Before Drag Race, she was one of the main drag performers at Muthers, a bar in Rochester, New York. We caught up to talk about angry white poodles, the Ethel Merman disco album, and some of her memories from her early days in drag.
This episode includes shout outs to many drag legends – Ambrosia Salad, Pandora Boxx, Darienne Lake, Aggy Dune, Annie Rexic, Miss Richfield 1981, and the club’s owner, Naiomy Kane.
Make sure you give Mrs. Davis some love on Instagram.Transcript
Mrs Kasha Davis 00:00
It was a family of Queens and the owners who took you in like family. So I felt understood. I mean, when when I would drink so much that I would fall down and slide under my car, they’d take my keys away, you know, when I was maybe a little bit over served, you know, they they definitely would hug me and pull me to the side and be like, okay, you know, and, and then jab you and tease you and so I mean, like sisters.
K Anderson 00:40
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person, about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. My guest on this week’s show is Mrs. Cash at Davis, who came to international fame after appearing in season seven of ripples drag race. Before drag race, she was one of the main performers at mother’s a bar in Rochester, New York. We caught up to talk about angry white poodles, the Ethel Mermen disco album, which you need to listen to if you haven’t already. And some of her memories are from her early days in drag.
Mrs Kasha Davis 01:56
Okay, so I grew up in Scranton, and I went to college in Scranton, and I stayed in the closet and Scranton, this is the 70s and 80s. And it was a time when you know you really I joke in my shows, you know, elton john and Barry Manilow were straight and indeed they were you know, as much as they may have looked flamboyant and Liberace, you know, these these these very flamboyant, obviously, feminine man work, staying in the closet, and, you know, the part of that’s the entertainment industry, but it was also this small town where there was no such thing as gay. And if you were, it was the 80s at that point. So people were afraid to we’re just going to die. Yes, the AIDS epidemic. And so it’s, it was, if you’re gay, you you’ll die. And it was sort of like that’s what ignorant people would say. And or that was what the news was portraying. And so, I mean, I was even involved in a ballet company, and I was involved in theatre, and there was no one gay, like, even the very obviously, gay people were in the closet. And so I ended up marrying the first woman who would say yes, and she was, we did fall in love. She was the nice. We were highschool sweethearts. And for obvious reasons that marriage didn’t work out. And at that time of that divorce, that was around the time when I moved to Rochester, because I had been working for a company that I was getting promoted within, and they gave me two options, Erie, Pennsylvania, or Rochester, New York. And my friend and I got in the car specifically to go to the gay bar in Erie. And as soon as we went, we were like, No, just like Scranton, you know, was Pennsylvania. It was a little bit bigger, maybe, but it was like this doesn’t feel like basically didn’t feel like going I was going to college is what coming out felt like for me at that point. Because I had been I went to college, but I stayed home and helped my family with the kids that they still had in high school and stuff. And then I got married and I ran a business with my ex wife and her family. And we sort of dabbled in some of our dreams in New York City. But we kept coming back to Scranton, New York City is only like an hour and 45 minutes away. And so we never really followed our dreams. And that was part that was we weren’t being our authentic selves, either one of us and we weren’t following what we loved. So we definitely loved each other. But I was obviously gay. And she was interested in other aspects of studies and career and so anyway, divorce and so I thought, Rochester so I looked it up. I recently just said this on Twitter. I looked it up and they had a photo online of a waterfall in the middle of the city. And I said, Sure, that’ll do. I mean, that was literally my decision making process because I was like, I Have to get away from Scranton. You know, my mother was just very, very dramatic about if I ever my whole life if I ever acted in any way shape or form towards the gay Avenue, you know, it was like No, no, no, no, no, you know, literally she when I came out to her she was like you don’t want to touch somebody pickle or put your pickle in somebody stupid. I’m like what is that even?
K Anderson 05:27
And she used those terms
Mrs Kasha Davis 05:28
of course you know it was just this and and then she was like you know you’re you have to carry on the family name those types of things. And I’m going to disown you and my father did was you know, he did spit in my face and they they disowned me for a period of time. Oh, when I came out so that process of coming to Rochester moving and in coming out all happen a divorce all happened at the same time. And so I knew that my parents weren’t really disowning me, but it was hard enough to come out. And then when I did, and it just felt like I it. It sort of sealed the deal on what I felt as a child like that. They didn’t like who I was. I felt completely unaccepted Yes, I went home for holidays and things. But it was like, panic and anxious. And yeah,
K Anderson 06:27
lots of lots of boots on tend to hurt fell time.
