The Bay’s Latina Queen Who’s a Little Bit Glamour and a Whole Lot of Camp – This is Carnie Asada
The Bay’s Latina Queen Who’s a Little Bit Glamour and a Whole Lot of Camp – This is Carnie Asada.
The art of drag is exactly that – art. While some individuals may not understand or appreciate this form of art and entertainment, I for one, am fascinated with it. For my first official post for Antitwink, I wanted a subject who I found not only intriguing in the drag scene out here in San Francisco, but I wanted to interview a queen who is entertaining both in and out of drag. The obvious choice was Carnie Asada. She is a queen who is still fresh to the scene and making new fans with every performance, joke, and impersonation she creates throughout the city. I hope you all enjoy this interview I held with Carnie, and if you don’t – well, fuck off (and I mean that in the nicest way). 🙂
MC: So basically this interview that we are conducting is to simply give our readers here at Antitwink a little more insight into Carnie Asada – who you are and what exactly makes up your drag queen persona.
CA: Okay. That sounds great to me.
MC: Yeah I know, that’s why I thought of it.
MC & CA: (laughs)
MC: So let’s start off simple, how long have you been doing drag?
CA: Let’s see, well the first time I was in drag was about two years ago on Halloween, but I wouldn’t call that “drag.” That was a really cheap wig, no makeup, and I looked like…like a prank (laughs) I was Adele and I just did an accent the whole time and wore a scarf around my waist as a dress. It was really terrible.
CA: Yeah no (laughs) so yeah, I would say a year after that is when I really started doing drag. I went out one night in drag with my friends to Charlie’s (Aunt Charles in the Tenderloin)and Collette LeGrande who put on the shows at Charlie’s asked if I wanted to perform and I said, “Okay.” She told me to come back in a month and on October 26th of 2013 is when I took the stage as Carnie officially.
MC: So you just had your first birthday?
CA: I did!
MC: How did you celebrate your first year as Carnie?
CA: Ummm I didn’t have a quinceñera or nothing, I just ate a burrito and stayed at home.
MC: Oh that’s nice.
CA: Yeah it was quite the quiet and intimate celebration.
MC: How did you come up with the name “Carnie Asada” if you don’t mind me asking?
CA: Well I’m Latina so I knew I wanted something that involved that piece of me. I think it’s easy when you first start doing drag to want to do something campy that is both relatable and also easy to remember; so I ran through a bunch of names with my friends – testing them out back and forth, and at one point I was watching that one Wilson Philip’s song on YouTube…ugh what was that song called?
MC: Hold On?
CA: Hold On! There ya go. Anyway it’s this ridiculous video and Carnie Wilson is completely hilarious in it. I mean, I think I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny, but Carnie is on this full tilt in a black blazer and turtle neck on the beach basically rolling around so seriously and I just thought, this bitch is hilarious – she’s my spirit animal.
MC: (laughs for a solid minute)
CA: Seriously. She’s wearing all black and it’s like – she doesn’t give a fuck. It’s 95 degrees out and she’s on the beach, and at the time I just thought Carnie – Carnie Asada, yes this works. This makes sense.
MC: I love that Carnie Wilson is your spirit animal.
CA: Let me put it this way – Carnie in that video is my spirit animal (laughs) she’s so fuckin’ awkward. And bizarre. And she just sticks out from everything. While she’s in the forest, she’s in a black blazer. Or beach, she’s in a blazer. She could be in the arctic and I’m pretty certain she’d be in a blazer (laughs). Why is she always in a fuckin’ black blazer? Like who is this?!
MC: So is that why you connected with her so much from that video because you yourself stand out among other queens?
CA: I enjoy awkward humor and bizarreness and I think that it was just bizarre to me. Like, I think that I’m almost cool but I’m also incredibly awkward so I feel like Sandra Bullock in heat 24 hours a day. I dunno – personality wise that video just connected with me. And I mean (laughs) it’s not really that deep. It’s a Mexican food name, I mean …I could’ve easily named myself “Pica DeGallo.”
MC: (laughs out loud) I love that name!
CA: Yeah but you know when I have a drag daughter they’re all gonna have those cute Mexican names so they can have that one…or Ceviché.
MC: So changing subjects now, I’ve noticed that the drag scene out here in San Francisco doesn’t seem to have a huge proclamation for “Drag Families.” I mean, I see many drag queens out and about together, but I never hear of any queens belonging to any houses. Do you belong to a drag family?
