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Alexis P Bevels first came to fame as a camper (and eventual winner) of Season 1 of Camp Wannakiki.
Since then she has continued to refine her craft as one of Chicago’s premier drag queens. You might also recognise her as a co-presenter on the youtube show IMHO: The Show. Here, alongside Darby Lynn Cartwright, she reviews episodes of reality TV shows (think Ru Paul’s Drag Race and its many spin-offs, Slag Wars (RIP), and even Eurovision). But, long before all of this she was a theatre major who started to become interested in drag after getting a little carried away applying make up in a show she was starring in. She started to explore her drag character, and her gender expression, at the bars in her new home city of Chicago. And, the one that holds the most precious memories is Spin. https://youtu.be/DSR4hbvi5DkSpin was a multi-level, 9,000 square-foot, super club in what was then called Chicago’s Boystown district. Opening in the 90s it quickly established itself as the place to go for cheap drinks, house music, and wet t-shirt competitions before closing in 2014. And it was here that Alexis entered some of her first drag competitions, made friends, and even got a job as security guard! We caught up (out of drag) to talk all about it. Listen to the episode now to find out more!
Alexis P Bevels 0:00
They were throwing on maybe a lipstick, a wig and a dress and being super like masculine like, like annoyed about it. Meanwhile, I’m like gluing on lashes putting on eyeshadow. The director did tell me like I have to, you have to pull it back. You have to calm down because you’re looking like the daughters and you need to look like a boy in a dress and I was like fine.
I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talked to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they used to know. Spin was a multi level 9000 square foot super club in what was then called Chicago’s Boys Town district. opening in the 90s, it quickly established itself as the place to go for cheap drinks, house music, and wet t shirt competitions. Before closing in 2014. I caught up with Alexis P. bevels. To find out about her first days in drag serving drinks on rollerskates and being one of the founding members of the coolest gang in town. And I say this without the slightest hint of any sarcasm. The Drag Mafia.
How does it work when you are a homebody who is also a drag queen?
Alexis P Bevels 2:06
Well, that I mean back when now do you mean?
Well, just just in general? Yeah.
Alexis P Bevels 2:13
Um, it’s, let’s see, well, it’s it’s after the gig is over. Go Go right home, have any drinks after. I mean, I’ve certainly done that. I’ve certainly had my nights where I stay out as long as I can. Usually at the beginning, when I wasn’t really working, I was kind of just trying to get into the drag scene, you know, you’d go out, you’d have drinks with friends. And you’d maybe get to do a amateur contest here and there, and then you’d celebrate. Now it’s now it’s more of a gig life, like go do the gig. Usually, I’ll have a few drinks because I like to host I like to do. One of my things I do most is Bingo. So I have some drinks while I do Bingo. And then maybe I’ll have one or two after but I usually just go straight home, take the makeup off, get the shoes off as soon as possible.
But do the like promoter does not have like a level of expectation that you kind of hang around and flirt with people and
Alexis P Bevels 3:11
some places do yeah, some places do. Not many of the things that I know many of the things that I
Alexis P Bevels 3:21
get to work on. Yeah,
time when you were there, like can you go now? Is that what you mean?
Alexis P Bevels 3:29
No, no. Yeah, I mean, okay, so sometimes Yeah, like if they’re there to like, host the evening. Um, yeah, yeah, I’m expected to stay for a while but then as soon as I like I’m good to go. I’ll usually leave I’ll usually leave well that’s why I’m a homebody is because I’m so I can be like, extroverted when I’m dragging out the gigs. And I can, you know, have a lot of that energy and then I need to come home and be alone by myself. So I can recharge.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like, I’m totally on the same page. I just, I need some advice. Because Okay, with with me, if I do that, and I like play a gig. And then I’m leaving. I feel so guilty. Do you say goodbye to people? Or do you just disappear?
