New York city drag queen icon Miss Understood presents rants, musings, and observations from her East Village headquarters.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

One Cher at a Time 

I have never ever ever been a celebrity impersonator. Well, I did do Roseanne Roseannadanna in my high school variety show, but that's about it. Well, I was hired by Crobar to assemble a group of seven "Cher's", 1980's era, to perform on the main stage and ring in the New Year. The regular Cher impersonators that I use for Screaming Queens gigs were not all available so we needed to improvise. It came together pretty well.

The highlight of my evening happened in the VIP room overlooking the stage. I was chatting with a gallery owner from Arizona who was sitting with her husband and her (very) gay friend.

Hey, did any of you ever watch the TV show "One Day at a Time"? Do you by chance remember a character named Alex? He was a cute young teenager who was added to the show in the last season or two. They always do that when the original sitcom kids grow up. He was played by Glen Scarpelli. Well, it turns out this woman's friend WAS Glen Scarpelli!! I was so excited! "You're Glen Scarpelli!?" He nodded. "Omigod! I used to masturbate over you when I was I was fourteen!" "Really?" he squealed, "Tell my Boyfriend!" So, I turned to his boyfriend who was sitting quietly sipping his vodka cranberry, and told him. He proudly answered "Yeah, well I get that cock every night!" Okay Mr. Showoff, but I never said that I masturbate over him NOW! We're talking about the early 80's! Well, he's still kinda' cuddly.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Ginger and Me 

I love fresh ginger tea! It's good for your stomach, circulation, and almost anything that ails ya... at least according to the Chinese. I trust them, they've been at it for a long time.

Just peel and slice up a ginger root and boil it for a little while. I boil it for a long time, I like it strong. Add a little lemon and honey. MMMMM. It's got a real kick to it.

While it cannot compete with fresh ginger, I also use the pre-sweetened instant ginger tea packets available in your local Chinatown. Use it instead of sugar in regular tea and you'll feel extra healthy!

Okay, my Martha moment has passed.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


I'm so excited! I'm going to see Carol Channing tomorrow! She's doing a week long appearance at a small theater Downtown. My friends and I are shocked by how little Internet play Carol gets. No fan sites?? What gives? I know, I know, I should do one myself. Well, my friend John did do a Carol essay in Blair, an online magazine:

Wow Carol tomorrow and Leigh Bowery (Taboo) Next week. That's 2 iconic freaks in 8 days!

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Google to the rescue! 

In the early 1800's a Swede, Henreich Ling, developed a specific massage and exercise routine based on physiology. It was an amalgamation of 5000 year old Asian and European techniques.

Monday, October 20, 2003

French Dressing 

I was sitting with a group of people in Gothenberg Sweden and I decided to ask them about Swedish Massage. Is it great here? Where's the best place to go for it? They had no idea what I was talking about. They were totally unaware that there was anything called "Swedish Massage". Well, was there any popular type of massage that might have originated there? Was massage in general popular there? They looked at me like I was nuts. Now I know we have a place in NY called the "Swedish Massage Institute" so it must have come from something legitimate.

We have all sorts of distorted ideas about what's from where because in America it adds some mystique to things when you associate them with something foreign. Look at Haagen-Dazs and Frusen Gladje. French Dressing? No it's not French. The kissing, I don't think they do it more than we do. The toast.. well kinda. It exists there, but it's not such a national treasure. Still, I must do some Googling and solve this massage mystery.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Leigh Bowery's Revenge 

In "Wigstock The Movie" Leigh Bowery's infamous performance which climaxed in the "live birth" was unnecessarily censored... and we could have Michael Jackson to blame. In the original performance, Leigh came out in a large, structured, elaborate costume and a face mask that resembled an extreme facelift. He sang the Beatle's "All You need is Love" to a background track and then "gave birth" to a nude, "blood" covered Nicola Bowery. This performance at Wigstock in, I think 1993, was immortalized in "Wigstock the Movie", but, like many other numbers in the film, problems arose when it came to the musical rights. The only way to keep the act in the film was to change the song. Unfortunately, Leigh was too busy dying of AIDS to record a new one, so a new one was recorded by Antony, an NY based singer. I guess the combination of the mask and some long shots helped it through, but I think it's sad that whoever owns the song couldn't work out a deal as is often done with independent films. Now we all know that Michael Jackson owns a LOT of Beatles songs.

Since that film, every year Michael Jackson looks more and more like that mask that Leigh wore during his performance. Was it a curse?

