I first met Bob The Drag Queen in Times Square. We were both wearing wedding gowns.
One of us was demonstrating with Drag Queen Weddings For Equality for gay marriage rights in America. The other was handing out flyers, promoting a shitty Off-Broadway show with “Marriage” in the title.
If you’ve been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8, you might say, “Pics or it didn’t happen,”. Unfortunately, this was back in my flip phone days, before I became a drone of social media. I know we were photographed together, though. It’s what happens when you stand for hours in Times Square, wearing giant white dresses. Somewhere in Nebraska (the state, not Derrick Barry’s boyfriend), no doubt a scrapbook “NYC Trip 2011” holds a photograph of us brushing faux brides. Both 24, both with hair styles that have come a long way since.
Thus I’ve been #TeamBob before she was even Bob! Back when she was doing Weddings for Equality her drag name was “Kitten Withuwhip” (I squealed with glee at the name change, btw.) Every year since then, I’ve waited for Bob to get on Rupaul’s Drag Race. I knew it was only a matter of time.
It finally happened this year. In fact, in less than two hours she’ll likely be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar. Yep, bitch is THIS CLOSE to winning the whole thing. I’M SO EXCITED!! I couldn’t be more proud or happy. It’s amazing to watch some one you know, someone you used to work with closely, at a shitty theme restaurant in NYC, realize their goals and dreams.
I first met Chris Caldwell, the bald tattooed genius behind the glamour of Bob, at a theme restaurant in the West Village. The theme was “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and the restaurant hired actors to enhance the spooky, campy atmosphere. And distract from food that consistently got two star ratings on Yelp. I played a whacky maid in full Downton Abbey Anna Bates’ drag. Caldwell played a butler in a gray suit, with white gloves with holes in them that the entertainment budget was too tight to replace.
Every Saturday night the two of us were a team, running all the entertainment at the restaurant: a cheesy mad scientist show, half a dozen animatronic puppets, and constant interactive improv with guests. I was great at the interactive improv part, but making up jokes and pulling different voices for puppets scared the shit out of me. Caldwell and I would sit up in the tiny closet of a tech booth, he would hold my hand while I’d try out a new puppet, ready to balance out my mildly humorous performance on a talking rhino with a hilarious parody of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” on an animatronic werewolf bust singing “I’m gonna eat you (Ooh, ooh, ooh)”.
No one likes working Saturday nights, but this never felt like work. We were two people who adored making people laugh and as long as we were doing that, even at a shitty theme restaurant, we were pretty happy.
Caldwell was so funny, so charming, so quick witted, I loved performing with him as much as guests did. Never a show off, his mind would just move so quickly from one joke to another. It was like stream of conscious humor. No one ever complained about the food when he was there. It was the first (only?) time in my life I didn’t mind being upstaged.
I wonder how many people ate at that theme restaurant watch Rupaul’s Drag Race. I wonder if a single one of them realizes they saw America’s Next Drag superstar perform as a butler-wanna-be-mad-scientist on their NYC vacation in 2010/2011. There was one night at the restaurant that Caldwell played a sexy vampiress in full drag. I wasn’t there, but waiters loved to tell the story, how one cranky letter from a patron who used the word “inappropriate” shut down any chance of a repeat performance. Probably fortunate, it got Caldwell out of the theme restaurant gig and Bob The Drag Queen into the clubs of NYC. Then onto Drag Race Season 8. Next up, THE WORLD!
Today, Youtube! Bob released this HILARIOUS music video today and it’s already going viral.
Watch and love! And be jealous I used to work with him! Then support!