New York City Drag Superstar Pissi Myles-On Her Theater Roots, Her Drag Inspirations & Why Paying Your Dues Is Crucial

With inspirations like Carol Burnett and a degree in musical theater, Pissi Myles is the definition of a professional. From Asbury Park, N.J. to New York City to Philadelphia, Myles has perfected her craft and spun it into weekly shows in New York City and even starring in her own stage show. Somehow, Myles found time to chat with me about her beyond busy schedule, her career aspirations, and offers up some sage advice for the children. 

Michael Cook: For those that have never seen Pissi Myles on stage, how would you describe your performance style and “drag” as a whole?

Pissi Myles:The best words to describe me are "fat, funny, and fabulous"! I like to make everything funny, I don't think anything is off the table when it comes to humor. At a Pissi Myles performance you're getting live singing, lots of jokes, and probably hepatitis.

M.C.: You are known to sing live and be one of the most premiere comedy queens around !  How do you choose your material? Any favorites that really stand out? 

P.M.: Well, I have my degree in musical theater, so I draw a lot of inspiration from musicals and movies. I like to write comedic parodies of songs, so it could be anything from "Everyone's Coming on Pissi" ("Everything's Coming Up Roses"- Gypsy) to What About Lube ("What About Love"- Heart). A lot of times, it just starts with me hearing a song, and the gears in my brain clicking into place and saying, "Hey, wait, we can make this filthy…"


 

P.M.: I also like to do some original writing- scripts for stage and videos, and I draw a ton of inspiration from writers like Elaine May and Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, and Neil Simon. I like slapstick, silly humor, borderline nonsensical! I really love those golden age of film and television writers. I call it "stupid smart".

M.C: How did Pissi Myles get her start in the extremely competitive New Jersey/New York City drag scene? Asbury Park has a special place in your heart I hear….

P.M.: Asbury Park is VERY special to me! I got my start at Christy's Classic Drag contest at Georgie's in Asbury Park, and it's still one of my favorite places in the whole world. From there, I moved Pissi to Philadelphia where I won Mimi Imfurst's Drag Wars, and produced my own shows, where I really built my name working with the top performers in Philly and NYC- people like Bob the Drag Queen, Peppermint, Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Miz Cracker, Monet X Change… basically anyone who got onto RuPaul's Drag Race came through my show at some point! But they had to deny it to get on the show.

P.M.: After that, I moved back to New Jersey for a little while before I came to New York City about a year ago. Since then, I've started four new weekly shows at bars in NYC, produced a crazy amount of web and music content, and even wrote, produced, and starred in my own stage show at the Triad theater! It's been a long 12 months, and I'm ready for a nap.

M.C.: You are married to graphic designer David Ayllon, who had his own magical talents. What is it like being in such a creatively wonderful partnership?

P.M.: It's really great until the dishwasher has to get emptied, then the only creative thing we can come up with is a reason not to do it.

He really is amazing. He's one of the most supportive people in the world, and he inspires me all the time. I wouldn't be able to do any of the things I do without him.

M.C.: What are some of your career highlights so far? 

P.M.: The first one that comes to mind is having performed at the resurgence of Lady Bunny's legendary Wigstock! That was a really wonderful experience. I walked into the dressing room and Jackie Beat, Varla Jean Merman, Bianca Del Rio, and Flotilla DeBarge were sitting there getting ready. I was like, "What the fuck am I doing here???"

I'm really proud of a lot of the shows I've gotten to produce- most recently I wrote and starred in a Christmas show called "The Christmas Wish", and that was absolutely the largest undertaking of mine to date. I had such a great time, though, that I think that's the direction my career is headed in. Doing scripted comedy was so rewarding, and I want to do a lot more of that.

M.C.: What is left that you want to achieve as Pissi Myles? Any aspirations to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race perhaps? There have been rumblings about you….

P.M.: Ohhhhh I don't know. I suppose anything could happen when it comes to Drag Race, I never say never. For me, though, I'm really focusing on original theater and music. I just want to make people laugh, and I've been able to do it successfully so far! "The Christmas Wish" was over sold as far as ticketing, so I would really like to bring more live theatrical productions to NYC, and even start touring them if I can. I'd also really like an endorsement deal from Weight Watchers, I've done nothing but talk about them since I started! I've lost thirty pounds and my dignity so far.

M.C.: Speaking of Drag Race several  NYC girls have won. How do you think the show as a whole has been for the drag community? 

P.M.: I mean, I started doing drag because Drag Race showed me that drag could be a career. Before that I never would have started, even though I loved drag. I was so focused on being a successful actor that I never could have seen myself doing this, and it turns out that this was what I should have been doing all along. Drag Race is a great jumping off point for girls- it gives people a platform that didn't exist before, and I couldn't ever knock that.

M.C.: You are part of a group of ladies who have raised the bar for drag in New York City and beyond and bring a ton of polish and professionalism. What advice do you have for ladies just starting out? 

P.M.: Pay your dues! Listen to the more experienced queens, and take the advice. Cultivate skills and be good at what you do. Don't get into this if you're not prepared to do the work that goes with it. Build skills besides lip syncing. And don't take life advice from Michael Alig.

M.C.: The gay community has had a very trying year and politically things are very dark. What do you think are the biggest issues facing our community and what do you see as your part in helping to address them? 

P.M.: Honestly, the thing that makes me the saddest is seeing our community lose its focus. We attack each other over everything, forgetting that there are people who actually hate us and want to see us fail. I wish our community would loosen up a little. I honestly think the remedy is for people to step away from social media. Go out and be among your peers, see people, enjoy their presence. All the news is so overwhelming that to be on Facebook or instagram, or even Twitter all day where you're inundated with all of this awful news is overwhelming. Put your phone down and go to a drag show! Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself, or your neighbor. Don't take everything so seriously, it's not worth it.

M.C.: It’s the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall this year; What does “pride” mean to you?

P.M.: Especially this year, as it's the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot, pride is remembering the people that came before you and honoring their legacy. There are people who have fought and died through oppression, violence, illness, and legislation for the rights we have, and Pride honors their hard work and furthers it. Whether it's Marsha P. Johnson or Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones, Larry Kramer… even people like Lady Bunny! Go out and learn your history! Lift them up and celebrate them. Don't try to lift Bunny, though, you're setting yourself up for failure. And a hernia.

M.C.: Most importantly’-where can people see you perform?! 

P.M.:Anywhere, darlings! You can find me on Mondays at Rise Bar with Jasmine Rice Labeija, Wednesdays at Industry with Epiphany Get Paid, Thursdays in my solo show at Pieces, or Sundays at the legendary Barracuda with Sherry Pie. You can also find my out of town schedule and special engagements at PissiMyles.com! SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST. My husband always yells at me for not making people do it.

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