i'm turning 40 next month and i've decided to spend the rest of 2017 sharing EVERYTHING i know with YOU. Starting NOW!
If you've been in my Wonderland for a while, you know i'm drag artist and writer who plays by their own rules -- and dares YOU to do the same! You probably also know that last year i quit my fulltime job to be my own boss and i currently make my living as a ghostwriter/copywriter, teacher, and storyteller for online spaces like BET, Dallas Voice, and (now) Curve magazine! Whoop - whoop!
But what i'm pretty sure you don't know is how it all happened -- and what it took to get here, making a living doing what i love. That's because i've NEVER shared my story before. Not on my blog. Not here. Not there. Not anywhere! 😉
Until TODAY! YAAAAAAAAAY!
What you're reading is Part One of five emails where i'm spilling all MY OWN tea telling all the outrageous true stories about my drag life and biz journey.
If you've ever wondered how i became a drag queen, how i got my gig at BET, or how i manage to pay my bills and travel as a freelance writer and artist, then this B! True Gayborhood Stories mini-series is for you!
Each week you'll receive another installment of my story. And because i don't know how to be anything BUT extra, i even created a soundtrack to accompany each email with music cues sprinkled like glitter in my story. It's kinda like those old-school read-a-long chime books i had as a kid, except this one is digital (with way more adult language, content, and humor!). You'll have to sign-up for a free Spotify account, but i promise it's SOOOOOO worth it! Listen while you read playlist, here.
i hope my story inspires you to never give up on your dreams -- or yourself. Because if a 5'0 queer Brown girl from Corpus Christi, TX can become a bonafide drag queen, you, my beautiful shooting star, can be whatever the fuck YOU want to be!
Now on with the show!
B! True Gayborhood Stories, Part One: Glamour, Glitter, Fashion, and FAME!
In order to fully understand my journey as an artist and person, i have to take you back . . . waaaay back to (almost) the beginning. To the birth of me wanting to be a superstar.
*Cue track #1*
It was January 14, 1984 and the movie Flashdance, Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, and Vanessa Williams winning Miss America were all the rage. i had just turned 6 the month before and i was plopped in front of the TV motionless as i watched Madonna’s very first performance live on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. It only took 10 seconds for me to fall head over heels in love with her. All of her — her look, her dance moves, her swagger, her song Holiday, EVERYTHING!
*Cue track #2*
After she finished singing and once the audience’s applause finally died down, Dick Clark asked her what her hopes were for not just the new year but for the rest of her life. Her answer would live in infamy both in the music world and in my memory:
“To rule the world,” she said.
And i knew the second after i heard those infamous words come out of her mouth, that that was exactly what i wanted to do too.
But i also knew that the only way it was ever going to happen was if i was Madonna. Or at the very least, someone like Madonna. And thus began my lifelong quest to rule the world — and the birth of my obsession with fame.
*Cue track #3*
Fast forward to my 18th birthday.
While i wasn’t Madonna (yet), i had been Livin’ La Vida Loca for sure.
i wrote and published my first book at 14. It was a collection of poetry and i was hoping it would make me a NYTimes Best Selling author.
i won first place in the Junior Olympics for freestyle skating (ironically the song i skated to was What a Feeling from the movie Flashdance). i had hoped my skills on four wheels would land me on the cover of Bop Magazine.
i did every theater production in middle school and high school i could get. i played Snow White, a drug addict in the play The Empty Chair, and Anne Boleyn. i even won best actress in our school version of the Oscars. i was MORE than ready for Hollywood to come a-knockin’.
At 16, i had my first girlfriend and snuck into my first gay club, UBU. It was owned by Aaron Davis the first drag queen i ever laid eyes on and who would later become my friend and introduction into the world of drag.
i toured the United States with the Bob Marley Festival with my belly dancing and Polynesian/Tahitian dance troupe. i just KNEW that THIS was how i was going to get “discovered."
