This month’s edition of Untucked, we had a great kiki with the amazing Cristina Rae. She has been all over the Nashville scene for years, starting back at Cabaret 2 with some of the greatest performers in Nashville's drag history. She is a high energy gal with good ole southern flair and charm. So sit back and enjoy as we get to know this incredible staple of our drag community.
What can you tell us about your first time in drag?
I started going to the Connection when it was open here in Nashville to watch the shows. I was so intrigued by all the great costumes and entertainers. So one night I went to The Cabaret Episode 2 for a talent night. I showed up with a pair of tie dye pants and a tank top and wanted to go out and do a P!nk song, and I thought I was something. Santana was in the back and said nope. He sat me down, gave me some makeup and some boobs, and put a wig on my head, and said, “Ok, that’s a start.” So it began.
Who are some drag performers that inspire you?
Samantha Close, Bianca Paige, The Princess, Nichole Ellington Dupree, Deception and so many more!
How do you differ from other drag performers?
Well, I have now been given the name mama, because I guess that is really how I am. I love performing and helping others, and, when I do, my heart and soul is there. I love it and wish I could do more of it. It is a great outlet for me. But, I guess I need to put it like this. Everyone is different in how they do things and how they look at things. And that is ok.
I look at things like this: don’t get in the drama because you will only hurt yourself, be true to yourself, and don’t lose who you are. Everyone else thinks you need to be something or someone you’re not. It’s not been easy, but I am grateful for it everything I have gotten to do so far.
What is your favorite song or performance?
I do a lot of P!nk and Jessie J, because it is close to my style. I would have to say right now Jessie J’s “Flashlight” and P!nk’s “So What?” I get told I do a great P!nk, so I keep studying.
You’re known for your emotional ballad performances. Where do you draw that emotion from?
Life experience can be a great way of channeling emotions for it. Listen to the music and find some point in your life you can relate to it…. When you do that you can connect with the audience and they feel your feelings and it is something amazing happens every time.
Would you say the drag scene is more political here or in other cities?
Well as most know I don’t get into the politics, but it’s everywhere really. That is another thing so many people deal with that I think is sad.
Do you feel the pageant world is more political than the drag community as a whole?
Yes and no…. A lot of people have their opinions about some pageants: you need to be competing for five or six years before you might possibly win, and some you may not. I can also say that, for some queens and kings, it may take a few years to even understand the pageant system and be able to put together a great winning package. So that is where it can be a hit or miss.
How does your family feel about you doing drag or even being gay?
For the most part my family is very accepting. I have a loving husband, dad, mom, and grandfather who have seen me. If my grandmother were still here, I am sure she would come to see me, which is amazing. I wish more people had that kind of support. My grandfather is 84 years old and makes my mom bring him to Play Dance Bar to my performances on the Open Stage Nights.
Was it always that easy?
This is a hard topic. My mom was 15 and dad was 18 when I was born. My grandparents did a lot of the raising of me. I was raised on a farm in the country, which caused me to have to stay in the closet for a long time. I went through hell falling out of that closet. I have had to learn to accept myself, and living out there you don’t have an LGBT support group. I am glad so many kids have that more so now than I did.
Have you faced other hardships due to being a drag performer?
Drag is not cheap as a lot of people know. So pushing myself to become a better entertainer costs a lot financially and you push yourself mentally. It is easy to go buy a shirt and pants off the rack, but it takes thought and planning to really make drag come to life. I know, believe me I have had to do the off the rack thing in my life. Don’t think for a second people will not clock you for it.
Did drag strain your love life?
Over the years it’s been hit and miss. Dating can be really hard when you are a drag queen. There are so many people that look at you being a drag queen as being such a negative thing as if you’re not good enough to date and won’t give you the time a day because of it. I am glad that today I have a caring and loving husband. I wish so many others could find that also.
How has your profession and lifestyle affected the holidays?
I have missed a few Thanksgivings and Christmas’s because of either shows or because of family acceptance. Sometimes in my mind it was easier just to stay away. Some of my family now I don’t visit because of that. I have learned to accept and love myself and that is what is important.
What is it like during the holidays for drag entertainer?
It is an interesting time. Usually there are lots of parties and special events going on. But as a show performer you do have to miss family events if they live out of town. It’s like retail: you have a job to do and you have to realize our fellow entertainers are family also.
Christina Rae performs at Play Dance Bar the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, and at Lipstick Lounge the 1st Friday of the month. She will also be an occasional guest at Mad Donna’s Drag Bingo. You can follow her on Facebook.com/christina.rae.9210 and on Twitter @christinarae84. Walker Photography does a good deal of her photos, and you can check them out on Facebook as well.