Alexis P Bevels 4:18
Oh, um, I’ll usually say goodbye. Yeah, I’m thinking about in the instance of like, I do bingo a lot. So yeah, I’ll usually will after it’s done. I’ll stay for one drink. And, like, right after it’s done on my way to the bar, I’ll just kind of walk around the room, and just say bye, thank you. I mean, actually, luckily, now that COVID is happening, you can’t get too close to people. So way, I’ll say thank you for coming. And then I’ll kind of make you do around around the room. Thank you for coming. If anybody wants a picture, you know, I don’t say that. But if they do, you know, that’s an opportunity. And then I’ll usually like sit with a friend or to you know, have a drink and then I’ll leave but I don’t feel bad for Leaving, like if you go into your gig, if you do your job well, and they don’t explicitly say like, we want you to stick around after that’s part of the gig, then don’t feel bad about leaving. Do your gig well and then
go home. Right? I’m just dripping with guilt about things. Oh, me too. Don’t don’t
Alexis P Bevels 5:19
feel guilty about other stuff. Like, you know, like, what? Like, you who you are on the inside. But don’t feel guilty about Could I feel any more guilty about? How do I know? I know. Oh, we’re two peas in a pod, aren’t we? Yeah. I, well, that kind of helps is like, I already feel like a piece of shit not to get deep. But like, I did my job. Well, I’m gonna go home. If you need me to stay longer, you can pay me more. That’s where I am.
Well, that yeah, that’s the best attitude. I think like, it’s not even like, restricted to gigs. Like, if I’m at a party, if I’m anywhere where there’s other people. I just feel like I’m letting people down if I leave, but actually, there has to be really
Alexis P Bevels 6:06
Oh, well, they probably I mean, not not to say this about you specifically. But in general, I think probably people don’t even notice. Everyone is so not and that’s not shade. Truly, I think everyone is shot just as wrapped up in their personal stuff as you are. So I have the same thing. I’ll text, you know, my best friend and she won’t respond. And I’ll be like, Oh my god, she’s mad at me. I have let her down in some way. And then two hours later, she’s like, Oh, I was taking a nap. I love you. What’s up? You know what I mean? It’s like, you do that to yourself? Don’t do it.
So people aren’t devastated when I leave them. Is that what you’re saying? That’s what I’m saying. Yeah. And actually have talked to I have to talk to all your friends. They wanted me to tell you. Yeah. Thanks for Thanks for letting me down gently. You’re welcome to appreciate it.
Alexis P Bevels 6:57
No, no, no, no, no, no. You’re talking about in like in like a social settings. Right.
I’m just talking about a no settings. Really? I mean, I struggled to get off the bus. Because I borrowed everywhere. Yeah.
Alexis P Bevels 7:12
I worry that everyone’s mad that I’m there in the first place. They want me to if I can just get out quickly and quietly that’s best for everybody.
Oh, good. No one. No one looked at me. Just ignore me. Don’t don’t perceive me. I don’t exist. I don’t have pronoun. Yeah, we are. So drac you practiced at home? You learn your craft and man lol started. lol. Where are we saying lol?
Alexis P Bevels 7:47
Because I did not practice that. Whoa, okay. Wait, did you practice on the bus? I didn’t practice I I thought I’m a theatre actor. I am the shit. I can throw on a dress in a wig. I can try to do my makeup. And I’m just gonna go for it. And yeah, that’s what I did. The first thing I ever did was rhaskos. And then I would kind of put more work into my luck and
Okay, you know, every time on a level of one two busted. How did you look on that first night?
Alexis P Bevels 8:20
Oh my god, I’ll send you a picture. Well, thank God I was very thin and useful looking already. Um, I would say if the if the camera was not in focus, I looked like a four. But if it was in focus, yeah, it was probably like a two or three and that’s being generous. Truly. Oh, wait, one. One is good. Yeah, okay, that’ll get let me word because you’re in London. And so it’s not metric or whatever. I do matter. Okay, so we’re carrying over the three and then we’re getting on. We’re taking we’re taking away five. So if, if if I was going to be honest, I would say it was an eight. If 10 is the worst, I think I was an eight. That’s been generous. This was so bad. Yeah, for your first time. I mean, if you’re if it’s your first time and drag, you can, you can look as busted as you want your students takes a lot of courage just to even try and this
is the thing like sir Okay, so I’m going to I’m going to start sounding old timey now. But like, you know, in the olden days before the social media saturation, it was fine. It looked like it was fine if you look busted because no one had any receipts and you could just like learn as you went. Well, that’s the thing
Alexis P Bevels 9:35
is you don’t know what you don’t know. And truly, you can watch all the videos in the world. You truly don’t know what you’re gonna have your face and your features are gonna look like so yeah, you’re gonna be busted the first time but there’s power in that. And, and here’s the thing. You can look super busted, straight people and I’m sorry to do a blanket statement but straight people do not know The difference and they do not care if you are in drag in any capacity, they will go hype on you. They love it. They do not
care. And you you’re not like being specific about the gender of these heterosexual people. Yeah, just any heterosexual person.
