By Reid Cammack
Creme Fatale is a internationally recognized drag artist known for her pastel-colored skin and baby doll looks. In recent years, she’s shot to fame on Instagram and is now San Francisco’s most-followed queen on the platform with almost 80,000 followers.
While she is San Francisco based, Fatale travels the country and has recently worked with RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour at her Nightgowns show and with the Boulet Brothers for Queen Kong. She recently did makeup for BenDeLaCreme’s upcoming Inferno A-Go-Go stage show and for James St. James’ Transformations YouTube series. And to top it all off, she’s good judies with RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Trixie Mattel.
While Fatale’s career has taken off, it hasn’t been without criticism. Recently, an online troll pointed out that she’s a woman doing drag and there’s no “transformation.” Luckily, Fatale lives in San Francisco where women doing drag is largely accepted and people don’t have a small-minded view of what drag is, like that particular commenter did. So instead of taking the online comments personally, Fatale did what any smart business woman would do by taking the hateful comments and slapping them on her own official merch.
Ahead of the 2018 Pride season, Fatale sat down with Gloss to discuss online trolls, Insta-fame, and her recent gigs with RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty.
You recently got back from DragCon.
How was that experience?
It was really great, as always. But it was super exhausting, just because of Nightgowns before and the whole week was crazy and you don’t sleep. And then I got back and I still haven’t really slept since. Still riding that exhaustion wave.
What was it like performing in Nightgowns? I know you did this one and then one in New York recently too.
That show is probably the best show I’ve ever performed in. It’s the best show for any artist to perform in just because Sasha is such a perfectionist when it comes to lighting and the way the stage is handled. She’s gonna make sure that everything you want for the performance is perfect and it’s gonna turn out exactly the way you visualized it to be and the way that you’re directing it. And not a lot of shows are like that. You’ll turn in a lighting requirement and it won’t get done. It will be super late into the number and the effect won’t be there. Her artistic integrity is incredible. So it’s like the best show to perform in, every single time.
I know you also worked with BenDeLaCreme recently too. You’re going through all the RuGirls right now. How did that collaboration with Ben come about?
I actually have known Ben for a few years now, like since she was on her season of Drag Race. When I was starting out doing drag, my younger sister, she can’t come to clubs, she’s not 21, I would volunteer at Peaches Christ production shows. I would go in drag and she would go in some crazy outfit and we would meet all these queens. I met Ben super early on, before I even had a drag name. Which is weird, since we’re both so similar with our names. And we had been friends on social media for a while. She just posted that she needed help with some makeup stuff. It was the day after nightgowns and that was my only free day in LA, so I was like, “I’ll do it, let’s hang out.” We already knew each other, so it was fun.
You have the Black Mast anniversary party coming up and you’re going to be performing. Your most recent collaboration with them, you did a ‘Where’s the Transformation, Sis?’ t-shirt. Can you give a little back-story on what that means and how that phrase got started?
It’s really funny, because I had never really gotten any criticism for being a woman doing drag. In San Francisco, that shit has been happening for decades. Nobody cares what you are if you’re doing drag, as long as you’re like okay or at least fun to hang out with. But, obviously it’s a huge deal everywhere else. Throughout my entire career I get messages from people like, “I want to do drag so badly but everybody where I live says I can’t and I’m not allowed to.” All this stuff I would get that I couldn’t really relate to on a personal level. And even online, I never really got any criticism. But there was one particular comment on a picture, where I was very clearly in drag. The person thought that’s what I looked like out of drag. It was like, “I don’t see a transformation.” Of course you don’t see a transformation. I’m in drag. I’m wearing contacts. I’m wearing six pairs of lashes. You think this is what I look like on a regular basis? It got so controversial, because there was my fans fighting on the picture with this kid. He was like some 17 year old kid and he just commented, “Where’s the transformation, sis?” I just thought that was really funny. I didn’t hurt my feelings. I just thought it was a really funny phrase. Where’s the transformation, sis? I could say that about a bunch of bitches. The comments on that got completely deleted and we had to end up blocking him. He went from sexist to racist real quick for a kid that was in like half-drag in his pictures. But I just thought it was funny and I kept the phrase. I was like, this could be a thing. So I starting ‘Where’s the Transformation, Sis’ Tuesdays.
It’s a hashtag now!
It’s a hashtag now. It’s a Tuesday thing.
I saw some fans at DragCon with you, they had that as their caption.
I specifically requested that. If you try to get my attention, don’t say my name. Scream, “Where’s the transformation, sis?” The entire weekend I just had people screaming that at me at DragCon. (Laughs) Now I’m making money from it.
There’s always talk about to call a female drag performer – bio queen, hyper queen, faux queen. What’s your take on it?
I just like drag queen. Anything else puts emphasis on what my genitals look like and I think that’s really weird… It’s just really strange to me to be like, “Hey, this person has a vagina and they’re performing as a drag queen, but they have this DNA.” It just seems really weird to me. Like you wouldn’t announce a trans queen as, “Here’s a transgender drag queen!” It just seems super weird. Drag queen is like an art form. You’re basically announcing like an actor or a specific type of theater. It’s not necessarily gender based. It’s a play on gender, but it doesn’t matter what your gender starts out as. It seems really weird that the first thing that you would announce me as is, “Hey, this person has a vagina! Look at them!”
Speaking of transformations, how was James St. James? Extremely jealous of your lifestyle that you got to meet James St. James and touch his face. What was that experience like?
