Roxi Starr does not like to be late and I suspect neither does Larry Cook ( Roxi’s boy self). I gather this as she sweeps into Voyeur Nightclub with Donna Ria and Aloe Vera in tow. She greets me with air kisses and shimmies off to the bar to get a drink and greet the staff and clientele. She makes a round in her ladylike strut to say hello to a group of friends and family out to support Donna Ria’s debut at Cash for Queens. And then she is back and ready for her interview. We are outside on the narrow sidewalk that flanks the cobble stoned Philadelphia road Voyuer overlooks and Roxi lights up a cigarette. She inhales deeply and leans against the building, her legs crossed at her ankles. It seems to relax her. I wonder if she is nervous. She is not performing tonight, but Donna Ria (Ray Miles, Jr, Larry’s boyfriend) is. She tells me she has read the prep questions I sent her and that they are very good. She is ready. “I really hate being late,” she repeats, “especially when it’s because of somebody else,” but then she backtracks and adds, “It was all of us tonight though,” referring to herself, Aloe, and Donna. Roxi’s story starts out in Tuscon, Arizona, home also to RuPaul’s Drag Race season 7 contestant Tempest du Jour. “I’ve always been an entertainer,” she says, “even now I’m a server and before I was in healthcare, but I’ve always been an entertainer, whether it’s singing or drag or whatever.”
I ask about how she got her start and about her drag mother. She mentions her former hairstylist fiancee, a nameless figure of the past who encouraged her to explore drag when they first met. But the story is mostly about her drag mother Janee’ Starr, a drag queen she knew and admired before considering doing drag. When Roxi approached her to ask if she ever took on drag children Janee told her to do her makeup and show up at the club. It was good enough and instantly Roxi had a fairydragmother! She says she owes a lot to Janee, seeming to imply that it is important that she make her drag mother proud as the only other drag children were a pair of twins who ended their connection to the House of Starr. If making Janee proud is her goal in drag, Roxi is tallying up the accomplishments with a weekly RuPaul’s Drag Race show with her ever-present counterpart Aloe Vera, a recent debut in New York City, and herirst Philadelphia pageant win. There is so much going on behind Roxi’s painted and bejeweled eyes. It seems she harbors a brain that never rests. It’s a March evening, still cold in the city, but she does not seem to notice. Whether it be the padding of her drag ensemble or the fact that she is deep in her own thoughts teasing out her precise answers, she is well insulated from the chill of the Philadelphia winter night.
As we chat there is a fellow queen who shows up out of drag as a boy and Roxi and some friends nearby on the street tease him about it. “Who is this?” they call as if they do not recognize him without makeup and a costume. She is then greeted by someone changing his drag show and they have a quick conversation about it. He says he will be in touch with her about performing and is off on his way. Her drag sister Aloe Vera ducks out of the club to bum a light and they banter a bit back and forth laughing like teenagers at a high school dance. They are a perfectly synced combo as a team at iCandy and when they commute to bookings out of state they call themselves “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Gaff”. All the while I observe Roxi and notice how she has mastered and incorporated the subtle flip of her hair over her shoulder and the ladylike way she keeps her knees together as she stoops down to hear me better. The grace of her character permeates her every move. Larry has internalized Roxi and she in turn is present with him whether on stage or not. This is a pointed fact for someone who has only been in the art for two years.
I know she has given thought to auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race when she says, “I’d like to do the show, but on my own terms.” She does not elaborate, but I get the sense she means “When I am ready”. The fact that she invests much thought into most things is evidenced in how she answered her pageant question in the video below.
It’s no wonder Roxi Starr is the newly crowned Miss Fish Philly 2015 after such a short time in this city. That same shadow of a fiancee was the one she followed out here and though the relationship did not last it seems Roxi is here to stay. Naturally we are enamored by her ways and looking forward to see how Her Majesty will hold court. Long Reign the Queen!