In Diva Watch, we profile the passionate, diverse and fascinating performers who light up Denver's drag community, expanding on our Diva Dozen list from 2015 and our new Freshest Faces list for 2016 by asking different queens — from established to ingénue — questions that take a peek beneath the wigs, heels and makeup.
There are two kinds of queens: those who work hard to perfect a persona and look that slays but let their work speak for itself, and those who work hard, slay, and then continue to pour out personality once they get their hands on a microphone. Westword’s choice for Best Drag Queen in the Best of Denver 2016, Felony Misdemeanor (Theariale St. Cyr), is definitely the latter. This 41-year-old dynamo from El Paso (a member of our Diva Dozen elite) has been in the Queen City for a dozen years, perfecting her face, dance moves and pizzazz, but her persona is the real jewel in the crown. She's irreverent, sexy, sassy and whip-smart, with a blue sense of humor that’s half Moms Mabley and half Joan Rivers, and an infectious laugh to boot. Consider yourself lucky, Denver, that Felony planted her roots in our drag garden.
Just in time for Pride, we caught up with Felony Misdemeanor to find out where she got her start, what makeup she uses, and how she felt after being named Best Drag Queen.
Westword: Congratulations on being named our Best Drag Queen! What was your first thought when you heard the news?
Felony Misdemeanor: My first thought upon winning Best Drag Queen was "Hmm" — and then I read it again just to make sure I wasn't reading things wrong, and then my thought was "Wow!" And then it went to "Aw, man, some people are gonna hate on me because their favorite queen didn't win."
In a city bursting at the seams with drag performers, what does it mean to you to be named the best?
To be named the best out of all the queens here in town is very humbling. I know I'm not everyone's favorite, but I know I'm someone's favorite — and that's all that matters. There are so many talented girls who could easily be named the best, so I will gladly accept this "crowning" and run with it until the next girl is announced.
How long have you been working your drag craft?
I had my quinceañera last year in September, so I've been wearing a padded bra and fake-ass hair performing for fifteen years, and I still love it. I started at a friend’s birthday party at the San Antonio Mining Co. in El Paso, Texas, and haven't looked back. I've had a lot of different penises in my hands since then.
Tell us about the first time that you ever performed in drag.
The first time I performed in drag was a big mess. My hip pads were ridiculous and stupid; they were too small and were better suited for butt pads. I didn't know a thing about pinning hair in place, so my hair flew off and I somehow managed to catch it. The performance itself was great, but everything else — except my face — was a mess.
What is the origin of your drag name?
I picked my drag name while I was sitting in front of a 7-Eleven. I was in my car waiting for my cousin to buy something to drink when I read a sign that said, "It is a crime (misdemeanor/felony) if you shoplift from this store." I was/am a big fan of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, and this was when she was putting out hit after hit, so when I read that, it just clicked for me.
What is your occupation when you’re not doing drag?
My occupation is being a drag queen most days, and also the only black server at Shells & Sauce other days.
What cultural icon do you admire the most, and why?
I'm unsure, to be honest. I admire my mother the most, but if I had to choose someone today I'd go with Barack Obama. There are others, but I mentioned him because I remember as a child I told my mother I'd be the first black president. That obviously didn't happen!
Explain what it feels like to get into all of your drag and hit a stage?
Getting all dressed up and hitting the stage is the best drug in the world. I absolutely love being on stage, performing for anyone who will watch. I always entered talent shows in high school and college just for the chance to go out there and do my thing. I live for it. I have been trying to take a break for a while, but I keep on keeping on.
Who/what inspires you to keep pulling out the makeup brushes every day?
What inspires me to keep putting on the makeup and shit are the local queens. I have been in the game long enough to see queens start their craft and grow into it. They were not all the fabulous queens that they are now. I watched these little boys in dresses evolve into beautiful strong men...in dresses.
Favorite brand/item of makeup?
My favorite brand(s) of makeup, until something new comes along, are Graftobian, Armour and Kryolan products. Graftobian has great powders, Kryolan has great foundation, and Armour has the best lip gloss: It leaves perfect cock rings!
Name three very important items in your purse/drag bag that you can’t leave home without.
The three very important things that Felony never leaves without (Theariale's needs are different): my "Come and Get Me Juice" Si by Giorgio Armani, because I am usually sweating like a black man stumbling upon a KKK rally. A packed bowl of marijuana with kief on it, because I don't want to have to slap a bitch for saying the wrong thing (just kidding I don't believe in violence; I just like to be high when I'm out). Last, I need my Crocs: I ain't staying in heels all damn night — you have got to be kidding me.
When you’re out in drag, what one thing does everyone want to talk to you about? What do you wish they would actually talk to you about?
