Musical parodies of pop culture movie faves have been so done. But that doesn't mean they still can't slay, especially when they gather four of the drag world's most talented and treacherous queens in the lead roles. Mean Gays, a musical parody of Tina Fey's hit Mean Girls (which starred Lindsay Lohan, Fey and Rachel McAdams), features some true superstar queens in the lead roles, too.
Kim Chi (RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 8) plays Kimmy Chi, a home-schooled transfer student from South Korea who moves to an American high school ruled by uber-popular drag-girl gang the Plastics. Led by the brutal and beautiful queen bitch, Willam George (Willam Belli of RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 4), and her loyal followers Peaches “Swallows” Wieners (legendary SF-based performer Peaches Christ, known for her Midnight Mass movie events) and stoner bimbo Laganja Smith (RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 6's Laganja Estranja), the Plastics set out to make Kimmy's life hell, even while seemingly embracing her into their caustic clique and “fetch” lifestyle.
Having covered Willam (who just uses the one name these days) in several similarly campy L.A. theatrical extravaganzas, I just happened to have her in my burn book, I mean phone book. Here are some questions and answers from the star about her latest role and her success on YouTube, stage and screen (including her memorable role as a drag queen who gets her “boobs” signed by Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born).
L.A. WEEKLY: How did Mean Gays come about?
WILLAM: I was a fan of Peaches' All About Evil movie and then she asked me to do her Clueless production, then Mister Act with Latrice [Royale, Drag Race All Stars] and then this.
I love Peaches Christ. Wrote about her when she did a big show at the Vista in L.A. Why does dragifying movies work so well onstage? I covered you in Showgirls at the Dragonfly and The Legend of Billie Jean at Casita del Campo, and enjoyed both.
If you put drag in front of anything, it inherently makes it more fun. So mashing up films with cult followings with drag queens is a natural fit for a good time. I totally forgot about The Legend of Billie Jean and Showgirls, but the latter was written by Stephen Guarino, who plays my boyfriend on Eastsiders, set to return for a final season this year.
You are a great singer. What pop songs will be heard in Mean Gays? The era's hits, I gather?
Well, my holiday hooker song “Ho Ho Ho Ho” is in the “Jingle Bell Rock” mix, and we get a kick-ass number from Laganja, which displays her agility and flow.
Congrats on your scene-stealing part in A Star Is Born! Has your appearance in the film helped your career?
A lot of people have seen ASIB but I haven’t gotten an influx of anything other than some awesome new friends and invites to some fucking rad parties with Dave Chapelle and Eddie Griffin. Gaga shouted me out onstage on NYE in Vegas when she saw me, so that is all the reward I need. I’m not complaining at all but A Star Is Born hasn’t helped my career in like, opportunity terms. I’ve had one audition this pilot season and I don’t have an agent.
That's surprising. What was the experience of working with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper like?
Working on the film and all the perks after were a dream come true. Gaga was everything I hoped she would be and basically hung out on set between takes and was just one of the gang. Bradley has been very complimentary of me (and Shangela) [also a RuPaul's Drag Race alum] in interviews/press and was the best scene partner ever to improv with because he had the inside track on exactly what the director wanted because it was him. Plus we’re both from Philly, so we clicked about hometown shit, too.
What else do you have going on?
I've got my YouTube channel with two new videos a week plus my podcast Race Chaser every week with Alaska Thunderfuck [but another Drag Race alum]. I also got an episode of House Hunters on HGTV this Spring and a fun little something premiering at Tribeca in May. Other than that, just gigging like I have been since you met me in the early ’00s.
Why does Mean Girls resonate still to this day, especially with the LGTBQ community?
I think Mean Girls still resonates today due to Tina Fey's script and the performances. And who wouldn't want to date Jonathan Bennett, right?
The Montalbán Theatre, 1615 N. Vine Street, Hollywood; Sat., March 9, 4 & 8 p.m.; $35 and up (for VIP meet-and-greet). (323) 461-6999, themontalban.com. Audience members are encouraged to pretend it’s Wednesday and deck themselves out in their pinkest attire.