PS: Does anyone know if there's a place online to see who owns the rights to a particular song? Write me: MissU@screamingqueens.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Traveling Circus 

Sorry I haven't written in a while. Since the last post I:

-Was in a film project in Toronto (and experienced "The Blackout")
-Performed in Sweden
-Visited Prague (it was the connecting flight from Sweden)

Traveling with drag is exhausting. It's a lot of work to pack and a lot of work to put away. It's worth it if I'm going someplace interesting... or getting paid well. Sweden was lovely. I highly reccomend that you do a drag show there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Gay Crap 

I feel so detached form all this gay crap in the media right now. Gay marriage? Adopting children? I have zero sentimentality for marriage, and kids, like pets, are adorable when they are some else's. Well, of course gay marriage and adoption should be legal, it's absurd for them not to be. But it brings me, as a person, no great promises of liberation.

The gay bishop? Well, You can flush the whole Christian faith down the toilet for all I care, but hey, good for him.

Gays in the military? I don't want ANYONE in the military.

Queer Eye for the straight guy? I haven't watched it but I'm pretty sure that I WOULD NOT relate to the tastes and fashion senses of 5 pissy fags obsessed with their moisturizers and their Ralph Lauren undies. But hey, I guess it's cool they're on TV.

It's just seems that the more them gays become part of the mainstream the less I have in common with them. Some of us prefer it here on the outside. I left the suburbs for a reason.

Can you imagine if you overheard your neighbors bickering loudly about what you should wear tomorrow, the color of your couch, your haircut, and your dietary habits. This is how I feel when I read the newspaper. There are a bunch of people with strong opinions about something that's none of their goddamn business. How would any of this affect their lives anyway? Everyone's such a Gladys Kravitz!

Americans are so full of stupid ideas about what's best for everyone. What's best for "the children". They're so goddamn obsessed with "the children".
"Dear Ann Landers,
My sister-in-law has a daughter that is 8 years old and she still allows her to crawl into bed with her and her husband. I have expressed to her on many occasions that this can be very damaging to the child, but she tells me to mind my own business."

Human beings have been around for how many years? How many of those people had the luxury of multiple bedrooms? To this day in many countries entire families share one room. Is everyone in Vietnam an incestuous basket case? Americans live in a cultural bubble. Thank God for New York City!

Monday, August 04, 2003


I just saw the film "Camp." Don't miss it. It's brilliant! You know how silly it always seemed when films like "Fame" and plays like "A Chorus Line" either make it look like every guy in theater is straight OR they portray the single lonely gay guy. As if! This movie is about a theater camp and it is as queeny as the real thing must be! It's hysterical! It's so trendy on TV right now to have a one dimensional snippy queen used as comic relief. This is so much more 3D but without taking itself to seriously of self righteously. Thanks to Google I just found out that the hot guy in the cast, Daniel Letterle, is actually 24 years old. Whew! It's a relief to know that my lust is legal.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Princess Diandra and I will be performing in Gothenburg Sweden at the end of August. Since the plane changes in Prague I'll be spending some time there too. if anyone had been to either of these two places please let me know your thoughts. My email address is MissU@screamingqueens.com.

I wonder if I can find good cheap tailors in Prague? I'm so addicted to getting clothes made when I'm in Thailand. Boy AND Girl clothes!

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Rosie's Big Taboo 

I was never a big fan of Rosie O'Donnell. While I like the idea of the "real" girl next door image, I always felt Roseanne pulled that off in a much more accurate fashion.. at least for a few years. Rosie's just reminded me of the overbearing theater students I remember from college. They would consistently exhibit their dire need for attention, yet never provide you with any good reason to pay it to them. While I did like the fact that she was sort of (kinda sorta) a leftie, I found it difficult to accept a raging lesbian who spoke out about gun control yet was silent about gay rights.

Then the big coming out happened. Event that didn't initially impress me. Rosie made it clear that she was coming out only to serve the interest of children, not for any sort of gay rights agenda. if you weren't paying attention at the time, she was speaking out about a Florida case in which some gay foster parents were being denied the right to adopt a child they had raised.

But then, little by little, this Rosie thing became more interesting. She started being less "nice," a label she had been given during her talk show reign, and becoming more outspoken and opinionated. She expressed disgust for michael Jackson, got a dykey haircut, and started using fowl language in public. Now who does she remind me of? The REAL girl next door! And everybody is dumping on her for it.

Rosie is producing he Broadway production of Taboo, London's hit musical about the 80's/90's alternative club scene written by Boy George, who is portraying the infamous performance artist Leigh Bowery. This is a HUUUGE step for Rosie, who was always know for her ties to "family" projects such as "Seusical". Taboo is far from family entertainment. In fact, it may be the most subcultural thing to hit the Broadway stage in decades.

Page Six in the New York Post went off on her earlier this week. They are basically painting her as a crazed lesbian bent on offending the world. They made it sound like the billboard for the show is desecrating the otherwise pristine Times Square! The image is a paining of Leigh in gorgeous freak makeup standing in a men's room. Behind him is the back of a man at a urinal. Big deal. Times square is full of giant underwear ads! The Taboo poster is a refreshing bit of art in an ocean of mediocrity.

