West Hollywood is accustomed to outrageous drag queens. Our own local divas are notorious for having delightfully filthy mouths that counterbalance their flawless beat and six-inch heels. It's their strong dedication to glamour that excuses the baser aspects of these career cross-dressers. But what happens when this glamour element is removed from the equation?
On July 13, self-proclaimed 'drag terrorist' CHRISTEENE hits up TrannyShack at Los Globos to promote the release of her first full album, Waste Up, Knees Down. Falling on Friday the 13, the ominous timing of the event reflects the darker attributes of this Austin-based performance artist. She has been described as "a sexually infused sewer of live rap and vile shamelessness." While other drag artists aim for high aesthetics, CHRISTEENE sports a raw look. Her black wig is stringy, and her makeup consists of red and blue smears across her mouth and eyelids. The resulting effect is a hybrid of crystal meth addict and libidinous zombie.
CHRISTEENE's "vile shamelessness" permeates into her stage act. According to the artist's Facebook page, "Reports from live shows describe scenes involving butt plugs tied to bouquets of balloons released into the air from CHRISTEENE's arse, intimate and bizarre confessionals over tea, backup boys in handmade Panda masks urinating on canvas sacks containing the singer and a DIY anti-fashion wardrobe styled from the forgotten scraps of society." This month's performance at TrannyShack is expected to be equally depraved.
"Whut diz nay nay is brangin is da stankest thank u gift to dat town I could ever give," promises CHRISTEENE in her whiskey tango vernacular. "L.A. is gonna get for da first time a fully choreographed arsenal of da CHRISTEENE macheeeeeeene in alll its fugggin stank glory."
Songs included in this 'stankest gift' bare titles such as "Fix My Dick," "Tropical Abortion" and "Tears From My Pussy." The humor is both warped and conscious, as can be easily gleaned from CHRISTEENE's unapologetic music videos. In "Tears From My Pussy," she plays an introspective crack whore, waxing poetic under a trash-strewn overpass. "Fix My Dick," with its gratuitous sexuality, functions as a twisted satire of traditional hip-hop videos.
But her crowning achievement by far is "African Mayonnaise." Shot guerrilla-style, CHISTEENE sashays through stores and restaurants like a pseudo-pop princess while her cinematographer captures the reactions of unexpecting patrons. Most entertaining is witnessing Scientology Center representatives physically repel the artist when she attempted to enter their building. The video ends with two homophobes shouting "You will have to answer for yourselves! You will have to answer to the lord, our god!" CHRISTEENE merely laughs. To her, targeting these small-minded bigots is necessary.
"Verrrry necessarrrry. Iz all about remindin them fuckers dat we alll sharin dis place an aint nobody gonna keep us down. Too many of our people are always readjustin themselves and tryin ta make themselves presentable ferr dis fake ass world full a' sugar coated shit. Iz what my friend Jayne County calls Wreckin....git tha fuck out derr an wreck da shit outta derrr space and make them know dat we here an we brangin a new world to da table."
Other songs embrace a more scatological theme. In the video for "Bustin' Brown," CHRISTEENE, clad in brown hues, crawls through what appears to be a giant colon. She defends her anal fixation as natural.
"Da buh hole I would say iz da first place da shit talk comes from of course. But iz really about celebratin all da hot zones of da body and luvin all da places that da love is goin an cummin from."
CHRISTEENE stands in stark contrast to the considerably more prim and polished drag royalty of West Hollywood. The differing drag ideologies reflect the climate of their origins. While a flashy city like Los Angeles produces flashy drag queens, earthier cities like Austin produce—well, CHRISTEENE, apparently.
"L.A. is full of some cray cray stealth hitting slick mutha-fuggas, see?" says CHRISTEENE, describing the difference between the two cities in her own words. "Austin is some wild wood climbing, hippie drankin stank wild ones, but L.A. got that super strange magic kingdom shit goin on dat make me an my boyz feel like we in sum under da rainbow fashioned faggotry. Izz hot an it rubs da cool riyeet way in L.A."
Indeed. Yet in spite of their differences, CHRISTEENE feels a connection exists between all these diverse drag personas.
"We all in da same family, an when we git together in each others towns iz like when u go home ferr Christmass an meet all ur fucked up relatives. Everybody brings somethin to da room, and i just happen tooo be brangin some strange hot mess that's live and raw into da space. I wanna be up on dat stage and I wanna deliver a message in a buh hole to you an wake da world da fuck UP. Some of tha gurls do it on da TV or on da computer machine...i do it with a mic an a boot in ya fuggin face."
Catch CHRISTEENE at Trannyshack on Friday, July 13, showtime 11:30 p.m., Los Globos, 3040 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. You can also see Christeene in the film Fourplay, screening at Outfest on Sunday, July 15.