The Arts > Performance
The house that Tandi built
Beautiful advice from a reigning queen
Not only is Erica Andrews “the most beautiful drag queen in captivity” (to steal a line from her friend and collaborator, the hilarious and legendary Shady Lady), she’s also the one of the busiest. I caught up with Andrews during her Trashy Tranny Thirsty Thursday Revue, which was transformed last week into a fundraiser for Shady Lady, who recently lost her mother. By lip-synching to heartfelt ballads in lieu of pulsing dance tracks, the performers paid tribute to Shady — who’s basically the fairy godmother of SA’s drag scene. Among numerous ongoing projects, Andrews stars in Israel Luna’s 2010 film Ticked-off Trannies With Knives (a tale of hate crimes and high-heeled revenge), which has been selected to play the Seattle International Film Festival. Watch for screening info on the eponymous Facebook page.
So, tell me about this tour you’re taking. Where are you going and why?
First, I’ll be in Orlando for five days, I’m booked every year for gay days — it’s huge, and Disney World is gay all week. Then I fly out to Nashville for two days, where I’m booked to entertain and do a meet-and-great event. After that I go to Cincinnati for two days and Dayton for one day. I continue my tour to Chicago where I’m a special guest star at Miss Chicago Continental for one day. I fly back to Austin June 16, where I host a show every Wednesday at Oil Can Harry’s. I get back home June 17 to host my pageant, Miss Texas Continental, at Heat.
I remember that you used to do makeup for the Maury Povich Show. Are you presently working as a makeup artist for film or television?
Yes, I still do makeup, and I’m still working for Maury Povich when they’re in production.
Are you attending the Fort Worth screening of Ticked-off Trannies with Knives?
I won’t be able to make that screening due to a prior commitment.
We tried to get a copy to review for this issue, but it wasn’t possible. Please give our readers a “preview” of what we can expect, and tell us about the character you play. Do you knife anyone?
It’s a comedy-tragedy, very John Waters-inspired. It’s about a group of girls that meet some guys who bash them. The girls get revenge, and it’s something to watch! I don’t knife anyone, but I try to kick some butt.
Did you identify with the character?
Oh, yes. My character’s name is Emma Grashun. She’s flirty, forward, and a showgirl. I can relate somewhat, lol!
Any funny inside scoop about working with your co-stars?
Well one of the main girls is my best friend. We had a very long night filming, and it was her birthday, so we had snuck some wine in our purses, and at midnight while we were on break but still in a car for a scene, we opened a bottle and celebrated and carried on, not realizing we were still mic-ed, and the crew could hear us loud and clear. Busted! No liquor on the set. Oops!
You were fabulous in Trantasia. I watched it on cable “on demand” several times. How did you get involved in that film?
I was approached by the director when I competed for the World’s Most Beautiful Transsexual in Las Vegas.
Has it had much of an effect on your career as an entertainer?
It has definitely opened many doors for me, and I have been overwhelmed by the support and response the documentary got.
When you do a Google-image search for Erica Andrews, the first ones to pop up are from Pattaya, Thailand, where you won Miss International Queen. How was it that you came to represent Mexico in this pageant?
My grandma and mami are still there, and I go back as often as I can. Those are my roots, so I felt strong about my decision to represent Mexico.
I know you grew up in Mexico, but didn’t they care that you no longer live there?
They knew my background and had no problem with me representing Mexico.
Please share a story about what it was like preparing for the world’s biggest transsexual beauty pageant.
Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and it is! However, they have strong beliefs in culture and religion. For one, you don’t ever touch anyone’s head — it’s considered an insult and very disrespectful. Well, one of the contestants didn’t know this and at one of the dress rehearsals she saw a cute crew guy working hard, so she walked up to him, tapped him on the head and said, “Ahhh, you’re so cute,” and the whole entire theater went up in an uproar, and she looked liked she’d seen a ghost. She was shocked by the reaction, and they almost disqualified her. However, the look on her face was priceless. Later we talked and giggled about it. Much later, like when we got back to the U.S.A.
