Not My Job: We Ask A San Francisco Drag Queen About Queens, N.Y.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we invite very interesting people on, and ask them to do something slightly less than interesting. Behind today's San Francisco of nerd billionaires and trendy restaurants, there is another city, where the most interesting people didn't wear hoodies, but spike heels, glitter catsuits and fantastic hair. Peaches Christ is the empress of San Francisco drag queens. We are delighted to have her with us today. Peaches Christ, welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.
PEACHES CHRIST: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
SAGAL: It's such a pleasure. Now, I have never been sadder that we are a radio program.
SAGAL: So you are dressed casually, I imagine. This is a casual look for you?
CHRIST: This is daytime. Yeah.
CHRIST: Grocery shopping, going to the gym type thing.
SAGAL: So you are wearing - you are wearing - let's see, a glitter - what do you call - glitter.
BRIAN BABYLON: It's called a disco-ball suit.
CHRIST: It's sort of a fully, you know, Charlie's Angels-inspired, silver sequins jumpsuit.
SAGAL: Yes. That's what is.
CHRIST: With a lot of cleavage.
SAGAL: Oh, yeah.
CHRIST: Elvira-inspired cleavage.
SAGAL: Yeah, I believe that's the Colorado River snaking down through there.
SAGAL: You know, it was formed over eons.
CHRIST: The drought is over.
SAGAL: And your hair, your hair is fabulous.
CHRIST: The hair is very Farrah-inspired.
SAGAL: The hair is, like, 9 or 10 actual blondes gave up their hair for that.
CHRIST: (Laughing) Yes.
SAGAL: All drag performers, drag legends, have origin stories. What's yours?
CHRIST: Well, I really started my drag career in a movie. I was a film major at Penn State University and was making a movie, which the title I can't say here on NPR.
CHRIST: But there was a drag queen character in the movie. And the actor we'd hired kind of dropped out. And so as the director, I came in and saved the day. I put on the wig and the costume, and the rest is history because I moved to San Francisco a year later and started performing at the legendary Trannyshack club in 1996.
SAGAL: The Trannyshack.
SAGAL: And when you got to San Francisco, did you feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm home? Or did you feel like, oh, my gosh, I can walk down the street dressed like this and nobody notices?
CHRIST: (Laughing) A little bit of both. You have to, you know, to be a successful drag queen in this town it takes a lot more than putting on a wig and some lipstick.
SAGAL: I know, I tried that yesterday - I got nothing.
CHRIST: I think part of it's that, you know, a lot of us flocked to San Francisco to reinvent ourselves. We were the freaks and weirdos and the people who sat alone in seventh and eighth grade. So it was a hobby. I never imagined this would be my career all these years later. But that's how it all started.
LUKE BURBANK: And sadly, I did dream it would be my career. It is not going well.
BURBANK: But I'm happy for you.
CHRIST: Thank you.
SAGAL: Now, I know a lot of the ladies out in the audience are probably admiring your outfit. How long did it take you to get ready?
CHRIST: About three hours.
BABYLON: Where do you start?
CHRIST: You should see what I look like before this. Do you guys know what a bear is?
BURBANK: Not really.
CHRIST: I swear. I swear.
AMY DICKINSON: No.
CHRIST: I could show you right now. All I have to do is take it off.
SAGAL: So the first hour is just shaving body hair.
CHRIST: No, I don't. See, I'm all covered. This is all illusion. So I'm corseted. I'm strapped down. I'm really buckled in. So, you know...
SAGAL: So don't move suddenly or it could be dangerous.
CHRIST: It could be dangerous for the front row, yes.
SAGAL: That would be terrifying. So what are your - what are the shows like that you do? You introduce films. You have these big shows around films.
CHRIST: Yes. I'm in the business of celebrating cult movies. So I grew up in Maryland, and I worshiped Divine and John Waters from a young age.
CHRIST: And we do full, drag, you know, spectacles before, you know, films. My next show is Showgirls, the best movie ever made.
SAGAL: Well, this is, I know. This is like...
SAGAL: This is, I understand, one of your big shows that people look forward to. It sells out. So when you do a big show, you sort of - you reenact the film before a show?
CHRIST: We do. This is our NC-17th Annual Showgirls screening. So I started showing Showgirls 17 years ago. The first show I did I offered - I put on the poster that we would offer free lap dances with every large popcorn.
SAGAL: And how many takers did you get on that?
SAGAL: I can imagine.
CHRIST: We bring in a hundred lap dancers. I call it an army of lap dancers.
BABYLON: Thank you. Thank you, I like that.
CHRIST: And the Castro Theater, you know, we keep the doors open because they sell more large popcorn that night.
SAGAL: I can imagine.
CHRIST: Than they do in a year.
BABYLON: Now, hold on. Do the - I mean, do you hold the popcorn as you lap dance, or do you just put it down to the side and then pick it back up?
CHRIST: This is the thing about that. So a lot of - you see guys come, who think that they're getting a lap dance, who don't really understand that it's a drag show. So their first, you know, horror is me bursting out of a volcano naked. That's the first thing that happens. And then, when I introduced the lap dancers, you can kind of see their popcorn starts sliding under their seats...
CHRIST: Sort of disappearing because, you know, they're my kind of lap dancers, you know?
SAGAL: So the lap dancers are also in drag is lot it is what you're saying?
CHRIST: Some of them. You can't always tell what's going on, really, with them.
