Interview with Marie Antoinette DuBarry

Denton, Texas on April 1, 2017 | Interviewer: Rebecca Scofield

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Rebecca Scofield: It's April 1st at the Texas Tradition Rodeo 2017 outside of Dallas. This is Rebecca Scofield and I'm here with Paul and your stage name is Marie Antoinette Du Barry. So could you tell me first, and I'm sorry for this, what year you were born?
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Marie Antoinette Du Barry: I was born in 1980. So it was late in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm the only child of an only child. My grandmother owned a bridal shop. She's very well known in New Mexico, actually in Santa Fe. She owned her business for fifty-five years and I grew up in that bridal shop. So, yeah that's where I come from and that's who sort of who I am. That's sort of the great beginnings of Du Barry.
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RS: And as a little kid, did you ever feel like you were different at all? Did you feel pretty mainstream?
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MD: I was very different. I was classified as weird at a very early age. So maybe about anywhere from late kindergarten to first grade, the acronym “weird,” “you're weird,” “what are you talking about? You’re weird,” was constantly referenced because I was dyslexic. They didn't really discover it until I was maybe 5th or 6th grade, which is actually I find is really the norm for LGBTQ people. I think it's in our genetics and I think it's something that helps us cope with different abilities. So I wasn't a very good reader so that made me very obvious. I was also very effeminate, which is really obvious. And all those things made for an interesting school life especially at the beginning because kids don't necessarily have the protection from being bullied.
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MD: The protection from…because back then it was completely normal for the principal to say to my mother, “Well, boys will be boys. Boy will be boys. Your son is effeminate so you're going to have to expect some of this.” So that is sort of the beginning experience of school. I was very good at art, I was very good in history, I was very good in tests that did not involve writing or spelling. And later on as I grew up in school I started to get…they diagnosed with me with dyslexia. And actually it, what’s really interesting is, it's not a learning disability like most people say, it's actually a learning different ability. That’s what I like to refer to it as. Because it's a totally different learning ability, you learn in a very different way but boy can you store a lot of different computer stuff in your brain.
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RS: So was your mom pretty protective of you with all the bullying?
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MD: Yes, my mother was extremely protective of me for bullying. I moved schools about three or four times. I finally finished my schooling out in elementary at Gonzales. So it was always, you know, once the bullying got too much, my mom would move me, move me, and move me cause there was that constant, “oh, boys will be boys.” That kind of crazy nowadays if you really think about it.
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RS: As a mother of a son I hoped that that's crazy.
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MD: Yeah, it's intense. And it's completely…you see a lot of resurgence right now and of course this will go into forever, this interview will go into prosperity, prosperity, posterity. And we’re seeing a lot of those resurgence of allowing people to act the way…by allowing it, saying, “Oh, well, that's how people are supposed to act.” When that's not really how they're supposed to act at all. We're supposed to act much better than that. And it's shameful to see a lot of that. But it's really wonderful to see other people standing up for each other. So it's sort of this weird sort of time of vacillation of breaking with the old and stuff like that.
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MD: But my mother was incredibly protective of me. She was always afraid that I was going to get kidnapped. So really weird phobia that she had: I was born during the prison riots in New Mexico, where there was a very bad prison riot that happened at the state pen. And my grandfather actually boarded up the windows and kept her in a specific room and then put told her not to come out ‘cause he was afraid that they were going to come down the street and kill people. So and he was a police officer, so my mother was sequestered into a particular room and I think that's what caused her to be so overprotective of me. As I speak to you with a wig on my head right now so. [Laughter] It's really funny when I think I'm like ahh. So yes she was incredibly protective.
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RS: Were you able to, even though you were switching schools and sort of bullied, were you ever able to make a core group of friends or a best friend that saw you through some of that?
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MD: Yes, I had a couple, but it was more in middle school and then, after middle school, it was high school. It was sort of the time where I found it…I was very introverted in middle school because I wasn't out and then I decided when I hit high school I was going to be out for the whole experience. And so being sort of the artistic person that I was in that time and that I am now it was very hard for them to not automatically say that I was gay or whatever. And then as I got older and then I went into high school, you know all these people really admired me for coming out at such a young age and saying this is who I am, this is what I where I'm going, and I'm not going to let anybody tell me no. So that experience was very liberating in high school as a freshman. But to miss out, as me as a person, I missed out on things like I wanted to go to prom with a boy, I wasn't able to because everybody was so intimidated by being so out and being so forward about my gaiety, my homosexuality. I hate to say it because it sounds so clinical when you say “homosexuality.” My queerness. And so it's really a strange thing because boys are either attracted to especially in that age they're either attracted to you or they're not attracted to you so it's really hard experience going through high school.
