Nashville Untucked: Nichole Ellington Dupree
Hey there lovely Untuckers! I was planning on writing this month’s ‘Nashville Untucked’ all about me since I campaigned for 2013 Gay Faves Drag Queen harder than Miley Cyrus twerked that teddy bear on the VMA Awards. Well guess what y’all? I didn’t win! But I’m happy to get inside the world of the queen who did win . . . Ms. Nichole Ellington Dupree.
With more than twenty years in the business, Nichole Ellington Dupree got her Nashville start at Warehouse 28, which celebrated a packed house party last Friday night.
Known for that ‘death drop’ splits, you can now catch this Playmate Wednesday through Saturdays on the stages at 2013 Gay Faves Place to Dance, Play Dance Bar.
But that’s not all. Dupree can also be found hosting her own Monday night show ‘Mondays are a Drag’ at Tribe. Starting at 9:30 p.m., the show is the perfect way to blow those Monday blues off. With $5 Bushwacker bargains and $3 Pinnacle flavors, Tribe proves their monopoly on the happiest happy hour prices extends well beyond their Gay Faves winning Wednesday Smirnoff specials.
So whether you’ve followed Nichole Ellington Dupree across the changing landscape of Nashville’s LGBT community or you’re tipping her weekly at Tribe and Play, yours truly gets to the bottom of why Nichole Ellington Dupree is your 2013 Gay Faves Drag Queen.
Congrats on winning Gay Faves Drag Queen, how does it feel?
When I heard the news of being voted Gay Fave Drag Queen for Nashville, I was very much thrown off. With all the new babies on the scene, I didn't even think I was a nominee. Being down from social media I had no idea it was goin’ on. It kinda feels like, ‘excuse me . . . HEY MISS SPICY!! You are still relevant, so get out there and tell your story!’ I'm happy for the love that Nashville has shown me and I'll continue to do what you've grown to love about me and of course throw in some twists (laughs).
You’ve been in the game for 20 years, do you remember your first drag performance?
(laughs) No, I don’t remember what my very first song on stage was. There were so many songs that I loved and every time I had the chance to hit the stage there was a new song. There were more clubs back then which gave several opportunities and different atmospheres. I was always there. Country, Blues, Pop, Club— I was on it.
Nichole, you talk about more clubs back then. You've performed at so many landmarks in Nashville's past and witnessed changes in the community landscape. What has that been like for you?
When I think of how much the scene has changed it bothers me from time to time. I started at a very early age so I was exposed to some of the greatest entertainers that you’ll ever see. When I stepped onto my first stage it was at Warehouse 28 and then a bar in Little Five Points. Christian Paige, Tracy Carlton Lewis, Latasha Blair Scott, Lilly White, Racquel Scott, Raquita Rashad, Moldavia Ishtar were my playmates back then.
But no one affected me like Vanessa Del Rio; she was responsible for the birth of Nichole. She was the special guest at that bar and when she saw me she said I would be great in drag. Coming from where I was from, I had very low self-esteem. She invited me to her house and the makeup began, when she was finished I was in complete shock. I was in my opinion—beautiful. This was mind blowing. After feeling like the ugly duckling for so long I was shocked to see this transformation. Other kids of hers came and saw their new addition to the family and it went boom from there.
I then had the opportunity to perform at her bar, Warehouse 28, where I met Rita Ross, Stephanie Wells, Diana Hutton, and Bianca Paige. They were all supportive to me and offered any advice willingly.
My first big performance was Rita Ross' Closet Ball but I couldn't go on stage with her in my current condition, as you see, I didn't wear pads. She invited me to her house where she made pads for me and showed me the difference and immediately I was hooked and eager to learn from the pros. I was in love! The reaction on their faces every time I hit the stage was overwhelming.
I had several places to express my point of view. The Cabaret, The Jungle, Victor Victoria's, Tool Box, Wynonas and the Triangle were a few places that you would find my face. Each venue had their local girls and I was just a happy sponge. It was hard to see these places go. Now that there's just one show bar here in Nashville, I feel girls don't get the exposure to the different audiences where different types of drag can be appreciated and supported.
Who has been a big inspiration to you in your life?
I’ve been inspired by many but my Mother has given me my kind heart and my ability to show forgiveness. Because of her, I am able to deal with the ups and downs of life…which for me is consumed by drag.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in the drag world?
My biggest accomplishment to me is that drag helped me to not be so shy and timid. I’m more aggressive on stage. That’s my time to do what I want.
Outside of your drag performances, what would you consider your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment in life I have not completed yet—learning to make my imagination come to reality.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a huge craze around the world, what are your feelings on the show? Do you feel it has been a positive or negative influence on the drag community?
I’m sorry to say that I have not watched the show. Working in the scene as long as I have you choose where your influences come from. I’ve met some of the girls and I appreciate them for what they bring to the show. Sometimes I’ve been like ‘How did she win?’ but people shouldn’t forget that there are girls in their own community that can be your very own “drag race.”
What advice would you give someone who thinks they may do drag?
Do it because you have a love for entertaining and know the fame or fortune can never compare to the overwhelming ovation of your audience.