ever went out in drag and we immediately became best friends and started doing stuff together and so…it started as a joke and turned into a career and now it’s a joke again.
Then I started a theatre company with some friends and my best friend Doug who was going to be the writer said I should play the leading lady and it just kind of took off. Of course, it took off once I let go of the roadblocks I had set up for myself and embraced it and I just love it. I still, after 20 years love performing in drag.
That’s an amazing story because it seems from what you are telling me that the universe just led you to do this.
I totally 100% feel that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I do feel that it’s acting. It’s a character. It’s not who I am during the day. Once I start getting ready and put the hair on and everything I really feel that I’m in character and, you know, you’re an actor! You’re performing and entertaining people. There’s a lot of people who don’t think of drag as a legitimate art form and I totally do. There’s still a million things that I want to do that I haven’t done in drag.
Where did the name come from?
It was just Sherry for a while. My friends in L.A. were like, “Oh, Sherry. That sounds a little trashy, a little cheap.” I was like, “yeah!” It was just Sherry and then a friend of mine said I had to drive up Vine St. because just passed Hollywood there is this building that looked like a crack whorehouse called The Sherry and it was on Vine St. and that’s how I became Sherry Vine. All roads lead back to crack whorehouse!
I just discovered a couple of months ago and have been watching She’s Living For This on Hulu. Can you talk about that show?
Oh my God! That makes me so happy that you discovered it. I just wish more people would. She’s Living For This was a variety show that we did two seasons of for Here TV and there just wasn’t really money to promote it and push it. It wasn’t big like Logo. That show was so much fun. It was my dream come true because I grew up as the biggest Carol Burnett fan and she was a big influence on me. It was totally structured like the Carol Burnett Show. We had so many guests, everybody from Lady Bunny to Jackie Beat, Varla Jean Merman, Debbie Harry, Pam Ann, Cazwell. It always opened with a number and there was sketch comedy, the guest, parodies. It was just nothing but fun!
It’s funny you mention Carol Burnett because it’s the first thing I thought of when watching, but not just in the style of the show but also in your sense of humor.
Whenever we do these videos and stuff and I’m watching, for instance, Madonna’s video, Living For Love, I’m looking for moments to recreate in our parody video. I write the moments down and I think, What would Carol do? I always try to find the comedy answer to that. My mantra’s always been, What would Carol do?
The transcript above is just the tip of the iceberg of all the amazing insight Sherry Vine shared. Please do yourself a favor and download and listen to the entire podcast above…and if you are a new or struggling Drag Queen out there looking for answers and success, just ask yourself. What would Sherry Vine do?
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