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RS: Yeah. So how do you identify as far as gender and sexuality?
[00:07:55]
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MD: I identify as gender-fluid, so I don't really identify either as a boy or a girl. Though I vacillate between the two, sort of…[letting people pass by]
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RS: Now that the chatty Cathies have passed.
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MD: Gender, I mean I identify as gender-fluid. I'm sort of in between, I sort of float in between being masculine and feminine. Though I live my life as a man, I am very comfortable being a woman, dressing up as a woman. But I consider drag a very sacred experience. I consider it Greek Theatre. I consider it divinely inspired. Very sort of older than Christianity. Which is typically normal for ancient societies and then when you get into Christianity all of a sudden it sort of stopped because its considered not normal which ironically it is very normal to consider yourself both sexes or be more on the spectrum of being masculine or being feminine. So that’s sort of changeable and you can sort of change throughout your life and be more masculine when you're younger and be more effeminate when you're older or vice versa for either genders. So that's sort of what I consider myself.
[00:09:48]
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RS: That's great. And when did you first start getting into drag?
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MD: I think I was always doing drag. I think even around five or six, ‘cause my grandmother owned the bridal shop that I had mentioned earlier, I always tried on high heels, you know my grandma was using me for like dressmaker's dummy, so I was always, you know, ‘cause of course I was the right size of a flower girl at, you know, five or six. So these dresses worked really well. So I was constantly trying on bodices and trying on skirts and trying on hoops and stuff like that so it was very, very natural for me to just be able to slip into drag. But officially I started drag as a sort of as a career in six or seven years ago.
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RS: And have you always had the same stage name?
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MD: No. My stage name has changed throughout time. So the first of my stage names was Cherry Boom Boom and then later on I became Marie Antoinette Du Barry, which was the amalgamation of two women at the court of Versailles. Of course, Marie Antoinette and then Du Barry, who is sort of a lesser known. She was a courtesan at court of Louis XV. And what happened is I sort of blended the two girls together because I thought it would be really funny to have two, excuse my language, bitches sort of residing together who never liked each other and make it a full name. And so that's why I glued them together.
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RS: That's amazing. What draws you to that period of time that sort of, you know, late French empire period?
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MD: What draws me is the extreme pomp of everything, every movement meant something, every little thing you had on your dress. I mean if you had passion flower on your dress, it meant something. And women were constant rivals of each other, which much is like today. Who's wearing what? Are you wearing Gucci? Today, you know, it's Gucci or McQueen. But in those days, you had your dressmaker who you bought your fabric that had no fabric on it and thought of a dress that you wanted and then you said I want lilacs and lilies embroidered on the fabric and then. So that the extreme elegance and that extreme hard work to make such a beautiful outfit is really what draws me to it. And just simply the width of the dresses.
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MD: The silhouette is what is really stunning to me because it could be, it could be really boring. But you have a tiny little waist and then giant hips and, you know, no bosom. I think that's really, I know it sounds crazy, but it's very effeminate to me, it’s very charming and beautiful. Because how does a woman move in that? How does a woman go from point A to point B in a carriage like that? And it takes a lot of patience and a lot of grace and a lot of elegance to get into the carriage to get out of the carriage without killing yourself. You're literally, I mean without tumbling out and dying or suffocating to death. So that's why I'm drawn to that, ‘cause it's so. And everybody knows it. Everybody knows that that is sort of the height of elegance and wealth and beauty. That always impresses me and that's why I decided to choose that.
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RS: So when you officially came out and started getting more into the artistic side of drag and things like that, has your mother and your grandmother still supported you and are they still sort of part of your artistic vision?