Alexis P Bevels 10:19
Well, probably ladies, but you know, any heterosexual person? Yeah. They’re like, it’s like clowns to them. I feel like, I kind of feel like I do actually do well, like I told I’ve said 1000 times I do Bingo. A lot. And mostly it’s for like straight neighbourhood people who don’t, who aren’t in spaces with drag queens a lot. And I like to think that we’re like Barney, where we’re big, we’re colourful, we’re funny. We’re non threatening. You know? The guys don’t think we’re gonna hit on that. Well.
Alexis P Bevels 10:53
Alexis P Bevels 10:54
I do hit on them just for fun. But, you know, we’re non threatening. We’re silly. We’re clowns. It’s fun. I like to think of myself as popular among straight people. It’s like, kind of like the gateway drag.
Yeah, they’re my big audience. And and so you did your first performance at Ross goes? Yes. Yeah.
Alexis P Bevels 11:14
My first time in an amateur competition was at Ross goes and then spin started one. And that’s when I, that’s when I that’s where I kind of met some friends that we started doing drag together. So we would kind of haunt spin
somewhat regularly. So when you go to like, an amateur night, do you dress in drag before you go out? Or is there a dressing room there?
Alexis P Bevels 11:40
Yes, uh, usually, we would do it for amateur nights. You do it at home, and then you show up at that time, you had to show up with your CD. That’s a cop compact. It’s for your listeners. It’s like a small record. What is it and how does it work? They have like a tiny record player. And then you give them the CD. And when it’s your turn you they just like turn the record on. I’m not sure how it works, actually. But I’m involved in their lasers. Yeah, laser desk, you give them your laser desk. And then, and then if you win, you win a little money. Yeah. And then sometimes if you won, I know I spend if you won, usually we wouldn’t be able to come back and be a part of the actual show. And there was dressing rooms, but the dressing rooms were like, if you’re lucky, they blocked off the downstairs bathroom. If not mostly you were just in a basement with all these like, soda machines. making noises trash. Power pallet. Yeah. Hands and bottles of beer and yeah, yes. Yeah. very glamorous, very glamorous. One. One card table with a with a mirror. turned on its side along here. No lights. And lots of smells. Whoo. Talk to the smells. Um, no. Can we not? Lock them out?
Okay, huh? Huh? Ah, um, yeah, so, and then so like getting ready in drag. Getting in a taxi? Maybe?
Alexis P Bevels 13:26
Oh my god. Yes. At the time, I did have a car. So sometimes I would get ready. If I could get a friend or a roommate to drive me That was my prefer preference. That was my preference. This was really even before Uber and Lyft in Chicago, or at least before I could afford it. But yeah, sometimes I would get ready I would get ready at home to the best of my ability and I would drive there and I would be nervous at the time I’d be like, Oh my god, I hope I don’t get pulled over. You know, cuz I’m in full dry I you know, I would get in full I’m very much like if I can, I will get in full drag. From the time I leave my house until the time I come back. I don’t really like to carry a lot of bags. So that’s why I do that.
Ah huh. Practical. And, and then but then saying Yeah, what is that feeling then when you like aren’t used to being in drag, but you’re going out in public and drag.
Alexis P Bevels 14:27
It was kind of thrilling. It was kind of thrilling to kind of present in this fabulous you know, exuberant way and people kind of people definitely treat you different. You know, not to be self deprecating, but Hawkeyes who would never look at you before, look at you differently. They want to talk to you and be your friend and buy you drinks. And I remember one time specifically, though, I wanted to go see a friend show like an hour away in Indiana. I live in Illinois. And I also wanted to do the amateur drag competition that night. So I just got dressed in my theatre finest. And I went to this small community like regional community theatre in Indiana. And I saw a 42nd Street in full drag sitting in the audience in like a beautiful like, very least arena, Cheeto wrap dress. And I’m sure I looked so busted, but it was very thrilling. It was very exciting to get to do that. And they were all old people anyway, so I figured they couldn’t see me.
So were you one of those annoying people who sat in front of someone and then had this massive hair?
Alexis P Bevels 15:42
No, I didn’t know about hair yet. So it was definitely a flat shake and go. I feel bad though. I was like, I am sticking out like a sore thumb. I was eating like, I wonder if the actors can see me because I definitely I’m pulling focus. At least I’m trying to.
