Now in its seventh year, H8’s a Drag has become one of Nashville’s now-iconic fundraisers—certainly one of the largest for the Music City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Over the years the event has evolved, but it always attracts renowned headliners, from RuPaul’s girls to online and film personalities. The last couple of events have featured classic comedy queens.
This year’s event, to be held on April 22, 2018, from 6–9:00 pm at Play Dance Bar, returns to the show’s roots as a more traditional drag show, but it has a very different kind of headliner—Chi Chi LaRue.
Chi Chi (pronounced shee-shee) has been in drag since the mid-1980s, but she is much more widely known as one of the adult industry’s most prolific directors (initially working in both gay and straight porn) and more recently as a club DJ.
In advance of the show, we caught up with Chi Chi to discuss her career in the adult industry, its intersections with the rest of her life, and her personal struggles. We’re sure that once you get to know her a little better, you’ll want to come out and see just what this queen has in store for Nashville!
So, drag, DJing, or directing adult films: Which came first?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, drag came first. You could say that DJing came first, because I used to play records for my friends, in the basement of my mom and dad's house, when I was growing up in the '70s! But, professionally, drag came first. I started in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and kind of like, as I do, took over the drag scene here, with a weekly show.
Then I moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and started doing drag at a local club in West Hollywood, and I was given the opportunity to direct, and that's when my directing took off.
How did you get interested in porn? I know you were involved in straight porn as well…
Oh, I love straight porn! I've been into straight porn since I was fifteen years old. I was a huge fan of all the girls—I used to collect magazines, and stories about them. I was that boy, living in a small town in Minnesota… And I would drive to Duluth, Minnesota and go to this skanky adult theater, which I loved. I loved the smell, I loved the fact that they were making popcorn to sell to these perverts that liked to sit in the theater and jack off. I loved it!
I watched these movies, and just was so enamored with these women and men who could take their clothes off and have sex for people to watch. I just loved it. Because, I couldn't even take my shirt off to get into the swimming pool.
Directing straight porn was a lot of fun. I got to buy wardrobes for these girls, and I would bring in some of my jewelry and my wigs… It was fabulous. And working for the biggest adult company out there was amazing! I got to direct Jenna Jameson's last ten movies before she quit the business.
How have you seen things change, over nearly 30 years in the industry?
There's fewer porn stars right now. Some of the girls I worked with are still doing movies, but I’m submerged in the gay industry. There's a handful of big names that everybody knows, and a lot more who are really popular…
One big difference is, right now, you’ve got lots of boys, like Austin Wolfe, kicking ass on the Only Fans thing. A lot of really amazing guys out there are really taking this business seriously. It never used to be that way: it used to be f**k, be f**ked, and get out.
Nowadays, you have to hustle. The number of movies being made maybe up, but the rates have gone down, and you have to work a little harder. But, in reality, making $800 for two to four hours of work is f**king great.
As a director, who are some of the people you’ve enjoyed working with over the last few years?
Wow… Wesley Woods, Seth Santoro, Pierce Paris, Curtis Wolfe, Armond Rizzo… I just worked with a fabulous guy named DeAngelo Jackson, who'd never worked for a major studio before. He's just like one of the most beautiful men I have ever… He's like, he's like what you would fantasize about if your thing was “gorgeous football player…” He is so beautiful! It's just… anyway, yeah, he's my favorite now!
What are some characteristics that make someone easy to work with, versus someone who may be a challenge?
Attitude. I think insecurity plays a big part in it. Where someone's really insecure with themselves, they will lash out and be difficult, just so they can try to exude security, like they're in charge when they're really not.
Do you think, you think people are looking for affirmation sometimes or…?
Yeah, and I get that. I'm always looking for affirmation. Always. I'm probably one of the most insecure people you will ever meet. So yeah, I'm working on that, I'm working on that!
Does drag kind of give you a way to get out of that some?
Well, yes, but sometimes it can backfire. The confidence I exude in drag can be misconstrued as ego or bitchiness. Larry and Chi Chi are very different, but lately they've been kind of melting together.
And I think that's okay, because I don't wanna be a different person when I'm in and out of drag. I wanna be nice to people, I want to be good to others and hope that people will be good to themselves. You know, I do these daily little videos. They're little affirmations I do because of my sobriety.
Sobriety sounds like an important part of your life at this point. What brought you there, what got you…?
Let's see: falling down on my nose, f**king up gigs, shitting myself behind the DJ booth… I got tired of getting carried out of clubs, disappointing friends, embarrassing myself on stage, falling off the stage and taking all the DJ equipment with me right before Michelle Visage comes on stage. I was just really, really, really, really, really hurting myself.
Do you think it’s harder in these industries—where the work is in bars and clubs—to stay sober?
You know what, sweetie? It's not the industry, it’s the person. You can struggle as a shoe salesman—going to the back and getting a size 7, for a bitchy woman—and want to just go drink, and tell her to fuck herself. Everyone's under a microscope, though, in the adult industry. They have to keep themselves so perfect, you know, look great…
In the entertainment industry, you see all these people, and they're dying from drug overdoses and these issues. I was an acquaintance of Prince: I was in *Purple Rain*. And Prince was someone that never drank; he was very pure. And I don't know what brought him to that point—it was probably his intense pain from falling on stage, jumping around, and doing all those things that he did. So when he died, it was a big shock.
I've had my share of relapses: in fact, I just relapsed in January, in Las Vegas. I drank for one day, and I regret it. But it's in the past, and I can't dwell on it or hate myself for it. I have to just do better. I've been sober since then and I had two years under my belt. It's always lurking right there on your shoulder waiting to take you.
If someone's being bullied or harassed, they have an outlet, but maybe their outlet would be to drink or do drugs, or to over eat, or lash out, or whatever. Hurt somebody. Buy a gun and go shoot up a school. If you're suffering and you're hurting, you need to tell somebody. It's very, very important.
It's important to talk to people, and to know there's other people out there just like me and you, that are struggling. You're not the only one, and there's help out there for everything.
Well, to move away from the heavy stuff, are there any new projects you're working on?
Yeah! I'm about to direct for Naked Sword, next week I'm going to Las Vegas to shoot a movie for Naked Sword. It's a parody of the Nutty Professor…. Can you guess what we’re calling it? [laughter] And I just finished a sports-themed movie for Hot House…
And then I am directing a huge new series for Icon Male. We have a name, but we're not releasing the name yet. It's very secret, but it's gonna be really amazing. I shot twelve scenes already and shoot eight more scenes in April, before we launch it.
So, for all those barely legal football players in Nashville trying to get into gay porn, what advice would you give them, besides come see Chi Chi after the show, of course?
I would say, know that your image is going to be out there. Also, if you're interested in working, you have at least two of the three key things: face, body, and dick. If you’ve got all three, you're pretty much guaranteed a part.
It's fun, though! If you're sexually aware, if you're sex positive and really not afraid to show off, then this could be the business for you. And right now there's so many opportunities to make a lot of money by working for studios and then doing your own thing online to supplement. You know, you can do your own thing nowadays online. Hell, pay for your college doing adult movies and working on some of these self-produced sites, where you set up a camera in your bedroom, jerk off, and get members.
So, what’s your performance for the Sister’s H8’s a Drag show going to include?
I'm going to do whatever they need me to do. I'm going to perform. I'm going to DJ. I'm their puppet. Let them master me!
For more information about this year’s H8’s a Drag as it becomes available, check out its event page at facebook.com/events/1640116986063966.