10 Things We Saw, Heard, And Learned At #Faymeproblems Starring Alaska Thunderfuck At Tabu Last Night
Tammy Faymous can host a party. She’s a qualified and talented emcee and last night she invited RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 contestant Alaska Thunderfuck to grace Philadelphia with her presence. It was fun.
1. Tammy had a bit of a stage built up on the second floor of Tabu, a welcome addition to make better sight lines and create more of a performance space. It’s nice to have a living room feel to a drag show but last night was much more of a stage performance and it worked.
2. It started shortly after 11:30pm with Tammy wearing an unconventionally large, tall platinum wig with hints of pale pink in it. She started by toying us with the first few measures of Beyonce’s “End of Time” before she told us it wasn’t going to be that kind of show and if we didn’t like it, the door’s downstairs and Voyeur’s across the street before ripping into “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks.
3. Luna Lavey, Philly’s long-legged faerie princess nailed out a punk-flavored number and then the dark and beautiful Aeryanah Von Moi brought sultry R&B flavor. But then Maddy Milan delivered on bizarro beauty with her giant, swinging bush-anchored limp dick. Seriously, Maddy always brings it with her elaborately-handmade bodysuits and this one was perfectly over-the-top.
4. The Goddess Isis, who never disappoints, swooped in and did a Taylor Dayne song called “Original Sin,” the theme from The Shadow. She wore horns that made her look like the evil queen from Snow White. Isis always nails whatever vibe she’s trying to pull off and her witchy, Wiccan, Stevie Nicks enchantress ways were not lost on this audience.
5. Then something pretty sweet happened – Tammy did Weezer. She sang “Say It Ain’t So” and it was fantastic. Ms. Faymous always manages to inject a little bit of the unconventional, a little unexpectedness. Weezer at a drag show? Why not?
6. Alaska herself is a tall, weird queen. She had on a big, slightly natty wig and in the interview she did with Josh Middleton for G Philly, she confessed that her name came from doing drugs; weed, that is. She and some friends were getting stoned when they started talking about names of weed strands when she decided to adopt one as her stage name. Her presence is a goofy one; her face is pretty staid until she works those wild lips – it’s where she’s perhaps most expressive. She tends to pose for photos with a contorted mouth. For her first performance of the night, the crowd went ape and she did a pretty amusing mashup of RuPaul songs.
7. There were lots of straight people in attendance. Even Tammy joked throughout the show that she saw so many New Jersey names on the list of pre-ordered tickets. Even straight people love RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is a reality we live with. They even wore Alaska t-shirts. A few youngbloods went a little crazy, and even in the 10-minute set break they were dancing all over each other like they’d never had alcohol before. One lady kept pulling her shirt up and above her bra. Not cute.
8. After a typically spot-on Carrie Underwood moment from Isis with “Two Black Cadillacs,” a cute and quirky Roxxy Glamour came out and did Yelle’s “Safari Disco Club.” Lip-syncing French pop is not easy. Maddy nailed “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift, a questionable song choice because we all hate T Swift, we being the human race, but “Trouble” has that little bit of rage that Maddy channels so well. She took it to a dark and angry place that worked as well as her Limp Bizkit “Faith” moment at last winter’s Josh’s Drag Ball at iCandy. Her bandeau bikini top fell off her tits many times.
9. Tammy made a big announcement: JuJuBe’s coming to the gayborhood for Pride and Sinful Sundays. Yup, in June, the RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and America’s Asian Sweetheart is going to grace us with her electric charm. THAT’s a season I watched and THAT is a drag queen I will pay to see perform.
10. Alaska finished up with a sickening rendition of Lil’ Kim’s “How Many Licks?” in which she finished the lines with “How many licks does it take ’til you get to the center of Alaska Thunderfuck?” in a gold, lame tunic. Then Tammy sang “Glamazon” and all the girls came down with what looked like rolls of wrapping paper before they pulled the ends and they exploded with glitter and confetti. It was quite a night.