He said no. Like, do you do you? Very I’m just asking like really basic questions. I love to like when you have a wig on, are you not like super aware of the fact that you have a wicker? Like, how could you sit through a show?
Alexis P Bevels 16:13
Oh, yeah, yeah, well, I’m sure what I’m sure I was uncomfortable. In fact, I know it was because I was in the full thing. I don’t know that I knew about corsets yet. So I don’t think I was wearing Of course it. But I was definitely wearing tights. That’s uncomfortable. I was definitely wearing heels.
Alexis P Bevels 16:29
tights. Like Have you ever tried them? No. They’re awful. Is it not? Like it’s terrible. Because not only I mean, when you’re when you do it, a lot of a lot of girls wear a lot of pairs of tights. So it smooths out any lines and smashes things down. You know, like pads like what things gent genitalia? Any kind of protrusion? It’s but so a lot of people you were like three, four, fair, three, or four or five upwards of that number of tights. But it squishes your toes. So by the end of the night, your toes are like curled. It’s awful. What hat Why? Why does it do that? Because they’re pulling, they’re so tight, and they’re pulling. And you’re wearing so many pairs, it’s
just like, trim the toes off, can you because then it will start to
Alexis P Bevels 17:27
I guess some people do. There’s got to be a way around it. I just do it. Now I do it where I don’t you know, I wear big dress skirts and dresses. So I don’t have to wear that many. And I just shaved my legs.
And, and so Okay, so you’ve got you’ve got in a car, someone’s driven you they’re looking through the door into spin. What happens?
Alexis P Bevels 17:52
Well, there’s a bouncer and the person that checks your ID. And I think towards the How does that work for a drag queen? I know I always think about that. It’s like, if you’re in drag, they don’t really check. I mean, luckily I was of age. But um, yeah, how do they even know it’s you like? Yeah, I guess? I don’t know. I guess if they really care, they can ask me something. I don’t think they did. And then of course, after a while, once I was there for a long time, but the first time I think they probably would check my ID. And I would get annoyed because i don’t i’m very impatient. And I’m a beautiful drag queen. So like let me in, um, spin used to have dollar drink nights, which are why probably we went there so much every day. Like literally, you could get a drink for $1 and as many as you wanted, like a well mixed cocktail. Yeah, walking in. There’s a bar on the right. There’s like there’s videos playing like music videos, which were fine. But then there was another bar on the other side. And that’s where the dance floor and the stage was. And there were stairs over here that when I first started going there, the stairs just went up to like nothing. That area was an open stairs to my right. But it was it was all about going in the back in the dark room where the there was no windows and it was like dance floor. There was another bar there was a stage. Yeah, that’s pretty big. It was big. It was big. Yeah. And if you were checking in for the drag, like show, sometimes you could be able to go even down the stairs into the basement where they had bathrooms and hang out and get ready down there.
Um, and so do you just like rock up and just say like I want to perform tonight. Here’s my CD. Here’s my name and then your name. Yeah, so Just like an open mic. Yeah, absolutely. And what was your first performance?
Alexis P Bevels 20:06
Oh, God, I think I did. Jessie J. Mama knows best. which at the time I was super into Jessie J. I think that was like our first or second album.
Alexis P Bevels 20:17
I was super into that song. It was okay. It went fine. I don’t think it was the most popular single off the album.
Alexis P Bevels 20:30
But of course, I’m theatre. I’m like, Can you just why isn’t everyone gagging over this amazing voice? That I’m not even singing to. So that was probably met. But I think the first time there was like five girls there. Yeah, there were because there was five girls. And then it was fine. It was all about audience applause. Right, whoever did the best audience whatever cheered the most for. But I did mama knows best. And then the second round, you had to spin the wheel. And the wheel ended on a number and the number court corresponded to a song and they would just start playing and you would just have to lip sync it. And I got firework by Katy Perry. And that’s when I really came alive. Because I knew it. A I knew the word. And I was just kind of like acting. Acting. You might even be able to see this on YouTube. Please, nobody go try to find it.
So were you acting as the plastic bag?
Alexis P Bevels 21:35
Yeah, I was. And thank you for knowing that. I was like, I was floating through the air. I was kind of getting caught up in the trees. It was fun. It was really a beautiful moment. And what what logo Did you have on you? Thank you. It was just where’s the thank you over and over again. Okay. Okay, so yeah, I’m kinda like, straight out, like a takeout bag. I imagine if I was a plastic bag, I would be a takeout bag that says thank you a lot.
