The summer of 2009, beyond the thuggish Republicans and the craven Democrats, was rather a drag. By which I mean the Logo show RuPaul’s Drag Race created an online contest to find qualified, sufficiently fabulous entrants for its next season. Thanks to our hyper-networked world, I was deluged with entreaties from various drag performers to support them. None captured my attention, heart and intelligence like Mimi Imfurst.
With a gun to my head, the pistol cocked and a gravelly voice demanding that I physically describe her, I would probably have to characterize Mimi Imfurst as “wizened Dutch whore meets ‘The Scream,’ with all apologies to Edvard Munch. There’s also a little bit of Dolly Parton thrown in for sass and trashy elegance, too. Speaking of trashy, there’s a real strain of irony in this Mimi video, submitted as part of the RuPaul Drag Race contestant process:
Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that Mimi is also a trained actor. (Yes, I do know Mimi’s real name, but in the interest of maintaining her and my integrity, I am keeping mum.) She is currently in early previews of a new comedy called The Diary of Anne Frankenstein.
Here’s her bio from the program:
Mimi Imfurst is one of New York’s most outrageous and celebrated drag performers. She is a 3 time Glammy Award HX Drag Queen of the Year Award and GaySocialites Award Nominee. She has appeared in regional and New York productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Hedwig), The Rocky Horror Show (Frank N Furter), and The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode (Natalie). Her TV/Film credits include: MTV’s Jackass, The Howard Stern Show, The Real World, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Entertainment Tonight. She has even appeared in the National Enquirer. She has hosted numerous high profile events including: The Broadway MissCast Pageant, Bingo for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS, The Live finale for Rupaul’s Drag Race and the live tapings for LOGO’S Big Gay Sketch Show. She currently hosts weekly shows at Barracuda, Therapy, DTox, Lavish Lounge and Evolve Bar. Her acclaimed holiday show about the Virgin Mary is now in its 4th year. In previous years, her shows — Mary, Like a Virgin; A Very Mary Christmas; and Holy Shit: Its Christmas! have awarded her both praise and controversy. Her new show plays Dec. 6 and 13 at the Laurie Beechman Theater. For more information visit VirginMaryLive.com and MimiImfurst.com.
As one might imagine from the title of the show, written by Ilya Sapiroe and directed by Elizabeth Elkins, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein isn’t for the feint of humor. Just consider the scenario, which follows Anne,
a lowly hermaphroditic Franken-girl with big dreams and an even bigger diary, as she comes of age in the attic of an abandoned Nazi genetics laboratory. After years of peaceful anonymity, Anne’s privacy comes unraveled when her cruel and twisted creator, Dr. Gustav Frankenstein, returns to the defunct compound with an eye toward his most fiendish experiment yet Œ†the resurrection of Adolf Hitler!
Mimi, quite naturally, plays Anne.
So here’s the 411: The Diary of Anne Frankenstein opens Oct. 4 and runs through Nov. 8 at 13th Street Rep (50 W. 13th St., bet. 5th and 6th Ave.). For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com.
And now, 5 questions Mimi Imfurst has never been asked:
1) What’s the most perceptive question anyone has ever asked you about your work?
Unfortunately, usually I am performing in a dark bar where people are shit-faced, so the most perceptive question I usually get asked is “Do you know where I can get some drugs?” But once in a while someone will actually sit down and ask you something meaningful.
The most perceptive comment I ever got came after leaving my apartment one night. Its not uncommon to be heckled by some asshole with an IQ that mirrors the size of his…shoes. This one night I was lookin’ good and a gentleman was particularly perceptive: “You look like a girl! You’re a dude?,” he asked. Well, thank you — a) that was the goal and b) why, yes, I am.
2) What’s the most idiotic question anyone has ever asked you about your work?
When I did my first Virgin Mary show, Mary, Like a Virgin, I got tons and tons of hate-mail. The most common question I was asked in the letters was “Would you ever write a play about a Jew or Muslim holy figure?” It always shocked me as such an uninformed question because a) Mary was a Jew, and b) the Virgin Mary is mentioned many many more times in the Koran than in the Bible. It’s just proof to me that some people are just pretty stupid.
But then again we’re talking about the type of people who have a hard time believing President Obama is an American but don’t have any problem believing that Jesus actually walked on water.
3) What’s the weirdest question anyone has ever asked you about your work?
I once got in a cab and the cab driver asked me if I was another performer. This other drag queen has a reputation for sleeping around with cab drivers in exchange for free rides, so I just immediately started laughing. I guess it’s not that weird, but when you make a living moving your lips to someone else singing, ain’t nothing seem too weird. I mean, have you read the synopsis for The Diary of Anne Frankenstein?
4) According to the press materials, you’re playing a “lowly hermaphroditic Franken-girl with big dreams and an even bigger diary.” Darling, is this role really a stretch for you?
Well, yes and no. I think I got the part because the director and author had seen a clip of me doing Anne Frank in one of my bar shows. I don’t have any interest in doing the usual run-of-the-mill drag impersonations — Barbra, Judy, Cher — I’m much more fascinated by the untold stories. Thats why I do impersonations of Anne Frank, Jon Benet Ramsey, Anna Nicole Smith, Terri Schaivo, and, of course, my biggest fascination, the Virgin Mary. And when I saw the casting notice for the play, I knew that this part was the role I was born to play.
Most people dream of playing Mama Rose on Broadway, and although I’d probably give Patti LuPone a run for her money, playing the biproduct, forgive the pun, of a failed Nazi experiment just seems more natural to me.
5) Reliable sources tell me you’re theater trained and have a stunning voice. Can you talk about how your training has informed your persona? Have there ever been situations in which your theatrical powers have been tested? How do you ensure you never break character?
I always feel like I’m training. Acting in drag is such a specific thing and it’s not like you can major in it. It’s something you can only learn by doing. I feel like everything has helped prep me for this role. Whether it’s a traditional character or one of the drag roles that I’ve played like Hedwig and Frank N Furter, it has all helped to shape this character.
I’m so used to working in bars, where you really have to demand that people pay attention because drunk people are really easily distracted, that I feel like that has helped hone my ability to control what I’m doing on stage and make people want to watch.
The cast of Anne Frankenstein is so talented, too, that they make me feel tested every day. There are some brilliant comedic performances going on, and they challenge and stretch my limits every day. It’s really hard to not break character because they’re so damn funny!
6) You’re a three-time Glammy and HX Drag Queen of the Year nominee, and you were, of course, a major contender for RuPaul’s Drag Race. I voted for you unfailingly, but you didn’t get on the show. If you were standing before Ru right now and you had one thing to say, what would it be? (Hint: You can’t say, “You better work!”)
I think other people were more disappointed that I didn’t make it on than I was. It would be a great opportunity and I know I’m good at what I do, but let’s be honest, they’re casting a show — they gotta have one of each type, they need racial diversity and regional diversity, and it all has to make for good TV. If I didn’t get on the show this season it’s likely because I didn’t fit into the puzzle this time around. Maybe you’ll see me on Season 3.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of other things to do to keep me busy. I have five weekly bar shows in NYC, one weekly performance in Philadelphia, I’m writing my 2009 Virgin Mary show (www.virginmarylive.com), I’m recording a single, I’m working on a new video project and I’m playing Anne Frankenstein in this funny new play. I’d suggest buying a ticket so that when I do get on RuPaul’s Drag Race — or hell, on my own damn TV show — you can say “I saw her when!” RuPaul said, “You better work!” And honey, I do, a lot. They don’t call me the hardest-working bitch in show business for nothing.