Whenever one of our favorite New York City queens leaves for greener pastures, it is with mixed feelings that we see them off. While we always wish them tons of success, we know that we won’t be able to pop into one of their weekly gigs to see them whenever we’d like and grab a cocktail.
Seeing Sherry Vine leave New York City (she is relocating to Los Angeles for some amazing new opportunities) is bittersweet to say the least. While we all are anxious to see what amazing productions she can make Hollywood-style, Sherry Vine IS New York City. From her videos to her drag itself, the influence of Manhattan itself is felt throughout Ms. Vine’s entire storied career.
With Sherry Vine leaving New York City for sunny Los Angeles, a true piece of New York City nightlife is leaving us. I thought it was only proper to sit down for one final New York style coffee klatch with her, where we could catch up about her past, her future, and where she thinks the world of drag aims to go.
MICHAEL COOK: It’s the end of an era; Sherry Vine is leaving New York City. Was it a hard decision to make?
SHERRY VINE: Yes; very hard! I love New York and I’m not leaving to escape or get away from anything. I’m going to something new- a new chapter! Once I made the final decision-“I’m going”-it was easier and I know that it’s the right time.
What do you think you’ll miss the most about New York City?
I know I will miss walking (laughs)! You can walk in Los Angeles, but here I literally walk everywhere! I’ll miss running into people on the street, my friends and family of course. I know I’ll be back often and I’ll probably see people I never see more often!
Your final show in New York City was at Industry and brought out an all star cast of people to see you off properly. Now-tell me about your first show.
Oh My God!…I know I did a few things when I first got here like Star Search (still running, but then hosted by Mona Foot) and a lot with Mistress Formika, but my first solo show was at Linda Simpson’s Channel 69 at The Pyramid, It was Lower East Side Lesbian Jungle Fever starring me and Ebony Jett. It was a big hit and got the ball rolling!
You started drag in NYC during a legendary era. What are some of your best memories of working & living in New York?
It really was an exciting time for drag and I feel like I was part of a wave of new queens who are still performing today; Varla Jean Merman, Coco Peru, Hedda Lettuce, Shequida, Candis Cayne and Lina! It was sooooo much fun to go out, It makes me sound old, but I don’t know if a lot of young queens go out now for fun. We would get dolled up and bar/club hop for free!
Drag has changed so much during your time here. What do you think has changed the most?
I get asked this a lot; I don’t know if it’s changed all that much. I think nightlife in general has changed more than the queens and the queens have to evolve with it. Certainly the internet and social “dating” apps have changed it. Drag shows were more of a destination and you had to go out to socialize, get laid, see a show etc.;you don’t now. I’m always amazed at how many talented young queens are out there. I filled in for Shequida at Drag Wars last week and there were twenty five contestants-twenty five!!! And they were great; I was really blown away!
So you’re off to Los Angeles. What prompted the move? And what can we expect to see from you out there?
My BFF Jackie Beat and I have been working on theatrical productions out there and touring with our show Battle of The Bitches for about four-five years now and I have been threatening to move there for that long (laughs)! The seeds we have planted have started to sprout and it’s time. I really don’t work a lot in New York or make money here, I’m always on the road (keep it comin’ goddess!) and I even shoot most of my videos, etc in Los Angeles. It’s just the right time for my next chapter.
What keeps inspiring you to keep pushing forward in drag and entertainment in general?
Honesty, and I really sincerely mean this, it’s the only thing that makes me happy and fulfills me. I still love performing in drag as much today as I did in 1991! I am still inspired by other queens, people, buildings – whatever. I still have one million things I want to do as Sherry! I am a show whore and that will never change. I can hear one song and it starts a chain reaction of ideas that turns into an epic show (laughs)! Which is why I love working with Jackie and Joey Arias and Bianca Del Rio and the like – we are all cut from the same sequined cloth!
There’s a queen out there right now who wants to become the next Sherry Vine. Advice for the new crop of queens coming up?
I always say – Find your unique voice, what makes you different, and then explore, expand and exploit it. It’s great to be influenced by others, but always make it your own.
Her goodbye show at Industry was filled with the expected New York City luminaries, and I caught up with some that were in and not in attendance and had them share their favorite thoughts and memories of our favorite glamour puss.
Alexis Michelle (RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9)
The second competition that I ever competed in New York was Drag Me To Hell, hosted by Michael Formika Jones; Sherry was one of the judges. I won that night, and Sherry was so gracious and sweet afterward, and wondered where I had been that she had not seen me. Now post Drag Race years, I have had the pleasure of working with Sherry and I tell everyone when her name comes up: Sherry Vine is the nicest, most lovely, most professional queen to work with and it’s an honor every single time
Bootsie LeFaris (New York City hostess extraordinaire)
Sherry Vine gave me one of my first jobs performing at Vig 27. She has continued to guide me along the same path as she; becoming a better performer and person each and every time we step onstage
Daniel Koye-celebrity hair stylist, founder DKoye
I met Sherry when she hosted a pageant in Delaware and we bonded immediately and from there, we were friends. She hired me for my first official New York gig and I made a wig for her. She came backstage when I was working on “Love Letters” and was like a little school girl. She always has a loving smile and is a great, caring person; Sherry is the best!
Marti Gould Cummings-New York City queen and political activist
Sherry Vine has always been a support and someone who has inspired me. Ten years ago when I was barely wearing an eyelash, I would always come to her shows at Barracuda and Vlada and she always had kind words of encouragement for me. Sherry never judges, always loved, and helped. In between songs about poop, she would show me the ropes from the stage as I looked on wide eyed and in amazement. She is a true legend and a leader in drag.
Richard Schieffer; Choreographer
I don’t really call her Sherry; I call her “mama”.-that’s what she is for me. When I first met her, I was terrified. It was her and Epiphany at Oscar Wilde’s for “The Blonde Leading The Blonde”. Giant men in dresses sing off key; any guesses which one was singing about poop and crab patches? Sherry has been there for everything New York City has thrown at me; she was there even when I gave up on myself. Sherry talks about leaving a votive candle for lighting when guys come over, but it is more than that. It is the light in the darkness for so many of us younger New Yorkers needing to find our way. Sherry stuck by me even when it was at an arms length; I will miss my mama and our selfies; basically because we know the angle and filter for her age (laughs)!
Honey Davenport (RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11)
I became a back up dancer for Sherry and Peppermint when I was twenty one and am in most of her Gaga inspired videos. Sherry has been the most supportive and encouraging big sister ever. One day I asked her how to do drag successfully; I wanted to travel the world just like she was. “Hang in there” was her advice. Not two weeks later, she called promoters in Berlin and helped me plan my very first tour in Europe, which turned into my first of four self produced European tours. I would never have had these opportunities without her. She is always so supportive and available to her community. And she will always be thinner than all of us.
(Pictured with BOB the Drag Queen, Miss Guy, Raven, Epiphany, Monet X Change, Pattaya Hart, and Richard Scheffer; Top image by Joshua David)