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MD: Well, my mother doesn't really have an artistic bone in her body. She can only draw like Christmas trees and roses. But my grandmother she passed away in 2016, so this will be her second-year anniversary. She was a wonderful lady. She taught me how to sew, so the dress that you saw was I made it and you know did all my stuff on it. And she taught me how to sew and she taught me how to be a lady. She said you can show as much heaving cleavage as you want but don't show your ankles. Men don't get to see your ankles. Men don't get to see certain things. They get to see other things, but they don’t get to see other things because those are personal, those are private things that make men interested in who you are. They ask questions.
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MD: And I get that all the time. Why do you only show your shoulders? Like I don't wear triple D boobs because I don't think that's a natural thing for my body type, I think that maybe I'm a C or anything from a B to a C and I don't think it's proper to have giant boobs and give other people a false impression of womanhood. Because you don't have to have giant boobs to be a beautiful woman. You don't have to have a tiny waist to be a beautiful woman. Even though I corset myself quite a bit, in fact I wear corsets probably for everything that I dress in, but it's very important and very special to me that I don't have a very big bosom. ‘Cause I'm not interested.
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MD: I don't like padding out, I don't pad out because that's not natural for me. And I typically find that other drag queens wear pads and stuff because they've been forced into it. And if they had a choice, I think that they would go in a different, they would do other things. And that's why I used panniers, which are the hip hoops that make me look wider. Because it makes my shoulders look way smaller and it makes me look like I haven't eaten in like three days, which is perfect so, you know. Which is of course isn't a natural way that woman would ever look but in that time period it would be very normal to have a teeny weeny little waist.
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RS: So where did you start performing when you first got into it?
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MD: I started at the Closet Ball which is where like men that are in the community that haven't done drag before or have done very little drag start off as men and then change into women. And so that's when I was Cherry Boom Boom and then a friend of mine whose a producer of show the Joe Box Cabaret in Santa Fe, her name is Linda Kraus. She was the lighting person for the show and she saw me and said you really have to join the show, so I joined the show from there. And it was very fortuitous because I didn't really have an outlet, you know I would dress up to go to parties you know or for Halloween but I really didn't I really didn't have a place to perform. Because I didn't perform at all I just went out in my costumes.
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RS: Yeah, what is your sort of you know we talked about your artistic side as far as fashion goes. What about singing, dancing, any of that side?
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MD: It's very funny because I look a lot to history for, you probably I figure I look a lot to history, so I learn ancient dances like the Volta, which was a favorite dance of Queen Elizabeth, where the man, where it was sort of like a hop, skip, and a jump and then the man lifts the lady up from her crotch into the air and they say, “Volta.” It was an Italian dance, which was all the rage in her time and I put it to her modern music and it's very interesting because modern music has a lot of the same tonality of old music. And if you find the right one it's scary because it looks like exactly and people are like, “Well, where the hell did you think that dance up?” I didn't think it up, it's just an old dance that's re-appropriated. You know waltzing, I use a lot of that stuff. So, yes, I do dance.
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MD: I don't really sing. Not really. I don't…I'm not really a big singer but I enjoy singing in the car and things like that. But I enjoy lip-syncing more because you get the tonality that you want. You get the song that you want from the singer you want and all you have to do is emote that emotion. There's some people that aren't good lip-syncers and there are people that are good lip-syncers. And you just, you have to hear the music and I think that that love between music and your performance is really what conveys to the audience because you can be talking to somebody over here and look at somebody from across the room and they'll be like, “Oh my gosh.” It means a lot to them. Oh my god. So that's yeah. But I don't sing, I don't sing very well. I sing but I don't sing very well, yes.
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RS: So how often would you perform in like in maybe a month?
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MD: With this particular title, ‘cause now I'm the now reigning Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association 2017, it's almost every other week. And some of them I have such a lucky sort of experience where I'm experiencing out of town so I'm actually performing outside of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm performing in like Texas and you know Denver and things of that nature. So I'm able to show off my drag and it's…but it's very interesting because I get mixed reviews. I've always got mixed reviews on my drag because people say, “Well that's not drag.” Yes, it is. It's historically it is drag. If you look at Shakespeare yes, it is drag. You are seeing women dressed up in different time periods. Men dressed as women doing different time periods. First of all, yes it is drag. Historical drag is drag because it's in history. But I forgot what we are talking about.
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RS: Different responses to your drag outside of New Mexico.