Mrs Kasha Davis 06:30
Yeah. So I ended up finding a home in Rochester and I reformed a family in Rochester and mothers had a theme or a slogan that said, No one loves you like your mother’s. And I was a mama’s boy. And it was just this Mom, this family kind of feeling at this bar. And the owner was a drag queen and I’m a massive Tina Turner fan. And she would perform as Tina Turner. And she eventually I I consider her my drag mother. So she eventually became does she consider you. She we were all heard we were we were all her children. We were all her children. She was very much the you know, just a heavy, heavy, heavy smoker, heavy drinker. And she’s like, you need to sit down and you need to make a dress right now. And I’m like, I don’t wanna make a dress, then you’re never gonna be a drag queen, you know? And she, like, I don’t want to make a dress, I’ll just buy dresses. I have a credit card. And she’d be like, No, you know, and so she made to made me do it. She made me do those types of things. And she kept saying to me, like, stop trying to be pretty you’re a drag queen. You know, you’re a man. You’re just, you know, just be Kasha Davis. And she’s the one who’s named me. Mrs. Kasha?
K Anderson 07:59
Yeah. And so like adding the missus, or like the whole name.
Mrs Kasha Davis 08:03
Now, so I guess we’ll rewind a little so I’ve been going to mothers and all the debauchery of nightlife was happening. And eventually, on gay.com I met a fella named Steve, my now husband and after standing him up on the first time we were coffee, Yes, dad, Mrs. Kasha Davis. And mind you at the time, you know, cell phones weren’t necessarily a thing. And I that makes it worse. It will make it worse, just sitting there. I was still, I was late at work. So I did leave a message at home but at the, you know, in the moment he felt stood up and he was and so but when he got home, he did get the message that was running late. Could I reschedule? And he did Thank God. Sorry. We went and we saw a queen in petone in Cape Cod, named Miss Richfield. We saw her and then I put together what I was experiencing at mother’s I said to Steve at the time was like, I want to think I wanted to drag because I thought of my theatre background and I thought about what I know what I knew of the family atmosphere of the performers and mothers and I was like I think I want to be a part of that and he was like all he’s all in you know. And so I named myself I knew of the way to name yourself as first pet First Street. And I wanted to pay homage to Scranton, to be honest and to my mother because I was you know, a mama’s boy and she was definitely she’s very much miss my mother comes out in Mrs. Kasha Davis in in let’s just say the shady kind of ways. He went when Mrs. Kasha Davis is bitchy. That’s my mother, but also dark hair Italian diva overdressed overbearing. Kind of mom. So anyway, I went with Kasha is my Ukrainian heritage and my mother named all of the dogs, you know, Kasha, Tasha Sheba. And so we had Kasha was my first dog. And she was an angry white poodle that only liked me. And I loved her. And she was very protective of me. And I just just loved and she would bite my father and just I thought it was you know, and she didn’t like my friends. And I was like, I love her, you know, but she would snuggle up on my lap on the sofa, my mother’s like, boy, that dog is yours and so Kasha, and then Davis because I just thought was funny. You know, it was just sort of like, sort of like, you know, Mrs. Smith, you know, it was like a regular name. Because Kashi was so ethnic, we’ll just saying. So, anyway, I had been dating Steve at the time, and marriage wasn’t legal yet. So we were just partners. And Naomi the club before owner and had performer was like, Kasha, you are so funny, because the strippers will be backstage getting naked. And all the other queens are over there, like playing around with them and stuff. And I’m in the corner. I’m like, I’m a married lady. Oh, no, you know, I could look but I don’t touch. You know, I was doing all that and playing up that character. And so when they would announce everybody, they would say, Miss Pandora box, Ms. And then he was like, and a married lady, Mrs. Gosh, she does, she does play around with the strippers, you know, and I’d be like, I was hysterical, you know, because then all of a sudden, I was like, wow, I can include Mr. Davis. And originally, we were like, Mr. Davis is just going to be the secret character that nobody ever sees. And, you know, kind of like, you just see him from over the fence or type of thing, or you just see his hand in the shot or whatever, but he’s never really there. But anyway, that’s how that became and then, and I, I didn’t know how to, I mean, they taught me everything at that club, with regard to drag.
K Anderson 12:17
So seven to before you were talking about, it took you a while to kind of get to the point of wanting to do drag, is that because of the stigma around drag as an art form?
