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MUSIC Transgender 'RuPaul Drag Race' alum Peppermint composes 'Letter' to past lovers
by Jerry Nunn
2022-06-03

This article shared 431 times since Fri Jun 3, 2022
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Miss Peppermint is a drag artist who made a name for herself while slaying on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Eventually coming in second place, Peppermint made herstory by being the first out trans woman to enter the Emmy Award-winning series as opposed to coming out publicly during or after the filming of the show as previous competitors did before her. Soon after the race ended, she originated the Pythio non-binary role in the Broadway hit Head Over Heels where she broke the glass ceiling once again this time as the first-ever trans woman to originate a starring role on the Great White Way.

Television appearances have included dragging Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model during cycle 14 and playing Miss Euphoria on FX's Pose. She can currently be seen on OUTtvgo's Translation, a talk show where Drag Race transgender alumni discuss hot topics.

She hosted the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards on May 6 and was a nominee this year as well in the Outstanding Online Journalism category for her coverage of the Discovery+ Legendary series. On June 3, fans can catch her in the Hulu movie Fire Island.

This multitalented performer has released a new album titled Moment of Weakness: Letter to My Lovers as part of a trilogy of music covering past relationships. She takes this project on the road to kick off the tour in Chicago on July 2.

Windy City Times: Are you originally from New York?

Peppermint: No, I was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, but I live in New York right now and have for many decades.

WCT: How was hosting the GLAAD Media Awards recently?

Peppermint: Every year they have so many awards to give to people in the community that they can't do them all at once, so it is split in two for ceremonies on the East and West Coasts. I hosted the 33rd annual New York awards this year.

It was so much fun and there were so many fabulous people there. We were all gathered together to bemoan some of the things happening in queer culture today including the impending Roe v. Wade decision. In the midst of this doom and gloom was a chance to get together and wipe the slate clean to focus on community.

I was stoked to meet honorees Judith Light and Wilson Cruz who were both honored that night. The cast of Pose was also there and I got to hang with Ariana DeBose. It was everything!

WCT: Tell our readers about your upcoming tour.

Peppermint: It started with the music. I had a tumultuous relationship that was at the same time, really rewarding. At the end of it, the best takeaway was two diaries full of entries that I turned into music. One album was released recently online and the project is called Letters to My Lovers with three different albums. The first one is called A Girl Like Me and the second one is called Moment of Weakness. The third one is called Validation and will be out next year.

After the lockdown of the pandemic, I decided to get on the road and perform these songs live with a band. I will be able to tell the stories about how the songs were created, so I decided to do it. The United States tour kicks off in Chicago!

WCT: So the concept is various stories and you singing songs with a live band?

Peppermint: Yes, some people may be too young to remember VH1 Storytellers and MTV Unplugged, but it is very much that vibe. People will get to know the real Peppermint. I know people love the lip-synching girl on Drag Race with a brief 30-second clip, but there is so much more. I want people to feel that and hear it in a live setting.

WCT: It seems like a very chill sit-down event, but you have released remixes you could also play.

Peppermint: Yes, I do, but this is not going to be a dance club performance at all. It is a singer/songwriter concert and will be very intimate.

I do have dance remixes from the first and second albums for people to listen to at home.

WCT: I listened to your cover version of Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Are you a big fan of her music?

Peppermint: I love Carole King. Everyone should be familiar with the songs that she created and co-wrote. My grandmother had a tremendous music collection of LPs in her basement, so I knew The Ronettes' version of the song "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow."

Years later I had the chance to go see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical about everything the singer went through with relationships and being a woman in the music industry. How the song was set in the musical just added another layer.

I was thinking about songs that touched me over the years. After one hot and wild night, I remember thinking if it could turn into anything more. I don't know if that is exactly what Carole meant with the song, but I wanted to express that part of my life from a queer perspective.

Queer folks are so much more than putting on makeup and dancing. We have regular feelings and we want to have relationships with people. Some go the traditional route with kids and family and some people don't, but we should have it all available to us.

As queer folks, we don't necessarily grow up having healthy examples of loving relationships that are aimed at us. I think the byproduct of that is found within a song like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow."

WCT: Your breaking of the glass ceiling on Broadway meant so much for so many people in the LGBTQ+ community. How was that experience for you?

Peppermint: It was amazing and [it] felt great to be a part of the Broadway community.

It was a difficult show to do, just because Broadway shows are challenging in general. I was glad to do that show in particular because it was the queerest show I had experienced or seen at that time. I am a theater queen so I have seen a lot of shows!

It was queer, body-positive and very open to new ideas. It may have been a little before its time, but I am glad it happened when it did.

Something tells me we would have performed better in terms of ticket sales if we had opened after 2020, but I really enjoyed it. People still come up to me to say they loved the show or how much they love the music of The Go-Gos. There are colleges and shows performing it still to this very day. Even though it was a few years ago, it feels like a lifetime!

WCT: Drag queens have been activists from the beginning. Are you possibly inspired by singer and activist Nina Simone's strong live performances with your tour?

Peppermint: Absolutely. I remember watching the Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? when it came out. I didn't know her full story until I saw it.

I think that is because pop culture wasn't interested in the plight of Black women like Nina or Grace Jones until they had hit songs. Their experience was shaped by the world around them, including racism and sexism. It all existed in the music industry at the same time.

I have experienced that and can identify with them. I think it is important if you get the calling, whether you are a singer, actor or entertainer, to connect with activism and do it. To work that into my music is really important and to talk to the queer community to let them know that queer people should be loved.

We have to let people that are not in the queer community know that we want the same things that everyone wants.

WCT: Amen! So, I saw the new film Fire Island this week and spotted you. How was being a part of the project for you?

Peppermint: I really enjoyed being in the movie. They called and asked me to jump in and I did. The island is a big part of my adulthood and a queer travel destination for a lot of people.

I was surprised this type of film hasn't been made before. If the movie had been made 20 years ago it might have been centered around a certain type of person or limited group of people. Being told in 2022 has made it very inclusive and diverse because the nature of the island has changed. Having so many fabulous Asian American cast members told a unique story of Fire Island.

My character worked at the Ice Palace Nightclub but it wasn't actually filmed there. It was a set in Brooklyn that looked just like the Ice Palace!

WCT: What other projects do you have in the works after the tour?

Peppermint: I will be working on Drag The Musical. We are workshopping it still and will hopefully by performing it in the fall.

After the solo tour, I will be focusing on writing a book.

WCT: Perhaps a story about your life?

Peppermint: Yes, I will be using my own experiences and life story. I hope my connection to the community will be a resource guide for people to read lessons from my life. I haven't written it yet but those are the plans.

WCT: You keep up the good work. Peppermint is now my favorite candy!

Peppermint: Mine too, even though I am eating gummy bears right now.

WCT: Wasn't Gummybear your last name while in drag in the past?

Peppermint: Yes, because those were my two favorite candies. I had to get a divorce from Mr. Gummybear, honey!

Snatch up your tickets to Letters Live! at PeppermintOnline.com or ThaliaHallChicago.com . Only those 17 and older can attend the concert on Saturday, July 2, at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m.


This article shared 431 times since Fri Jun 3, 2022
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