Yup, that’s her (drag) name. And until I accidentally tuned into this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which happened to be a roast of Ru, I didn’t know much about these goyles. I knew there was a new season and that the gays were gagging every Monday for a new episode. But for non-viewers, simply the name Alaska Thunderfuck is ear-catching. Then I saw her dish it. She’s got spunk. She’s got edge and she’s sharp as a tack. For Drag Race superfans? This is a pretty cool opportunity and you might as well dish out the $30 for the open-bar meet & greet.
That wild child Tammy Faymous is hosting and trying a new layout for a drag show upstairs at Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge. She’s gonna build a stage – no seats. General admission tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door and that includes one drink. She’s trying to fill this place up with advance ticket purchases because it’ll probably sell out. Thunderfuck’s Sharon Needles lover, and not for nothin’, but it’s made her and her performance on this current season just a little extra. But I will say this, watching Alaska was captivating and she is going to be such a sassy little visitor to the ‘hood next week.
DJs Xavier B (Fingerbanger/Stash) and K/ Rex (Factory Girls) will be spinning, and some serious local queens are slated to accompany Tammy on stage: The Goddess Isis, Aeryanah Von Moi, Maddy Milan, Roxxy Glamour and Luna Lavey.
Photo by Alexander John at last week’s Hot Mesh (l-r): his best friend Eli, who handles music, Icon Ebony-Fierce, and Josh Schonewolf bartending.
Josh Schonewolf and I met at Supper for happy hour to talk about a few things. I sent him a couple links that I’d read and been thinking about: a HuffPost story about gays being bullies to other gays, and this bummer of a NY Times feature about being 20-something and coming to the idea of work in new ways. Schonewolf’s embarking on a new chapter in his life, promoting and producing events, largely gay-themed, and it’s already starting to take off in pretty thrilling ways. He’s already somewhat of a big name in the gay community via his blog, Josh Can’t Cook, which he started in 2010. He gets stopped on city sidewalks (outside of Philadelphia, too), has been featured in the pages of Philadelphia Gay News and has dates’ roommates bug out when they find out they’re going for drinks with Josh Can’t Cook.
The blog started as a stress-relief from a soul-crushing finance job he maintained just to have a job. The Temple ‘05 grad studied communications with a TV/media performance focus but found himself in an office full of women that he wanted to destroy. Not with malice, of course, just, ya know, because the office environment can do that to a person. The site boasts 1 to 5,000 page views a week and he tries to publish twice a week including awards for restaurants and recipes. The blog’s not going anywhere, though – he’s slated to start shooting 20 episodes next week. He’s only made 15 since the blog’s inception but they’re no joke. Even at three minutes in length, he prepares about a dozen jokes for each and has a crew help him with production. They get made in his home’s kitchen in Newbold and starting in April or May he’ll start revealing his new ’season’ to the world.
Schonewolf loves a party, but he’s a pretty atypical nightlife personality. He told me he loves the phrase “Life’s a party, all you have to do is RSVP,” and I really believe he means it. He just likes to throw parties and that’s how it all got started. He threw a Halloween hat party and had a blast with it. Then things got serious and he made his first philanthropic event debut with a benefit for New York’s Ali Forney Center on a Friday night last August. 300 people came and 30 gifts were provided from various area businesses. I was curious about the logistics and I dug: What does it cost if your event flops? Typically, at a place like Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, if your crowd doesn’t make it to a bartab point ($500), you have to pay the difference. Schonewolf brought his checkbook but he didn’t have to write one – it was a hit.
Then this winter he hosted Josh’s Drag Ball, a fundraiser for Philadelphia’s The Attic Youth Center, that corralled 15 queens and even pulled one in from RuPaul’s Drag Race (Milan from Season 4). It was a freezing cold night in December but the people came. But this brings us to one of the primary subjects of hour snack chat – we are drowning in drag. Drag’s fun and we love it. But he’s interested in bigger and better events that don’t use drag as the primary crowd bait. He and Brandon Robert of PhillyDragopolis are officially working together to produce some big events in the future. Ideas in the pipeline are food-adjacent events. Yes, there’s a drag brunch that happens at Fire & Ice in Old City once a month, but he also has hopes for working with talented young chefs and LGBT local musicians. Think a locally-based Top Chef or a Voyeur-based American Idol. He kept some secrets but we’ll be hungrily looking for details as they emerge.
