If you want a roast done right, call a queen. Revry presents The Roast of Heklina, for the icon drag performer, Helkina. The feast features some of the most talented drag performers including Roast Master Jackie Beat, Bob The Drag Queen, Jinkx Monsoon, Julie Brown, Peaches Christ, Sister Roma, and Alaska Thunderfuck. The evening is full of ooos and oohs as each performer takes their turn taking digs at each other before turning their aim on the queen of honor herself. In the end, Helkina reminds the crowd who's boss.
Heklina is one of San Francisco's most well-known drag queens, doing drag for over 20 years. She is known for her influence including Mother, her parody shows, or her landmark venue, The Oasis. In order to give her the honor her deserves Revry brought together Heklina's closest friends and colleagues to give her the hottest roast she will always remember.
The Roast of Heklina is available on February 1, on Revry.tv
Ellen Degeneres is heading back to where it all began - the stage. Degeneres is debuting her new Netflix stand-up special Relatable on December 18th. Filmed at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, Relatable marks Ellen's return to stand-up after a 15-year hiatus. Check out the trailer below.
Relatable launches globally on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 on Netflix.
With the popularity of RuPaul's Drag Race, the drag scene is becoming mainstream every day. Some of the fiercest and most talented queens are captured in Greg Bailey's book, "Alright Darling? The Contemporary Drag Scene". Bailey catches the like of Alyssa Edwards, Coco Peru, and Sasha Velour in raw, glamorous displays including backstage antics and glorious shade. The book also includes a forward by Alaska Thunderfuck.
"Alright Darling? The Contemporary Drag Scene" is on sale on October 16th.
The Annual Gentlemen’s Ball, held at The Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, is a black-tie Fundraising Gala and Awards Program that celebrates the accomplishments of Black LGBTQ people who have significantly contributed to enhancing the quality of life of the black LGBTQ community and who have demonstrated a commitment to social change. Honorees included Actor/Musician, Jussie Smollett, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Alicia Garza
Other Honorees include:
Pamela Stewart – VP, Coca-Cola
Kylar Broadus, Esq. – Sr. Public Counsel
Simone Bell – So. Reg. Dir., Lambda Legal
Stacey Abrams – GA Governor Candidate
Jensen Atwood – Actor
Queen Sheba – Poet
Micky Bee – Activist
Guy Anthony – HIV/AIDS Activist
Joe “Miss Sophis” Taylor – Comedian
James Earl Hardy – Actor
Deondray & Quincy Gossett – Film Makers
Dr. Cleo Manago – Activist
The event also featured a Live Performance by R&B Recording Artist, Tweet.
See high-resolution photos at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2533432630000526&type=1&l=1b9b304887
Aquaria, winner of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 stopped by SiriusXM studios Monday to chat withSiriusXM host, Larry Flick. The winning drag diva reveals reality season drama, his identity throughout the ‘Drag Race’ and relationship with gender.
NBC News THINK
He might be Chance the Rapper's younger brother, but hip hop artist Taylor Bennett has his own story to tell – and with his latest single, "Be Yourself," Bennett's out to prove he has his own music and style too.
Another year, another Pride; and the community has found themselves fighting in 2017. With an administration that has done their best to tell its LGBTQ citizens that they are less than. This is nothing new for the community. Pride was created in retaliation to the treatment the community was suffering. There will always be a need to fight. A need to remind the younger generation that they need to carry on. This year’s Pride issue reflects strength. Shangela of RuPaul's Drag Race shares a powerful message of working hard and fulfilling your dreams. Lila Star talks about her inspirations and being the first Transgender Latina Rap Artist. Taylor Barrett, a talented director, writer and actor talks about her new show, “Work in Process” and the message she wants to send to the community. Happy Pride to you all and may this year be a time of reflection, blessings and new beginnings.
Teresa Maria Robinson-Ewers, Editor-in-Chief
PRIDE & Equality Magazine
By Teresa Maria Robinson-Ewers
D.J. Pierce was always a performer. Entertaining his family as a child, Pierce, who shared that he learned and accepted at a young age was that he was “loud, loved to entertain, and fabulous,”, knew he was on the right track when he sang ‘In the Still of the Night’ in his 8th grade choir and saw the response from the audience. The young man who walks to the beat of his own drummer would become the diva we know as Shangela Laquifa Wadley, the no-nonsense, bold queen who made her first appearance on RuPaul Drag Race Season 3. Returning to the show two more times, Shangela has grown into a polished, established performer who many feels were robbed of the crown for the third season of All-Stars.
