One of this city’s most beloved female celebrity illusionists, South Carolina-born drag queen Delighted Tobehere made her mark very quickly here in NYC. This was thanks in part to a memorable spot on “America’s Got Talent,” and to immediately winning a flashy new pageant just ten days after she got here! Now part of the Hardware/Pieces bar family, she continues to turn heads with three weekly shows. And on May 9th, Delighted returns to support the pageant that also helped make her a star. She’s also about to do a lot of traveling (at the time of this interview she was on her way to Austin) so Thotyssey is glad to get this time with Delighted Tobehere before she’s delighted to be elsewhere!
Thotyssey: Hi Delighted! Are you getting ready for the Austin International Drag Festival now? And is this your first time performing there?
Delighted Tobehere: It is! Though with it being just the second year for AIDF and DragCon, I don’t feel that I’m too terribly late to the party [laughs]. I’m honored to be one of the featured headliners for the festival! Friday, I’ll be co-starring with the incomparable Nina West for the Diva Deluxe show, which will feature some NYC talent: JizzaBella and Holly Box-Springs! Saturday I’ll perform at the Day Drag Showcase. I go on around 5 so it’s not toooo daytime drag. Whew!
Break a leg! Should be a great show, and thanks for finding the time to chat! Austin’s one of those great southern environments where people are open-minded and free-spirited.
Thank you! I’ve always heard wonderful things about Austin and I look forward to experiencing the city first hand!
You’re from the Carolinas, and right now North Carolina with its bathroom laws is definitely not one of those free-spirited environments. Does this law surprise you, being from South Carolina and presumably familiar with the social politics there?
I just want to say to the Republicans “Bless yer heart,” because they’ve been going to the bathroom with transgender individuals their entire life. I’ve always been told that if you want to stop a crime, think like the criminal. So I suggest that if they want to stop molestation in the bathrooms, folks should have a chat with former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
With regards to The Carolinas, you will find no more welcoming people than Carolinians. We have over ten LGBT pride festivals across the states, from small prides like OBX Pridefest, Salisbury Pride, and Upstate Pride SC, to our larger festivals SC Pride and Charlotte Pride, which has had over 100,000 in attendance for the past couple years!
The few lawmakers in the General Assembly ironically don’t truly represent the state they serve (possibly because of the gerrymandered districts, but I digress). So don’t cast judgement on the Carolinas and its people. They’re wonderful folks and we have some incredibly progressive cities.
Did I mention we have trees and Barbecue? And sweet tea.
You have such a rich, deep, gorgeous voice. When and how did singing enter your life?
I started singing in elementary school, then in numerous church choirs, and then in college at Clemson University. My grandmother was my number one fan when it came to me singing. She’d take me to rehearsals and stay to listen.
What’s interesting is that I was taught as a tenor in college, but I have a pretty decent lower range, so it’s fun to play with during shows!
So, when did you decide you wanted to be an entertainer?
I’ve always wanted to entertain folks. I think you just know. I didn’t, however, think that I’d make a living doing it, or that it would manifest in the form of a drag queen!
You’ve been a queen for about fifteen years, which is quite awhile, especially by drag standards! And you started long before RuPaul’s Drag Race was around to teach the nation how to do it. So, How did you begin?
I started by doing a talent show with The Armorettes, the Infamous Camp Drag Queens of the South in Atlanta, GA. They were based out of Backstreet Atlantaon Charlie Brown’s stage at the time, so it was quite the honor. Those bearded queens taught me a lot! As a young, impressionable, baptist youngin’, I found out that you didn’t have to want to be woman to do drag – a common misconception about drag even to this day – even within our LGBT community. The Armorettes solely exist to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities, so it helped corral your ego when you realized you were performing for a higher purpose.
You were Roxy C. Moorcox for awhile before changing it to Delighted Tobehere. Your name now is certainly impossible to forget, is that why you changed it?
I was Roxy for much longer than a while…14 years! I realized that if I wanted to do more mainstream things, that my name might be a little too naughty and would need to change. I came up with Delighted Tobehere because I’m a pretty spiritual person, and wanted to have a daily reminder to live in the moment. Fun fact: five days after I announced my name change, I landed my spot on America’s Got Talent…I took that as a pretty good omen [laughs].