When I'm out in drag, the one thing everyone wants to talk to me about is usually something I can't hear. Last [Sunday] I had three different conversations, and I couldn't tell you what any of it was about. A good majority of the time, the ones who want to talk (not my friends) want to talk when I'm waiting to go on stage, so I'm just under the speaker or next to one, and they want to have a full conversation...under the speaker. I'm not sure if you've tried to have a conversation next to a giant speaker, but it sucks and it's stupid. There have been many times I have run into those same people at another time, and they want me to recollect what was said, and I'm saying to myself, "Bitch, I didn't hear anything you said." With that being said, I love talking to others; it's another way of connecting with people. What do I wish they'd talk to me about? Anything. Just make sure it is a conversation and not just me listening to you; that happens way too much.
If your drag persona had a theme song, what would it be?
If I had a theme song, I would have two: “Bad Girls,” by Donna Summer, and probably “Criminal,” by Fiona Apple. Well, because I'm a bad girl, bitch!
They’re casting the movie about your life; what actor and actress would be perfect to play both sides of your coin?
If they were making a movie about my life and were casting actors, Marlon Wayans or Will Smith would be cast as the boy me, because I walk around my home and backstage in little underwear and would love to see one of them wear little-ass underwear throughout the movie. Angela Bassett or Halle Berry would play the girl me, because those two can do anything. If we were gonna whitewash my movie like everything else in Hollywood, Joseph Gordon Levitt or Michael Fassbender would be the boy me for the same underwear reason, and Charlize Theron would be the girl me.
Which is harder, given your drag profession: tucking or having a relationship?
I'd have to go with tucking. I rarely do the full tuckage but when I do, I have that inner leg gap where my penis used to be — we call that "snatched." I have been in a really good relationship, with tons of caring and understanding, with Jake. Jake is my Fleshlight!
What was it like growing up gay? Does your blood family know about and support your art?
Growing up gay was fine. Yeah, I had my issues by falling head over heels for my straight friend and shit like that, but for the most part, it was pretty damn normal. I had good friends and my awesome family. I did have a bully or two in school, but I didn't let it bother me. I ended up hate-fucking; this wasn't sex and this wasn't lovemaking, this was a straight-up hate fuck — one of my bullies in the back of his truck years after high-school graduation. You can message me and ask me how I got my revenge.
Does my blood family know and support me and my drag? Yes, they do. They've even come to a few of my shows.
What does the word “family” mean to you, and have you found your drag family here in Denver?
The word "family" to me means just that: family. Yes, family means there's a relation of sorts, but it's more than that: It's about love. Have I found my drag family here in Denver? Most definitely. I feel I have two. My family that does drag and my family that has been with me for twenty years, and they're all awesome.
Drag allows you to change or alter physical parts of yourself. Do you use that power to always change any one thing in particular about yourself?
With drag allowing me to change and alter my appearance, do I apply any of that into my everyday life? No, I do not. As much as I'd like to have a bigger ass, it'd be weird walking around in my drag pads — not to mention how hot that would be. In drag, I'm too busy trying to hide my ding-ding, but it couldn't be more different as a boy.
There’s a bank error in your favor, giving you $15,000. What’s the first thing that you buy?
I'd go out and get the best damn meal of my life!
For all of the cost — monetary and emotional — and all of the blood, sweat and tears and drama, WHY do you want to make a career in drag? What does the art form mean to you?
Why do I want a career in drag? I love it. Boring, right? The art form itself means a lot to me; it's my outlet if I happen to be going through some stuff or if I just want to have fun. I've been doing it for so long, I think I may go a bit crazy if I were to quit — kinda like withdrawal from a hardcore drug.
When we check back on you in three years, what do you think you will be up to in your drag career?
In the year 2019, I either hope to be touring the country making money doing drag performances for people, or I hope to be touring the country making money sucking dick. Either way, I hope to be touring the country making money doing something!
Is there an item in your drag closet (outfit, jewelry, wig, etc.) that holds a lot of emotion or memory for you? If so, tell us about it..
I have tons of shit in my closet, and each item has a memory attached to it. Some memories are better than others. I have two gowns that I got from my drag mother, heels that were given to me, some awesome finds at thrift stores and a particular wig with some...DNA in it.
Where can you catch Felony? In her words: “I am a free agent and always looking for a new and fun place to perform, but you can catch me every night at your man's house.” During Pride weekend, you can see Felony on Friday, June 17, at Tracks for the Neverland Drag Nation show; on Saturday, June 18, at M Uptown for Daniella DeCoteau's Showgasm, and on Sunday, June 19, at Charlie's for Kai Lee’s Kiki - with special guest Naomi Smalls.
After Pride, you can catch Felony every Sunday at Kai Lee’s Kiki, M Uptown; every Tuesday at M Uptown for Drag Queen Bingo; every second Saturday at Charlie's for her own Felony’s Cellblock; and at most of the monthly Drag Nation shows at Tracks.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.