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Monday, June 8, 2015

I AM YOUR QUEEN: Tamale Ringwald

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge DUSTI CUNNINGHAM
  • Dusti Cunningham

Welcome to I AM YOUR QUEEN, a Pride Month series in which the Exhibitionist profiles some of San Francisco's most charming drag superstars along with their penchants for caftans and other flowing garb. 

Like the wings of the proverbial butterfly whose flutter causes a cyclone halfway around the world, Tamale Ringwald's eyelashes have been known to redirect the air currents in a packed club. This talented gigglebox, who's as handy with a sewing machine as with a table saw, spoke to SF Weekly about 

click to enlarge GARETH GOOCH
  • Gareth Gooch

What name(s) do you perform under?

Tamale Ringwald.

Where do you perform?

I throw a party with some DJ friends in Los Angeles called SQURRRL and I throw a feminist bear party in SF called Lilith Bear. I also perform with my band Muñecas in drag. Our next gig will be at Folsom Street Fair. You can see me at Mother, The Monster Show, Something, Bootie and a bunch of other gigs in SF on a regular basis. I have a hard time saying no when asked to perform.

How long have you done drag?

My first time in drag was way back in 1993, but I had not performed officially as a drag queen until August 2009 at Monistat's now-defunct club, Chaser. That was my debut. My CD wouldn't play because I fucked up burning it so I ended up singing my song live.

Does Tamale have a back story?

Tamale will always be a work in progress. I want her to keep evolving. She does have an penchant for all things mid-'60s.

Do you have a theater/performance background?

My degree is in Dance and I took a shit ton of theater classes growing up. Have been doing musical theater since I was 9.

click to enlarge DUSTI CUNNINGHAM
  • Dusti Cunningham
Is realness important to you? Genderfuck? Something else?

I don't really identify with the word "realness."  I think that I am a real drag queen but I am not trying to pass for a cisgender female. I have always been fascinated by genderfuck, though. To me, drag is a form of art and my face and body are my canvas.

When you were starting out, what was the biggest hurdle?

I think because I started so late I had a hard time being taken seriously. Thankfully, I had a very close knit support group of great friends and artist that were all starting out in drag at the same time. This has now become my drag family.

What do you love most about drag?

I love performing. I like to make people happy and I love to entertain. I think that is at the root of why I do drag. And I love makeup. The sisterhood that is developing around my drag family makes me very happy, too.

Have you had any trouble with Facebook's "real" names policy?

Nope. Not at all. I am lucky. I love what Sister Roma, Lil Miss Hot Mess and Heklina are doing though to make them change their policy.

What's your day job?

I work as a bartender at Oasis in drag and also work construction during the day (not in drag). I also support myself by selling my paintings under the name Danyol Leon.

Did your mother know?

She knew before she passed and had no problems with it. She never saw me perform though. I was just in a production of The Facts Of Life at Oasis. I played Natalie Greene. My father came to see me and that was the first time he had seen me perform so that was very exciting. He loved it!

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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