There was a phase, let's say between 17 and 25, when many of my peers found ourselves and hooked up with like minded people. I mean this in terms of:
A) Coming out and exploring the ins and outs of gay culture and identity and
B) Discovering and experiencing alternative culture, going to clubs, getting into non-mainstream bands, etc.

Rosie's going through that phase now. I think she spent so much time in a more mainstream culture pursuing her standup and acting, and later her TV career, that she never really found the time to let loose and explore. I doubt she knew who Leigh Bowery WAS before she saw Taboo in London.

My friend John thinks she's just a hypocrite. She made a lot of money while pretending to be something she's not and now she expects us to respect her. I can't completely argue with him, he's right. But hey, who wouldn't tone it down to have a TV show and make millions. It's awfully tempting.

What I have to commend her for is being able to say "Enough already!" How many people who have achieved such mainstream fame ever just jump off the carousel to follow their heart? Why does Donald Trump continue building? He could give away 75% of his money and not feel it one bit. How much can a person spend in pursuit of happiness? Why doesn't he spend the rest of his life building free hospitals in Africa? Madonna likes to speak out against materialism but when will she stop practicing it? I have rarely seen a celebrity or a prominent wealthy person every make a real sacrifice. I think Rosie made a big one. She said "Hey, I have more money than I'll ever need, so why don't I just stop kissing everyone's ass all day and just do my thing!" Or maybe it wasn't so big. Maybe her way of living before was becoming so painful that she HAD to stop. Maybe other celebrities in her position who don't stop just become drug addicts or Scientologists as a way of coping.

My point, if I have one, is that media in America is all about phoniness. Any attempt at being yourself is criticized. Remember all the hubbub about Roseanne screeching out the national Anthem at some sports event? Big deal. If your kooky aunt did it you'd laugh and think it was cute.

Anyway, I can't wait to see Taboo!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Sweat in The City 

I went on an audition today. It was for a one-line part on Sex and The City. I hate auditions. I spent three hours getting ready, I had to cab over to Queens, and I had to wait in a hot room for an hour. It was sweltering today and I was wearing one of my special sequin numbers: pretty but WARM! Then, I get to say the line twice and it's over. I know if they let me say it 10 or 12 times that they would definitely like one version, but they never give you that much time. It's just hard to be myself in such uncomfortable circumstances. Well, working in my favor was the fact that very few queens wanted to audition because they only wanted to see you if you auditioned dressed. For me, that's a full day's work. I'm very picky about going on auditions. It has to pay well or be prestigious. I gave up being an "extra" years ago.

We'll see. It's not like being on that show is sooooo important. It's just that after going through all that trouble it's nice to see it pay off. I was actully on the 1st episode of the 1st season. We sang "Happy Birthday" at Lucky Cheng's. That was my last extra job. I felt ripped off because they were able to focus on me so much and still consider me an extra. Still, I'm glad I did it. It got seen by a lot of people.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


Every time someone gets it in their head to try to portray drag queen in a film or a TV show, they always get it wrong. Sometimes they get it MORE wrong.

Did anyone see "Flawless"? What a disaster! I suspected from the premise that I wouldn't like it, but I thought I should see it and give it a chance. Also, several NY queens got peripheral roles. So, I rented it on DVD.

Phillip Seymore Hoffman plays a hideous and pathetic queen named "Rusty" who lives to sing and longs for a sex change. You'd never know it since not only does she not wear a wig but she actually wears a headband to pull back her thin hair so that we can get a good look at her male pattern baldness. Pretty pretty!

Anyway, we're supposed to be all moved when she befriends her homophobic neighbor. Oh boo hoo! What crap! As if there aren't enough worthwhile people to make friends with in Manhattan! They make it seem like no one appreciates drag. I've been in this neighborhood for well over a decade, and I can tell you that people in the streets here LIVE for drag queens! Rusty's just this lonely whiney miserable creature that is mocked from every direction. Maybe it was that head band. I'd probably call her names too.

They play off the East Village as a gritty war zone full of violent gangs. I hated Rusty so much that whenever there was shooting I kept hoping she'd take a bullet in her ugly balding head!

IMPORTANT Disclosure:
I did audition for this film. I got called back twice. That's 3 days of my life wasted. Still, I swear that's not why I hated the film. I will say, though, that the director, Joel Schumacher, left a bad taste in my mouth. He just creeped me out. The whole Monica Lewinsky thing had just happened, and he wanted to know our opinion on it. I basically said that it shouldn't matter if they had sex in his office. Who cares? You do lots of personal things in your office: Eat lunch, make phone calls, etc. So what if they fuck? It's probably very common for people to screw in their office.

Joel wasn't having it! His opinion was that "yes, everybody DOES do it, but when you get CAUGHT, you must FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!" Not only did I think that his logic had no logic, but I also felt that I was being judged based upon my political opinions at an audition.