Do you think there might be an online quiz that will determine this once and for all? I think that we probably just created and BuzzFeed hit us. We could get on their payroll coming up with quizzes. Yeah, he has to brag a year.
Alexis P Bevels 22:28
Yeah, yeah, the options are Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And then the subway one that’s too thin for anything. Except for a subway bag. Oh, do you have the subway ones that is just like, long? Yeah, they’re like almost newspaper, a plastic bag. Like they just fit a sandwich. And maybe a bag of chips. And if you dare, if you dare even try this is a message to any subway workers that may be listening to your show. If you ever Jane to put my cold soda bottle into the bag with my hot sandwich. What do I do what? I will not I won’t do anything but I will go home and be mad. And I will take it right back out of the bag.
Alexis P Bevels 23:13
Alexis P Bevels 23:15
Right. You’re squishing the sandwich. You’re making my hot sandwich cold with my cold soda bottle. And you’re weighing it down. No, just give me the bottle.
Oh, okay. So it’s a it’s a bottle. Okay. Okay, sorry. I was getting confused. Yeah, I thought it was like a cup with the lid on it. And I was thinking that LEDs going to come off. It’s going to go everywhere, but it’s a bottle. I’m okay with it. Carry on. Absolutely. Working we’re fighting. Do you wonder you know how there’s those plastic bags that are for wrapping paper? Oh, no. Roll. You have like a roll like to put up a wrapping paper rolling? I’m not gonna like let’s not labor this. You don’t know what I’m talking about?
Alexis P Bevels 24:03
Oh, no, I don’t think we do you mean like the shrink wrap that goes directly over it? Yeah, yeah. So like, I like it. I’m Brett like an umbrella bag. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, would you would that be you? Yeah, that’s good. That’s where I was headed. Yeah, you look very tall and slender.
And and useless for most of the year. But you catch a lot of water. When do you have like, you know, I don’t know if it’s where where have I seen it? Like in in like shopping malls or anything? Where? Yeah, it It wraps it for you now. You put your umbrella in under wraps it. Oh, man. It’s like super wasteful. Yeah. Like, like, like when you go to the airport and they’ve got like the machines that just wrap your suitcase in cellophane like 100 million times. Ah,
Alexis P Bevels 24:59
I’m not Okay, I might have seen that on the internet. I’ve never experienced it firsthand. I just don’t get it like just buy a padlock. Oh yeah. That makes sense. Well, we’re gonna come out with a line of padlocks and, and plastic bags and we’ll talk to BuzzFeed and we’ll see if they can afford us. What? What’s our logo gonna be? I have some I have some options. I can dm them after
that. How do we get our initials to make a word?
Yeah. All right. Cool. Well, you know, we’ll workshop that. Yeah, absolutely. I’m gonna stay. And so you came alive during firework.
Alexis P Bevels 25:49
I came alive during Firework and I said, You know what, this is my destiny. I am going to be a brilliant drag performer. And I’m gonna bring my theatre background into it. And that night, I won second place I had we brought my one friend with me. But I won the audience over and I got second place, which at the time was $100, which is a lot of money for a poor American American dollars. Yeah. So a lot of what did you think I thought what you meant when you said, I just need to get out here in London. I mean, mainly, I’m clarifying for your American listeners, because we’re dump. No, it was and then that was kind of like, I kind of took that as a sign like, Oh, I’m going to do this again. I’m going to get first place and I’m going to keep going.
And who did get first place and do we need to send hate their way?
Alexis P Bevels 26:49
I don’t remember. So it probably wasn’t anybody that we need to send hate by just a flash a Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, no, yeah, there. Yeah, no, no,
we don’t need to worry about that. But say this. We’ll okay. So was this a regular fixture?
