A kiki with Ivy St. James
It time to get untucked! This month should be a good read as I had a kiki with none other than Ivy St. James! So you know I asked her to pill the T about her and Vanity. We have grown to know and love this little lady for some time now, so why not get to know her better? She is a great performer and an even better friend to many. She loves her fans and loves her drag, so sit back and hold on to your wigs, cuz it’s about to get serious!
When did you first decide to do drag?
Early 2012, I was at Club Mai for their first ever LGBT night. My college friends and I knew the guy in charge of the events, so we went to support. At that point in life if there was a good dance floor I was there. I did a few guest light shows. So from that moment ‘til April of that year, I practiced, and went and did Open Stage at Forbidden in Cookeville and the rest is history!
What or who sparked your interests in drag?
In all honesty, Randall Jackson (my drag mom Ryeleigh St. James) was the first drag queen I got to know on a personal level. So after that night at Mai, I contacted him, and he agreed to help out. He helped plant the seed... Having a degree in theatre, drag just pulled me in. The art of portraying a character, a character you got to be the playwright of, and placing it on stage to show the world and be a voice for those finding theirs is what hooked me and why I continue to do what I do.
How would you describe your style and persona?
Ever changing. Ivy started as a reflection of who I wanted Josh to be as a person. Someone who didn't let others opinions get to him, someone who felt confident and attractive, someone who could stand their ground. A person who could also stand up for others that needed a hand, a smile, and someone on their side. Those things haven't changed, but the look of my persona has elevated. I used to be more of this tumbling rave queen that only did the techno songs no one knew. Now I'm a cosplaying mermaid who still likes to do songs that no one knows!
What is the hardest part of being a drag performer?
Not letting the crowd affect you. If the crowd doesn't enjoy what you put your heart and soul into, it's defeating, if you let it be, or if people want to do nothing but praise you, it can do the opposite. Sometimes it's all about the interest of the crowd or the energy they give off. I enjoy what songs I do, but if the crowd's energy isn't there, it can affect my performance, and if they are living, it can enhance it. The things we can't control can be the hardest to overcome.
Who is the biggest influence to you that is a drag performer and why?
Everyone influences me in different ways, but I would have to say when it comes to the last year my fellow Glam Squad members Tyrah Hunter and Vanity. These are the two girls I work with closest, and they share the same drive I have to be better while creating the greatest show we can. They are entirely different drag entertainers, and I love them both for it. Tyrah and Vanity always try to bring a new things to the table each show, and the looks they bring help me to always want to look my best. Both have taught me so much and helped open my mind to the new ways to achieve greatness.
Everyone knows you are in a relationship with a fellow performer: do you ever feel over shadowed by her?
I don't now, I see us as equals, because we are two different types of entertainers with two different careers. When we met, we weren't anywhere near as beautiful as we are today. We both had a lot to learn when it came to drag, but me more so than him because has wanted this as his career since he was younger. So he had worked a little more at it than I at the time. So for the first two years of our relationship, of course, he always looked better than me, but it didn't mean our performances were less than one another, so I never felt overshadowed. It was more of a drive, it pushed me to learn more and be better. If he was gonna have this as a career, I knew I had to look good on his arm.
Do you girls every fight over clothes, hair, shoes or anything like that?
Not really fight, more like pick on each other. Every time I make new wigs for myself, he loves to be like, "Thank you for my new hair girrrrlll!" But that's him paying me a compliment while really wanting to wear it. We ask each other for pieces to help enhance our looks from time to time or make suggestions of something we have that could help. What we try to do though is be respectful enough in two ways. One, we ask to wear something of the other’s versus expecting to be able to; and two, each of us wears it in a different way than the other. For example, we found this amazing dress at a thrift store, and we both wear it randomly: I wear it with the low cut in the front, and he wears it the proper way with the deep cut in the back. That's how we treat our castmates, though, so it’s really not even being in a relationship, it's more about helping a fellow queen go out there and be sickening.
Who is your favorite drag performer, living or deceased?
Raven. She always looks so put together from head to toe—painting for the back row—and everything has purpose. The best is the energy she gives: her performance onstage is mesmerizing. I had the honor of being with her backstage when she came to Nashville and she was so humble and so willing to give advice, yet so playful and humble.
Out of the queens in Nashville which one do you think give us the most iconic looks?
Nashville is full of such great talent, with so many queens that give different looks that could just be as iconic as the one before. So this will be based more off of what I enjoy doing on stage, and I would have to choose the Princess and Aurora Sexton. Both impersonate iconic celebrities and movie/TV characters. They put a lot of attention to detail in their characters, from hair lines and shoe styles to doing a complete make up change during a show.
Ivy performs at Play Dance Bar on Sundays as a member of the Glam Squad, as well as in the 9:30 Monday Night show at Tribe. You can follow this queen on Facebook as Ivy St. James and Instagram as @jivy85!