2015 Echo Reader's Choice for Drag King
By KJ Philp, May 2015 Issue. Meet the other winners here.
Even while taking a break from the stage, which he refers to as an “extended personal day,” Freddy Prinze Charming is still winning awards – his third Echo Readers’ Choice Award to be exact.
Echo caught up with Charming following the April 9 awards ceremony and here's what he had to say:
Echo: Tell us about the the titles you hold.
Charming: Thanks to the support of this community, I now have close to 30 awards and titles, including Mister Phoenix Gay Pride 2011, Mister Arizona USofA MI Emeritus, Mister Cash Inn Country 2011, Mister Charlie's 2010 and several Arizona Drag Diamond Crystal Awards.
Echo: When did you begin performing in drag? How have you evolved?
Charming: I started performing as Freddy in 2006. Since then, I've upped my game in terms of makeup and costuming, and by mentoring many people in Arizona and elsewhere.
Echo: What are some of your most memorable performances (whether events, songs, or whatever)?
Charming: I have a few! Competing for Mister USofA MI in 2009 and making it to the top 12 was definitely an incredible moment. One of the first times I really stepped out of my box was at Phoenix Pride 2010. It was a rocky period for me, and I almost changed my mind about performing, but at the urging of a couple of friends I went ahead with it. I did Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment," with two floggers, and rope bondage bracers. It was unexpected and I think helped me push past the negativity that was surrounding me at the time. The 2013 Arizona Drag Diamond Crystal Awards was a "king sweep" – kings won every category they were nominated in – and my Spotlight show took home two awards. I was incredibly proud of the king community! Being Mister Phoenix Gay Pride in 2011 was pretty darn fantastic, too. I loved being able to represent the community, work with Olivia Gardens and Brandi Sokolosky.
Echo: What does it take to make a great drag king, in your opinion?
Charming: On stage, a good entertainer should be creative, work with makeup and costumes, know your words and be entertaining. Off stage, one should be humble, gracious, recognize where you came from and who helped you get where you are, and avoid drama and trash talk.
Echo: Care to share a little-known fact about yourself or your drag career?
Charming: Little known fact about myself: I grew up overseas, and up until I moved back to the US at age 18, I spoke several languages. Little known fact about my drag career: I was the first king west of Texas to win a title in a National system.
Echo: You're quite the social media guru these days, do you attribute your win to any of that? Be honest, did you learn from Felicia?
Charming: Seriously? [laughter] I'm terrible at social media! I do ok with Facebook, though I always forget to manage my other pages – I'm getting better at Instagram and I always forget I have Twitter. Felicia gets on my case about my lack of social media prowess. I do have to attribute any of my perceived social media "guruness" to my relationship with Felicia, however. Without her, I'd barely be able to handle my Facebook!
Echo: Tell us about "Let's Have a FeFe." How did that come about and what are you and Felicia up to these days?
Charming: The Fefe is Felicia's brainchild. We had worked together a few times before and one day she sends me a message and says, "Hey, I have an idea, and I need a co-host." I have a feeling that her choosing me as a co-host had less to do with my ability to run a show and more to do with the fact that I'm the only person who lives in Mesa, literally right around the corner from her. Ha! Right now, I'm sort of taking a break from performing (still trying to heal from this $60,000 cat bite), but Felicia is always out and about. She's working towards another ticket to EOY this year, performs at BeDazzled quite often and can be found on the new SafeOut billboard going up on Camelback Rraod! Shameless plug: If anyone ever needs hosts for an event, bar mitzvah, circumcision, wedding, divorce, whatever, we're always up for a good time!
Echo: What's the best advice you've ever received?
Charming: F*ck the haters. I know, I know, it's kind of cliché, but in this business you really have to learn to turn away from the negativity. It can be so hard, with all the backstabbing and backbiting, and it can really drag a person down (no pun intended). So, learning to keep your head up, and keep going can be the most rewarding thing you can do.
Echo: When you're not performing, where are you most likely to be found?
Charming: Work! I work way too much, which is another reason I'm taking a break. When your job can be unpredictable, and you're pushing 50 hour work weeks frequently, it can be hard to commit to things. You're most likely to find me on "Let's Have A Fefe" every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (Arizona time), or hanging out with the Movie Bears. I *might* be making an out-of-town appearance in a couple months, but don't tell anyone!
Echo: What new and exciting things can we expect to see from Freddy Prinze Charming between now and the 2016 Echo Readers' Choice Awards?
Charming: Excellent question! Right now, I have no idea. There could be a pageant in my future, some travel, I may even bring Spotlight back between now and then. Anything is possible. I'm open to ideas and suggestions.
Echo: Is there anyone you'd like to thank? Shoutouts you'd like to make?
Charming: I would love to thank the Phoenix LGBTQ community, first and foremost. When you win a community award, to me it says that people not only see you as a good entertainer but a leader and an asset to the community, and that means more than a crown that was decided on by 7 random judges. Felicia has been one of my staunchest supporters over the past couple years, and I'm grateful to have her in my corner. To all those who nominated me, and voted for me: Thank you. To all those who have continued to support me throughout the years: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.