While we’re on that topic! It was a short, but memorable performance you did on AGT. What was that whole experience like?
I had the best experience imaginable. From the producers, to the crew, to the judges. It certainly was a long day of filming…you gotta have B-Roll, ya know.
I am grateful for the exposure and the opportunity. It was the first time my parents had ever seen me perform in drag, and I think it in some way validated my career choice in their eyes. I would have loved to continue on the show, but the further you go on some shows the longer the contract you sign…so I’ll take it as a win! I really had a great time and it’s something I won’t soon forget.
Why didn’t we see you again on the show, though? All the judges put you through to the next round!
A question for the ages! It does happen quite frequently on the show, so I’m not alone [laughs] I was a part of the producers cut in between rounds. They always put through more than they need during the auditions. The kindness on their part is that they liked me enough to air my performance! They really were great to work with.
So, when did you start doing illusions of famous divas, like Dolly, Liza, Reba, Adele, and… Adam Lambert?
I’d say about 6 or 7 years ago was when I started becoming serious about it. I don’t know many queens who haven’t shoved balloons in a dress for a quick Dolly moment!
Adam?!? You’ve done your homework! I haven’t pulled him out of the closet for some time now…I mainly blame his new facial hair, because he was always fun.
I certainly don’t claim perfection on all of my illusions, as there’s always something to learn or work on. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. I have a lot of fun with them, and that keeps me interested. I hope my audiences love them as much as I do!
It must be such a complex process to create an illusion. You really have to closely study the celebrity’s jaw line, eye size, cheekbones, every detail. I imagine when you discover an application that works, then that’s the way to do it, and it becomes a paint-by-numbers thing every time you do it after?
You’re absolutely right. Anything you do multiple times gets easier. Makeup-wise, most queens know the basic techniques of highlight and shadow… celebrity illusion just affects how you use those techniques. However, some of the greatest illusionists don’t look dead on, but their embodiment of the character sells it. For me it’s like watching a magic show. It’s incredible!
So, New York’s Best in Drag! That’s a prestigious pageant and wonderful AIDS fundraiser that you won last year. And you were in New York only ten days then! That must have been a wild and scary experience, right?
Wild and scary! Absolutely! The first seven of those days were crashing at Bob The Drag Queen’s Home for Wayward Queens. So I’m not sure I had even unpacked when I competed! A friend of mine signed me up and I just said Yes so I could meet more queens in the city…and I did! Some queens that I will never lose contact with.
I’m not the biggest pageant queen, but I will say that Best In Drag was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in drag. The queens were in the wings of the stage cheering each other on! That certainly comes with competing for something with a higher purpose, but these girls were amazing to work with and extremely talented! So that made the experience a lot less stressful.
And now you’re involved in promoting the pageant this year, which will be at the Fashion Institute of Technology on May 9th. Who’s hosting this time?
And what will you be doing onstage, as the 2015 winner?
I just get to do a little ditty and look purdy! I’ve been welcomed onto the organizing committee, so I’ve been helping behind the scenes this year preparing for an even bigger event! We moved to FIT this year, which doubled the size of the house from last year! So we’ve got room for all of the supporters of these ten queens fighting it out to take the title!
It looks like a really interesting lineup of contestants this year, from familiar faces that we all know are fierce to newcomers who look equally fierce. But there are so many drag pageants in the city now. What do you think makes this one stand out?
First and foremost, the organization. ASCNYC has supported the residents of NYC for 25 years providing quality HIV/AIDS services, recovery assistance, and even housing. 87 cents of every dollar donated goes directly back to services.
The pageant is a way to bring awareness and funds to the organization while celebrating the fabulous art of drag. ASCNYC’s motto is Positive Change, and we see #TransformationTuesday pictures every week of queens becoming their fabulous selves. Likewise, the transformations that happen at ASCNYC are equally as fabulous!
