Forget RuPaul’s Drag U: Christeene Is The Filthy Future Of Drag

Forget Project Runway, Drag U and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. The next big drag star will be Christeene, an unwashed broke-ass Atlanta hoochie who drops filthy rhymes about “Bustin’ Brown” and “African mayonnaise.” She’s the drag persona of Austin-based performer Paul Soileau and she’s bringing whiskey, buttsex and celebu-trauma to a queer bar near you. (NOTE: Video very NSFW.)

The last two years had taken a big dump on Paul Soileau’s dreams. He had moved to New Orleans with hopes of collaborating with other artists and filmmakers, but then Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and he fled to Atlanta to perform in Piedmont Park with other refugees while waiting for FEMA to cough up emergency funds. He eventually landed in Austin working at a drive-thru coffeeshop where he entertained his co-workers by singing filthy rap lyrics like “I’ll let you chew on my crab cakes; to hell with the first date, just slide me the beef steak.” But deep down Soileau felt a residual trauma and anger boiling inside of him.

His drag career hadn’t gotten off the ground and a recent P-town talent performance in his seasoned drag persona, the unsinkable old-monied Rebecca Havemeyer, had fallen flat with the rowdy crowd. Rebecca usually had an entire show to ingratiate herself to the audience with song spoofs like “Your Son Will Come Out Tomorrow” and “You Give Me Beaver.” But Paul needed an act that was quick, destructive and fun — something to leave his audience speechless in less than five-minutes.

So he threw on a mangy wig from the trunk of his car, a waist-length hooker coat, shit heels, smeared some lipstick across his gold tooth, slipped on a pair of shades and entered Austin’s Camp Camp — a queer open mic show. He walked up incognito among his own friends and proceeded to have the filthiest sex he could with the microphone stand while occasionally moaning to a Pizzicato 5 song. After the song ended, he disappeared into the night leaving the horrified audience to wonder what the fuck they had just seen.

That night, Christeene was born.


Soileau had already performed for several years as Rebecca Havemeyer, a drag character that he created while waiting tables at a Manhattan bistro. He discovered the name Havemeyer from a Brooklyn street and thought it sounded like Vanderbilt, Rockerfeller and other 1920’s robber barons. History revealed that the Havemeyers had made their fortune in sugar and so Soileau imagined a burnt-out Brooklyn socialite whose great great grandmother had an affair with the sugar king.

Rebecca grew up taken care of and remains decked out in 1930’s platinums and powders (dresses Soileau picks up from secondhand shops), charmingly ignorant of her own shortcomings. During one Christmas show, Rebecca asked the bacon-eating, wish-granting Child of Prague to make Santa come a week early. When a half-formed Santa came down her chimney gibbering like a mutant, Ms. Havemeyer concluded the show and spent the night carousing with audience members still dressed in her wig and gown.

In his small East Austin home, hidden behind a canopy of drooping magnolias, Soileau pulls out one of Havemeyer’s gowns near the hatstand where he keeps her and Christeene’s wigs. The elegantly simple gown has smudges of makeup, street food, and dirt on it. “A lot of the dresses have tp be dry cleaned,” Soileau laughs. “And I’m broke.” He then pulls out Christeene’s costumes — scraps like her pillowcase dresses, the belts she wears as bras, a denim garter (“she thinks denim is like diamonds”) and a pair of panties that haven’t been washed since last September. Christeene throws them into the crowd every show and they always somehow get back to her.

I’ve seen Christeene’s show — it’s shockingly filthy. She’s a man whose not afraid to show her penis in see-through panty hose or eat chocolate pudding out of her backup dancer’s ass. Soileau lets me smell the panties — they used to be baby blue. Now they’re purple, stiffened with sweat and smudged with the makeup that Soileau bruises onto Christeene’s thighs. The twisted panties have a blood stain on the crotch and reek of ball stank — even six inches away, I can still taste the smell.


I first saw Christeene in a video that quickly got yanked from YouTube, a song entitled “Fix My Dick.” It features a poop-smeared baby and a douche bulb laying on the floor of a graffiti-covered shack while Christeene and her pantied male dancers butt-hump the camera. The song’s fun and raunchier than shit on a dick, but I’m astounded that a version of it still exists on YouTube. It’s one of four videos she made with Trinidad director PJ Raval: there’s also the heartfelt “Tears from My Pussy”, the spastic Panda-sex in “Slowly/Easy”, and her latest video “Bustin’ Brown”, a song that tells straight folks that it’s OKto enjoy anal sex. The video features her Vaseline-covered palms groping two hairy asses while they roll around in an enormous colon.

