Nashville's beautiful drag community is frenzied and the rumors are flying that some of our favored queens may be leaving our Nashville scene very soon. Nashville's very own Sara Andrews is the first to go and will be joining the sunny beaches of Florida after gracing the stages in this city for the past 15 years.
Most people remember Andrews for her timeless performances of songs such as "Strawberry Wine," "One and Only" and Katy Perry impersonations that gave us such a sugar rush, we'd almost get a toothache. The 'Sweet Sensation' will most certainly be missed after becoming a Music City staple.
Play will be throwing Miss Andrews a going away bash on June 22 with shows at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., so everyone be sure to get all your tipping bills ready to send this little lady off in style! Read below for my Q&A with the exiting diva and as always I'll share a bit of the 'T' going down in the Nashville Drag community.
How long have you performed in Nashville?
I've been performing in Nashville since 1998. I was 17 when I started. I got my first cast position at The Connection in 2002 or 2003… I forget exactly when it was. But, shortly thereafter, I believe it was 2004, Todd and Joey left The Connection to open their own club, PLAY Dance Bar and they asked me to join their cast. I've been a PLAY mate ever since!
Wow, it's been 15 years now! tell us about your first experience in 1998.
That was so long ago! Let me see if I can remember (laughs).
I was 17. I had braces, acne, and weighed all of 100 lbs at 5'9". I'm pretty sure you could see ever bone in my body. I was the epitome of a gay teenage nerd. But a friend of mine in Cookeville swore that I could get into The Connection on a Wednesday for amateur night if I was in drag- braces and all. So we started painting.
As for my makeup, I wasn't privy to things like YouTube and all those wonderful drag makeup tutorials that girls these days have as references. So I was completely clueless! I probably wore some sort of cheap liquid foundation that barely covered my beard. Thanks goodness I got rid of that thing at the beginning of my transition! I know I wore CoverGirl eyeshadow because my favorite color for my eyelid was "Pink Chiffon."
My only wig was this auburn, shoulder-length bob with bangs. For some reason, I always wore a black stretch headband with it. I have no idea why.
One thing I always did from the get-go was wear costumes! I never once went onstage in street clothes. I think my first costume was this tiny black velvet, glittered swimsuit cut piece of lingerie that I found at a thrift store in Livingston, Tennessee- if you've ever been there, you'll know why that's so funny. And I wore a little bolero jacket over it.
I got to the club and we walked right in! We went to the dressing room where there were about a dozen queens eagerly getting ready to perform. I was bright-eyed and mesmerized by each and every one of them! They were all so confident. I was not. I have always been the shy type.
One queen by the name of Chelsea Clinton was sitting in the middle of the room with a clipboard. She had sort of a humorous surly demeanor. She looked me up and down, lips pursed, and said, "What's your name?"
I stuttered. I had been preparing for this moment for years. I had a "drag notebook" full of first and last names that I liked. But suddenly I realized I had never actually decided on anything!
I looked in the mirror and said the first thing that came to my mind, "… Butterfly??" That's what I was after all… an ugly little caterpillar that had been transformed into a beautiful Butterfly . . . or so I thought at the time. Chelsea decided to refer to me as 'Gutterfly' shortly thereafter. (laughs)
I think I performed Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" for my first song. There wasn't much of an audience on amateur nights back then. We basically performed for one another.
How much have you learned over the years?
I've learned far too much to mention in one sitting. I always listened to those who came before me. Some things were hard to hear because, just like every other newcomer in the world, I thought I was the ticket!
But, I have eyes in my head. I could clearly see that these people who were being so harsh were good at what they did. They knew what they were doing. And they were just trying to help me. So I tried just about anything my idols told me to try. Not all of it worked for me. But I tried it nonetheless. And I've come out a better person and a better drag artist because of it.
What is your favorite song to perform now?
That changes all the time. But, I think my most recent favorite is "Pour Some Sugar on Me." I get to get in touch with my roots and act like white trash at a rock concert! (laughs)
You're leaving Nashville, what will you miss most about Nashville?
Gosh, it might be easier to list the things I won't miss about Nashville! Of course, I'll miss my dear friends and super sweet fans. I'll also miss the vibe here in Nashville. I love that it's like a big city and a small town all rolled into one. You sorta get the best of both worlds… and I do love enjoying the best of both worlds! And then there's the scenery. I love the land in Tennessee. It really is one of the most beautiful places in the country!
Do you have any advice for up and coming performers?
If this is your dream, don't give up! Also, never stop trying to grow and learn something new! Some of the girls I started with on those amateur nights were so much better than I was. But they just didn't have the heart for it, I guess. I wasn't the best of the group, but I was the most persistent and that persistence helped me learn and grow to where I am today. I am still determined to get better and better. There's nothing worse than being stagnant. It's a good way to become bored with yourself. And if you're bored with yourself, others will be bored with you as well.
And listen to the girls that are where you want to be! They are where they are for a reason. They know what they're doing. Take their advice and teachings and RUN with it! Don't be afraid of too much… be it makeup, hair, costumes, or glamour. Remember, "larger than life is just the right size!"
Where can our readers keep up with you? Twitter? Facebook?
Fans can keep up to date with me on Facebook, of course. And I just joined Instagram as MissSaraAndrews. That's also my Twitter handle.
With Play Dance Bar booming and just as busy as ever, word on the street is they have also decided to expand to their wonderful bar to Louisville, Kentucky and may be taking some of their current cast mates with them. No word yet on which girls may go, but which ever girls are taken away, they will for sure be missed after becoming so loved here in Nashville.
With some girls leaving more are sure to come. Some say that RuPauls Drag Race Season 4 contestant The Princess will be returning to Play Dance Bar as a regular Play mate. Who knows what will happen for sure but one thing is for certain and that is Play will continue to thrive here in Nashville providing us with some of the best female illusionists in our area.