Mrs Kasha Davis 12:31
No, I, like I said, I dated a drag queen. I thought it was I thought she was fascinating. And I don’t know, she just, you know, took command of the room. And I was like, Hi, all that, you know. And this was back in Pennsylvania. And then so I was very intrigued by drag, and I went to school for theatre. And I began to audition for some plays in Rochester because I was feeling very depressed from my divorce. And I was feeling that I was not going to find a relationship, like I had in my mind, which was very much the heterosexual kind of stereotype of a marriage and children house and pool and, and I was like, you know, it’s, it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen. It’s all about, like, you know, hookups. And, you know, which was great. I mean, obviously, I enjoyed that aspect of the, my gay life as well. But I was thinking, I’m not going to be able to find the this relate type of relationship. And I was depressed, and so not performing. And just not real comfortable yet, with my coming out experience. I thought, well, you know, what, I love theatre, and I went to school for theatre, and I’m working this job, which I like, but maybe if I fulfil that passion. Well, I, I got cast in a play. But my work schedule, I was a director of a call centre. And so it was very unpredictable. I didn’t just have a nine to five job. So I worked some days from 8am till, you know, 8pm at night, and then other days, you know, 11 to seven. And so, I couldn’t commit to the rehearsal schedule. And so I just do it, I quit. And I, you know, not performing and not performing. And knowing that that was what I was born to do. I knew I was born to perform. I didn’t know. I mean, ever since a child, I would sign my name as an autograph, like, I knew I was going to be doing something. And I went to psychics throughout the years as a kid and they’d be like, you will be on stage. But first, you’re going to be around a lot of computers. And I’d be like, what? And, you know, and so I was I was working in this call centre on a lot of computers and, and nothing, nothing was connecting. And so when we went on that trip, and we saw a character Miss Richfield 1981 look her up. She’s fabulous. She She had a character she’s saying live she had a backstory. And the other girls, Pandora, Darien, Aggie, Ambrosia Asia, all these other gals Naomi, they were amazing, lipsync gorgeous. divas the but there was nobody that had that story in Rochester, there was nobody that was like somebody who was alive singer or somebody who could have a whole history of, you know, What is there? What’s the story about Mrs. Kasha Davis, so I could tell that story through my lip sync, and I can tell that story through my hosting, but I could dress that and then eventually become, you know, adding Mr. Davis to the storyline and, and still work. So I didn’t have to get to the club until midnight, or 11 o’clock. And the shows, you know, never started on time. So it’s all late late night stuff. There’s no six o’clock or eight o’clock show, there’s no rehearsal, it’s my rehearsal time. There’s no costume meetings, it’s when I can schedule so I was able to find this part time outlet and still be able to work. And it was something that my partner Steve was very supportive about. So it was like, everything came together. And what’s great about mothers it was it was a family of Queens and the owners who took you in like family so I felt understood I mean, when when I would drink so much that I would fall down and slide under my car they’d take my keys away, you know, when I was maybe a little bit over served you know, they they definitely would hug me and pull me to the side and be like, okay, you know and and then jab you and tease you and so I mean, like sisters and so but but then when I began to perform and wore tights that were four sizes too big Darien like Darien lakes like those tights are too big for me. You have elephant ankles, what’s going on girl, you know, or Aggie Dune, who was another sort of drag mother type character in my life was say, CATIA, don’t be afraid to try and look pretty
K Anderson 17:33
good, like, Oh, wow. And so then how long? How long had you been in Rochester before you made that decision? Like, I’m going to start trying drag.
Mrs Kasha Davis 17:44
So I moved to here in 99. And then I didn’t start dragging till 2004.
K Anderson 17:49
Okay, so a number of years, until a number of years to where Then did you have personal relationships with those queens that you’re talking about? I was a fan. Okay.
Mrs Kasha Davis 18:00
I was a fan. I was a fan of Aggie Duran and all of them. And we were regulars. We were myself and my two best friends Alessia and, and Sam, we, we were sort of like, I felt like they were the ants. And we were the nieces and nephews, you know. And then Naomi was the mother. And you know, we would come to Sunday dinner, which was really alcohol. And we would get dressed up to go out, you know, and we kind of sometimes had makeup on other times, we were all camouflage. And it was the quest for the evening to see who you’re going to kiss make out. You know, whatever. was great is that because it had that family vibe. You know, welcoming vibe. You had some straight guys, they will come there too. So my friend Melissa would shoot. She’d meet a guy too.
K Anderson 18:59
It wasn’t a total waste of night for her.
Mrs Kasha Davis 19:02
Yeah, I’m not sure it was always the atmosphere. They were always looking for women either. So it was like, you know, it was everything. Everything goes. Um, but yeah, so it was that it was that, that vibe and
K Anderson 19:16
and then that that first time then said when you like plucked up the courage, like I’m gonna try drag, I’m gonna do it. What was then what were the steps following that? Like, were you just practising at home? Or did you say to the girls, do you have any advice?