Pierce has never been one to shy away from who he is. The first male cheerleading in his school in 40 years, Pierce was determined to be part of the team. The idea of being a “yell-leader” is not an easy feat for some. For Pierce, since it was a goal that needed to be fulfilled,- he was going to handle it with grace to get what he wanted. “I lived in a very small town called Paris, Texas and was in a graduating class of 105. When you live in a small town you stand out more - but I wasn’t shy about it. I’m sure people had a lot to say, they didn’t agree with me being on an all-girls squad, but I really was shielded from it because some people would say I’m such a nice and funny person. So the funnier I was...the things that really made me learn to have a quick wit...it really didn’t bother me as much. People were more open to me because [they would think], ‘Oh, he’s just D.J. He’s funny, he’s entertaining, we love him.’ So it wasn’t as big of a scandal as say as maybe it would have been if I wasn’t as kind to people.”
Needless to say, his childhood prepared him for the life that would lead him to become the beloved Shangela. When it came to Shangela’s inspiration to do drag as a living, it came down to the first time she stepped on stage to perform. “What inspired me to focus on drag is, I realized when I performed drag for the first time I loved it. I had fun, you know, I get to be on stage, which I always love to do, but there’s a lot of elements of it that I really enjoy. I was one of those boys that when my mom was home I would put on her heels and disco around to dance remixes. So the fact now I get to do that as part of the career I was creating for myself, I was thankful, so thankful.”
Shangela’s talents have led her to the biggest drag competition in the world, Rupaul’s Drag Race. The creator of the show, RuPaul Charles, has said that drag is a movement that would remain underground - never seeing the craft in a mainstream landscape. Shangela is now part of an industry that has been embraced in the mainstream, receiving awards and continuous accolades. Shangela realizes what the show has given her and counts her lucky stars for the opportunity. “I’m blessed. I’m blessed, I’m thankful, I’m honored and I take it with a very strong level of responsibility. When people look up to you for their inspiration, that’s a big responsibility because I know what it’s like to look up to others. You know, some days I just feel down and you would go and see a Beyonce documentary, [who was] also going through challenges and pushing through. You watch Gaga’s documentary, “5’2”, you see she has a lot of health issues but she pushes through. That’s why you push through. So I’m just hoping if any people can know my story, identify with it and be inspired by it, I hope will happen, because that is a really big, huge part of my journey. I was turned away. I was the first one off of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 2. I came back, the girls didn’t like me, honey, they called me all kinds of things and I pushed through to the top five. I left that season - didn’t give up. I worked in television, I worked in film. I just stuck my nose to the grind. I came back on All-Stars 3 and I got to give everything I wanted to - all the way to the very end, and even though it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I’m still not giving up, I’m still pushing forward.”
Shangela’s time on All-Stars 3 will go down as one of the most controversial moments on the show. Pegged as a frontrunner to win it all, the producers surprised the queens, and the home audience, by informing them that the top 2 would be decided by the eliminated All-Stars, eliminating Shangela from the show. Always a class act class act, Shangela handled her exit with class and dignity. But the decision still was a difficult one to hear. “Well, I will say - when we were on the show and they said the eliminated were going to choose, I said, ‘Okay, that’s a wrap.’ I was disappointed. I was mad really because I was like...that’s not fair. Everyone was in a unique position, but I thought I was in the worst position because the rules - we were given the rules in the beginning and I played the game with those rules all the way up to the end. I created alliances with people I thought were going to be the strongest and stick around. Every person in that top 4, not including myself, I saved with one of my saves. I saved Be, I saved Kennedy and I saved Trixie. So, I put my alliances in the right spot and I was so proud of everyone that made it to the Top Four and then to find out that was the twist, I was like, well...that just defeats everything...I definitely came here to do my best, and when you do your very best, you’re given this responsibility to send people home and it’s not right - it’s just not nice.”