CA: I am. I’m actually apart of several drag families. San Francisco is an interesting environment and I don’t know if I fully understand the house idea because if you know where it comes from by watching Paris is Burning – in that context it makes sense because it’s more of a youth statement. Youths had the houses as a means for safety and to feel protected because they were ostracized. They made these families to belong to in order to survive. But now, it’s a different scenario. Drag has become even more mainstream and exposed. It’s more obvious to popular culture now more-so than it was back then. I mean, my drag mother is Pat N’Leather and I’m happy that I have her and a social structure that comes with my drag families because having the same like-minded performers together is the best support.
MC: Were you always a performer? Growing up did you ever think that you would become a drag queen?
CA: I didn’t necessarily ever think that I would get into the world of drag, but yes I have always been a performer. Growing up I did a lot of various performance arts – I did theater when I was younger. I have an art education background. I’m a painter and performance artist. That’s what I went to school for, but back then nothing really connected. I mean I did everything, but it seemed very compartmentalized and limited. I’m kind of a spazz and I get bored easily so with drag it was very different it feeds that artistic beast in me. All the walls collided when it came to drag – the combination of dance, acting, theater, visual arts, characterization – they just all fit perfectly with drag.
MC: As a drag queen, if you had to label yourself in the realm of drag – how would you label yourself? Would you fit more into the pageant queen area, or comedy? Would you be a fishy queen, or simply a queen or only impersonates well-known personas?
CA: That’s a great question and you know, I think I’m still defining that – I think for me since I’ve only been doing drag for a year, I’ve only been portraying myself as myself. And that allows people to categorize me in whatever way people want to perceive me. I’m sure I come across as a campy comedy queen in most cases, but I enjoy that. I enjoy the humor of it because that’s what a lot of people can relate to. I would like to think that I add a little element of glamour to Carnie as well that I do enjoy. Overall, for me what I enjoy most is allowing people to be a part of this experience so they can be in the moment and forget about everything else if only for a minute or two.
MC: So let’s say you fit into the campy glamour category.
CA: Yes, my realm is campy glamour.
MC: If you had to choose one person that you had to impersonate every time you were in drag – who would it be?
CA: Ohhh that’s a really good question. Just one person? Hmmm it would be…Honey Boo Boo.
MC: Honey…Boo Boo?
CA: Yeahhhhhh (laughs).
MC: Wait. Seriously?
CA: No. I’m kidding. Ugh this is a hard question…who would I impersonate? I like a tragic celebrity so someone like Courtney Love would be good. I just think about Ana Gasteyer portraying Courtney Love on SNL and I think I could do that really funny. She’s just such a tragic yet humorous impersonation that I don’t think I would get bored with it.
MC: Do you think the drag scene, overall, is a competitive scene?
CA: Well yeah, definitely. I mean, drag in itself, is a competitive scene. Anytime you’re doing anything that surrounds being creative and involves performing – it’s going to have its healthy and unhealthy competitive side. It’s all a matter on how you handle it. For me, I don’t tend to think about what other people are doing. I don’t think, ‘Oh, she has this,’ or ‘I have that’ – it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t allow myself to entertain that drama. It’s a destructive thought process and I would rather focus on myself and what I’m doing to better myself.
MC: So you haven’t had any drama with any local queens?
CA: Uhhh…no. No I haven’t (laughs) Sorry.
MC: You’re not dramatic?!
CA: Oh I’m DRAMATIC, but the only drama that I have is between me, myself, and I (laughs). I try to be respectful of people and their personal art. It’s very subjective and it should be viewed that way. I mean, even though drag can appear to be like a soap opera sometimes, sometimes you just gotta change the channel. You don’t like what’s being viewed? Change the channel girl…go watch the news.
MC: What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have when it comes to drag queens?
CA: Well for me, I’m pretty similar whether or not I am in drag or out of it in terms of my personality, so I think people assume that you’re always “on” all the time. For instance there was this one interaction with a guy at a club and when I asked him how he was doing he said, “I want you to be shady and cunty,” and I was like, “Honey…why?” (laughs) Like that’s terrible, right? Is that what he is experiencing at drag shows is just awful asshole queens? (laughs) So for me that’s one big misconception that I’ve noticed – that queens are constantly reading or criticizing things and people and it’s not necessarily true.
MC: Do you have a lot of guys come onto you, but only as Carnie Asada the drag queen and not the guy behind the makeup?