But most importantly of all, i felt like i was well on my way to bigger and better things.
i opened up for Jon Secada and i even tried out for The Real World and made it all the way through to the final round!
i was in numerous (local) magazines (and a German one!), on the cover of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (more than once), the Padre Island Visitor's Guide, in a Gadzooks ad that ran in every teen magazine there was in the mid-90’s, and TV commercials. i was even getting recognized while buying ice cream and shopping at the mall!!
i was living the glamorous life of a traveling and local dance star. But despite appearances, i wasn’t really happy because i wasn’t famous enough to quit my day job. Until my late teens, i worked at McDonald’s and eventually got a job as a bookseller — which quickly turned into a supervisor position — at Barnes and Noble. By the time i hit 20, i had also hit a major obstacle and roadblock in my career — myself.
*Cue track #4*
i was so wrapped up in the belief that fame was my only way out of a mundane and ordinary life that i became addicted to the idea of it. Fame — and doing whatever i could to get it — became my drug. It became my only motivation for living and when it didn’t happen quickly enough i sought out ways to numb the pain of not having it. And i started partying a lot.
The kind of partying that covers up the fact that something was deeply wrong with me. The kind of partying you do to forget everything — your broken heart, your broken dreams, your broken bones. The kind of partying that includes lots of experimental drug use, sex, and too many bad decisions to name. The kind of partying that buries growth — and could bury you.
At 21, i tried to run away from my problems by spontaneously moving to Austin. It was seriously like a season of The Real World trying to squeeze five people into a two bedroom apartment. i set goals to break my partying cycle and depression so i could write my memoir and really focus on manifesting my goal of becoming famous. But it just got worse. Because what i failed to realize was that even if you move locations, you can’t leave yourself, who you are, and the problems you have behind. They all pack up and move right along with you.
And i had an even bigger problem that i couldn’t see at the time: i was searching for the kinds of things that fame could never bring me. Love. Real love. A purpose. My place in the world and a way i could leave a mark in it before dying.
After seven months, i moved back to Corpus even more depressed than when i left and ended up in (another) volatile and unhealthy relationship and an even deeper depression. i was losing myself. No, i was lost. And in a rare moment of sobriety, i came to the harsh realization that i needed to make some drastic changes or i was going to kill myself trying to be an E! True Hollywood Story. But it still took me three years to understand that the biggest change i would have to make would be myself.
At 24, i made the decision to go to college and major in dance. And that’s when everything around and within me shifted.
i still wanted to be famous but within the walls of the dance studio and the choreography classroom, i found peace. i found art. And in art, i found healing. And within all of the creativity i was expressing somatically and experiencing mentally, i found what i didn’t know i had been searching for the entire time. It wasn’t fame; It was MEANING. i was now using my art, my voice, my body, my creativity to express my (very strong) opinions about our country, George W. Bush, racial and gender inequality, and my vision of the kind of world i wanted to live in — equal, diverse, and colorful.
And in those many years of college (i stayed at Texas Women’s University after my undergraduate degree and got a Master’s in Women's Studies with an emphasis in gender performance), i learned what is perhaps the most important lesson in my life thus far (maybe even still): that i could mean something to the world without billions of adoring fans — and without the flashing lights of fame.
Once i realized that i had the power to make an impact and change the world right where i was, the universe opened up to me in ways that i could never have imagined. In ways that not even being Madonna, could have opened. The kind of doors that only open when you begin to know, understand, and love yourself.
And one of those doors would lead me down a path that would crack open my belief in what was possible and give birth to the drag queen i always wished (and knew) i could be. It was the dawning of Brandi Amara Skyy!
*Cue track #5*
You’ll have to wait till next week to find out! 😉
In love, light and new beginnings,
P.S. Love this gig? Want more juicy behind-the-scenes snaps of my drag, life, and biz? Got a question you're DYING to ask me after reading Part One of my B! True Gayborhood Stories? Be part of my Instagram fam for exclusive sneak peeks into my life and art! And message me with any questions you have about Part One of my story! Lots of love.