Linda in the Pyramid Club dressing room, 1991.
Linda’s Drag is about to Explode
The legendary queen, and nightlife personality, Linda Simpson is premiering her new show during the annual HOT! Festival at Dixon Place. Linda is taking us back in time with the show ‘The Drag Explosion,’ guiding us through“a photo slideshow of New York City’s momentous drag scene from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.” We asked Linda a couple questions about her latest show, NYC, Oprah and cunts…
Tell us about your first week in NYC? I was in culture shock — An innocent young thing from the Midwest new to the big city. This was many years ago, when New York was very unique and practically a foreign country.
Where are you from? Minnesota. It wasn’t terrible, but I left as soon as possible. I was eager to expand my horizons. From a very young age, I knew I wanted to live in New York.
Who inspires you? All sorts of people, as long as they have integrity and passion.
When did you put on your first dress? I have a photo from when I was about six-years-old in women’s garb. I can’t remember, but I guess my Mom must have let me play dress-up!
Why The Drag Explosion? How did this show come about? I think for a lot of people, even those that were there, the history of the drag scene of the late 1980s and early ’90s is kind of a muddle. I want to clarify what happened. Ultimately, “The Drag Explosion” is my story, but it also documents an entire subculture. Enough time has passed to comprehend and appreciate that it was an incredibly momentous and groundbreaking era.
Where did you store all of these images? They’re all in shoeboxes, some of which are really crumbling. I really need to buy archival boxes.
Do you consider yourself a photographer? I’m an amateur who happened to get lucky. When I was shooting the scene back in the day, a drag-queen higher power took over to produce some incredible shots.
Do you watch Rupaul’s Drag Race? Yes, it’s required watching. I enjoy it, even though the drag is mostly suburban.
Are you still in touch with Rupaul? The last time I ran into her was years ago in the West Village. If we saw each other now, it would be a friendly reunion. She and I were never bosom buddies, but we hung out in the same social circle.
Do you like the word cunt? It’s very appropriate in some circumstances. “I cunt hear you.”
Why is New York better than anywhere else in the world? Actually, it’s not better for everyone. Only a certain type of person can really appreciate New York’s energy and diversity. It’s stimulating and exhausting at the same time.
Who is your best friend? My 81-year-old mother. We talk to each other all the time and have a giggle.
What makes you happy? Working on creative projects, and completing them.
What advice would you give Oprah? Follow your heart!
Who do you think are the legendary queens? Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth.
Have you eaten a cronut? No, but it does sound tasty.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in NYC? A guy on the hood of a speeding car, smashing in the windshield as the driver was violently swerving to make him fall off. It was back when New York was very rough and I assumed it was some kind of drug-crazed incident.
Are you proud during pride? Yes, of course. But I must confess I haven’t gone to the parade in about five years. I find it a bit stale.
Who do you hate? I don’t think I totally hate anyone. But I do hate a lot of people’s cruel behavior.
When or where were you happiest? Definitely now. My youth is long gone, but the confidence and contentment that comes with aging has made me a much more happy person.