CA: Yeah for sure. I mean, it’s a very bizarre experience dating when it comes to being a performer. I’ve experienced both sides where you’re dating someone from the male side of things and when they find out you’re a drag performer they’re like…uhhhh okay – let’s put the parking break on. Or there’s also the opposite where there are guys out there who seek out drag queens. For me, I want a guy to accept me as who I am outside of drag and be okay with my drag persona as well.
MC: Would you ever date a fellow drag queen?
CA: I would consider it. I mean, there was a time very early on when I thought, ummmm uhhhh no, but as I grow with this industry I don’t think I would turn down that concept as long as it was the right person.
MC: Well just think, you could double your wardrobe both in and out of drag – huge benefit right there, right?
CA: HUGE. BENEFIT. I mean, he would have to be the exact same size as me, but it’s possible.
MC: What does your family think about you doing drag?
CA: They’ve been interestingly supportive. I grew up in a Latina household, and even though my family isn’t really religious there is still an element of conservatism there. I think, being who I am I’ve never asked for permission to do anything anyway – like ever (laughs), so they were very aware that I didn’t need nor did I ask them for permission when I started dressing in drag. They’ve been really cool about it – my dad especially has been really into it and my brothers as well. They’re pretty fascinated with the whole art aspect of it.
MC: You’re from the East Coast, correct? From the Boston area?
CA: Well I grew up in Maine, but nobody knows where Maine is. They think of it as Narnia or some sort of fake place (laughs). For some reason a lot of people don’t think it exists so when I explain where it is they think it’s near Canada, but I tell them, “Uhhh not really.” So in casual conversation I just say the East Coast or Boston. But just so you and everyone else knows, Maine is the northern most state in all of the United States…
MC: (laughs) Ugh. Have you performed out there in the East Coast yet?
CA: I have not actually, which is really hilarious to me. I don’t know – when I’m there to visit it’s usually to reconnect with college friends and my family, but I would love to perform out there if the opportunity came up.
MC: I feel like you’d do great out in New York or Boston.
CA: Yeah me too…I’d love that.
MC: Okay calm down.
MC: So for your first year as a drag queen, I gotta say, you’ve been keeping busy and I just saw on your Facebook that you recently had a photo shoot with renown noted drag queen photographer, Jose A Guzman Colon, right?
CA: I’ve seen him out at a lot of drag shows, he supports the community, and he works with a lot of local queens and established people so I finally reached out to him and when he had the available time we decided to make those photos happen. It was a lot of fun. It was my first official photo shoot. Okay that’s not true – not if you consider the Sears family portrait studios pictures I took. I’m talking Glamour shots.
CA: Seriously. No, but he (Jose A Guzman) turned it out with our shoot. The overall polish of the look was a collaboration with he and I. He has a great eye to mix and match what would look good in front of the camera.
MC: Are you interested in applying and trying out for a future season of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
CA: I would. I think I will. I mean, if you would’ve asked me six months ago I would have said, “No. Are you kidding me?” But now as time goes on and I see the growth of support and I actually get to experience this so early on it helps solidify a lot of things.
MC: If you could be anyone for the snatch game, who would you choose to be?
CA: Ooooh that’s a good one. Originally I would have said Anna Nicole Smith, but Adore Delano kicked ass with that (laughs) sooooo…I think I would with Nancy Grace.
MC: Why Nancy Grace?
CA: Because she is…insane. Traditionally on snatch game I don’t think many of the girls choose random celebrities like Nancy Grace. They go with the more popular route. I could make her more hilarious than she already is. She’s a conservative, crazy… I mean, she’s basically a republican drag queen. She has huge blonde hair, she creates these insane stories, she talks in circles, she’s marvelous at being completely frustrating 24 hours a day, and I think it’s just too good to pass up.
MC: She sounds like the ultimate drag queen.
CA: She pretty much is. She sensationalizes everything. I would have to be her.
MC: Being involved in the club scene as much as you are – what is the one song that you’re tired of hearing.
CA: I’m tired of hearing “Bang Bang” by Jessie J and all them.
MC: But I love Jessie J.
CA: Oh so do I. I’ve even performed that song several times, but it’s like, okay we’ve banged banged, girl. We get it. We’ve been banging for quite a while now. And as much as I love me some Areola Grande, I love her to death, but that “Break Free” song is starting to get to me. When I first heard it. I loved it, but now when I hear it – I wanna break a glass.
MC: (laughs) NoooOooooOooo…
CA: Sorry. It just happens. And there’s just one more…Sam Smith. I – I can’t with him.
MC: (laughs) Why!?!