Alexis P Bevels 27:08
Yes. And actually, I know, I know that. I’m here to talk about spin. But I do should clarify. I should clarify that that was at Ross goes. Oh, oh, okay. The wheel was at Roscoe. I’m sorry. I led you down that path. Spin had its own beautiful fixtures too. They had dollar drink night. They had a night and after actually, as I was becoming more and more spin regular. A regular contest in Trent. They started booking some of the girls that would do well to be shot girls, and we would walk around on Saturday nights in drag with a tray of ice cream of fireball flavoured ice cream shots. They would have like, a fireball taste like is that a drink? I don’t know. fireball is a spicy cinnamon whiskey. Okay. And it’s very much um, it goes back and forth in America of being like a fun thing that we like to do, ironically, and also like a trashy thing. Like, how could you drink that? That’s garbage. Because it’s truly a cinema is a cinnamon whiskey. It’s like, yeah, I can’t believe it. But they would cinnamon, cinnamon whiskey, like red Hots. Yeah. And they would, and they would put it in a soft serve machine, we would literally pour, we would do it, the drag queens would pour jugs of it into a soft serve ice cream machine. And then we would squirt it out. And we would put it in little cups and we would take them around. And we would I think we would sell them for $1 as well. They loved dollar bills there. And what would happen is we do one tray. We’d get drunk, we’d go back up to the little ice cream area. And we would just like drink and Kiki and sometimes we would just do that. Like I’m putting for the for the readers at home and I’m I’m doing a acting move where I’m pulling the soft serve ice cream thing and letting it like drip into my mouth.
I don’t think you’re doing the drip into your mouth thing. But can you do it again? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I like how, okay, so this is this is me and me worrying too much. But how stressful is it carrying a tray of glasses. And it’s sweaty. Or
Alexis P Bevels 29:35
they will Oh, they didn’t trust us with glasses. These were paper cups. These were dicks like paper cups. A tiny, tiny little shot cups. Sometimes they would have actual cones, like ice cream cones, like tiny mini ones. And we would put those in like a thing a handler. It was a little stressful because there were stairs involved and I was in heels somehow. I think I think I would do roller skates at that point. Sometime. So here’s my thing is I’m lazy at heart. And I don’t like to wear. I don’t like to wear heels for a very long time. But I don’t really want to wear flats publicly.
Alexis P Bevels 30:12
So I’ll wear
Alexis P Bevels 30:13
roller skates, which are basically flats with wheels. And I will just be in roller skates and I have decent balance. So I would just be in roller skates all night.
And you’ve always stayed up, right?
Alexis P Bevels 30:28
Yeah, actually, yeah. When I’m just standing or moving about I’m fine. When I two times I have fallen on on my face and roller skates during performances, to sometimes I’ll give them a spin should we talk about them? No, I will say I don’t this isn’t really my story. But I saw it happen. There was a girl there. And she was drunk. And in between the first bar and the back dance bar I mentioned there were two steps up. And she was kind of bumbling around drunk. And then I looked at her and she was kind of standing there. And then I looked away and I heard a thud she had fallen and cracked her tooth a little bit on to the stairs, like her face, hit the stairs. And it was really scary. And she tipped her tooth. She’s fine. Now, she’s still distract. But that would that was a night there was lots of late nights like that, because the drinks were all $1 there. We would just go there and get drunk. And sometimes we would perform sometimes we wouldn’t. There was they did this and it wasn’t for drag queens. They did a shower contest. I think on Wednesdays, when they would bring an actual shower. Like something you might find in a trailer or a cabin. It was it was like a plastic two walls and then like a tray underneath. And they would hook up a showerhead on the top of the stage. And people would go in there and do a dancing contests, they would sometimes do it mostly in their underwear. I did it once where I did it in drag, I was the first person to ever do it and drag and I wore a bathing suit. And a bathing like a swim cap. And I brought an umbrella with me and I just open the umbrella under the shower. I’d like to spray to the audience but they loved it. That was really fun. I do miss that it was very much like late 90s, early 2000s like stuff you can’t really get away with now because everyone’s PC and as we should be but like what t shirt contests and wet white underwear contests and things that don’t really fly anymore. That was very much spin.
And everyone was too drunk to to object. And and you said before that through spin you made a community of friends. Yeah,
Alexis P Bevels 33:02
yeah. I, one night I was there just kind of supporting and I, during the amateur drag contest. I wasn’t performing, but I was there out of drag. And I saw this girl and she was really funny. And she was really beautiful. And I was like, I went up to her and I was like, Oh my god, I loved you. You are so great. And she was like way I know you we go to college together. I was like what she’s like Nate, and I was like, Oh my god, of course I know you what. And then she was like here coming my friends and I went over and there was a group of girls and we were all like in the beginning stages of playing with drag. And so I just kind of we all started hanging out together. It was very much the blind leading the blind. We none of us knew what we were doing. None of us had any inclination of how to do drag well, or makeup or anything. But we all hung out together and got drunk and there was even a time when they call when I did not ever sign off on this name but I didn’t not sign off. So whatever. But they call we called ourselves the drag mafia. I know your face looks embarrassed for me and it’s good
manner. I mean, it’s not embarrassing, but like why are you? I mean, no.
