How did you meet Shea Couleé? Why did you join Lipstick City as a producer?
I have a story that I suspect is becoming more common in drag communities across the country due to the popularity of Drag Race--over the course of May 2013 I binge watched seasons 2-5 of drag race (season 5 wrapped airing that month). For a while I only attended drag race events, then realized I should start seeing shows in the Chicago community. One of the first ever drag matinees I ever attended, I saw Shea perform. I was introduced to her after the show and we talked about how her dress reminded me of the Beyoncé video "why don't you love me" and she told me that video was a huge source of her drag inspiration. I would say the rest is history, but it took about another year before we became familiar enough with each other to become close friends.
Around the beginning of summer last year, I offered to help Shea with some of her scheduling to help keep her calendar organized. That offer quickly snowballed--Dan, Shea, and myself joined forces to work on creating Shea's website and fully fleshing out her brand. Then one morning, Shea woke up and said she had a film idea. Shea is the kind of creative mind whose vision is so clear you just have to see where it's going to go. I had never worked on a project like this but I was at a point in my life where I wanted to challenge myself and see what I was truly capable of, so I decided to see it through to its fruition with Shea and Dan. For a long time "Lipstick City" had no title at all, and then was just "Lipstick". It became Lipstick City when we decided we wanted the title to have connotations of an alternate reality as opposed to just a one word title. Shea came up with both Lipstick and Lipstick City of course, but I was a huge advocate for "Lipstick Menace" for a second there :)
What was the biggest lesson you took from this experience?
I'm torn between my biggest lesson being the things I learned about myself and my value as a creative contributor versus something incredibly practical. Let's just say...my biggest takeaway is that you have to communicate about everything to the point it feels like over communicating, and get it all in writing!!!!
What about drag inspires you?
This question immediately makes me think of that line in Party Monster--"I'm not addicted to drugs, I'm addicted to glamour." Except insert drag for drugs. I just love glamour and fashion so much.
I studied art and gender/women's studies in college, but then on top of that I've always been an avid pop culture fiend and obsessed with femininity as a whole. Drag is basically the encapsulation of everything I'm interested in. I think the biggest draw overall is that drag represents an opportunity to shape and reshape a person's identity while exploring a deeply personal desire to express yourself visually...as a queer person, I think the most harmful part of compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that you have to live one kind of life to be accepted or to live a "good" life, and drag is constantly pushing against the boundaries of what it means to live a good life. And I have so much respect for an art form that basically blows the game wide open and says "hi i'm here to be my most authentic self, even if you don't understand it." It's beautifully vulnerable.