We spoke to Chicago glam queen Denali Foxx about the Chicago drag scene, 2020 as a whole and about her amazing full drag lip-syncs…on the ice! Check it out!
Hey Denali! Okay, so first off, 2020 has been a pretty crazy year! How have you been dealing with all of the chaos so far, from the pandemic to BLM movement?
Crazy is a bit of an understatement. I’d describe 2020 as the never-ending raisin that snuck it’s way into a pastry. Like, you’ve ruined the entire muffin and it’s time to be done. Lol. Lowkey said raisin has truly helped me look inwards and address a lot of mental health issues that I otherwise probably would have just continued practicing if it weren’t for a global pandemic that said, “hey, maybe we should stop with all these band-aids and get to the bottom of things.” As much as it’s added a bunch of anxieties, it’s been weirdly introspective and healing. I’ve thrown myself into a lot of creative projects as well which has been very cathartic. As far as the BLM Movement, it’s about time! Our country has needed a shake-up as assertive as the movement currently and I couldn’t be more supportive and happy that black voices are being uplifted and long overdue social issues are being addressed
How did you get started in drag? Was it something you always wanted to do or did you kind of fall into it by coincidence?
I’m a bit of a drag race baby. I’m a professional ice skater outside of drag and worked for years on cruise ships where The Gays™ onboard would all gather on Sundays and watch Drag Race. Season five was my first introduction and I was obsessed. Any opportunity to throw on a sad Revlon lip and walk into crew parties in a heel and I was there. Every year that I worked on ships, my love for drag grew exponentially to a point where when I finished touring I decided to pursue it professionally.
So what are some of your inspirations in drag? What keeps you motivated or gives you that creative edge?
My inspirations from drag come from all over but they majorly come from my local scene. I kind of did things backwards and discovered Drag Race first and then my local divas. My drag mother is THE Mexican queen of Chicago and a complete glamour icon named Chamilla Foxx. She’s definitely one of my major influences but a lot of other Chicago performers like Shea Coulee, Tenderoni, Naomi Smalls and Sasha Colby are some of my absolute favs to name a few. My community very much pushes me and keeps me motivated, they pull out the stops constantly and push me to think differently everyday. Chicago is such a melting pot of creativity and I’m so grateful to be a part of this scene. Beyond Chicago, I draw inspiration from my upbringing in Alaska and my athletic background.
And is there an end goal for you? Anything you want to accomplish in your drag career that you haven’t gotten to yet?
I mean, every girl wants to go to the Olympics. Being a Drag Race baby, it would be totally full circle to qualify for the Games. It’s where the love and passion for drag started so to showcase what I love on the largest stage is every girl’s dream. I’ve accomplished almost everything I’ve wanted to on a local scene, so now it’s all about expanding and aiming higher. I’d love to make music one day and drag in 2020 is such a unique and feasible venue to do so. But for now especially with the world ending, it’s all day by day and step by step.
I’ve also seen online that you’re an ice skating queen? Not only that, but you can perform a lip sync in full drag whilst ice skating! How did you get into that?
Growing up in Alaska, my extracurricular choices were between skiing, hockey, ice skating or doing drugs and I was most interested in the gayest one. Turns out I had a bit of a nack for it and soon enough I was training and competing for the USA. When I discovered drag, I realized how adjacent the worlds were. The rhinestones, the drama, the stunts and tricks…it all just made sense, so blending the two was a no-brainer. The best advice anyone ever gave me was to make yourself as uniquely marketable as possible so I knew I had to mesh both together when the time was right.
How, if at all, do you think your skating has influenced your drag or vice versa?
Skating has definitely helped me on a performance level. I live on stage and literally do drag TO perform. The hardest part of this pandemic is not being able to hear live cheers and connect with an audience- virtual shows just aren’t the same. But skating helped me skip a lot of steps most new queens learn about performing like stunts, stage presence, dance and body awareness. On a broader level, the work ethic has transferred right over from athlete to drag queen because my GOD drag is so much work.
So you’re a Chicago queen! Tell me more about the Chicago drag scene/what does it have that other scenes such as L.A or NYC maybe don’t?
Shea said it best, Chicago drag is the bomb.com simply because it’s EVERYTHING and not just the gay idiom, like it truly has everything. LA and New York tend to get stereotyped based on the neighborhoods queens perform in but Chicago truly has so much amazingly creative drag to offer from pageant queens to club kids to bar queens and everything in between. There are no rules here and that’s what drag is all about, being completely boundless and transformative. It’s also fiercely political and not afraid to fight for equality and for the underprivileged. We tend to be the first to start political movements even within the drag scene and I’m so proud of that.
Finally, as Queer people a word we use with a lot of power is the word “Pride”. What does pride mean to you?
Pride to me is paying homage to the trans women of color that fought for my right to be a figure skating drag queen in 2020. I remember how liberating my first Pride felt at 17-years-old and now it’s become such a corporate machine. It’s MANDATORY that we remember why we can have Bubbly sponsored corporate parties and parade floats and freely walk the streets in a cock-sock at Folsom. Now, we have to take our privilege and understanding of these things into the future to fight back for those communities that are threatened everyday just by existing.
A huge thank you to Denali and all of our readers for making this interview possible!