“Drag is anything you want it to be. It can transform and take shape according to who you are. It’s not ‘for’ anything. It doesn’t necessarily blur gender binaries. It’s not necessarily art, entertainment or work. It can be whatever you need. That’s what I love about it. Right now, I need to wear this enormous fluffy dress and walk around South America. Drag is letting me do that,” says Miz Cracker.
That’s Cracker, “just like the snack and the racial slur,” as she declared on the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10. We’re standing in a dressing room at Crobar on the night of her Buenos Aires show and she’s wearing said enormous fluffy gown, the same one she strolled around the Casa Rosada in earlier today. She looks radiant, elegant, and glamorous. She’s a woman!
The self-proclaimed “Jewish Barbie on bath salts” has been known in the New York drag scene for years. In 2015 she began to write for Slate’s “Outward” blog, thanks to which she won the 2016 Association of LGBTQ Journalists Excellence in Column Writing award. During All Stars 3, she began a series of weekly videos called Review with a Jew where she humorously went over each episode. Naturally, the videos continued during her season, where she received copious amounts of praise from the judges until her shocking elimination on the 11th episode. Currently, Cracker has a series of tutorial videos on WOWPresents called “Jewtorials.”
During a quick breather before going onstage, we catch up with the “thin, white and salty” queen and discuss self-love, her support of the drag community in Uganda, Judaism, some of her views regarding drag in general, Drag Race, and her strong work ethic. Sitting on a couch beside us is Katelyn May, longtime friend and collaborator. The Katelyn who records all of Cracker’s videos and is at all her shows. The Katelyn of “OK Katelyn, it’s time for dinner!” tagline fame. A few times throughout the interview, Cracker speaks in plural. She is referring to herself and Katelyn.
Who and what inspired your drag persona?
Just me. I think my drag persona is just me, but writ large. Very comfortable, unleashed, just living her best life.
You mentioned that when first going on Drag Race, you didn’t know how people would react to you. Yet you became a fan favorite –
Oh thank you! That’s such a sweet thing to say.
– and you’ve got some of the longest lines at DragCon, the event that gathers the Rugirls all in one place and makes them available for fans. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know, but I plan to make sure I meet and spend time with every single person who wants to meet me so that they stay in love with me. I don’t know what caused it, but I’m not going to fuck it up.
Earlier, when we first arrived at Crobar, the meet and greet was in full swing. Cracker appeared genuinely interested in each fan who approached her for hugs, photos, autographs, and a few moments with their idol.
During one of the Untucked episodes, you mentioned having to work on loving yourself.
Yeah. That’s important to say, but it sounds so positive. I want to change it a little bit and just say “don’t beat yourself up.” If you don’t love yourself, fine. Nobody loves themselves, ever, and then you die. “Don’t beat yourself up” is a much easier project. Be kind to yourself. Love is hard, but kindness is easy.
Nowadays how do you cope with fear and self-doubt?
I keep working. The fears are always there. Katelyn and I had those fears today. But what you do is, you don’t stop. You keep working and you don’t let those feelings slow you down. They will always be there. You just live and work around them.
Tell us about your support of Pride in Uganda.
I’m going in 2019 and I’m very excited about getting to meet the drag queens who live and work there, undercover. Uganda is one of the hardest places in the world to be gay, trans, or do drag. So, what I’m going to do there is whatever they need me to do. Sometimes that just means lessons in hair and makeup and that’s fine with me. Whatever they need, whatever they ask for, that’s what I’m going to do.
With your drag, what would you like to educate people about?
Drag is not about fashion, makeup, or hair. It’s about a feeling and trying to figure out what that feeling is. It’s about exploring. We don’t know what drag is! I want to teach people to explore what they think it is. There are no definite answers in drag – people are slowly forgetting that. They believe there are things you need to do for drag, a way you have to be. And that’s not true.
Do you think Drag Race enforces a mold the queens have to fit into?
Look at Bob The Drag Queen. Ugly as sin, terrible fashion, can kind of dance… But has huge star power that’s bigger than makeup and clothes. Look at Acid Betty, Vivacious, Milk, Thorgy…Very different kinds of queens have been on the show. If you get yourself on Drag Race, the show will make room for you. People should keep trying to get their brand of drag on there.
Speaking of Season 8 winner Bob The Drag Queen, what’s it like having her as a mother?
It is… She gave me some literally very big shoes to fill.
Miz Cracker turns to the mirror and mumbles something. I ask if everything is ok. “Oh yeah, I was just looking at how beautiful I am,” she says, cracking up. “Sí, claro!” she continues to giggle. I tell her I agree and that I had been watching her onstage during the meet and greet and was shook with how lovely she looked. “I know, it’s really good from a distance,” she adds. Everyone laughs.
What are your views on cis and trans women who do drag?
I don’t think it’s even a conversation anymore. Cis and trans women have been doing drag for a long time. What are they going to do, stop? They’re already a part of the drag community, so to ignore them is silly.
During Season 10 there was a lot of talk about religion, but it was Christianity. You’re a Jewish queen –
– does that create a conflict with your religion?
Being a Jew doesn’t make me feel bad about doing drag. But a Jew is who I am, and drag helps me explore who I am. I’m glad I have drag to help me with that. I didn’t know how Jewish I was until I became a drag queen.
Did you know that a few days ago (Drag Race alum) Morgan McMichaels was attacked?
A man approached her in a store saying he was a Nazi and wanted to cut her throat. He tried to hit her, so she punched him and broke her hand. Have you ever experienced anything similar?
No, I’ve been very lucky. And I’m glad she punched a Nazi because I’m a Jew. I hope she is ok and that her heart is ok. Many people look to Morgan McMichaels as a mother and a role model. I send her all the fucking love.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
If you have something, work, that’s important to you, it should always come first. Never let anything get in the way. Do what you need to do for your work first. That’s what we’ve done and that’s how we survive every day, because we have a lot to do. So if you’re asking yourself “Should I go out to brunch with my friends or should I do a little more work?”… Godammit! Do the work because friends are fake, brunch is expensive, and work is real.
I thank Cracker profusely and say I love her. It may not be very professional, but I don’t care. It’s true and feels good. “Thank you, my love, yo también,” she replies warmly. We hug and I request a picture. She says “of course” and points out exactly where we should stand for the lighting to work its magic on our faces. I don’t see it until later, but a beautiful photograph ensures.
The next time we see Cracker she’s onstage in a little red dress. She lip-syncs passionately to a medley of tracks beginning with I Dreamed A Dream from Les Misérables and Once upon a time (I was a hoe) by Mariahlynn, going into It’s Oh So Quiet by Björk.
Next, she introduces a song “by a kind of obscure artist, I’m not sure you’ll know her… Jennifer Lopez,” and performs to Let’s Get loud. She adds spoken word lip-syncs, cartwheels, pirouettes, flips, dips and drops into the whole mix. She also performs the super catchy Werkin’ girl (Professional) by Shangela, shouting “Whore” right after “Pro” during the chorus.
Between numbers she chats with the crowd. “Free abortions for everybody” she states, at one point. A member of the audience hands over a pañuelo verde which she displays proudly. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, the venue erupts into cheers. “Excuse me, my daughter is asleep upstairs, if you could please be quiet… Gee, I wish I would have gotten that free abortion,” quips Cracker.
A little under an hour later, during the second show, she does Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, Girls Gone Wild by Madonna and Barbie Girl by Aqua. Before saying goodbye, Cracker requests that those who enjoyed the show tweet and post to social media about it, that way she can return soon, because “coming to Argentina is very expensive, and as you know I am Jewish.”
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