‘No more Mr. Nice Gay’

Miss Coco Peru returns to Charlotte in ‘Ugly Coco’

I saw on your website that Charlotte’s McGlohon Theatre is one of your favorite performing venues. What makes it so special?
When I was there the last time, I had never been to that area before. I’m always nervous about whether my humor will go over in a new place. The people who invited me there were delightful and polite and, well, very Southern. (laughs) The audience was just so excited. Immediately, they made me feel comfortable on stage and afterwards everyone was very appreciative. To feel appreciated as an artist and to have people tell you that they’ve been inspired, makes you feel like what you’re doing is worthwhile. That’s a great thing to experience.

Charlotte’s a great city. I thought it was very charming. They took me to a great restaurant the last time I was there and it had great food! Sometimes when you live in New York City or L.A. you think, “Well, this is it,” and then you go to other smaller cities and there are great communities of people doing really great things — and eating well! (laughs).

You said you first went into drag as sort of an activist. With this aftermath over California’s Proposition 8 and all the protests, some people are saying this is our community’s ‘Second Stonewall.’ Do you agree?
I think so. People are debating on TV whether these protests are good or bad. I think it is great! I’m so proud of my community — that we’re so outraged. Often I’ve been treated as a second-class citizen because I do drag and often that happens inside my own community. I feel like I’ve been outraged for years. When you walk down the street in full drag and people either smile at you and acknowledge you or others are screaming horrible things — Drag really cuts through the bullshit. You find out real quick who’s really on your side. With this proposition, I think people realize that there really are people out there who aren’t on our side. People whose restaurants they’ve eaten at. People they do business with and work with. I’m glad they’re outraged. I’m glad people are doing what they need to do. this is how change gets made, you know. I’m not saying go out and protest and get violent, but I think the protests are a great thing. I saw a sign someone had at a protest recently. It said, “No more Mr. Nice Gay.” I’m so glad people are standing up. I don’t feel so alone in the world anymore.

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How do you think you use your performances to connect to people? To institute change?
I want people to watch my show and forget they are watching a man in a dress. I want it to get to the point where it stops being about what I’m wearing and it be totally about the story. If straight people come to my show and they leave forgetting that I am a drag queen or that I’m gay and they leave relating to all my stories from a human perspective, then that might change their mind about how they feel about gay people. They’ll think, “Hey, if I connected with this person, maybe gay people aren’t so bad after all.”

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What’s some advice you’ve got for young and aspiring drag performers today?
I always tell people they should figure out how to express themselves. Don’t just completely imitate someone else. That for me was what was so great. I sort of thought about how I could make my mark. I knew that I was good at telling stories and writing and singing a bit. I decided I was going to be drag queen that actually talks and tells stories. No one was telling autobiographical stories, you know. I thought, “This is how I’m going to stand out.” You just have to ask yourself what’s special about you? Try to stand out and be yourself, don’t get caught up in drugs and don’t have too many drinks. Be kind to other people. Sometimes in drag we get called out for being bitches and mean drag queens. Most of the drag queens I know are fun people, who do a lot of great community service and are just themselves.

— Queen City Theatre Company will present Miss Coco Peru’s “Ugly Coco” on Dec. 6 in McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square. For more information, visit www.queencitytheatre.com.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.