Well, the silver lining to all of this is that Mona Foot, Jackie Beat, Michelle Dupree, Joey Arias, and Tatiana Jackson, a bunch of great NY queens, are all collecting their residuals for their parts in this stinker. Hats off to them!

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Crack That Back! 

I love a good massage more than just about anything. Heels and a corset can really screw up my back and my neck. I've become addicted to Qi Gung (Chee-Gong) massage. In the past few years these little storefront massage places have opened up all over the city. After some trial and error I've located the perfect place and the perfect guy. He's the best. He walks on my back and digs his big toe into all of the spaces between the ribs and the vertebrae. He's a genius. His name is "Michael", though since he's obviously a recent immigrant, I assume that it's really something in Chinese and that "Michael" is his professional prounouncable-to-Americans name. I kinda have the hots for him, though it's probably best that that nothing nasty never happens behind the curtain. See, if he did try to get all jiggy, I certainly wouldn't say no. But then he'd have no time to work his magic on my back, which, as I've already said, I love more than anything. I really do.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Nineteen Eighty Whore 

This year has been a big 80's year for me. Not just fashion-wise (I've been doing a lot of spiky hair, leg warmers, and dolman sleeves) but schmoozy-wise. I seem to keep meeting 80's new wave figures that I've always admired. I met Nina Hagen several times. She's on a New York kick lately. I ran into Pete Burns (of "Dead or Alive" for the clueless) along with bandmember Steve and had a nice little chat about nightlife, androgeny, etc. Then Boy George showed up one night at Cabaret Magique, a small bohemian gathering I've been frequenting on Wednesdays. I actually didn't talk to George. When I'm not in drag there's no easy way to break the ice. Still, it was lovely to see her all painted and lovely. I really admire that she still enjoys being a freak. So many feel they must tone it down at a certain age. I think George will follow in the footsteps of the great queens of our time: Quentin Crisp, Flawless Sabrina, Eartha Kitt, and Cher. If you have an outrageous rebellious streak in you, can either be self destructive or channel it creatively. George has music and fashion. Nina has religion, music, and her ...ummm...OFFBEAT persona. Pete has surgery, vanity, fashion, and music.

For anyone who hasn't noticed, Pete Burns is pulling some OUTRAGEOUS looks lately! It's not just his excessive surgical enhancements, but also the brilliant styling he works around them. He has really put himself in a position that makes him a subject of awe and a constant target of criticism as well. For that I have a lot of admiration. It takes a lot of self determination to permanently transform yourself into someone who stands out to that degree.

Over the years I've heard many stories about what a difficult person he is to deal with. While this may be true, I'm sure he's had to deal with lot more animosity being thrown at him than he has had the energy to toss back. When I met him I inadvertently insulted him. He overhead me describing his look for the evening as "Amanda Lepore meets Liza." It was just a way for me find words to describe the gorgeously painted pouty lips paired with a sleek, short, black hairdo. I think he thought I was implying that his look was derivative. He, like many of us, takes pride in his uniqueness. When he heard me, he seemed upset, not angry or bitchy. Who knows, maybe in his youth he was snappy and defensive, but I've found that an acid tongue is often defense mechanism used by queens (and related nonconformists) to shield themselves from attacks. Of course I felt awful! Here's someone who inspired us all for years and here I am upsetting him! I had to explain the whole loudmouth New York Jew thing to him. I think he was okay with it.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Miss Underblog 

Welcome to my blog. If you would like to know what I do with my time you can take a peek at my website: www.screamingqueens.com. Yes, I'm a professional drag performer...and pimp to a whole crew of others. Is it fun? Sometimes. It's also a job like any other. It can be draining. Still I am very happy that I lived this long and managed to avoid the 9-5 thing. I'm addicted to new experiences, and those come very rarely when you're punching a clock every day. I only held a job like that for three and a half years and it was hell. I work harder now, but it's more satisfying.

There's this point in most people's lives, usually between 21 and 25, when they take out their earrings, cut their hair, and basically assimilate. That's when the real bohemians begin to stand out. The people in my life I admire the most are the ones who reach 50 or 60 and still have their outrageous streak. Number one on my list right now is Jack Doroshow, aka Mother Flawless Sabrina.

For you cult film fans, she is the star of the 1969 film "The Queen," a documentary about a 1967 drag pageant. In the film she comes off as a more ladylike Joan Rivers. These days she's more of a punk rock grandma! She's 63 (as far as she'll admit) and has been showing her face, in full freak drag, at least four times a week, for the past several years. She is den mother to a whole community of young queens and artfags. I hope I can post photos on this blog thing, you must see how gorgeous she is. There's much more I can say about her, but it's late. Comments? Questions? Email me at MissU@screamingqueens.com.

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