Newly minted Charlotteans — Queens of the Queen City, if you will — partners Nic Nichols and Christopher Booher immediately embraced their new home, making a splash with their drag production and management collective The Vanity House. In a special dual interview, qnotes presents a backstage pass to the pair’s unique vision, inimitable enthusiasm…and one small brush with disaster.
Where are you from originally? How long have you lived in the area?
Nic Nichols: Originally I grew up on a peanut farm in southern Virginia. I’ve lived here for five years.
Christopher Booher: Born and raised in sunny southern California. I’ve been here for three years.
What can you tell me about the history of The Vanity House?
CB: The idea of The Vanity House has been around for almost 10 years, its title I used in my career as a hair stylist and makeup artist and when event planning and the beautiful world of drag came along. It seemed like the perfect match to add even more talents to The Vanity House.
What sets The Vanity House apart from other production companies in the area?
CB: We strive to create a safe place of equality for our performers and guests. The event that you’d say put us on the map, our Drag Brunch, is hosted at Vida Cantina (Uptown). We purposely chose a venue not typically known as an LGBTQ+ establishment in order to bridge the divide, put the LGBTQ+ community in the center of our city and invite the straight community to embrace us as well, and it has worked.
NN: We want to send the message that everyone is welcome to our events. You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community we welcome all!
What was your goal in founding The Vanity House? Was it solely a question of entertainment, or do you envision having a particular role in the community?
NN: The idea of starting The Vanity House was a lot more simple than it became. We just simply wanted a Drag Brunch to go to. We never thought it would take off and now that it has, we are so grateful for all the doors it’s opened for us.
What excites or inspires you about working with drag performers?
NN: I love to see the impact they have on audience members. People sit in awe of them, and it’s really magical to watch.
CB: Watching the creativity and growth of the performers is such an amazing experience to witness.
Are you, either as individuals or as a company, involved in the local LGBTQ community or Charlotte-area institutions in any other way?
CB: We like to feel that we have always been a part of the community ever since moving to Charlotte. We are friends of and support many of the local LGBTQ+ institutions and have been warmly embraced.
NN: We are always seeking ways to better our community and looking forward to being involved in any way we can.
How do you each contribute to the work that The Vanity House does?
NN: Each of us has our own talents and abilities that help create a successful business.
CB: With the help of family and close friends, we are very self-sufficient.
Before you started The Vanity House, did you have any experience owning your own companies?
NN: I actually had several years’ experience in managing business but, as far a drag goes, I was a huge supporter of the local drag scene, and going to shows was just a hobby.
CB:I was (and still am) an independent contractor for many years doing hair and makeup in the entertainment industry and had to manage my own career.
In addition to event production, you manage a number of entertainers, including Pandora Mystere, Jack Dahlia and Erica Chanel. Has talent management always been part of your plan?
NN: No, it was not in the plan to begin with, but it’s been the most incredible rewarding experience just to be a part of the amazing things each of them are doing.
CB: It’s been a honor to work with them and watch them grow. I look forward to being on this journey with their faith in us.
What’s surprised you most about the experience of running The Vanity House?
CB: The most surprising part is that this job never sleeps. You still have the 9-5 aspect, but yet most of the time the real work is from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. in the morning.
Every producer knows that, no matter what, the show must go on. Have you ever had to deal with a last-minute crisis in order to pull off an event?
NN: Yes!! We actually had a RuPaul guest not show up for the show and didn’t let us know until a few hours before the show that she would not be joining us. We had to pull some connections to “save the day” and, luckily, everything worked out fantastic, and we still had a sold out show and everyone had a great time!
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment, either with The Vanity House or otherwise?
NN: Producing drag shows was just an idea that we tossed around on a cross country drive, and bringing that dream to life was the real accomplishment.
CB: I’d say our first show because it took almost a year of setbacks to get the show off the ground.
Imagine fulfilling your ultimate professional aspiration. What does that look like?
NN: I absolutely love to travel, so to take our show on the road would be amazing! Just to show other people who live in towns that don’t get to experience a show like ours would be so rewarding.
CB: Being able to do tours and go out and bring our vision to people everywhere would be the ultimate dream.
And finally, what would you say to readers who’ve never seen a drag performance, or who aren’t sure they’d enjoy one?
NN: Give it a try! A drag performance is an experience that anyone can go to and feel included and just have a good time!
CB: Drag is truly for everyone whether you like dance, comedy, singing, costumes or hair there is a place for you. : :