Alexis P Bevels 34:24
Yeah. Well mafia denotes like, I to me mafia denotes like, we are the baddest bitches. And we weren’t. We were like, We were like the Teletubbies going around telling everyone we were the sopranos like it was terrible. Very, very current references for you there. But we were having a lot of fun. We were having a lot of fun and I actually I still talked to some of the girls. I think they all have quit drag except for me. And then the girl that kept her to she still does drag, but everyone else has stopped. And why do you think that is? Um, I think probably it’s a mixture of, I think it’s a mixture of a bunch of different things like, I think a lot of Well, I have quite a few of them moved away to LA to pursue different variations of being in Hollywood and that life. I think that others just kind of realised, like to actually do drag, it’s a lot of investing money and time. Or just the kind of the newness and the fondness wore off. I don’t know. So what, what kept you at it? I love I love kind of being in charge of my own. I loved the creativity, I liked exploring the, the more femme side of me. So I think that’s what kept it going. But I also kind of have always known that like this without being so dramatic lives, like, this is what I need to be doing. I need to be performing and telling stories. And I thought I was going to do that by doing theatre. But this is kind of a quicker way for me to get there. In addition to exploring my gender expression, which now i’m i’m still exploring, but I’ve been able to make drag a job for my profession. So yeah, and also always learning like, every time you do your makeup is a lesson. I’ve been doing a lot of hair, especially during this quarantine, I’ve been taking some online classes, and then I got sewing machine I’ve been sewing. So it’s just kind of like their I’m curious and artistic person, but there’s just so much to explore, and learn. So I think that’s what’s kept me kept me doing it. Also, I’ve learned that I have zero patience, when with authority figures, and with anyone else. So I think I’m like, Okay, I have to make this work because I can’t work for other people for more than six months. Terrible.
But in doing that and having to hustle all the time. Has there ever been times when you’ve just been like, I’m used up? I’m done?
Alexis P Bevels 37:27
No, I know. And for me, it’s because whenever, whenever I would feel like that, I would say it’d be like, Okay, I’m sick of makeup. Let me try. Let me do this. Let me try hair. Let me try and focus on hair. And you know, then I would turn out a bunch of wigs, you know, or I would start sewing more in turnout sewing. There’s just so many different areas of you know, well, let me think I’m sure there have been. No, I can say honestly, I haven’t ever been burnt out on drag. I’ve been burned out. Just kind of hustle wise when I’ve had to work other jobs. Like I worked at a lot of coffee shops throughout all of this. And I worked at a salon once and that was great for it was decent money. And it was decent. It was fun to get like free manicures. But other than that it was the worst job I’ve ever had in my entire life. So drag is kind of my retreat. Like when I’m burnt out on other things I like to come and focus on. Okay, I’m going to so I don’t want to say I’m going to do hair. I don’t want to do hair. I’m going to do nails or jewellery or, you know, sing Mm hmm.
So how did Spin help you develop your profession, your talent?
Alexis P Bevels 38:52
I Well, I got to know how bars work. We we spent a good like two or three years there. I would say weekly. Me and Me in the drag mafia. We were I mean, and we got kind of like there was a couple of times when they needed extra security for pride or you know, I did that one. So that was fun. What you were security? Yeah, they were like we needed an extra person for the night. And I’m like, I’ll do it if it’s paid. Mostly I just checked IDs at the door and I put ice in the urinals. Which was fun.
I mean, what a way to make the venue secure. I see your nose, but like you didn’t have training to be a security person. What would have happened if something went wrong?
Alexis P Bevels 39:44
You know what, I have a strange confidence in my self when it comes to de escalating situations. Which I probably shouldn’t have. But yeah, I feel like Um, I don’t know. I don’t know, truthfully, if anything really happened, I probably would have been like, should I do something like should we do? Like, security with the eyes like, yeah. Oh, that’s funny to think about.