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MD: Then there's…it's interesting because now with rodeo there are people who have certain definers or what’s called hegemony of what rodeo should look like. And I tend to step outside of that boundary of what it looks like. Because what is really rodeo? What is really western looks? Because we can look at right now with stretch jersey and stretch jean and boots or we can go back to the 1600s or go back to the 1800s and we can see woman with bustle dresses. So what is really the definer of western looks? Is it a duster? Is it all leather? Is it jeans? Because in the 1800s Levi Straus I don't even I think he had started maybe making Levi's.
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RS: For mainly miners.
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MD: For miners, yeah. And women weren't wearing pants. God forbid they were wearing pants. They were all corseted and bustled. Even the soiled dove women, which are prostitutes at that time period, were wearing, to go out in public because they weren't going to go out how they were dressed, in certain definers that defined what they looked like, you know, feathers in their hair can can girls. That is that is typically western. And then you look to modern sort of western sort of history. It doesn't just start now. It starts with polka. It starts with, you know, crinolines and colors and Annette Funicello square dancing. So you see this various range and then you see these people who tend to sometimes, they love country so much that they feel it has to be defined in a certain way.
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MD: But how do you define it? It's not just music. And it's not just fashion. It's what's inside you and sometimes it's the manners how you take care of each other with that changes that perception of western. Paula Cole said it best when she wrote her song about where have all the cowboys gone? You know, where's my Marlboro man? That's the truth of the matter. And I think with western people they have a romanticized idea of what it's supposed to look like. Jersey-comfortable, whatever. But it really isn't comfortable. Really, it's actually not a stereotype because it's really not a stereotype. It's an experience that you either experience it in your heart and you convey it to the audience or you don't. Especially as a performer you can either do it whatever you want to do it but I think it’s the gentleness that they want.
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MD: It's almost Southern in a way. Where western men are I mean I've never met nicer men than this. I mean tipping hats and being really lovely. In the gay community because it's a completely different community then if I was a pride pageant because gay men would be like a little snooty. Well not snooty but they can be a little huffy sometimes. And not all of them. But some of them. So there's that experience and with western experience they are very, very nice, it's like you experience gentlemen. And not all the time ‘cause there's some that are a little out of control but you can't do anything about that you just move on and have a good time.
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RS: Yeah this is a really interesting point you are making about the sort of historicalness of western style when you know the south west was Spanish ladies and native women and lots of different visions of femininity before bling and Wranglers.
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MD: And bell bottoms and boots because you look. I come from Santa Fe. Which is the end of the Santa Fe Trail. It ends with me. It ends where everybody wanted to go. I mean everybody was coming out to New Mexico and finding, I mean turquoise, silver, Wrangler boots—boots, and Wranglers, and concha belts. Where do you think it all came from? It came from where I come from. So I know where I'm coming from and I can play with it how I want to because I am where the Santa Fe Trail ends. But I also have the Spanish background and it’s unfair to only see the Anglicized version of “western” because there is no…even, even those gentlemen were fur trappers they were French, they were Anglo-Saxon, they were Spanish, they were—shoot, they were buffalo soldiers, Native American peoples. What is Southwestern? What is the defining moment that says, “Oh, well, that's western, a cowboy hat. That's western”? There's nothing. You can pick and choose from whatever the hell you want and make it into whatever you want. So what is it?
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RS: So have you gotten a lot of comments of like today you know you were dressed in a corset and lace and that more…
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MD: Antiquated Style, yeah.
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RS: Sort of hyper-feminine beautiful style, whereas a lot of the other women were dressed in jeans, tight fitting jeans, button down shirt, some had hats. Do you get comments on not fitting in to the other…?
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MD: I think, not I'm not going to take them as negative comments but I think that they think that it's not country enough. And ironically, it's sort of, to me and my perception, it is country it's just a different version of country. Today somebody told me I look steampunk. Steampunk western is a perfect example of a defining moment in fashion and in a visual experience where people dress with top hats they have crazy little things. They have little doohickies and doodads but they act with the same gentility they you know bustles but the dresses are short and you know the ankle breakers and things like the fans and the little parasols. That's western. That really is western, you know. So you really get these experiences of “I don't understand you, so I'm not going to understand you. So it's easier to not understand you, so you're not, you're not country.”
