My parents weren’t the least bit surprised when I decided to become a drag queen. They couldn’t keep me out of my grandma’s closet growing up—there are pictures of me in knee-highs and pantyhose and ladies’ hats because I’ve been cross dressing since I was four.
I started dabbling in drag during college. The closest drag club from me at school in northwestern Arkansas was in Tennessee, so anytime I would go visit home in northeastern Arkansas, I would take the family minivan and drive an hour and a half to Memphis for amateur night. Eventually I decided I wanted to make a career of it, and I’ve been a full-time drag performer for a few years now.
Mariam T is kind of like Benjamin Button. Originally she was this older Yiddish woman who spent way too much time at the casino, but as I’ve explored her personality and grown with her, she’s gotten younger. Now Mariam is an early-forties sex bomb but matronly, like a well-kept stepmother. She’s married to somebody with lots of money who she doesn’t have to talk to very often.
Mariam’s favorite colors are floral and leopard, so there’s always an element of tackiness, but she’s so glamorous that you don’t care that the dress she’s wearing is made of the same fabric that’s on the chair in the hospital waiting room—yes, it’s ugly, but fabulous somehow.
I’m known as San Diego’s crankiest drag queen. I like to say that I’m the Gilbert Gottfried of drag; there’s a lot of screaming and yelling involved. Mariam is very curmudgeon-y, but she’s always a good time. You’re going to get made fun of, and you’re going to laugh a lot.
I’m a trained standup comic—that’s what I did before drag—and I don’t think people are expecting all the jokes and sharp wit. My bingo shows are like a musical performance and bingo game and standup comedy night all in one.
The more time I spend in Aspen, the more I realize it’s not all high-end luxury boutiques. There are quirky little shops and much more character than I was expecting. And I assumed it was going to be all prim and proper, but people in Aspen are really fun to party with.
The former marketing director of the restaurant group I do drag for in San Diego now does marketing for Aspen Gay Ski Week, so when the organization was looking for someone to host drag bingo, they asked if he knew anyone and he was like, Oh, I know the bingo queen.
They shipped me out to Aspen for the first time in 2020. I had a long layover and was drinking bubbles the whole way there, so I fell asleep on the flight. After we landed, the flight attendants had to wake me and tell me to get off the plane. I got out and was like, Where am I? I’d never been there before, and it felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of a Hallmark Christmas card.
The more time I spend in Aspen, the more I realize it’s not all high-end luxury boutiques. There are quirky little shops and much more character than I was expecting. And I assumed it was going to be all prim and proper, but people in Aspen are really fun to party with. If anybody ever wants to find me in Aspen when I’m not doing a show, I’m usually at Clark’s Oyster Bar in my caftan drinking with all the locals.
I get treated like a baby celebrity when I’m in Aspen because I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m more accessible than a real celebrity, though, because I’ll come out and talk to you after the show. We can hang out, do tequila shots, take pictures, send videos to your grandpa or your kids.
There aren’t a lot of drag queens in Aspen, so I think people aren’t used to that kind of entertainment. They’re happy to have it at all, which makes my job really easy. Everyone is so intrigued by the whole concept of drag, it’s like moths to a flame. Every Gay Ski Week event we’ve done has sold out.
I get a lot out of being Mariam. I think I’m more comfortable with who I am and more chill the rest of the time because of her.
My favorite moment of Gay Ski Week last year was hosting the Downhill Costume Contest. That’s when we bring the giant LGBTQ flag down the mountain, and the energy is through the roof. As the host, I basically get pelted with snow for three hours. I gave up trying to hang on to my Champagne flute, so I was drinking bubbles right from the bottle like a real class act, berating the crowd and getting people to take their clothes off in the snow for $500 donations.
After that, we raged. I passed out at 6 p.m. and accidentally slept through the pool party. I woke up at two o’clock in the morning in a full face of makeup. But we raised a ton of money and had a lot of fun.
It’s very energy consuming, but I get a lot out of being Mariam. I’m a fairly high-strung person in my everyday life, but I’ve found that I’m able to exhaust a lot of that on stage. I think I’m more comfortable with who I am and more chill the rest of the time because of her.
Mariam has also made me realize the importance of humor and making people laugh. People are always coming up to me after shows to tell me things like, This is the first time I’ve laughed since my dad died.
There’s a part of every show when I bring audience members up on stage, anybody who’s celebrating anything: birthdays, divorces, beating cancer, coming out, pregnancies, bachelorette parties. Once, we celebrated the reunion of two sisters in their seventies who hadn’t spoken in 40 years.
Moments like that never get old. They’re one of my favorite things about what I do, second only to hearing people constantly tell me I’m gorgeous. That never gets old, either.