Anyway, that’s me being super cautious
Alexis P Bevels
I love it. Well, Lemme see – to answer your question about how it’s furthered – I got to work with some cool people that at the time, speaking of Season 4, Dida Ritz , now a friend I would say. But she had just gotten back from Drag Race and Spin was kinda her home bar for a little bit and she would host some of the drag competitions – Dragzilla, that was one of her nights, and, you know, just getting to be around her. Phi Phi O’Hara – formerly known as Phi Phi O’Hara – just Jeremi. He was a Spin girl before he got on Drag Race, so getting these glimpses, and getting to share a dressing room with them every once in a while was really cool, and you got to, you know, you got to pick up tips and see how the girls worked. uh. Not monetary tips, educational tips. But, to see how the girls worked and how they behaved. I definitely considered getting a lesson from them, Dida especially, on professionalism and how to conduct yourself – even when times were messy. And they did – the drinks were only a dollar, so there were Sloppy times.
Ooh, tell me about it.
Alexis P Bevels
Oh god, let me try to think. I shared a little bit of juice before we started recording on another bar
And don’t worry, I’ll put that in the show notes
Alexis P Bevels
I Don’t remember, I think that I would get too wasted, and then I don’t remember any of the messiness. I don’t think that I was ever asked to leave that bar, but I know for sure that some of my Drag Mafia sisters were, just get like wasted and asked to leave?
By security guard Alexis Bevels?
Alexis P Bevels
By me, yeah, I was security, and I had to say ‘hey, do mind if… could you just come with me?’
And so, do you remember hearing about it closing?
Alexis P Bevels
Yeah, oh gosh, where was that? Well, I know from a personal journey I was starting to get booked in other bars right when we heard about Spin closing. And, when it closed it actually stayed a gay nightclub. Now I think it’s a restaurant
A gay restaurant, or…?
Alexis P Bevels.
No, just a regular restaurant, but it’s in the gay area. Yeah, but now, I think I had just started to get booked in other places, and so my world was opening up and getting actual work rather than just amateur contests. Um… and then it changed to it was one huge, it was like a compound, and then it changed to three different clubs, and there was still al little work to be had there, but it wasn’t quite as bopping, and… I think that it was called Whisky Trust for a second… and it was Spin, and then it become Whisky Trust, Chloe’s, and then…
The other one. The third one.
Alexis P Bevels
The Den, the Den. And then that closed after like a year, or maybe even two years, and then it tried to become this bar named Seven for a minute, and then it finally closed down, and then it become a Furious Spoon, which is like a pho restaurant.
Alexis P Bevels
Pho. Like P-H-O
Oh, I see. Isn’t it pronounced phoeee?
Alexis P Bevels
Pho. Well…. Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t been there. It’s a chain restaurant.
So, you were kind of in a place where you were taking it for granted when it closed. You were like ‘oh, take or leave’?
Alexis P Bevels
No, I wouldn’t say that. It was just more like oh, I can do this in other places. It was really sad. Actually, one of the bars that I was previously getting hired at Sidetrack, which is now no longer a place that I affiliate with. But, at that time, when Spin closed a lot of those workers went to Sidetrack, which was down the street, and it’s a bigger. It’s like a video bar. It’s huge. It’s one of the biggest I think in America – it’s like 7 bars in one
Alexis P Bevels
Yeah, so a lot of people went there. So I kind of… a lot of the people that worked at Spin I still worked with after. And a lot of them were great people
And, so what was the deal then? Was it just that there was a change of owner and therefore a change of name?
Alexis P Bevels.
Yea, a change of staff and a change of name. I’m assuming that the owner changed? I don’t know a lot about that. My friend James does tours of the gay neighbourhood and I’m sure her knows. I should ask him. But, yeah, I remember there was, after Spin closed there was this kind of like vying for who would get to be the next house queen. And it was Pride and they were giving a bunch of different queens shows to try out and see who would be best.
So, a house queen is what? The one that’s mostly associated with the bar?
Alexis P Bevels
Yeah, the one that hosts everything. Um… one of our Drag Mafia sisters who doesn’t do drag anymore she got the chance to do it but it was Pride and we were all drunk, and it ended up being a total mess. Love to her. Her drag name was Specificity Jones, rolls right off the tongue, right? She got super drunk and wasn’t able to host, so… it was kind of.. any dreams that we had of the Drag Mafia taking that bar were dashed.
Awww, damn you Specificity!
Alexis P Bevels
I Know, I know. It’s probably for the best. Love to her
So, she… she was your great hope, and everyone pinned..?
Alexis P Bevels
Yeah, she fucked it up… Oh, can I cuss?
Yeah, she just… yeah she fucked you. I mean, think where you could be now!
Alexis P Bevels
I could be the owner of Furious Spoon if she had just…
Running your little mafia activities out of…
Alexis P Bevels
Out of the back of a Pho restaurant. Yeah….