I met Dee Dee during a college drag show performance. A few friends of mine were in Fisher’s Gay Straight Alliance, and needed a photographer for the night. I’m not going to be the one to miss a drag show at a Catholic School, so i grabbed my camera rushed over. I had the catch to talk to Dee Dee and Samantha Vaga after the show. Surprisingly enough after a few emails and texts later, Dee Dee actually agreed to interview. I had the chance to talk to the infamous drag queen as he got ready for his usual preformance at Tilt.
How did you start doing drag shows?
I started when I was eighteen. I would go to the shows and I really enjoyed watching the shows and I thought it would be fun. I really did it because I wanted to become popular. I’m not going to lie, that was the reason. I didn’t do it because I wanted to become a woman, or any of those reasons. I’m certainly not a transgendered individual; I am just a drag queen. I am happy as a man; I just have fun dressed as a character.
High school I used to conduct the marching band, so I am used to being in charge. This is naturally why I became a host. I am a control freak so I am used to running the show.
Has doing drag changed you as a person?
In high school I didn’t play sports I wasn’t popular by any means. I wasn’t comfortable with myself either because I was gay, and I didn’t know I was gay, I just knew I wasn’t with anyone else. Once I came out and started doing drag I could become anyone I wanted.
At the beginning I would say that David was very shy and Dee Dee was very was outgoing. As I have gotten older, they are defiantly the same person. I would say that drag has helped me grow as a person. It helps that I have been with my partner since I was 21 as well. Overall I try and keep my life and my drag life separate.
What is something you do outside of your life as Dee Dee that fans may not know?
I have been involved in the community since I was younger. When I grew up in Brockport I would organize Easter egg hunts in the town.
When I moved into my neighborhood, I planted a garden in my front yard. One of the neighbors came up to me and said that they really wanted to build a neighborhood garden down the street and asked if I wanted to help. I went to a meeting about the garden and found out that there was no money or budget in place to build a garden. Monroe County had a program called “Monroe County in Bloom” at the time. When I contacted them, they offered free flowers as long as we planted them ourselves. We built this beautiful garden for the town through the In Bloom project.
I kept going to the town meetings after the garden was finished. I asked how on earth could a volunteer come to this group and want to do something amazing, just to get turned down because there wasn’t any money. I suggested we do start raising money with neighborhood dues. Once we had money we started putting on festivals, block parties, picnics, it really consumed my life. It was great though. We had mugs, and pens, and special town signs, big planters, all of this stuff for the neighborhood. I learned how go through different people to get things done. I felt like I made a difference in my neighborhood.
What is the biggest misconception about drag queens?
The world sometimes has an issue with drag because of the bending of the gender. What I do is absolutely no different than what a clown does. A clown puts on five pounds of make up, wears big shoes, and puts on a costume. Drag queens just wear heels instead of big shoes. The problem is that my tits look real and it freaks people out and unless you’re a freak you are not sexually attracted to a clown where there are some drag queens that you could find very attracted.
Did the drag help, did you start doing drag around the same time as when you came out?
I started doing drag about a year after I came out. In the whole scheme of time it was basically at the same time.
How did you come up with the name Dee Dee Dubois?
There is a book called “Ru Paul’s Book of Drag”. A lot of people take names like first street, first female pet, mothers maiden name, and do some sort of weird combo and come up with a name that way. I was going to do drag for Halloween, and my mother wanted to help me pick out a drag name. So we took out Ru Paul’s book and it had a whole bunch of first names and last names. I put my finger on each page and I came up with Dee Dee Dubious. As it turns out having big triple d tits makes the name fit as well.
What is your favorite part of being a drag queen?
Making people laugh. That’s the number one goal.
Actually, to be political for a bit, Rochester is second gay friendliest city in New York State, right behind New York City. I certainly am not going to take credit for that, but what we are doing every Thursday night at Tilt certainly isn’t hurting anything. We are taking main stream advertising, advertising to a primarily straight crowd, we are bringing them into a bar that doesn’t describe itself as a gay bar, but is very gay friendly, into a drag show which historically is one of the gayest things around. So I think what I do is helping build tolerance in our city.
Once I can make someone laugh and make them feel comfortable and make them realize that I am just a guy who is dressed like a character, it makes people more at ease and comfortable.
Do you perform primarily at Tilt?
Back in the day I used to do a monthly show at Spot coffee. I also do college shows every year. Tilt is my primary club. Once I did a major fundraiser for the town of Lyons once.
When I first started I fronted a club called GQ which is where Tilt is now. It closed when the first tilt opened. This Tilt is the second Tilt, which a lot of people don’t know. The first tilt is where Envy is now, by the liberty pole. When the first Tilt opened it killed GQ, because gays are vain and they want to go to the newest, shiniest, fanciest place. I left GQ to go work at Tilt a week before it closed.
I got a lot of flack from that people stayed at GQ until the bitter end. I stayed a lot longer than most people did, GQ was my home. I took over shows on Thursday and Friday for the last month it was open because there weren’t enough queens to fill the spots. When I moved to Tilt, I had my show Drag 101 and two years later when it closed I followed them to the new building.
Drag helps me stay young; I have to relate to a younger audience. That means performing to music that I sometimes hate. I like country music.
Yea, I love country music. But you don’t know that. My audience doesn’t need to know that, I entertain you on stage and I play what you want to hear. It’s not about me it’s about making people laugh and having a good time.
One time, I did Lauren Alaina’s “Georgia Peaches”. She was here for Guitars and Stars, the week after I did that song; it was recorded and sent to Lauren Alaina’s Producer. Lauren actually commented back herself saying “You know you made it when a drag queen does your number.” I thought that was pretty cool.
Do you think shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race change the perception of Drag Queens?
I don’t think it is going to change anyone’s perception. The cat fights and drama that is in the show just goes along with the stereotypes. I don’t want to be famous in that way. I think it has brought awareness to drag but I don’t think it really changes perceptions.
In the reality shows their girl life overcomes their boy life, my life is the opposite of that, and my boy life comes first. It is not what defines me as a person, and if it became my job and life it wouldn’t be fun anymore.
You think the turn out for drag shows are higher now?
Oh god yeah. Tilt has the perfect trifecta working you have main stream advertising, a killer drag show, and you have an amazing club. Other places don’t have the entertainment, the size, or the money for advertising.
If there was one thing you could change about Rochester what would it be?
I’m not sure… Which is a problem, since if I say nothing, makes you believe I think the city is perfect, which I don’t. I do want more things to do in the winter (laughs). I am sick and tired of cramming everything fun into the summer. I certainly don’t think Rochester is perfect but there is not one thing I would change about it.