It was important for Shangela to bring this win home. There were many in her hometown that supported her in this journey and the lost was a disappointment not only to herself but her fans. “I was disappointed...because walking into the bar, my home bar in L.A., I knew they had my back, but I wanted so badly to win...for all my fans around the world, that’s why I really want to do my best. These people have been down with me even since before I could put on makeup or blend it. I can bounce back and say, ‘Look, folks, this is what I’ve learned. I’m gonna do the best for you guys. We’re all in this journey together.’” I was surprised to learn that when it came down to the final voting, there was one person that had Shangela’s back, and it wasn’t who many people who have expected. “I was disappointed to not make it to the two and then to see the elimination order and the lipsticks that were pulled - the points the next day, that’s what really threw me for a loop because I hadn’t seen that before. The fact that I got one point out of all the points given...and the only person that gave me a point was Thorgy Thor.”
Shangela is now the only queen to appear on Drag Race three times. The experience can be a great opportunity for a drag queen coming up in the world. Shangela shared what she learned in the time she’s been on the show. “Well...do your best and make the most of every opportunity in life. Don’t be afraid to do the work to get to what you want. I’ve been thankful to be on RuPaul's Drag Race season 3. I’ve been thankful to work on pretty much every US prime time television network in scripted and unscripted roles. I’ve done film, I released music, I have done comedy tours, I have traveled the world and performed on 6 out of the 7 continents. I am a working girl through and through and I am so thankful that we have fans that support us in this way, it means the world to me. That’s why I ain’t giving up, honey!”
Shangela has dropped a new single titled “Pay Me”, a catchy, vibrant song sending the message that your time and talent has value and you deserve to be paid. The track was produced by Ryan Sky and this was a collaboration that was destined to happen. “Ryan Sky is an L.A. producer and I know him from his work in some of the local venues in L.A. and I always admired his ear for music. He said, ‘Come on, Shangela, let’s make a track’ and I said, ‘Come on, baby, let’s do it.’” With Shangela’s hectic schedule, Sky was able to find the time. “The song was written in one day, recorded the next day and then he went to Production World to work on it and it came out fabulous. I love it.” The song is being performed with other sets on a 70-city tour that Shangela is currently on that started in January. For some, a 70-city tour would be a difficult feat. For Shangela, it’s just another day at the office. “Shangela has been doing this touring gig since season 3 [of RuPaul's Drag Race], so I have this thing down to a science, boo. I’ve just learned that I can stay out and party with everybody as much as you like to - you gotta go to bed because you have that flight in the morning! It’s really a great opportunity, a great honor for me to do this and I love it.”
With all of the many projects she is currently working on, “ A Star is Born” is the one that has her, and us, most excited. The star-studded reboot includes Lady Gaga. She is happy to have her little piece of this exciting project. “We filmed ‘A Star is Born’ last May. It will come out in the Fall. To work alongside Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper - and when I mean “alongside”, they say action, there’s Gaga, there’s Bradley Cooper, there’s Shangela. It was wonderful. To get their praise and applause as well for what I was doing on set, that meant a lot to me. I mean, these are heavy-hitters. Bradley told me before we started shooting, ‘I want you to be you. Just give me all of you and I’ll let you know if I need you to pull back.’ Girl, he said, ‘Action,’ and I went 100%. Then he said ‘Cut’...he grabbed me by both sides of my cheeks and said, ‘Shangela, perfect! Do it again.’ I lived! I lived! I had a wonderful time.”
Along with her tour, her new single, and new movie, Shangela has other projects in the works. Three singles in the can waiting for release; the sequel to ‘Hurricane Bianca’ coming out this summer and a stand-up comedy tour coming out this summer that she’ll be kicking off in the UK. She will also be recording a single and video with the talented Todrick Hall. “Honey, we’re moving.”
