Sherry Vine

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Wednesday February 18, 2015
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Sometimes stardom comes to fledgling performers in the most unexpected ways. For actor Keith Levy, celebrity came when he donned a dress and started singing.

"Sherry Vine was a character I created in 1991 in Los Angeles," Levy said. "I was auditioning for commercial/film/TV roles and studying theater and looking for a performance outlet."

Levy said that he'd always been attracted to the idea of doing drag but wanted to do more than just lip synch records. The inspiration for Sherry came after he saw performances by Vaginal Creme Davis and Jackie Beat, who have decidedly different stage personas from most other drag queens.

Just who is Sherry Vine, we wondered?

"Sherry was a down-on-her luck showgirl with a heart of gold," Levy explained. "I knew I wanted to sing live and had been doing parodies out of drag for years. My biggest influence growing up was Carol Burnett, so Sherry is a mixture of comedy and trash and a sprinkle of Mrs. Wiggins."

Ms. Vine has since become a popular fixture on the New York City and Fire Island drag circuits. Singing parodies of popular tunes is her trademark. Madonna, Britney Spears, Rhianna, Adele, Lady Gaga, they've all gotten the treatment.

"It's funny that people think I must hate Gaga or the other artists I parody, but the opposite is true," Levy said. "I'm a big Gaga fan. I'm her oldest monster! I live for Madonna! It's just the song I'm parodying. I'm not making fun of the artist!"

Sherry Vine had her own series on Here TV: She's Living For This ran for two seasons.

"It was a variety show," Levy said. "Total Carol Burnett meets Saturday Night Live meets Laugh-in !" Some of drag's biggest names graced the show's soundstages: Jackie Beat, Lady Bunny, Bianca Del Rio, Candis Cayne, Varla Jean Merman, and even one non-drag icon: Blondie's Debbie Harry. The show lives on over at Hulu and on YouTube, where 's YouTube page has gotten over 13,500,000 hits.

"It makes me feel gay!" exclaimed 's alter ego, speaking of her impressively high channel views. "I'm so proud of all the people who worked on those videos; it really is a family and a team."

Sherry Vine has performed in San Francisco before, and is close friends with Heklina. The two have worked together at Trannyshack. But the Oasis show marks 's solo debut in the City.

"I did shows with Trannyshack from the very beginning," Levy said. "It was such an exciting time because there were no rules for drag and it was a full rainbow of different looks and shows. I love working with Heklina!"

So what exactly will Sherry's Oasis show entail?

"I have my classic parodies that a lot of people have seen live or in my YouTube videos," Levy explained. "But I also have plenty of new ones no one out there has seen: Taylor Swift, Katy Perry. I try to stay current and am constantly working on new parodies, I mean constantly!"

Levy said Sherry has tried to parody songs she doesn't care for, but that it didn't work; it was impossible to even listen to the songs.

Levy tells us that Sherry's solo debut at Oasis will also be a celebration; the performance takes place on Levy/Sherry's birthday.

"I'm really excited!" Levy exclaimed. "I can't believe that I've never done a solo show there! It's about fucking time! I am going to bring it good, San Fran, so get ready! I just want people to laugh. That's all I care about in life!"

Sherry Vine's Birthday Bash, Monday, February 23, 8pm. $20. Oasis, 298 11th St. 795-3180.