Sherry Vine has been a sparkling jewel of the drag scene for decades, first in New York and more recently in L.A. Her YouTube video parodies and rollicking stage shows are always hot topics/tickets audaciously skewering pop culture, entertainment and queendom. Her latest project, The Sherry Vine Variety Show (for the OUTtv channel) is more inspired by the past than the present, when shows like Donnie and Marie, Sonny and Cher, and The Carol Burnett Show provided glamorous gowns and guffaws galore. With loads of big names like Alaska Thunderfuck, Bob The Drag Queen, Bianca Del Rio, Jackie Beat, Monet X Change, Peppermint, Tammie Brown, Varla Jean Merman, as guests, it’s a glitzy, giggly good time. L.A. Weekly caught up with the busy performer, who dishes on her new show, her upcoming schedule and her superstar queen comrades.
LA WEEKLY: As someone who’s been doing drag for so long, how do you feel the art (both public perception and the perspective of the entertainer) has changed?
SHERRY VINE: I definitely feel that drag is now considered a legitimate art form. When I started, 30 years ago, it was still fringe and most of the audience was gay men. One of the benefits of RuPaul’s Drag Race, in my opinion, is that the audience has expanded to include a much wider reach, TV/movie people see it as a potential money maker, more doors are open, etc. Then it’s my job to keep it subversive.
You are a multi-hyphenate queen. What is your favorite element of performance: comedy, song, dance, dress-up/fashion? What do you bring to the table that’s different from others?
Honestly, there are prettier queens, funnier queens, queens that sing better. But I can sell a song, I think I’m funny, I’m a good actor and I work my ass off. I think my peers would say I excel at being able to organize and pull shit off that other queens might not be able to. Most probably don’t want to. I wore a lot of hats creating the variety show and that’s where I shine. I think.
Why did you create your variety show and what were your goals for it?
I’ve always been obsessed with the variety shows of the 70’s. I did 2 seasons of She’s Living For This (now on Hulu and Amazon) and since then have worked to get another variety show off the ground. To me, it’s the perfect platform to sing, be funny, write, wear glamorous outfits, play different characters – it’s a real mix of everything I love. And all the queens who joined us brought those qualities to the show also.
Indeed, so many fellow queens are in your variety show. Tell me your thoughts about the camaraderie and/or competitiveness within the drag community and how you play with these presumptions. I noticed you and Jackie [Beat] have fun with this.
I’m so glad you mentioned this. I hate when people try to create drama amongst the queens or try to stir things up. I have been friends with most of the people in the show for 20-30 years! They are my family. There is no competitiveness. When Jackie got the movie Stage Mother, was I envious? Yes, of course. Was I sincerely happy for her and rooting for her? Yes. Everyone who worked on the show is a dear friend – they wouldn’t have done it otherwise. I have gotten calls for work and if I can’t do it I say, “call Varla” or “that’s not me, ask Peppermint.”
Now that L.A. is back open for the most part, your Golden Girlz Live shows have been very popular. Why do you think that show is still so beloved? Also, a few words about Casita del Campo and the Cavern Club theater being open again post-COVID?
Doing the Golden Girls is pure joy. We stand backstage like, ‘We are getting paid to have this much fun?’ It’s a Blessing. I was so worried our little Cavern Club might not survive, but thanks to Mr. Dan and everyone at Casita del Campo, they managed. So we are thrilled to be back in the basement. No matter where I go or what I do I’m always happy to get back to that basement.
What else do you have coming up this year?
Luckily, I’m booked until the end of the year. I was worried it would be a slow return but it’s just exploded. Iceland Pride, an East Coast tour (DC, Rehoboth, NYC, Hudson, P-Town) in August. In September I’m in San Fran, San Diego, Savannah, NYC and Tel Aviv (opening for Bianca del Rio) then it’s 5 weeks on the road opening for Bianca’s new show, Unsanitized. All dates are on my website www.SherryVine.com.