I would also add the sheer scale of the event is impressive. The production is put on by professional stage managers and organizers, and directed by the famed ballet dancer Robert La Fosse. We want this to become a NYC tradition where the best of the best come to duke it out for a very worthy cause!
Definitely a can’t miss evening for drag show fans, and all for an amazing cause! Let’s get to your weekly gigs.
First, it’s Balls to the Wall Bingo at Pieces for Sunday happy hour. I always admire a great bingo queen, because you have to cater to the players who care about nothing except bingo, as well as the audience who want to see a show and doesn’t give a shit about bingo, and everybody in-between. What’s the key to successful bingo hosting?
Killer wit and a friendly face! You’re talking for three hours straight, so hopefully you have something interesting and funny to say. I love my regulars and the newbies, and it’s fun to watch the shock on their faces when a seven foot tall drag queen says “I’m glad you’re here!”
The owners definitely welcomed me in to the Pieces/Hardware family and found places for me in their lineup! Pixie, DJ 2Face and I sat around a dinner table one night and came up with Late Night Tea…Your favorite morning show…at night! We cover all the hot topics that you’d expect to see on Kathie Lee and Hoda, with performances as commercial breaks! It was a risk, to cover in-depth topics and have deep conversations at 11PM on a Tuesday night in Hell’s Kitchen, but it works! It’s one of my favorite nights because the audience gets so involved!
Now, you and Brita Filter have been doing a Broadway-themed Wednesday night at Pieces for a while, but now Brita’s gone off to do Skinny Brunch at Hardware on Sundays with Jasmine Rice… and you now have a new co-star! Are you excited?
Oh, you two will be great together! Two of the most Broadway-est Broads in the Biz.
Yes! She welcomed me into her Sing, Queen! competition, and now we’re working side by side…by side.
By the way, are you pursuing any non-drag musical theater these days?
That’s a world I’ve always dreamed of, and now it’s so close you can taste it. So, I have not thrown my hat into the ring, yet, but no risk, no reward! I’m hoping to dust off my auditioning chops soon!
You Are Here was a one-queen showcase you created and performed at the Duplex in March. Any plans to reprise that, or create something similar?
Absolutely! I’ve been so lucky to find a partner in crime to work on these solo shows! Craig Symons has been incredible to work with, and we absolutely plan on more shows in the very near future. Some, in fact, that you might could watch from your couch! So stay tuned!
Very intriguing! So, It seems you’re gonna do some traveling soon.
Oh gosh, well, I’m on the road a lot! I’ll be in Ft. Lauderdale with Porsche this weekend for Cinco De Mayo. And Pride season is coming up, so I’ve got 5 or 6 of those on my calendar, which is exciting. LA and London tours are being fleshed out. So it’s going to be a great second year in NYC. I look forward to working with more queens, and meeting more folks in the community!
You are a bust queen bee! Okay… finally, as a veteran queen who’s seen many stages of drag appreciation and popularity, what’s something that people gay and straight alike need to understand about the world of drag that maybe they don’t?
We all love a good read every now and then, but I’m not sure when meanness and bitterness took hold of the reigns. Like cats playing with each other to learn how to hunt and defend themselves, reading was practiced between queens to hone their skills, to defend themselves against attacks from outside the community. For some reason, sometimes, the attacks have turned inward. The malicious reads, the infighting, the bar wars…people see that, and since we as queens are leaders in this community, the audience copies us. This leads to audiences who would rather look for what’s wrong with someone on stage than enjoy their performance! Reading is fundamental, but only if it’s fun!
Right now, I just want folks to enjoy life. Whether you’re in an audience or on the stage, I want you to be delighted to be there.
I hear, and read, that! Thanks, Delighted!
Delighted Tobehere iwill perform at the “New York’s Best in Drag” pageant at the Fashion Institute of Technology on May 9th, which starts at 6:30pm. During the week, she hosts bingo at Pieces Sundays starting at 5pm, co-hosts Late Night Tea with Pixie Aventura at Hardware Tuesday nights at 11pm, and returns to Pieces to co-host Razzle Dazzle Divas with Sutton lee Seymour Wednesdays at 10pm. Delighted can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and her website.