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MD: What the heck is country? I just went through it. It can be Buffalo Soldier, it can be an Anglo coming down the Spanish trail. It can be a Spanish person. If you if you went back just a couple years earlier, you'd see people in squaw skirts and concha belts and peasant blouses. And ironically those peasant blouses and squaw skirts are coming back into fashion but it's typically Spanish with silver buckles down the side of the dress. Okay. Well, give me what is right historical western fashion I'll stick to it. Because if you really want to get real serious, go to the Native Americans where they defined Southwestern fashion, because they were here way before anybody else and say you know a rug dress is what is Southwestern, is country. It's so interesting.
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RS: It's really fascinating.
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MD: So most of the time you let them have their perception of it, you love them anyway, and you accept them for what…’cause there's no reason to fight over it. If they have a defining idea of western, God bless all let them have it. I'm not going to take it away. I'm proud of them. But maybe I've twisted their mind a little and they said oh I can do that too and it's perfectly fine if I want to do it they don't have to do it.
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RS: So did you get any training in fashion?
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MD: Well, my grandmother was the main sort of lady who trained me in fashion, sort of taught me certain ways of putting outfits together. I went to the College of Santa Fe and got my bachelor of fine arts in Historical Costuming. So that's why I can really speak from a historical point of view of the knowledge of what things should look like and sort of put them in historical context and then juxtaposition them against today's sort of look.
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RS: That's super interesting. I’m sorry. You were going to say?
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MD: No, no, go ahead I totally forgot anyway.
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RS: So what do you do for a living now?
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MD: So this is really interesting, I work as a funeral ambassador. So it goes from drag queen in the evening to funeral ambassador in the day. I do it all, you know I formulate death certificates and help take loved ones into our care, which is taking them from the home or the place of passing, to the funeral home, to doing all the paperwork for my funeral director, to helping them lay them to rest. So it's very interesting.
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RS: Does that take a lot of emotional strength for you?
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MD: I think so. And I know it seems…I don't think it seems too healthy. Sometimes you have to turn it off. Not turn it off in a cruel way and not have compassion for the people who have lost loved ones but you have to be the strong sort of wall to lean on for them. Otherwise if you are all messed up and crying, messed up and crying, messed up and crying how are you helping any of these people? You can't do any of your job, so it's pointless. And it may not be easy, but it has to get done because you know the loved one isn't going to get up and do it for themselves. I know that first hand so I'm like eh. So.
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RS: And where are you living?
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MD: In Pojoaque, New Mexico, which is 15 to 30 minutes outside of Santa Fe. It's right out past Santa Fe Opera.
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RS: So would you say that's a small town or like a suburb of Santa Fe?
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MD: It's actually a pueblo it's like it's within in the Pojoaque Pueblo. It's not within the Pueblo itself but it's surrounding territory.
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RS: So how did you first find out about the gay rodeo?
[00:32:19]
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MD: My brother Trey, who is not really my blood brother because I'm an only child but he's my spiritual brother, let me know about the International Gay Rodeo and the New Mexico Gay Rodeo, and asked me if I wanted to join and then run for Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association, the host association, because there hadn't been a court in about seven years. And he really wanted to do the run with me. We were the only contestants. We won. And so here I am.
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MD: Sort of a funny story, I tell it to a lot of people. He had been sort of bugging at me—not bugging at me in a bad way ‘cause New Mexicans use the word “bug” but not in a bad way—he was calling me and he I was sitting on the can and I see his phone number come up and I said, “Well, I better answer,” ‘cause I really enjoy my phone calls with Trey. So I answered it and he says, “So have you made up your mind about running for Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association?” And I told him…you know, I was going to tell him no and all of the sudden I stopped and I heard this voice and it wasn't Trey's voice and it wasn't my voice. And it was sort of this divine voice. I don't know what to say better than that. It was like right out of like a story book and it says and I heard it just as clear as day and it said, “He's not asking you. I'm asking you. Say yes.” And I said, “Yes. Yeah, I will. Yeah, why not? Let's do it.” And he's like, “What?” ‘Cause he was expecting me to say no. And that's sort of the beginning of this experience. So it's been very amazing, very different. I don't think I've had more fun—because I was the first Miss Santa Fe Pride—I don't think I've had more fun holding a title than this title. It's been a blast.
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RS: Had you ever been to a gay rodeo before?
