Drag artist Daisy Buckët shows off her secrets in The Pitch Questionnaire
Drag performer Daisy Buckët (aka Spencer Brown), is perhaps best known for her vocal skills—she released her debut album, Pansy, in 2018, and she takes her talents on tour internationally on a regular basis. She’s also known for her work with The Kinsey Sicks—“America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet.” Her show, “Raising the Bar (Or How I Bar Hopped My Way to the Top)” is showing at The Black Box April 28-29.
Brown answered some questions for us to give us a bit of insight into the creative mind behind one of KC’s most prominent drag queens, Daisy Buckët.
Kansas City, Missouri
West Plaza (Fairway)
What does Kansas City need more of?
A bathhouse! Kansas City needs a good bathhouse. I can already envision Charlie Hustle-printed towels.
The last thing to make you laugh:
The state of our country.
What’s your hidden talent?
When we get that bathhouse, it won’t be so hidden!
The best—or worst—advice you ever received:
The worst advice I ever received: “You should lip sync.”
Who or what are some of the biggest influences on your own drag?
A lot of iconic women have shaped a lot of my drag style. Bette Midler, Lucille Ball, and Joan Rivers are my Holy Trinity.
Your drag takes you on tour all over the country and worldwide. What’s your favorite thing about performing for Kansas City audiences?
Being able to poke fun at everything about Kansas City. I love living here, but it’s fun to make a few digs!
When and where was your first time in drag, and how has the character of Daisy Buckët evolved since then?
My first time in drag was when I performed in my grandma’s clothes in a talent show in 5th grade—in the ’90s! Daisy wasn’t actually “born” until I moved back from college in New York and started working at Bar Natasha, a cabaret bar down in the Crossroads that is now where the amazing Affarë resides. One of the owners (Missy Koonce) wanted to stage a live-singing female impersonation show, and that’s where it all began.
Being a drag queen requires an array of skills—humor, stage presence, fashion sense, tailoring skills, dance, and athleticism—plus you’re known especially for your singing and ability to belt out Broadway tunes. What would you say is the most challenging facet of working as a drag performer?
Dealing with bar owners! It’s one thing to be constantly pitted amongst an array of other talented drag performers who all have their own unique styles and bring something different to the stage but to have to constantly try to prove yourself to the people giving you a stipend and considering that your worth is appalling.
You spend hours preparing your material, building costumes, working on your set, getting into costume and make-up, then you show up for the show, and you really do rely on the audience to tip you, and if you’re not good, you’ll see it reflected in your tips. But for a lot of show bars that have drag, the going rate is around $50 for a queen to show up and then perform three routines, and strangely a lot of drag artists are ok with that.
With lawmakers trying to impose bans on drag, it’s laughable. I’ve been pretty vocal about it before: A majority of the audiences coming out to show bars aren’t necessarily going for just drinks or food but to see the entertainers. These show bars need us more than we need them, and we deserve to be paid better for even showing up.
Can you tell us about your show “Raising the Bar (Or How I Bar Hopped My Way to The Top)” at The Black Box? What can audiences expect from this performance?
This is probably the most ambitious one to date, as it has a plot (loosely)! I play two characters in it: Daisy as herself; and Rose, the bartender at Daiquiri Daisy’s.
The show is fiction, but the stories are pretty autobiographical. This show is going to give people a better sense of what it’s like hustling as a full-time drag artist for the last 17 years. As with most of my cabaret shows, there’s a nice variety of musical genres. People can expect a show tune or two, but also some rock ’n’ roll and pop. It will also include dancers from DanceFitFlow with choreography by Topher Benjamin.
What was your process like for recording your 2018 album, Pansy? How do the challenges of recording music in a studio differ from those of performing music for live audiences?
That was one of my favorite experiences. I really love recording in a studio, and when I recorded Pansy, I showed up to the studio each day in drag because it really gave me the confidence to create. When you’re recording an album, you’re putting something out into the world that will be there, hopefully forever, long after you’re gone. So, you really want to make sure you’re happy and proud of what you’ve created.
Live audiences, though, are the best. You can’t recreate any moment. The audience that comes to see my show April 28 won’t get exactly the same show as the audience April 29, and I love that. People will come up to me and tell me their favorite memory from a show I did, and it will be something that was so specific to that show it only happened that one night. That’s the magic of live theatre, and I live for it.
Tell us about your work with The Kinsey Sicks: Drag Queen Storytime Gone Wild! Where did this idea come from, what does a typical show consist of, and how do audiences tend to react?
The show is a direct response to the far-right’s attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community. It takes place at Ron DeSantis Elementary School, where drag queens have been successfully banned, and kids take part in that great “American” tradition: active shooter drills! We make it very clear this is a satirical show (for adults, duh), all while singing in glorious four-part acapella harmonies.
Even with the subject matter, it’s outrageously funny with parodies of Disney songs and nursery rhymes in an attempt to ruin some of your childhood favorites. Audiences have been responding with standing ovations, sometimes multiple, throughout the show, so I’d say we’re hitting the (far) right buttons.
How does your drag give back to the community, or what philanthropy do you support? For example, you’re participating in the 35th Annual AIDSWalk Kansas City May 6. Can you give us more details about that?
I’m so thrilled you asked about AIDSWalk. It’s actually one of the organizations I’m most vocal about. Since 2007, my AIDSWalk team alone has helped raise over $150,000. All of that money helps local HIV/AIDS nonprofit organizations in the Kansas City area, like Hope Care Center, Thrive Health Connection, KC Care Health Center, and SAVE Inc.
My show at The Black Box is also helping benefit AIDSWalk with a raffle. Each ticket purchased will be entered into a raffle at both shows to win two tickets to see Beyoncé when she comes to Kansas City in September. A portion of the proceeds from Raising the Bar will benefit AIDSWalk.
Can you clue us into any of the details of your Boulevardia performance June 17?
I could, but I won’t! This is the first time to my knowledge, that drag artists have been included in the entertainment line-up for Boulevardia, and I’m so thrilled to be involved with some really fantastic artists.
What’s next for Daisy Buckët? Any new projects underway or ideas you hope to bring to life soon that you can tell us about?
My second album, Welcome to Springfield, is currently in production and expected to be released sometime this summer. I’m already very proud of it and have had Jeff Freling (Victor & Penny) leading the project with some fantastic arrangements. It’s a tribute album to the work of Dusty Springfield, the iconic British singer of the 1960s who was so fierce and used her platform to fight against racial discrimination, and she was also queer. People can expect covers of some of her classics (“Wishin’ & Hopin,’” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “I Only Want to Be With You”) as well as some surprising deep cuts.