Greg Bailey

Tyra Sanchez. Charity songs for whales. Indigenous rights. The meaning of life. We covered it all. 

Tammie Brown. How does one describe Tammie Brown? The Californian drag performer – who first achieved mainstream success on the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race – is (and this is a fact) a legend, an icon, a pioneer, a singer/songwriter and animal welfare activist. When will your faves? When will your fucking faves?

Known for her irreverence and off-the-wall personality, Tammie has provided us with some of the most iconic, gag-worthy, sickening moments of any Drag Race contestant. Remember when she called out RuPaul for not walking children in nature? Or when she verbally abused a Teletubby and demanded teleportation to Mars? What about the time she found a corpse? See? Iconic. Gag-worthy. Sickening.

Because I’ve been obsessed with her since 2009, I reached out and arranged an interview. However, because of her hectic tour schedule, Tammie couldn’t find the time for a quick chat over the phone, so we ended up conducting a two month T-spilling sesh over WhatsApp voice notes. Yup, two months. Imagine the look on my face every time my phone popped up with, ‘Tammie Brown has sent you a voice note’? This is why I became a journalist everyone. This interview.

Throughout the course of our time together, we ended up chatting about Tyra Sanchez’s DragCon threats, charity songs for whales, indigenous rights, Nylon, and the meaning of life. She also read me for mothertucking filth. Enjoy!

How come you were absent from the season 10 reunion?
Why was I missing from season one reunion on season 10 finale? I’ll tell you why. I went where the money flows. I went with Trixie Mattel on tour. Yes, Trixie Mattel and I went down under. I went to Australia with her. That’s right. That’s the answer to the question. You’ve got to go where the money flows. You’ve got to go where the money flows. And maybe it’ll stir up some more needing and wanting of me. I would’ve rather been on tour with Trixie Mattel looking at lovely Australia, where I’m more welcome than some TV show where they’re making me sit up, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Then I get on shows like Toot and Boot and you have  Raven and Raja giving you the boot for your 5,000 dollar dress – which they don’t approve of – when they’re just wearing a stupid t-shirt. That’s the T.

How would you sum up your season one and All Stars 1 experience?
It was hell on heels, as one would say. Hell on heels. In fact, for standing on my heels for over five hours, one of my toes became completely black. Yeah. That means the nail fell off in two months. Uh huh. That happens I guess. Beauty is pain. But I would suggest wearing flats from now on. In fact, I bought some new flats and I continue to wear flats as long as they’re stylish. You don’t wanna look some kind of frump. Alright. I hope that answers your question. And regarding season four of All Stars, sure I would love to, just like Trixie Mattel would love me to, or the other fans out there who would love me to be on the show. I would suggest writing World of Wonder, the company who produces RuPaul’s Drag Race, and tell them that you want Tammie Brown to be on All Stars 4 or 5, and if they’re not, you’re gonna blow the place up just like Tyra Sanchez said she would. Ha. Ha. Ha.

What did you make of Tyra’s threats? 
Well, when I heard that Tyra Sanchez was gonna blow up DragCon, I was like, ‘Girl, please, why are you making threats like that?’ Especially with being an African-American, whities are gonna come down harder on you for this. You shouldn’t make threats like that in the first place. She’s always making some kind of silly, weird, angry threat, like the threat she made about suicide. That’s not cool. I have a friend who committed suicide a while ago, and a lot of gay American youth are committing suicide, especially gay Native Americans by the largest number. So, it’s not right and it’s really disheartening and I do say sarcastic things about Tyra Sanchez, I don’t mean her any harm. I have no malice intent or cruel intent towards her but I find it disturbing and I don’t think she should be saying things like that and isolate herself from the rest of us. So, I wish her the best.

What do you think is the best thing Drag Race has introduced in its ten years of being on air, and the worst? 
I don’t really know what the best thing is, maybe some popularity for some of us? Maybe? And the worst is that it’s a bunch of young kids that don’t even know drag and they’re reading us, and tell us, y’know… They’re judging us on the criteria of what’s on the TV show, which isn’t real drag. I meet a lot of these young kids and stuff, and they don’t know anything about drag. They think that everything that’s on the show is real drag, so… I don’t know. I don’t really have too much of an answer for that one. Thank you.

How have Drag Race fans changed since your time on season one? 
How have Drag Race fans changed since season one? Well, I think that season one, we didn’t have as many fans so it’s changed a lot, since season one. And… there you have it. These questions are getting kind of boring. I’d rather talk about my art, and talk about me, instead of talking always about Drag Race. If it’s all about Drag Race, then I’m really not kind of interested. I am thankful that I was on the show Drag Race, but I mean, I have songs and have a lot of other things so these questions are getting kind of boring. I need some flavour. Not just all about the show. If you wanna talk about the show, talk to RuPaul. It’s his show. I’m just lucky enough that I was on it, know what I mean? I’m sorry to be so saucy, so bitchy, but this is getting a little too monotonous already. Thank you, bye.

