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Monday, June 22, 2015

I AM YOUR QUEEN: Honey Mahogany

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge HONEY MAHOGANY
  • Honey Mahogany

Welcome to I AM YOUR QUEEN, a Pride Month series on the Exhibitionist that look at the foundation of drag, be it a pillar of strength or a tube of powder marked "Honey."

Honey Mahogany is a former social worker who grew up to become so glamorous that her music was used on Looking, and she might just be playing Uhura in a drag re-enactment of Star Trek later this year. (If Nichelle Nichols should happen to drop in, it might lead to a wormhole or an alternate timeline.) She graciously spoke to SF Weekly about her background, why she performs, and how exactly she got that name.

What name(s) do you perform under?

Honey Mahogany

Where do you perform?

All over the place, really. Anywhere I’m allowed! Truth be told, I’m much more interested in where I haven’t performed (yet!).  That being said, I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my own weekly show, Mahogany Mondays, every Monday night at the Midnight Sun.

How long have you done drag?

More than five years, less than 10, somewhere in the middle. It’s hard for me to pick an exact frame of time of when I “started” because I’ve been dressing in drag since I was 2.

click to enlarge URBAN FOCUS STUDIOS
  • Urban Focus Studios
Does Honey Mahogany have a back story?

My name sort of does! I picked Honey Mahogany because I was going through a bag of old makeup I used back in my high school musical days, and I came across two colors of foundation, one was called Honey, the other Mahogany. Somehow I thought that had a nice ring to it. Now I love it, because no matter where I go everyone knows my name, “Hey, honey!” “Thanks, Honey.” “Here you go, Honey.” Not complaining.

Do you have a theater/performance background?

I do! I've done choirs, and been in dance companies, I also minored in musical theater. In high school I actually used to perform along side Darren Criss, who has gone on to star in Glee and is currently on Broadway.

Is realness important to you? Genderfuck? Something else?

I don’t have a preference for a “type” of drag per se, though in regards to what I usually do, it’s usually more on the “realness” side. But you know, I just can’t help it. I’m a lip gloss and lashes girl, it doesn’t take much! In all seriousness, though, I think I generally skew more feminine in drag because doing so allows me to express a part of myself that I always felt was suppressed. In our culture where femininity is seen as weaker than/less than masculinity, I found myself being told I was less than because I was feminine. I thought this was bullshit. Drag became my answer because I saw drag as a celebration of femininity and also a celebration of women.

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

When I was starting out the biggest hurdle was: being a drag queen. It wasn't popular. People wouldn't date you or even talk to you in certain circles if they knew you were a drag queen. It was that whole hyper-masculine worshipping, anti-woman bullshit we've carried along for years in our culture. It is changing though. RuPaul has helped make some of that happen on a national level, which is amazing.

click to enlarge JOSE A GUZMAN COLON
  • Jose A Guzman Colon
What do you love most about drag?

The ability to be whoever you want to be.
Have you had any trouble with Facebook's "real" names policy?

Yes. It's ironic because they actually had to change my name to Honey Mahogany whenever I registered several years ago. They wouldn't let me do it because the namebot said it wasn't a real name. I protested it, and within two days they changed me to Honey Mahogany. Nothing happened for years until, out of the blue, my account was flagged several months ago. I am grateful that I have a personal relationship with the queens who are heading the My Name Is campaign, and they were able to get my name changed back, but I think that Facebook's response in dealing with the issue overall has been lackluster and, to be honest, completely unacceptable. It would not be hard for them to fix this policy and the way “name-violations” are handled in a fair and timely manner, and yet they have failed to do so. It seems they are more interested in putting rainbow flags up and marching in the Pride Parade than they are in addressing a policy that threatens people's jobs, personal lives, and safety.

What's your day job?

I was a social worker for almost 10 years. Now I'm Honey Mahogany full-time.

Does your mother know?

Yeah. I told her when I knew I was going to be on TV. Actually, to be fair, she knew I had done drag years ago, but I came out to her as a "professional" drag queen in 2012.

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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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