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Thursday, June 25, 2015

I AM YOUR QUEEN: Sandra O. Noshi Di'n't

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge JOWEE ARENAZ
  • Jowee Arenaz

Welcome to I AM YOUR QUEEN, a Pride Month series on the Exhibitionist about San Francisco's most iconic drag superstars, the second-tier queens who plot coups d'etat to dethrone them, and the gender performers who scream "Living!" every time you accuse them of belonging to one camp or the other.

Somewhat ironically, Sandra O. Noshi Di'n't found sobriety through drag.

"I’m assuming that drag queens have a reputation for having a good time and partying, because I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me at bars and clubs, looking to score 'party favors,'" she said. "When I was adopted by my drag mother, Pollo Del Mar — who is openly sober — I learned that I had a choice to not drink and use. I've been sober since November 1, 2010."

That is genuinely impressive, and we applaud her decision. Noshi Di'n't kindly spoke to SF Weekly about playing shows in Modesto, inheriting her mother's cheekbones, and the mysterious death of her first husband, Mr. Noshi.

click to enlarge PRESTON BURFORD
  • Preston Burford
What name(s) do you perform under?

Sandra O. Noshi-Di’n’t

Where do you perform?

I perform all over the Bay Area, having rocked the stages of Trannyshack, The Monster Show, The Glamazone, Mother, and the Castro Theatre as a Midnight Mass player with Peaches Christ — to name a few. I’ve even had the fabulous opportunity to perform at such exotic locations as Sacramento, Modesto, and Los Angeles.

How long have you done drag?

Well, I’ve been dressing up in my mom’s clothes and makeup as early as I can remember. But, Sandra officially made her debut on stage in January 2008. So, seven years.

Does Sandra O. Noshi Di'n't have a back story?

Yes. Sandra was born into a wealthy political family in Pyongyang, North Korea. She grew up very privileged, taking ice skating classes, ballet classes, jazz classes, and jazz technique classes. But, when she realized life was not called “Classes,” she set her eyes on bigger things, namely life in America.

She strategically set long-term goals, attending boarding school and university in Japan, where she eventually married a wealthy businessman, Mr. Roboto Noshi. Mr. Noshi was a very stoic man who controlled their marriage with an iron fist — literally. But Sandra put up with all the adversity and abuse, knowing that he was her only ticket to America. Not so long after, she was able to follow Mr. Noshi to the US, where he was setting up Daiso stores all over the West Coast. Sadly, Mr. Noshi died “mysteriously” of a “pre-existing heart condition,” after only a year in the US. Sandra decided that she was not going to live a lonely life of a young widow. Instead, she cashed her husband’s life insurance check, kept her married name, and added “Di’n’t” to it because, well, it just sounded right. And the rest is Herstory!

Do you have a theater/performance background?

Other than having been forced to take piano lessons during grade school like a good Korean, no.

Is realness important to you? Genderfuck? Something else?

When I first started drag, realness was very important to me. Foolishly, there was a time when I thought it was the most important factor of drag. I think it was because I was always fascinated and intrigued by the transformational aspect of drag, meaning I was blown away how someone could visually change the look of their gender, simply with makeup and couch cushions. I coined a term in my drag house: PF, which stands for “Passably Female.”

I feel very privileged having been able to start my drag career in San Francisco. I’ve been exposed to all types of drag on the spectrum, and it has definitely made me aware that being PF is not the end-all, be-all. However, it is a learning curve, and I’m continuing to grow and learn every day. There will be a day when I don’t walk out my door before heading to a gig and asking, “Do I look, like, ‘mannish’?”

click to enlarge GARETH GOOCH
  • Gareth Gooch
When you were starting out, what was the biggest hurdle?

The biggest hurdle was stage fright. In addition to that, I was often overcome with fear of judgment from my peers and even my own drag family. But, it wasn’t until I competed in Trannyshack Star Search in December of 2009, where I became more comfortable in my own skin and at owning the stage. Words cannot describe the fulfilled sense of accomplishment an artist feels when she brings a creative concept to life on stage. (Being crowned 1st Runner up didn’t hurt either, LOL.)

What do you love most about drag?

Besides the visually transformative aspect of drag, I love the fact that you can use the power of drag for good. Doing drag has helped me learn about the pertinent socioeconomic issues around me. It particularly made me very aware of the ludicrous discrimination that transwomen and cis-women face every day. And it has made me become a stronger ally for them.

Early on, I learned that drag was a powerful tool that could be used to fundraise effectively. I have been involved with the Ducal Council of San Francisco, a 40-plus-year-old nonprofit organization that fundraises for various charities in the Bay Area. I hope to run for Grand Duchess of San Francisco sometime in the near future.

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

Yes. In the midst of all the name drama last year, I was one of the many profiles targeted. But, with the help of Sister Roma, Heklina, and many other queens, I was able to get my name back.

What's your day job?

I am a freelance makeup artist.

Does your mother know?

My mother does know about my drag and she does not care for it at all. I’ll just leave it at that. One thing I am thankful to her for is inheriting these cheekbones!

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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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