Christeene scares people, even her fans. “Her show’s abusive,” Soileau says, “I assault myself and the audience.” All the pumping, thrashing, and humping in her 30-minute show motivated Soileau to stop smoking, go vegetarian and spend more riding his bike just keep up with her. After each performance, he hangs out in character to see the reactions of the audience members. The scruffy young men at the Akbar club in LA gave her weird looks when she first arrived and remained stand-offish even after the show, but by 2am they bought her more drinks than she could remember and showered her with hugs and praise adding that they felt just as freaky as she.

“I design my characters to be ignorant, naive, and kind because it’s so important to me that they’re approachable. During the 90s it was very popular [for drag queens] to be mean, to be a bitch, and the meaner the better. That breed of drag I didn’t like at all. There’s an art to the bitchiness of the 90s, a language that was really amazing. But it was mean.” In contrast, Soileau made Christeene what he calls “a baby person.” Like Mike Tyson she’ll rip your ear off onstage but when she speaks she sounds like a nine-year-old.

Christeene’s full-length album Waste Up, Knees Down comes out in November and afterwards she’ll go on tour in “every bar in the world.” Fleshjack, the producers of “butthole in a can,” will sponsor her tour. They’re probably the only business in the world who would sponsor her tour. She’s been to their plant… it smells like burning dildos.

But Soileau’s drag characters aren’t just about friendly camp and shock — in all her brutal, unwashed glory Christeene represents actual genderqueers roaming America’s streets: the queers you’ll never see on The Advocate or primetime TV, the “trannies” who get manhandled, bashed, and ignored or lampooned in newspaper articles. These are the same queers who started the ball culture shown in Paris is Burning, the ones who perfected voguing before Madonna re-appropriated it. Even Havemeyer represents an older generation of queer ally. She’s likely pansexual and has eaten a muffin or two in her day, but she’s curious, fun-loving, and accepting, like the drunken aunt we all wish we had or Aunt Mame after two drug-addled decades swinging in Harlem.


Rebecca Havemeyer also engages Austin’s progressive queer community: she has presented a series of booze-related stretches for an Austin AIDS walk, offers regular comic relief on the local gay radio show (Outcast), serves as mistress of ceremonies at annual fundraiser for a queer theater group, and holds a monthly gay film night at the Ritz Alamo Theater called Celluloid Handbag. This month Ms. Havemeyer will present the film 120 Days of Sodom while downing a pint glass of whiskey and serving chocolate mousse. She hopes you will attend.

“Texas,” Havemeyer says, “is such a masculine state; it’s butch as they call it. The problem is when you hide your gay bug, put a blanket on it, you end up doing crazy things like cheat on your wife or have strange sex in the hotel. Just because you live where men are men and the women cook the cornbread doesn’t mean you can’t dance in a pair of heels. I hope I could build bridges to the other side and let people realize there’s a great gay smorgasbord and a welcoming community that accepts you as you are.”

Outside of Ms. Havemeyer’s community efforts, Soileau collaborates often with Austin’s queer organizers: he helped organize the Queerbomb gay pride events that stood in opposition to Austin’s highly corporatized Pride celebration and stays in regular close contact with local queer artists including the writers for the Austin Chronicle’s popular blog The Gay Place.

“For me, a lot of queers, all LGBTQIA,” Soileau says, “I think we’re really hungry for something different. We’re really digging into what we’ve been through and getting the gold out of it and starting to manufacture a new way of living within our community that recognizes many things that don’t get recognized in the popular high school [mentality that rules mainstream culture]. High school is always about sports, prom, and the pretty boy and pretty girl. And I’m tired of football and prom and popularity… there’s something really gorgeous about the kids hanging out at the other side of the gym and it doesn’t cost money to make something very well and prominent. It’s not about breaking away, we want to create our own style while educating the football players and prom queens. We want them to come to the other side of the river with us.”

You can order Christeene’s EP at Christeene.org.