(Laughs) Yeah, you start regretting touching his face like four hours in. It’s funny because we talked about how long it takes for me to get ready. It doesn’t take very long now. Obviously when I started it would take me like four hours to do what I do now. Now, it takes me like maybe, if I’m real fast and in a hurry, like 45 minutes to like an hour and a half. But when I was doing James, he just talks so goddamn much. He turns his head constantly. There was one point I was holding him by his throat to try to get him to stop moving. Because you would be doing his eyeliner and somebody will say something in the room and he completely turns around and it’s like everywhere. It’s funny, the only thing I don’t like about that transformation video is that his eyelash is wonky at the end of it, but that’s because it was like four and a half hours in and I was like, “Oh my god, just here. Just stop. We’re done. We’re done.” He’s so much fun. Everybody at World of Wonder. It was just like a huge kiki the entire time.
You’re also part of a larger SF drag family. You’re in the Haus of Tips. You’re Laundra Tyme’s drag daughter. How did you get initiated into the Haus of Tips?
I’m basically in the Haus of Tips because I bought Laundra popcorn.
Okay – seems fair.
That’s how much it costs to get into the Haus of Tips.
Shocking that there’s only four members.
Only we figured it out!
No, I actually met Laundra and Scarlett when I was doing this drag show. I wasn’t even doing a drag show. When I first starting doing drag, I just went out. I was a club kid. I went to every party that I could. I didn’t live here, so I would try to come to San Francisco as much as possible, but for me that was an hour long commute every single time. I would get in drag, real early, at like 4pm. Drive over there to be at a party at like 9. So I started going out and I met her and Scarlett at the Stud. I remember not caring for them too much. They just performed and I was like, “Yeah, they’re pretty.” Scarlett lectured me about like, “Oh my god, you need to perform… No really, if you want to be a drag queen, you need to perform.” And I was like, “Okay, whatever.”
I never really thought about them, until I saw them – like I said I used to volunteer at Peaches Christ things. So, my sister and I were there one day. I was in drag and just handing out programs. Laundra and Scarlett came in, in like full drag, looking great. I gave them the pamphlets. Laundra was like, “Oh, I wanna get some popcorn, but we don’t have time before the show starts, so I’m just gonna go.” But I got popcorn for free, because I was working the event. I just got my free popcorn and I went and found them. They’re drag queens. Big hair. You know where they are. So I just went over and was like, “Oh hey, brought you a popcorn since you couldn’t get any.” She was just so, emotionally affected by it. I’m like, “It’s fine, it was free.”
With The Broni Mitchell Show, I know originally it was a Scarlett and Laundra production. How did you get in with that show?
It still is for the most part like a Laundra and Scarlett production. But Hex and I come in and help out.
Do you remember what your first Broni Mitchell Show was?
Yes, it was when it was still at the Lookout. And I remember because Laundra was like, “I want you to do a Blondie number.” I dressed up as an alien and I was like, “I don’t know the rap to this song! I know this song, but I don’t know the rap, because it’s ridiculous and I don’t want to do it.” So, we specifically made it so that I was getting beaten to death during the rap, so I didn’t have to do it.
I don’t know if you know this, but you have a lot of followers on Instagram. Fun fact.
What?! Oh my god.
You’re the most followed San Francisco drag queen and you’re one of the most followed non-RuGirl drag artists that there are.
Like a D-list celebrity.
A Q-list celebrity? A queer-list celebrity?
I’d be at least a C-list in the gay world.
(Laughs) Anyway though, how did you get started focusing on Instagram with your drag and becoming an Insta-celebrity?
Well, I started posting photos of me in drag before I ever started going out in drag, cause I didn’t have access to it. I grew up in the East Bay. I was an hour away. I had never driven to San Francisco before by myself, in my entire life. The first time I ever did was to go to Dragula at The Eagle. I was posting photos of myself experimenting with makeup and some queens from LA were like, “Oh my god, you should come to Dragula. Come hang out. Let’s meet you!” Just going there and meeting the Boulet Brothers – like the first Dragula I ever went to had Peaches Christ in it, the Boulet Brothers. I was like, “Holy shit, this is amazing. I want to do this forever.” I just kept posting photos online of my makeup and progress. The way I had find out about female-based drag, I like googled it. I was like, “Is this a thing?”
“Am I allowed to do this?”
Yeah, a lot of it was like, “Am I allowed to do this?” Which now looking back on it, I’m like, am I allowed to dress like a woman? Yeah, I am. (Laughs)
I was googling it and finding all these examples. I was like, “Okay, awesome, great. Not only can I do drag, but I’m in the perfect place for it apparently.” But also, nobody looked like what I wanted to look like. So it’s like, are we all supposed to look like this? Because everybody kinda looked the same to me. Cause I kinda don’t wanna look like that. I had all these idols from the 90’s club kid scene and like, Kabuki Starshine is my everything. So, I just started experimenting with makeup and posting it and seeing what their reaction would be. And that was my gauge of, is this okay to do? Are people reacting positively to this?
I attribute most of it the fact that Trixie posts pictures of me all the time. I just get residual fans. I think we attract the same crowd, so it’s fine.
At what point did you realize you had a lot of followers?
I think it was after the first time Trixie posted a photo of me. This was after the first time we officially met, met. The first time I ever met her was at Beaux once. I was in the meet and greet line for her and I said hi to her really quickly and like barely spoke to her because I wore very ambitious shoes and my feet were filling up with blood. So I wanted to leave immediately but she was also my favorite person. We get compared a lot with our looks but I already looked like that when I found out about her. This was even before she was cast on Drag Race… The first time we actually met, met, I had already been working and we got cast in a show together… I met her and she stood over me in the most intimidating way. She’s like, “Oh my god, holy shit. Oh my god, oh my god.” I’m like, I don’t know how to react to this because you’re not saying anything! The next day, she posted a picture of me and my Instagram blew up.