Philadelphia’s drag scene has always had it’s share of high profile stories, and that largely cane be credited to the amazing and vast talent in the City of Brotherly Love. On almost any given night, you can head into the Gayborhood and visit a litany of amazing spots, and catch a spectacular show. Queens like Satine Harlow, Bev, Brittany Lynn, and The Goddess Isis are just a few of the names leading the pack in terms of Philly Queens, and you can expect to see some of them featured in these pages very shorty. I mean, Philadelphia (South Jersey adjacent) queen Ariel Versace has been cast on Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race; Philly girls very clearly have something to say!
I caught up with Philadelphia favorite Miss Troy, who has had a storied career of her own in Philadelphia and Delaware (spawning the ultra successful Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino character, which has taken her on tour and onto the ITunes charts)!
Miss Troy and I chatted about the Philadelphia competition known as Drag Wars, which has come under scrutiny recently. From her thoughts on the actual competition to her relationship with frenemy fellow Philadephia queen Mimi Imfurst to what makes Phialdelphia queens truly amazing, Troy had plenty to say about the future of drag in the City of Brotherly Love!
The Gayborhood has been buzzing with changes that have come to Philly Drag Wars recently. Tell me generally-where do you think Drag Wars has gone wrong? That show used to really be a show for the community. To me, it was a show meant to celebrate the best our city has to offer. It was seen by me as a way to really network and get your foot in the door. Truly, competing in that show was what lead me to Philly in the first place. My drag family has a long history of competing and I wanted to give it a try. I feel like now, its a way for someone to emulate their television experience and exert power and control over a community; it’s a great money making scheme. You get super talented newcomers (twenty five at a time) to compete and only take half, and encourage them to bring their friends, because its an audience vote-based show, and charge $12. Then the host gets rich and doesn't’t have to pay out the performers.
Take me back; what has your experience with Philly Drag Wars been since it’s inception? Can you explain how it exactly works? I started performing in Philly in 2015 and I was told if you want to make it in this city, you have to do Drag Wars! My drag family (Shanae St. Cartier, Chasity St. Cartier and Cherry St. Cartier,) all competed (with the formers being the first runner up their cycle.) and I wanted to do it; I really wanted to perform. You hear all types of rumors, and the people who don’t like the host are just bitter, etc. For the most part, you believe it. I was just excited to be on that massive stage; I was in awe- and I got to work for someone who was on television! As a younger performer, it’s very exciting-then the reality sets in…and people are becoming really competitive. My first cycle, I spent nearly $3,000 on materials and got paid absolutely nothing. I made it to the finale, but in that time I was bullied and harassed about different things.
The way the competition is supposed to work is twenty contestants audition and fifteen are chosen and every week there is a challenge, where the audience picks the tops and bottoms. From there, one person is sent home. However, there are always twists and turns and tons of pressure to promote the event (without pay.)
Mimi Imfurst’s involvement added that patended RuPaul’s Drag Race shine that many venues love. Do you think it has been positive or negative for the brand? I’m sure at first it was very positive. It’s so enticing, especially to a young performer. We all believe it’s our foot in the door, so we work hard and we let things slide and we don’t talk about things for fear of not working. I think with all the allegations against her that have come to light in recent years, it’s tarnished the brand. Drag Wars is a live action version of Drag Race– a direct copy and paste formula
You and Mimi have had what many would consider a “contentious” relationship recently. What do you think happened? Any chance of repairing it? Your most recent interaction was less than “pleasant”. Details….. I am a very direct person. I also the GIF/Meme Queen and love poking fun at situations online (notorious for the Facebook status updates LOL.) Our relationship is definitely strained. I completely quit working for her after the Drag Wars All-Star finale. I just learned a lot of the night was manipulated, and she lied a lot, there was a lot of trickery on her part that left a bad taste in my mouth. She has since told me to quit drag, has threatened to “ruin me” and tried to kick me out of Voyeur. I don’t think we can repair this relationship. I do not like liars, and I don’t like people who manipulate others. I think another queen could take over that show and it would still have the same turn out. Live shows should NOT be scripted….
She definitely had a power in the city before due to her involvement on Drag Race, but I don’t think its there anymore. I also do not think people need her to work in the city either.
Who is killing it in Philadelphia’s drag scene right now? I LOVE the Philadelphia drag scene. We are so underrated it’s not even funny. We all work hard to entertain every night, and we never truly get the credit we deserve. Vinchelle and Bev are two of the hardest working queens I know! I love performers like Aloe Vera, Maria Topcatt, Iris Spectre, Zephyra Rivers, Brooklyn Ford, Sutton Fearce who kill it in their own individual styles. I also LOVE working with my family Chasity and Cherry St. Cartier. And even the next generation like Dahlia Dahmer, Lorna Doom and Paula Deen White are carving out names for themselves. Huge shoutout to my good friend Ariel Versace for making it on Drag Race Season 11!
In terms of coming up in Philly's drag scene, what tools do you think all girls should have in their arsenal to be a successful team member at Drag Wars? I believe as performers in general you need to be versatile. You need be confident in what you’re doing. You can not be afraid to ask for help. You can not be afraid to take risks. Use you resources. Be humble, be grateful and be kind. And never ever believe that you need someone else to make it. It also takes time to get to the top. Never stop growing!
What is next for your own drag career, that has been on fire recently? Thank you! I’ve worked very hard for the past few years- this last one especially. I have no plans of slowing down! I happy to co-produce my own show “Problematic” which will be celebrating it’s one year anniversary soon. I am putting together a Spice Girls tribute show! I host Gaymer night at Tabu every quarter. I am so blessed to have all these opportunities and love making people happy. The sky is the limit! Hopefully move into TV or Film acting…
What would your other alter ego Aunt Mary Pat think about all of this internal drama with the girls? Aunt Mary Pat would say STOP BEING A FRIGGIN ASSHOLE! Respect each other and don’t let nobody tell ya you need them! And GET THE MONEY FIRST!
(Mimi Imfurst was reached out to for comment prior to publication and no response was provided)