Bob the Drag Queen's honestly fantastic
by David-Elijah Nahmod
When RuPaul's Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen takes to the stage, the now famous moniker lets you know what you're getting, and it's all in good fun. "I think I'm universally funny," he said. "Funny is funny."
His audience is primarily gay, Bob tells Bay Area Reporter, but there are exceptions.
"I'm usually performing in gay bars," he said. "When I play theaters, I do get straight women."
Bob recalls the Season 8 Drag Race competition fondly, but surprisingly has little to say about it.
"It was an experience," she said. "It felt different at different times. Winning is honestly fantastic."
And what about RuPaul?
"RuPaul is an icon," said Bob. "She's fierce. I love RuPaul."
Bob said that he sees nothing wrong with Drag Race 's recent move from Logo to the more mainstream network VH1 (both networks are owned by Viacom). Once considered an LGBT channel, Logo now fills much of its schedule with classic sitcoms such as All in the Family, Bewitched, Roseanne, and other shows that appeal to gay viewers.
"A larger network means a larger audience," Bob said. "Drag Race may have outgrown Logo. But Logo is still a gay channel. The gay reality show Fire Island is coming to Logo soon."
Thanks to the Drag Race win, Bob has been able to launch a full-time career travelling around the country performing, and always arriving (to use his now-famous catch phrase) "purse first."
On Saturday March 18, he's starring alongside local drag superstar Peaches Christ in Legally Black at the Castro Theater. The show promises to be a wild crossdressing send-up of the 2001 film Legally Blonde, which made Reese Witherspoon a star. Bob said that he isn't too worried about audiences taking offense to the new show's title.
"I am a black person born and raised," he said. "I do real black things. There are a lot of stereotypes about us; that we're loud, that we have large sex organs. The play is about how people navigate around these things."
As with his put-it-all-on-the-table stage name, Legally Black promises to put these issues out there bluntly, albeit with a lot of good humor.
"People will probably shit in their pants," Bob says. "Peaches is a little nervous that someone might be offended by the show's title, but I don't give a fuck!"
Legally Blonde will also be shown as part of the presentation.
Now living in New York City, Bob the Drag Queen was born Christopher Caldwell in Columbus, Georgia 30 years ago. His comic style derives from his work in children's theatre, with an adult stand-up edge. An earlier stage name was Kittin Withawhip.
Since his Drag Race victory, as Bob the Drag Queen, Caldwell has made four music videos, and numerous live and TV appearances.
Bob said that he always enjoys trips to San Francisco.
"It's still a gay mecca," he notes. "I appreciate all the queens who came out of San Francisco, like Peaches, who is amazing!"
March will be a big month for Bob the Drag Queen in San Francisco. One week after appearing in Legally Black he'll be back, appearing at Public Works as hostess of Bob the Drag Queen's After School Special . The free event promises to be "everything that was fun about school. Only this time around, the shenanigans happen either above or below the bleachers."
The event is 21+ only, according to its Facebook page. Produced in conjunction with Impulse San Francisco, the After School Special will include music by local DJs as well as raffle prizes for concert and show tickets, including Lady Gaga and the musical Hamilton . The main After School event will be HIV prevention education, plus learning how to avoid other STDs.
"PrEP is great!" Bob said, referring to the HIV prevention drug. "Take it once a day and it reduces your risk of infection. It's quite the miracle drug. When used in conjunction with condoms, you're protected from all kinds of infections."
Bob noted that PrEP does not protect people from non-HIV STDs, and urges people to combine the pill with condoms.
While not claiming to be an expert, Bob wants to help get the word out on how people can stay healthy.
"I'm not a lecturer, a scholar, or a fountain of knowledge," Bob said. "I'll just share what I know. I'm an entertainer; professionals will be there."
Bob will surely be back in San Francisco soon for more appearances. While maintaining a busy work and travel schedule, Bob is currently working on a film called A Queen For the People , which he describes as "half comedy, half documentary."
"I'd like to be the ruler of the free world," said Bob. "Seriously, I don't have an 'end game' for my career. I just like to keep people entertained."
Bob the Drag Queen's After School Special, Saturday March 25, 1pm-6pm, at Public Works, 161 Erie St. at Mission. Free. www.publicsf.com