SAGAL: So it's like, all you know is you're getting popcorn. You don't know what flavor it could be.
SAGAL: So, Peaches, you do a show about or with the movie, "The Wizard of Oz." Can you tell me about that?
CHRIST: We did. We did "The Wizard of Oz" at the Castro Theater. It's in the middle of the Castro, which is the big, gay neighborhood. And so " The Wizard of Oz" with a drag show at the Castro Theater probably is the gayest thing that's ever happened here.
CHRIST: Maybe. And, you know, I love "The Wizard of Oz." It's probably one of the most inspiring movies I've ever seen or experienced. And I think it really launched my love of horror films. I'm really a horror queen.
SAGAL: Is "The Wizard of Oz" a horror movie?
CHRIST: I think it is if you think about it, really. I mean, she kills someone right at the beginning of the movie. And there's a terrifying which. And she goes on a journey to kill again.
CHRIST: And, you know, it's scary.
SAGAL: Yeah, from the witch's perspective it is kind of a serial killer movie.
CHRIST: Oh, yeah. She kills two people. You know, that's a body count. So...
CHRIST: It's creepy. But we did an age restriction. And that way, we could do our drag preshow, which was a 75-minute big, preshow spectacle before the movie, where I, you know, land in Oz and go on a journey.
SAGAL: After 75 minutes of watching you play Dorothy and play out the story, doesn't the movie seem boring, thin and silly?
SAGAL: Yeah, I would imagine.
SAGAL: Well, Peaches, we are delighted to talk to you. And we've asked you here to play game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Forget about it.
SAGAL: That was quite legitimate.
SAGAL: So you're a drag queen. But what do you know about Queens? Not the royalty - no, the borough of New York City.
SAGAL: Destined to be the next hipster capital, now that Brooklyn is old and done. So we're going to ask you three questions about what is happening right now in Queens. If you answer two of them correctly, you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Peaches playing for?
KURTIS: Todd Phillips (ph) of The Hague in the Netherlands.
SAGAL: All right. Here's your first question. In 2010, a woman's sued a Queen's costume store - why? A - she got a peg leg, a parrot and an eye patch when she expressly asked for a Somali pirate costume. B - she tripped and fell wearing their, quote, "defective clown shoes." Or C - she got stuck in her horse costume for four hours, and she was the back half.
CHRIST: I'll say B.
SAGAL: She tripped and fell wearing their clown shoes?
SAGAL: You are right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: That's what happened.
SAGAL: She says that the defective shoes caused her to trip and injure herself at a costume party. The lawyer noted, not a professional clown. Next Queens question, the glory often goes to Manhattan, where all the doers and shakers apparently live. But in 2012, a Queens man distinguished himself how? A - he made medical history by eating the Styrofoam container his hero sandwich came in, and he survived. B - he swam a mile, a measured mile, in the sewage containment ponds at the Hunts Point Water Treatment Plant. Or C - he broke a record by binge watching 252 movies in 30 days on Netflix.
CHRIST: Wow. I'll say B again.
SAGAL: You're going to go for B, he swam a mile in the sewage containment ponds?
SAGAL: No, it was actually C. He broke the record for Netflix-watching. A man named Mark Malkoff wanted to see how much value he could get from his Netflix streaming membership.
SAGAL: He ended up paying, as he calculated it, less than seven cents per terrible, terrible movie.
SAGAL: All right. This is exciting 'cause, you know, you like drama.
SAGAL: This is dramatic. Here we go. If you get this right, you win. Here we go. All is not sunshine and light in Queens. Queens resident Liliana Cuay-lo was sentenced to two years in prison, just recently, after she was convicted of what crime? A - walking into a Walgreens and drinking 27, 5-hour energy drinks without paying for them. B - impersonating a doctor and performing a horribly failed butt-lift procedure. Or C - trying to escape Queens by hang gliding off of the top of the Queensboro Bridge?
CHRIST: Oh, my goodness.
BURBANK: Let me put it to you this way, Peaches - answer B involves a butt-lift surgery gone well. Has a butt-lift surgery ever gone right?
CHRIST: That's true. That's true.
CHRIST: And what was C again? The hang gliding?
SAGAL: C was the hang gliding off the top of the Queensboro Bridge.
CHRIST: OK, I'll say B.
SAGAL: You're going to say B?
CHRIST: I'll say B.
SAGAL: You are right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
CHRIST: Oh, good.
SAGAL: That's the answer.
SAGAL: Ms. Cuay-lo pretended to be a doctor and promised her patient a miraculously firm derriere for only $2,000. When the first injections did not work, she tried to fit it - this is true - with crazy glue...
DICKINSON: Oh, my God.
SAGAL: And ended up going to jail. Bill, how did Peaches do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Peaches, you're a winner in our book. We love having you here.
CHRIST: Oh, thank you.
SAGAL: Peaches Christ is hosting Showgirls August 23rd at the Castro. And there will be free dances with every large popcorn - more information at peacheschrist.com. And if you're curious as to how fabulous Peaches looked with us today on the show, there'll be a picture at our website, waitwait.npr.org. Peaches Christ, thank you so much for being on our show. In just a minute, Bill fills up on cake in our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. Support for NPR comes from NPR stations and Progressive Insurance, with more than 30,000 local, independent agents - information available at progressive.com. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, supporting the performing arts, the environment, medical research, and child well-being. And Lumber Liquidators, offering a variety of sustainably-harvested flooring, including prefinished and stained, at 1-800-HARDWOOD. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.