You are right. They are getting boring. It’s a bit difficult to conduct an interview over WhatsApp – I’ve never done this before! I was just trying to ease you into the interview. Let’s leave Drag Race behind. So, how has your drag changed over the years?  
Well the thing that’s changed is, of course there’s… What has changed in drag? Alright, what has changed over the years? The thing that’s changed, not much has changed, the popularity has changed of course in that the momentum has increased. That’s what’s changed. That’s because of being on the show, of course, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and because I’ve always been so persistent, and I’ve always kept up with what I wanted to do, and always beating to my own drum, as one would say, which has always been an important key to my success. I’ve always been true to myself, even though sometimes on my own I might be naive, and nobody would know that on the outward, but you know, you’ve got to be yourself. That’s what’s most important, and to keep moving, always looking forward, not looking back. And that’s what I feel. That’s what I think. But what’s changed? Nothing. I mean, everything’s changed. I’ve decided to do things on my own terms, and I’ve always done things on my own terms, so nothing’s really changed in that sense. But of course, you’re always growing as humans, we’re always growing, no one’s stuck. I’m always growing so, it’s just always growing. That’s what’s changed, nothing’s changed, I’ve always grown. I’ve been able to meet my peers, which is great, such as Charles Bush, Lady Bunny, become friends with Jackie Beat and Coco Peru, and such things like that. I’ve always been sponsored, so I can’t say that it’s changed, at least I’m getting more sponsorship now. I’m getting sponsored by other wig companies, I’m getting sponsored by… sometimes makeup companies like Sugar Pill. Now I’m getting sponsored by a Nylon company – I think that’s P&P Nylon? They’re from London, England, which is exciting. The recognition is great, at least I can travel a lot more and meet with people in other countries and have them show me around, so that’s pretty good.

Can you tell me about the best performance you’ve ever had on stage?
I can’t say I’ve had so many wonderful performances. I think the best performances are when I’m doing my own music, or I’m doing a live concert. Or when I’m singing along to my tracks, singing along to my own music, you know what I’m saying? Instead of lip-syncing or mimicking. To be able to be up there, doing my own stuff and connecting with the audience on that level is pretty electrifying. It’s energetic. It’s awesome. Not trying to shoot myself in the foot, in saying that I don’t lip-sync or anything, but I do prefer to be doing my own material. So that answers that. There was a wonderful time in – well, a long time ago – in the third grade in Mexico that I performed with my sister. We would ham it up and perform in front of the class in Mexico, like for a class show and tell or just a class entertainment time, free style. That was highly entertaining, my sister and I. We carried the class together. Little pair of comedians. So that’s that. I hope that answers your question.

You haven’t released a song since Love Piñata in 2015. Can we expect some more music?
Yes, there’s lots of music coming out, in fact I’m working on an album Schubert, but S-c-h-u-b-e-r-t, but the ‘t’ has a little hyphen over it and it makes it silent, so it’s Schuber(t), which is my project I’m working on currently. There’s a single, Lip Sync Suicide, I Love You I Love You I Do, and The Whale Song that are right now on the shelf. So, they have not been released yet. Yes, The Whale Song, correct. And that’s a charity song for the whales, and charity we want to give to, an organisation, for the whales, and to help out with environmental causes. As you know, I have hashtag ‘QueenWithACause’, hashtag ‘FreeOrcas’, and I always hashtag ‘FreeLolita’. There’s also hashtag, well I say ‘standingrock’ of course, because I’ve always been supportive of indigenous rights. But yes, I’m currently working on new music and I’m always working on new music. I have a cabaret that I tour with my own concert, and I also have Holiday Sparkle, which has all original holiday songs. Then I also have some other music too, there’s Disco’s Undead and many others. As of recently, I just got sponsored by a Nylon company in the UK. That’s right, correct. A Nylon company, and I will be modelling Nylon’s and wearing Nylon’s, and after the Nylon’s are torn, I’m gonna convert them into rag queens. That’s right, my rag queens. Awesome, so that’s a good answer. Thank you, hope you’re doing good. I’m here in Brazil, I made a film today. I also have ItsTaMMieBrown, my YouTube channel.

What is your favourite original song to perform to? 
My favourite original song to perform to? Ugh! Well, that’s hard to ask. I mean, each one is individually so special. I can say Clam Happy. That one’s popular in certain circles. There’s also Love Piñata, that’s another favourite. Some people love Shaka Buku U. Clam Happy and Shaka Buku U are both from the album Popcorn. There’s also The Ballad of Tiger Lily, which is on the album Popcorn. That’s right, Popcorn, get it and put some butter on it. Then, Love Piñata is a single on it. That’s right, a single. Then I also, I mean, Geisha Geisha which is on the Hot Skunks album. Hot Skunks, thats right. People love so many songs from that album, Stay Connected. But now, everyone’s loving new songs like Lip Sync Suicide, which I’m getting ready to drop. There’s also Porta Potty Prostitute, which gets a reaction. People’s reaction is great. So I hope that names them all in a nutshell. Awesome!

What’s dating like as a famous drag queen?
Oh, life dating as a drag queen is so much fun. I mean, lipstick stains on the collar, and smudges and makeup all over. It’s a lot of fun and tedious to do. Yes, I do go out in drag sometimes. Sometimes I like to call the guys drag-chasers. Sometimes some of the people that try to date us, Drag Race-rs, are incompetent because they’re so excited to see us. Or so I’ve heard. I’ve never experienced. But I don’t have a problem dating as a drag queen, it’s who I am. Every queen gets these chasers. Skirt-chasers. Look under my skirt and I’ll stick you in the eye, that’s right. That’s what they probably like too. Small penises matter. So there you have it.

One final question for you (for now), and it’s quite profound: What is the meaning of life? 
What is the meaning of life? Life is a tear, a joke, a ringlet of smoke, puff puff puff. That’s the meaning of life. I think it’s very important in life to be spiritual though, to spiritually connect with whatever moves you. Love and light is the most important and to connect with those things. But like I said, life is a tear, a joke, a ringlet of smoke, puff puff puff. Live your life as though you’re number one.

Tammie Brown appears in Greg’s Bailey’s sickening drag book, Alright Darling? The Contemporary Drag Scene. Pre-order here