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MD: Yes, I had. The year before, it was sort of ironic, it was like I was being primed for it. I performed at the gay rodeo in Santa Fe which is the Zia rodeo, it's in Santa Fe, on the rodeo grounds, and I performed there and I was like geez this is really fun but I never thought in a million years that I would be Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association.
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RS: And do you perform in the rodeo, do you compete I mean, in the rodeo?
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MD: Yes and no. In October, we will be tested and then we will have to perform and crowned for International Gay Rodeo which is the highest that you can go, that’s world, right now I'm just state. So I'll be competing with my other brothers and sisters, and I always call it competing with because I'm not competing against—it's not fair to say that I'm competing against because then that would make me an enemy of theirs and I'm not an enemy I just want to compete with and have a good time.
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RS: That's great. And what were you scheduled to do today but you're going to do tomorrow?
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MD: The Gay Rodeo Association, the International Gay Rodeo Association, as it is known, has different events which define itself as queer/gay/LGBT and the sort of there are several stock events, and two others, but what defines it as queer/gay/LGBT is camp events. So we do campy sort of things which are goat dressing, wild drag race which is where you put a drag queen on the back of a of a heifer and the heifer goes all over the place and you have to pull it across a line. Goat dressing is where you have to put underwear on a goat. Steer decorating is where you have to put a bow on a steer’s tail. So that's typically LGBT. It's taking that real heavy, intense, competitive nature and making it really fun and silly, sort of making fun of itself, which is perfectly okay.
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RS: So I often have a hard time defining the word camp for my students. How would you define camp?
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MD: Camp is I think not ordinary or regular or associated, it's not going not camping. People would automatically say camp is camping. Not it's not camping. It's not going outside and cooking with a Dutch oven. It's seeing things in an unordinary fashion and being able to laugh at it. I think also the rodeo, the straight rodeo had been so oppressive to the gay competitor to the LGBT competitor, that they needed to have something to breathe and break away from that oppression, that slavery. ‘Cause I often say that we’re sometimes in emotional chains. Or people say it's not okay for us to be who we are, which is completely insane because of course it's okay for us to be whoever we are. And whatever we believe in and if you don't like it, you can go you-know-what. When you are listening to this interview and you don't agree with it too bad. Everybody is allowed to have their own experience and I think you best beat back the misunderstanding and the ugliness with humor. So I think the gay rodeo beats back that oppression with funniness, with clever funniness which makes it light and airy and not so intense. Though it can be intense you're bull riding, you are racing, you could get hurt, you could get killed, you know, you could get paralyzed but the camp events make it so that it's like who cares at least I was having fun when I did it and that's the truth of the matter, you know.
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RS: Do you ever want to ride a bull?
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MD: You know, I see it and it looks really interesting and you know I'm full in drag. I would do it full in drag, wig and all and yes, I would. But there's like this one…but I'm sort of…I have a husband and, you know, I have cats and I always worry that I could get severely hurt and be a quadriplegic. You know they live full, rich lives they just have to work a little harder. And but it's a little scary ‘cause you can die doing whatever we're doing, you can have an accident and just die accidentally. You can hit your head wrong. You are dealing with wild animals, and those are drag queens included. [Laughter] I'm just teasing. But you are dealing with wild animals and wild animals are like children that have no…they are afraid and scared or comfortable and happy or…there's no in between and there's no having the conversation saying, “I'm going to put some underwear on you today, little goat. You don't need to gore me. You don't need to poke me in the butt or anything.” “I'm just going to ride on your back, bull, for eight seconds. If you just make this easy for all of us, you know, it'll be okay.” There's no conversating with them because they don't understand you. And so that's you know eh.
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RS: And you mentioned you're married. Are you legally married?
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MD: Mhhm. We were married in August of 2007 and, legally but we were married the year before in October 2016 with a spiritual marriage and then we went to California before Prop 8 was actually voted through and everything but we had sort of a grandfather time where we were sort of grandfathered in so we were married legally and then we brought the…but New Mexico didn't recognize it until the United States Congress Supreme…Congress pushed it through. So we were still not legally married in New Mexico but were legally married in California which is the most stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's stupid.
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RS: But you have had a spiritual marriage?
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MD: Mhm
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RS: Does he come to gay rodeos with you?