When I asked what she would like her legacy to be, Shangela reflected on a recent experience. “Recently I got a video, the day after the finale. I’m not a big crier. The way I deal with things that are devastating or challenging in my life, I put my head down and keep working. It will get better. But it was this video of kids bawling on Instagram saying, ‘I wanted Shangela to win!’ And it made me cry because I knew how they felt - to see how devastated they were, that made me upset. I got a friend of mine to get their contact info, and I made them some little videos and sent them to them just letting them know it’s gonna be okay, keep your head up - ‘I want you guys to stay inspired. If things don’t go your way in life, don’t just stay down - feel the feelings, you know, cry, but you gotta get back up and keep moving,’ and their parents filmed some reaction videos and sent them back to me. So, when you ask me that question, ‘What do I want my legacy to be,’ is, I hope, [I can teach] that we can all push through diversity and find the joy in life. Never give up. It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s all about where you’re going, not even about where you end up - about where you’re going, where you intend to go, and how you’re working to get there and how you’re staying happy along the way. I hope I continue to inspire people as long as I’m around kicking and death-dropping on these stages. Hallaloo.”
The man, D.J. Pierce, has become one of the most inspirational people the world has come to know. With some makeup, a wig and attitude, Shangela continues to show fans that there isn’t a dream they are not capable of reaching and no goal that can’t be fulfilled. She is giving a generation of youth hope and a country a glimpse of what can happen if we allow ourselves to be more than what the status quo expects.
By Bradd Howard
Tell us about your new series.
BARRETT: I’m really excited about it. It’s called ‘Work in Progress’ and it is a 6 episode half-hour comedy. I wrote it, I directed it, I starred in it. I also edited it. I call it homemade television. I had my hands and my paws all over it. My mom did costumes, my dad helped produce. I got all my friends and family to be in it. My aunt and uncle who are dairy farmers are in an episode. It was really a community endeavor. It is a limited season, with just six episodes. I don’t know if there will be a season 2, I’ve already sketched out a season 2 but we’ll just see how the audience reacts. I am looking forward as this is the final stage of the creative process to share what we have been working on for a year.
I hear that HereTV snatched you right out of school for a development deal?
B: (Barrett laughs) kinda yeah.
How did it happen?
B: So, I graduated from Northwestern in 2012, and not too long after that I made a web series with a friend and we just made it for fun. We were kind of sick of… she was a writer and I was an actor and a writer and we were sick of doing other people’s projects and wanted to have a little more creative control. We wrote our own web series and made it for fun, basically with zero budget. It was all friends from college who worked on it, lighting and camera, etc. That web series was called Tiny Nuts. My dad was friends with Paul Colichman who owns HereTV and I got in touch with John Mongiardo who was in charge of production of HereTV at the time and he liked Tiny Nuts so much that he agreed to license it and we made a licensing agreement to HereTV and then they licensed it to Hulu and it has been on Hulu and HereTV for four years. Then last year Pride.com, another one of Paul Colichman’s assets, approached me and said “We love Tiny Nuts, can you do some man on the street interviews? Some comedy stuff” and I said yeah, let’s do it! Those went well too. John Mongiardo then took a look at those interviews and a look at Tiny Nuts and then offered me a T.V. show. Anything I wanted. He said whatever you want to do, let’s make it!
Being an out person in the entertainment industry, what messages do you want to share and what would you want to be heard?
B: Sure, first of all, for me, I think it’s a privilege to be out. I think for me visibility is a priority and I am lucky enough to be in a position where I can safely and confidently be out in my personal life and my professional life. So, I really want to be vocal for all of those people in the world who can’t be out. It is essential to me that my art and my activism are one in the same. I want to center LGBT stories, characters, I want to celebrate queer culture, queer community. I basically want to see media that I would have benefitted from seeing when I was little. Growing up queer in the 90’s. Every day it’s getting better but I was so nervous even though I grew up in Los Angeles. I was hyper scared about admitting to myself that I was gay and I know that had I had some more cultural touchstones to reference it would have been easier for me to see people who look like me, established friend groups, happy endings, I know it would have helped. I am trying to provide that for the younger generation.
I understand, growing up like you - queer in the 90’s - Ellen DeGeneres was all we really had. She’s great, and we love her, but we need more people like you sharing your stories, so thank you for that.
B: I love Ellen but I agree it is important to have a diversity of backgrounds and stories and perspectives, absolutely. The more the merrier in the queer space, I think.
What future projects do you have going on?