The idea of dwelling in the world of gay nightlife and event production’s frightening to me. Gay people can be really mean to other gay people and it’s sad. It’s something that our own Goddess Isis tries to refrain from with her positivity in the phrase “Be a light.” Or as they say in Paris is Burning, “We’re not going to be shady, just fierce.” And Josh is like a fierce Real Housewife. He loves the whole franchise and has often asked me who my favorite housewife is. I can’t answer that – I only watch without sound on the treadmill. But one night at Stir he asked me for a housewife tagline; you know, the one sentence self-descriptive introductions they give at the beginning of each episode. It’s generally a “I may look like this but I’m actually that.” I improvised ‘I may be a writer but I can read even better.’ I was pleased with myself mostly because Josh cheered me on. “YES!” Well, when I read Josh I see a light.
Josh runs a party on Monday nights at Tavern on Camac called Hot Mesh, and hosts a party called Ratchet on Wednesday nights at Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge.
At this point, Martha needs very little introduction. She’s one of the most talented and entertaining humans in Philadelphia. When not busy with making Pig Iron Theatre one of the most dynamic and successful theatre companies in the city, Dito van Reigersberg is getting his groove on in pumps and typically a dress or something that bears his hairy chest. With near clownish makeup and minimal wig game, Dito becomes Martha but in his performance of Martha Graham Cracker, it’s way, way beyond tits and ass. Martha’s a lady who likes to sing and vamp. Simple as that. And frankly, Martha can sing like Steven Tyler mixed with Robert Plant plus, ya know, Cher or Carly Simon or Karen Carpenter.
Martha is a presence. She towers over most men but with a wistful, innocence that says ‘I’m just here to sing a few songs and entertain’ and then just as quickly, ‘Will you buy me a drink?’ She’ll bat her long, fake lashes and then rip into a jazzy, lounge version of a pop standard from ANY era. That’s one of the best things about her; she knows good tunes. Ms. Cracker isn’t pop-obsessed and isn’t a drag queen (well, kind of). You won’t hear much Britney or Azealia at her shows, but you’ll almost certainly hear some Liza, Judy or a show tune. Whereas most drag queens vogue and pose and lip-sync, Dito flirts, enchants, makes you laugh your ass off and then belts out a montage of perfectly-worked over lounge-friendly classics.
With a band behind her at the upstairs lounge of L’Etage, she’s been bewitching straight and gay and bi and every shade of skin color forever now and it’s no secret. Better get there right when the doors open and save a good seat.
When Emily and Javas said they had a big secret star lined up for their big Sunday Teamwerq on St. Patrick’s Day, I didn’t think it was going to be this awesome. Sundays, here and there, Emily Doofnoggle and Javas Ganguly (also of Cuntafit Currency fame) have been throwing a party upstairs at Woody’s. Javas goes by DJ J++ and has been picking up steam lately with a regular git at Josh Schonewolf’s regular Wednesday night at Tabu called Ratchet. He spins a pretty regularly excellent collection of jams from the late ’90s and early 2000s that’re exclusively R&B and hip-hop flavored. New music’s great and we love that at the club every once in a while, but now that it’s 2013 and ‘Throwback’ means 10-15 years ago, these throwback moments are worth living for. Aaliyah’s Javas’ Queen and she informs all; her sultry playfulness, evidenced by the dichotomy between a track like “Rock the Boat” versus a slower, sexier number like “4 Page Letter” or “If Your Girl Only Knew,” is at the essence of J++’s set. Their party’s one of my favorites at the moment and it’s mostly because of the music that gets spun. There’s nothing more fun to dance to than old-school hip-hop and R&B.
So St. Patrick’s Day just happens to fall on a Teamwerq night and Em and Javas are going buck in the big room upstairs and throwing a cover-admission event. But you’ll happily dish out $7 because tonight you get to see Rye Rye in the FLESH. YES! The Baltimore lil’ rapper and dancefloor monster’s agreed to visit our gayborhood. I cannot wait to see her shake that shit to the ground (and bring it back up). Her big official major label debut, Go! Pop! Bang! was one of the best of its kind in 2012. The M.I.A.-mentored and sponsored B girl has quick and fast flow and her famous friend got her teamed up with all the right producers for bangin’ tracks like “Sunshine,” “Boom Boom” and “DNA.”