CA: (laughs) Don’t get me wrong, I like his voice, but all of his songs are fuckin’ needy and they give me a high level of anxiety. Like, I feel pressure when I listen to him. I feel like I should be doing something to help him when I hear him because he’s just so needy. Do you feel that way when you listen to his songs?
MC: No!! (laughs) I just feel sad.
CA: Oh c’mon. He’s so needy! Asking you to stay with him and what’s his new one? What’s the fuckin new one – it’s basically Stay With Me, but with a different beat. I’m not a big fan of those love me love me love me songs. It’s like, girl – calm down! Take a pill. Get a puppy. Just Stop. Stay With Me can go away!
MC: (laughs) You do not like Sam Smith, huh?
CA: I love his voice (laughs) I just can’t relate to his songs. I’ve never told anyone, “Stay with me” in a one night stand scenario. It’s like – please go the fuck home. Grab your shit – and go. Which is why I was down to do a cameo in Daniel Franzese’s parody video of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” properly titled “Please Go Home” (laughs).
MC: So what song represents you right now? Obviously it’s not going to be anything from Sam Smith, but is there a song that you’re like, “Ugh. This is the song of my life!” For me it’s Taylor Swift’s, Bad Blood. I know…don’t even get me started.
CA: Well I’m a huge fan of Iggy, and people ask why I always perform as her, but the truth is just look at her: She is a tall, white, blonde rapper and she has given me the opportunity to be ratchet and I have to thank her for that.
MC: (laughs so hard I drop my recorder)
CA: Seriously. I have to give thanks. Before she came around, if I ever did some sort of rap number people would think I was trying too hard.
MC: Hmmm okay, I can see that.
CA: Yeah. People would just roll their eyes and say, “Here’s this light-skinned girl trying too hard,” but now with Iggy on the scene it makes sense for me. So, Beg For It, is a good song, but if I had to choose one that represents me now – it would be Robyn’s song Monument. I would never perform the song because it’s a bit too heavy, but I love listening to it and the video is really cool as well.
MC: So for readers out there who are local in the Bay Area, can we let them know where Carnie Asada can be seen out and about performing and hosting?
CA: Yes. Well my schedule does change from week to week and even sometimes month to month, but for now every Thursday I host and sometimes perform at Beaux in the Castro for their 90’s throwback party, My So-Called Night. On the weekends I rotate out and in a lot of different shows at The Cafe and The Stud. On December 12th I’ll be performing at the Stud for Club SOMETHING that is hosted by VivvyAnne ForeverMORE, and on Christmas night – that’s December 25th for all of you who aren’t in the know – I’ll be a special guest for the Monster Show with Cookie Dough at the Edge. And lastly when Ru Paul’s Drag Race starts back up in the new year I’ll be apart of JC Events – Drag Mondays that are hosted by Mahlae Balenciaga.
MC: What’s your biggest pet peeve when you’re in a bar or nightclub?
CA: Spacial awareness, for sure. What I mean is, for me it’s more relevant when I’m in drag because when you’re in a club and you come across those individuals who have had too much too drink they just don’t know how to properly say, “Excuse me can I pass by?” They shove and push their way through and if they spill their drink on my outfit – it’s just annoying.
MC: What’s one thing, as we conclude our interview that you would like to tell your faithful Carnitas out there.
CA: Yes, my four Twitter followers…
MC & CA: (Laughs)
CA: I can name them all (laughs). Seriously though I would like to say, “Thank You,” to anyone who watches my performances and to the people who come out to the clubs – thank you for showing the support. I mean, it’s great seeing so many of the regular faces in the crowd and knowing that they actually enjoy what you’re doing.
MC: Well thank you again for taking time out of your day to speak with me and us over here at Antitwink. Totally appreciate it and don’t forget to be Givenchy tonight in Modesto.
CA: Ugh. You and your Givenchy (laughs) well thank you for doing this interview.
***If you would like to stay up to date with this campy and glamourous queen, you can follow Carnie Asada via her social media pages:
Facebook – Carnie Asada Smith <- just click the link. Duh.
Instagram – @CarnieAsadaSF
Tags: Antitwink, Campy, Carnie Asada, Cookie Dough, DJ Ernie Cote, Drag, Drag Queen, ernie cote, gay, Glamour, Interview, Jose A Guzman Colon, Joshua J, Mac Chavez, Monster Show, queen, Ru Paul's Drag Race, san francisco, The Edge, VivvyAnne ForeverMORE