B: I am working on a couple of documentary series for HereTV. One is called Inside the Rainbow and it’s a pretty happy series. I was feeling pretty fatigued after the election and the general sense of chaos in the country and the negativity, so I wanted to tap my lens on people in the queer community who are doing amazing social work, social good. Whether that is through radical astrology like Chani Nicholas or the fun raps of queer rapper, Big Dipper. Each one is under 10 minutes. I am really excited about that series and it is really wonderful to meet with these people who are doing good work. Another short series I am doing is called Queer Family Tree. That’s fun. We are going to release that during Pride in June. I sit down with a queer person, [LGBTQIA] I’m trying to get as much diversity as possible. I sit them down and I ask them how did you know you were queer? What do you like about being queer? What do you dislike about being queer? What was your coming out process like? And what would you like to tell your younger self? I am hoping to develop a large archive of these interviews so that people can be inspired by hearing other people’s stories and journeys.
If you were going to leave a legacy, what would you want that to be?
B: I think that is the hardest question I have ever fielded. I want to generate compassion. I want to help people love themselves and love others and I hope that my art can help people in that way become more compassionate because I think that is the biggest obstacle for acceptance, compassion, and empathy. If I can help even a little bit to bolster that, I would be proud of that.
When I first heard of Lila Star, I was intrigued. “The First Trans Latina Rapper,” as she was billed, caught my eye and imagination. I could not wait to talk to her. Excited to speak with Star, who will be performing at The Pride & Equality Magazine 15th Anniversary Ball on September 14th, we settled down for our Q&A, drinks in hand, and began to chat like two old friends.
Star is making a name for herself, working with big names from Rupaul’s Drag Race and taking the title of the first Trans Latina Rapper, a title she is very proud to claim. Her journey started some time ago with a video that paved her career. “About four years ago, when I made the video for my song “The Truth.” The director didn’t even know I was trans until much later. I have since worked with the director, Nestor, many times.” The title of “first trans-Latina rapper” is an important one to Star and she is proud to claim it. “There is no one doing what I am doing. If there is, she isn’t speaking up. When you are younger you don’t realize that you have something special, a unique voice. I am a triple threat. I want to express myself any way I can.”
Lila is the first rap or hip-hop artist to appear in our publication and taking the mantle of LGBTQ’s first Latina female artist is a title she wears proudly. When it comes to how she is accepted by the hip-hop community, the experience has brought some harsh feelings into the limelight. “Well, I think it’s sad,” says Star. “The hip-hop and gay communities have always influenced each other with different slang and fashion and such. I have had to deal with a lot of prejudice in the hip-hop community with people who are not supportive because they are dealing with their own sexuality. I got to where I am all on my own. I plan to knock down any doors that come before me on my own. It makes me more driven to prove that I can do it.”
When it comes to Star’s influences when creating her music she shares that everyday living is always the best way to create. “The usual life experiences. When I grew up Lil’ Kim and Tupac were my saviors. They were my hip hop Gods. As I get older just the lessons life has taught you.” She continued to share her love for Lil’ Kim when it comes to how the sometimes controversy artist’s style appears in her videos. “I am the trans-Lil’ Kim! When I was a kid I was a regular church-goer but my alter ego is a bad girl. It helps me express my sexuality. I can be her unapologetically and it is easier to say things you really feel.”
Lila is truly making a name for herself, recently collaborating with Drag Race alumni, Shea Coulee, and season 10 contestant, Vixen, on the song Cocky. The video, a powerful, fierce form of expression, leaving those who watch it wanting to strut their stuff after viewing. A childhood connection led to the collaboration. “Shea and I met because we are both from Chicago and we got to talking and were both dealing with losing our dads. ‘Cocky’ just kind of came out of those talks.”
When it comes to Star’s aesthetic, it should be no surprise that she is a fan of fashion. “I love fashion! It’s been a childhood inspiration. “ I love clothes. Growing up, I would play with pieces. I was scared growing up in the hood - being half Puerto Rican. Everyone was uber masculine. So I got to play with boy sides. I love thrifting. I am obsessed with designers. They make me feel expensive and beautiful and diva-like.”
Star has a few upcoming projects on the way. “I just completed a short film called “Lake Shore Drive” and have a role in an upcoming movie that I can not talk about just yet.”
Lila Star is determined to be a powerful element in the music scene and if her attitude and style have anything to say about it, we’ll be seeing more of her in the future.
P&E - After Print
Here are some of the latest articles and topics in the GLBT community.