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MD: Yeah, he just walked by just earlier he went to go to the bathroom with his sister. He supports me in everything. He carries my sash, he helps me change, he helps me dress, he keeps me on time. So, yes, he's a great support in my life. Richard Lee Polly. So he doesn't get mad that I didn't mention him in the interview.
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RS: And you…
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MD: He'll say, “You said husband but you never said my full name.” I said your full name so stop complaining.
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RS: And yeah, I mean, do you think there's any resistance to having drag or royalty as part of the rodeo? Have you ever had anyone be like, “Well, rodeo's just rodeo why do we fuss with these other things?”
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MD: Not yet, and I say not yet because it's not yet. But I think I'll probably be confronted by it. But it's sort of interesting because our rodeo had not had royalty for seven years. And that was a very hard time for them because they hadn't had royalty, so other royalty had to stand in. So there was always royalty but it was by proxy royalty. And I think the face of drag and I think the face of royalty brings a lot of recognition to the rodeo because it draws people in and says, “Well, why are they wearing crowns? What are they doing? What's the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association?” And when people start asking questions then they want to join or they want to say, “Oh, I want to be a cowboy. I want to do stuff.” So it's very different. It's very different without and with. I think sometimes they are symbiotic and they need to have each other. And sometimes it's good and sometimes it's, bad but it is what it is.
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RS: That's really great. So in the day-to-day operations of the association what is your, other than Goodwill Ambassador, what is your main…?
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MD: PR. Information. Being able to answer people's questions if they have like “what's goat dressing? what's…,” you have to have certain answers. Then there's everyday questions that are like “Who is your president? Do you have an association? What's your chapter number?” You know, things like that so it's really interesting. So it’s just light stuff, you know. But for our test we have two-hundred questions we have to answer for IGRA. And you only get one chance to answer those right. That either places you as one, two…so Queen one, two, and three, or nothing. So I got to get my shit together for that.
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RS: Do you think you're going to do other, whether the Imperial Court System or other organizations that have royalties, would you'd be interested in doing…?
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MD: I have worked closely with different courts and the Imperial System. And my title as a city title for Miss Santa Fe Pride was sort of. Yes, so yes, working with them but I don't think I'd ever, I found sort of my niche in rodeo and I think this is where I want to stay. Though things always change it's not like anything permanent.
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RS: Yeah. And, you know, I know there's a lot of concern about just not getting younger people in you know and the association shrinking. How do you think gay rodeo can expand, can go into the future?
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MD: Well, I think we're now experiencing a Renaissance again. So there's a renewed interest in the rodeo, it's starting to come back little by little. But I think the important part is that you have to accept everybody for what they are and what they define rodeo or Western as. Because when you say, “You don't fit in.” You take that prospective person who's interested and you alienate them. You say you can't be who you are. Because what defines rodeo? What defines Southwestern? What defines country? Is it the music? Is it the clothing? Or is it the person? And if you are denying the person his or her own individuality of how they express it then you're doomed. And have to be clever to allow other people's definition of it and say, “Hey, that's okay. Or I don't understand it, but what the hell, go for it. I'm like eh whatever.” And that's when you find a renaissance, a rebirth.
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MD: ‘Cause there is a rebirth of western stuff in pop culture which is steampunk. So you look at steampunk western, people are wearing western stuff. And so you just have to remember that nothing defines country. If it's a top or it's a pair of earrings, then you have to look a little bit deeper. ‘Cause it goes much further than that. ‘Cause it is history Manifest Destiny, Westward Ho. You know, Westward Ho, you read it in your history book, Westward Ho, the lady carrying electricity to the West with no wings but she's an angel and she's carrying a peace branch but everybody’s getting killed. That's what we’re experiencing. Cattle rustling, cowboys, Billy the Kid: those are only one part of very a large experience, people coming from Chicago going to New Mexico, people leaving New Mexico to go to Chicago, some people who never got there. They all have stories and they all have their own fashion in their own way that they experienced life. We're not living in that time, so we can't define what it is.
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RS: Well, this has been fantastic. Is there anything else you want to mention?
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MD: Hello. No I'm just kidding. Just that…not really. I think I've pretty much said everything that I thought I wanted to say. And then I'll say, “Damnit, I forgot something.” You can always call me on the phone and I'm like hello yes, and I'm all so yeah. So if you ever need me, just yeah give me a call.
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RS: Excellent. Thank you so much.
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MD: You are more than welcome.