Double Duchess was one of the last amazing performances that I captured upstairs and by surprise. But I don’t even know what to think about how Rye Rye’ll turn it out. What will she wear? What songs will she do? How she gonna dance!? It’s too much! See you there.
This week I brought to you some information on one of (if not THE) most fantastic drag queen in Philadelphia in the Stage section of the paper:
You might think “Sinful Sunday” is just a cutesy way to match a day of the week with an accompanying adjective, a la Thirsty Thursday, Frisky Friday, etc. But no. Thing is, Sunday night at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar is a different kind of church. Or for that matter, you’re welcome to come hear The Goddess Isis preach from her pulpit 12 hours after dragging your hangover-havin’ self to service with Mom and Dad and listen to a preacher cut from an entirely different cloth.
Isis has only been in Philadelphia for about three years, after a long and edifying stint in the South. But that’s been more than enough time for her to get up and running with her own headlining weekly gig, which recently hit its two-year anniversary and is going stronger than ever. She’s more of a Carrie Underwood fan than a Rihanna queen. The first time she was in women’s clothes was when her parents dressed her up as Dolly Parton at the tender age of four. She doesn’t even remember it, but there are plenty of photos. The boobs, the wig, the dress, everything. You can’t be Dolly Parton without huge fake tits, can you?
As a youth, Isis grew up in the church. She loved the music, the pageantry, the fainting and outpouring emotion from folks moved by the spirit, whatever that may be. She loved it so much that she went and got herself an A.A. degree in Bible Theology. For real. At Lee University in Tennessee. Turns out Lee has an outstanding music program, so she traveled up and down North America with a gospel singing group. One of those rare drag queens who does more than put on a wig and a dress and give face like there’s no tomorrow, Isis can also sing. Musicality and performance is at the forefront of her drag. It’s what makes her one of, if not the, most successful and electrifying performers in the city.
Isis has come a long way since her first cognizant drag performance, at the age of 16, when she was pulled on stage in D.C. and forced to wear styrofoam falsies that kept falling down to her stomach. The song was “Make It Happen” by Mariah Carey. She can still turn out a mean Mariah, but she also dabbles in all kinds of divas, from Erykah Badu to Whitney Houston, and when Isis performs drag, she does it all the way. She knows every word, and you can tell. And every Sunday, she and her rotating cast of friends and queens give you show for days for a mere $5. And the great thing about Tabu’s upstairs lounge? It’s like you’re in her living room. A Sunday service in a drag queen’s living room. And she likes it that way.
She’s also heavily involved in Mimi Imfurst’s Dollhouse Revue at Voyeur on Wednesday nights and has been for years now, too, but that’s a whole different kind of drag night. The stage is high and narrow. The price of admission doesn’t buy you a drink. There’s four or five times as many people in the audience. On Sunday nights at Tabu, you might just get called up on stage and commanded to take your shirt off. (Especially if you’re straight, and it looks like you’re easy to fuck with.) As for the bang you get with your buck, there’s no better regular, steady night of wig-wearin’, heel-stompin’, lip-syncin’, face-givin’, arm-swingin’ entertainment in the Gayborhood.
Sunday nights. Doors at 9:15pm, showtime at approximately 11pm. $5. Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S. 12th St. tabuphilly.com
Wow! That was SOME PERFORMANCE last night, wasn’t it? And hot on the heels of her Super Bowl buzz, she’s announced a giant, great big massive world tour. The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour starring Beyonce kicks off in April in Belgrade and rips through Europe in two months. The North American dates start a month later in L.A. and concludes on August 3rd at her husband’s Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And, yes, on July 25th, she stops in at our Wells Fargo Center and tickets are sale SOON (February 15th). Man, this chick’s ambitious. Will this tour be in support of new music?? We haven’t seen new tracks in a while now and, while she does have a massive catalogue of hits to call up, it could just be another world tour – lord knows she is going to collect that cheddar. Tours are where the money’s at. On that note, the tickets to her July Philly spot are not going to be cheap. So save up. They start at $45, but you might want to spring for the $85, $125 or $250 tickets.