What did you do with the $10,000 you won?
I sent some to my family in Mexico, saved some, and paid bills.
I’ve been watching your YouTube videos. At one point, you mentioned the Octomom. I believe you were talking about your growing family of drag daughters. How many are there, and what are their names?
I lost count, lol! OK, I hope I don’t forget any or get in trouble, but here they are: Sasha, Janet, Roxxy, Sofia, Salma, Josephine, and Shawn Tylor.
What do you look for in a daughter?
A little bit of me.
Is the door to the House of Andrews open or closed at the moment?
I’ve had my tubes temporarily tied!
On the subject of drag mothers and daughters, how and where did you meet the your “mother,” Tandi Andrews?
I met her here in San Antonio through another great friend and mentor, Raphael Velasco. At the time she was working at the Wild Club.
At times, your performances border on the conceptual, including movie dialogue inserted into songs. Other than the Mommie Dearest mixed with Shirley Bassey’s “I (Who Have Nothing),” what are some similar mashups you’ve done for shows?
Transamerica, Jessica Rabbit, and I’m working on some new ones. I love to work in music with movie dialogue.
Are you mixing the music yourself?
I do most of the mix, but also get some help.
In my opinion, your impersonation of Mary Katherine Gallagher from Superstar was better than the real thing. Have you considered doing a Sarah Palin spoof?
I love Superstar! And Sarah is at the top of my list.
You mentioned “living life as a woman with your family’s support” in an interview I read. Have any of your family members come to your performances?
My sister is like my best friend, she has been to many of my shows. My mom saw me once in Mexico, and my brothers haven’t yet, but want to.
What else can you share about their support of your lifestyle?
My brother came with his wife to see my play Miss America: A Mexicanito’s Fairy Tale at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. They loved it. All of my nieces and nephews know Erica, and we spend as much time together as we can. We respect each other and love and support one another.
You listed Breakfast at Tiffany’s as your favorite movie. What’s your favorite line?
“I’m not Lula Mae anymore!” And “We’re alike, me and cat. A couple of poor nameless slobs.”
Your body is insane. What can you share with our readers about your workout regimen?
I try to eat what I like, but not too late or after my shows. I work four to five days a week. Performing — that’s my workout.
Any secrets you can share about getting the curves in all the right places?
No secrets, just Mexican food and hormones!
On Tyra, you mentioned dating an NBA player. Did the two of you ever go on a double date with Eva and Tony?
I love Eva. That would have been great!
Any chance this gentleman played with the Spurs? Or were you just pulling Tyra’s leg?
Also on Tyra, you mentioned that your mother knew all along that you were gay and that you wished she’d shared this with you when you were a 13-year-old boy named Eddie. Any advice for gay teens coping with coming out in this lovely state of ours?
Nowadays, we have so much more support than before, and the internet helps. But I’d say don’t be afraid, there are so many others like you. I’m here, and it’s all going to be OK. I think as adults it’s our responsibility to look for signs in our younger generation, signs that may say, “help me, save me, guide me, love me!”
Who makes your incredible costumes?
There are so many different, amazing, talented designers here in SA, and all over the U.S. I try to change it up as much as I can.
Do you sew at all?
I sew a little if I have to.
Are you still spending more on hair products than on gasoline?
It sounds like you’ll be away while SA’s celebrating Pride, is that accurate? Please tell our readers when and where they can witness the most gorgeous drag queen in captivity.
Wednesday nights I have a show at Oil Can Harry’s in Austin [11 p.m. and 1 a.m.]. I’m at Heat every Thursday night, my show starts at 11:45 p.m. Fridays, I work with Shady Lady at Heat as well, and that’s our ’80s retro show at midnight. Saturdays, I’m at Escala in Corpus Christi. I book all over the U.S. for different events and pageants. And people can visit the official Erica Andrews fan page for updates, videos, and info on upcoming pageants.
Thank you, Erica, I remain a true admirer of your talent and beauty.
Practice love, not labels. Con mucho amor, Erica. •