On today’s episode of Behind The Drag, we speak with comedy stars Meatball, Wang Newton and Tiffany Fantasia on drag performance and comedy.
Meatball is an LA-based drag queen that goes against drag conventions, and her name says it all. “I came up with the name Meatball because me and my friends were trying to figure out a name for myself,” she explains to In The Know. “But I’m such like a weird, hairy, messy, sloppy drag queen that I couldn’t be a Rebecca or a Rachel. So I went for Meatball.”
“I’m most known for being hairy, having a bad attitude, but always being on time,” Meatball tells In The Know. “That’s about it.”
Meatball did stand-up comedy before she started doing drag, and admits that stand-up influenced her drag performances. “I’m not one of those drag queens that’s concerned about always looking the prettiest,” says the queen. “I want when people leave the room to be like, ‘That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.’”
And when it comes to a Meatball show, the only thing audiences can expect is the unexpected. “I always like to do a reveal,” Meatball tells In The Know. “My favorite numbers are when something completely unexpected happens. I did a number where I went from being in a full jacket, and I ripped it off and I was in a nude bodysuit, and then I ripped that off and again—another jacket underneath that! Could you imagine!?”
While Meatball admits that drag had a huge influence on her life and made her a better person, at the end of the day it’s all about making people laugh.
“At the base of everything I do, I want it to be a joke,” she shares. “I want people to laugh. I want people to connect with it. I want it to be relatable. And I want it to uplift people and just make them feel good. Like that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Drag king Wang Newton is a flashy comedic performer that plays on society’s ideas of both masculine and Asian identities. Using his “cheesy, masculine, suited, Vegas-y” stage persona, Newton uses drag to “redefine what masculinity is.”
“Wang is a joker, but at the same time Wang is a superhero — the guy that saves the day because there’s that positive, joyously mad attitude,” Newton tells In The Know.
Born in Taiwan and immigrating to the U.S. at age 5, Newton initially struggled to find a queer community. “I didn’t see many people around me who were queer,” Newton shared. “Coming out of the closet was a slow process. There was a bit of shame. It felt taboo. At the same time, I remember Oprah said it was OK, so…”
But Newton didn’t find his drag persona until one fateful Halloween party in 2004. “I just started doing duets with everyone at the party,” Newton told In The Know. “Wang Newton was born.”
Now, Newton uses comedy to empower his identity as an Asian drag king. “You have gender plus ethnic stereotypes,” Newton says. “So I like to say I ‘culture f***.’ I will switch it up on you. I will do all those stereotypes so there’s nothing left for you to really say.”
Tiffany Fantasia is a Miami-based drag queen is self-proclaimed “greasy b***h” with a big personality. “Don’t be a dry h*e. Be a greasy b***h,” the Miami-based drag queen tells In The Know, quoting her catchphrase. “Be fun. Live your life.”
The queen has been performing in south Florida for over 15 years, but she originally wanted to be a singer who toured the world and made albums. “But that so did not happen,” admits Fantasia. “I just ended up lip-syncing my favorite singers’ songs.”
And while lip-syncing isn’t the hardest thing to do in the world, Fantasia did struggle to find a community early in her drag journey. “It took a while, but I did find that circle of people that I could trust and befriend and grow with,” she tells In The Know.
But even still, as a Black queen, Fantasia feels no shortage of daily struggles as she deals with “prejudices on both ends, being a Black male and a gay entertainer.”
“It’s a constant fight. It’s like, OK I fought the gay battle, now I gotta fight the Black battle, now I gotta fight this other battle. It’s a lot of weight on your shoulders having to be that representative for everyone and everything,” Fantasia admits.
While she’s a shy, introverted person at heart, Fantasia’s drag persona allows her to leave her inhibitions and self-consciousness at the door. “When I transform into drag, I’m very sassy, funny, sometimes bit**y,” Fantasia tells In The Know. “But if I’m bit**y, you earned it.”
In The Know is now available on Apple News — follow us here!
If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s other stories from Behind the Drag here.
More from In The Know: