Remembering Killer: One of L.A.’s Great Drag Queens Taken Far Too Soon

IMG_2536 When people ask us where the most interesting, provocative, creating and dazzling drag is happening, we used to say, “oh man, you’ve gotta check out this performer named Killer.”

But we’re going to be at a loss to answer that question now that we’ve learned about the far, far, far too early passing of Killer and her creator, Ryan Rorie, from natural causes last month.

We didn’t know Killer personally, but we photographed her a few times when Trannyshack came to L.A., and she was always the highlight of the show, from her music selections to her wardrobe to her obscure queer-culture references and her sheer presence before a crowd. Losing her is an unbearable loss for the city’s drag culture, not to mention to her fans, family, and friends.

We asked a few of Killer’s friends how they remember her. Here’s what they had to say.

Devan M


How did you first meet and become friends?

Ryan and I were neighbors, but I met him in drag for the first time at a performance night I hosted called Sissy Bar. It was her first performance as Killer, and she came out with guns blazing and completely blew everyone away. Immediately and deservingly, she was booked everywhere. … I adored every interaction I had with Ryan, and it’s been heartwarming to learn in the past few weeks how many people felt the same way.

What defined Killer‘s style and made her unique?

Killer was a punk rock femme fatale. She had a way of filtering old Hollywood glamour and film noir through a totally punk sensibility. She was a woman on the verge, with a dry wit and a mean side-eye. And behind the scenes, she was completely no-nonsense, down to earth, and without a trace of ego.

What could other drag queens learn from her about their craft?

Ditch the shade and be kind to your sisters. Find a way to take the things inspire you and combine them into something that is original and uniquely you, and run with it. Give it your all.

What are some of her most memorable numbers?

Honestly, I will never forget that first performance at Sissy Bar. And of course she got even better after that, but there was something so exciting, raw, and new about it. It was a rapid fire mix of songs, film clips, and gun shots, as sort of became her signature, but seeing it for the first time, not having any idea of what to expect, and seeing her kill it so hard right out of the gate… it was a total game-changer.

Killer Xmas-Desktop from Ryan Rorie on Vimeo.


Cupcake Canne
How did you first meet?
We met after one of my shows. He came up to me and said he loved what I did. He was basically a fan. After I saw him perform I became a fan of his as well! We hit it off very quickly!

What defined Killer’s style?
Killer’s style was vintage mixed with rock ‘n roll and always classy. He was unique because he was himself, he did not conform.

What are some of her most memorable numbers?
She had a murderess mix that she did at Trannyshack that was amazing! Also for me I will always remember the duet that we did together at the Eagle, “I Like Men.” You can see the chemistry we had!

There are tons of pictures on his Instagram @theekiller.

What do you most want people to remember about Killer? And about Ryan?
I want people to remember how real he was. How sweet he was. What a kind heart she had and that he didn’t take shit from anybody. I want them to remember how talented he was, not just in drag. He played instruments and could sing as well. He was a true rock star!

Ben Phen


How did you first meet and become friends?

I met Ryan through Arron and my friend Matt Brose from Portland, they were seeing each other at the time and Matt would come down to L.A. to see Ryan so we met him as Matt’s Guy, but soon became Ryan’s friend fast. … I knew him before he started drag and saw him evolve his character. We talked a lot about his image and helped him find clothes for the looks at our store L.A.G. Vintage. I had planned on doing a line of t-shirts and merch for him too… so many plans were in the works…

What defined Killer’s style and made her unique?

I’d say Killers style was soo special. She combined old Hollywood glamour, hip sexy modern assassin, glam rock. She had razor-sharp lip-syncs with femme fatale soulfulness and a edgy rock-and-roll twist.

My favorite look was her Win from DRAGULA — she had her hair as sort of a Tim Burton twisted stocking top , with a very couture black and purple lace and latex look. Her face was black and white with characterchure eye brows , very Tim Burton iconic. That night Killer killed it! The song choice was “I love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett — the other lip syncers didn’t even know the lyrics, but Killer knew every word on point and stole the show.

What could other drag queens learn from her about their craft?

I think they could learn a lot about look, drive, especially talent and having a clear vision for the character you are. She knew Killer — though always evolving it was clear what her inspirations and references were. Picking classics, Noir film clips, edgy rock songs and film references. She was “alternative” not mainstream. Didn’t rely on pop-culture of the now, but could pull out a current track if it was unique and razor sharp. I never saw him rehearse but to perform the way he did, either he rehearsed a lot or had natural talent that just happened. He was also a singer/song writer and had been in lots of rock/punk bands and a musician in his own right. So performing and being on stage was very familiar. I think that side of him was always coming through to the alter ego Killer.

What are some of her most memorable numbers?

His Easter weekend performance at Akbar with Chris Bowen’s “Objects in Motion” was very small but she was so fun and incredible doing the Banana number in all easter colors.

What do you most want people to remember about Killer? And about Ryan?

Gosh, I would say really he was real. Just the laughter , so funny and chill I would say “sweet“ but really he was just soo easy to get along with, though he was tough and had an edge and Killer was a diva! But just the precision and smart, fun, talent, and Ryan as a guy I would see and hang out with two-three times a week, always would hang with me where ever, he would light up a room. Ryan was someone I knew “oh he’s here, whew one of the fun people is here, I’m gonna have someone to talk to.” Smart, Intelligent, witty, Warm, creative, Soulful , sincere, just liked him. Missing him in person like crazy.


hooray for hollywood – HD 720p from Ryan Rorie on Vimeo.