Mrs Kasha Davis 19:32
Both so I called the club owner who knew me and knew my new but good customer. I was. And I said, Hey, is there a night that I can do dragon? He was like, Oh, yeah, sure. Maybe come on down on Sunday. Like it was literally like, boom, they were just like, yeah, you know, put something on and there was no like, audition, there was just Yes. And they knew how much I loved the shows too. So they thought This This girl’s acquaint this. This one’s a queen already, you know. And so I then contacted Ambrosia salad who was that first character I talked about and she was like, Okay, first things first, are you ready for the politics of drag? Are you ready for, you know, this one’s got this kind of, you know, reputation and status and the pay is $0. And you’re only tips only and someday you might get paid. And let me tell you some of these queens make several $100 a night plus tips and you will not you know, it was I was like, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get on stage. And so Steve, my husband and I selected I wanted old school, you know, and that phono cello. I wanted Ethel Merman. I wanted old Broadway music. And that was the kind of stuff that I rehearsed. And I had a song list and like four dresses, some of it was maternity, because I didn’t know what I was buying, you know, I was just like, Oh, that looks big. I’ll buy it. And, you know, a gown up to hear mother of the bride, you know, it was just it was very matronly mother of the bride. And we had I had two wigs that I would rotate back and forth, and I did those types of characters and I did realise them in a way that was
K Anderson 21:24
better. So was this So was this within a week of, of asking you did your first show? It was either a week or two weeks? I’m not 100% Sure. Yeah, it was quick at hand and how long was this like the slot? How long was your gig?
Mrs Kasha Davis 21:41
So we had to do two numbers. So I did my first song on stage was lime jello marshmallow cottage cheese surprise. It was very is a very you know, she’s she sings ladies, the minutes will soon be read today. The Garden Club and weaving class, I’m sure have much to say. But next week is our culture night. My biggest best event, and I’ve just made a dish for it. You’ll all find heaven sent. It’s my lime jello marshmallow cottage cheese surprise, you know, and she’s camp. And so I had on you know, white gloves with hairy arms, red lipstick, black flip, flip wig, horrible shoes that you can tint for weddings. And this pantsuit is lime lime pantsuit. And it was magical. I had so many friends come to support and tip and they were just like, it’s a busy night. Oh, and Mr. Davis made posters that we can still find the image of it. Yeah, it’s like I had a towel on my head and I was in the shower. I get a little bit of eyeliner, lipstick, and lashes, like without mascara. And I’m in the shower. And I’m like, like, You caught me. I just taking your shower, you know? And it was just we were so prepared. We had that. We brought posters up because at the time, there’s no social media. So we’ve got posters all around town, Mrs. Kasha Davis is making her debut. There was posters at the bar, the other queens are ripping them down. They’re like, what’s the posters? Like? Nobody does this, like, Who does? she think she is. And I just, you know, I got myself, my friends, mostly, you know, everybody to go. And it was a decent crowd. And the owner was like, This is amazing. You know?
K Anderson 23:21
How did you know how funny like most of the people like whenever I have a drag queen on the show, and I had to, like ask about their first time. It’s always like, it was awful. It was terrible. It was like I was I lost the word. I didn’t know what I was doing. Yeah, it’s crap, but I got better. And you’re like, it was amazing.
Mrs Kasha Davis 23:40
Well, it was. Okay. Let me clarify. It. The performing was amazing. I was rehearsed. I knew how to do that from theatre. I looked shit. I mean, I looked terrible. I mean, and I still don’t look all that great. I mean, it’s fine. It’s so I. Yeah, looking back at some of the photos were just we laugh.
K Anderson 24:01
But the most important thing is like you came offstage. And you felt like yes, I did it. I’m a mess. And, and it was,
Mrs Kasha Davis 24:09
it was the great education of experimenting and trying things.
K Anderson 24:17
And it was a time when you didn’t have to worry about people having a camera on their phone. There was no cap.
Mrs Kasha Davis 24:23
If there was if there was a photo, eventually my space happened. And a couple of photos came up, but mostly you had to bring your camera, you know, and Steve would be at every show. And eventually he was like, I can’t go because I started to get booked every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday. He’s like, I can’t go to all these shows. I have work. And I’m like I do too. But I actually got to go in later because if I was out late, I didn’t have to really be in until like, 11. So that’s not so bad. If you drank and I drank and but so I would do things like you know, I drove All night. Cyndi Lauper I think I would ride a bike into the bar our daughters with a pink bike with a helmet. And like this, like really terrible, all these clothes from the goodwill, like nothing, I did not have any good costumes. And I drove in and it’s like, you know, I drove, and I’m rolling around like to get to you. And they’re just like, she is crazy. And, but I would commit myself to the song and I was like, Whatever happens happens. And sometimes it was improvised and other times, you know, I sort of had some plants. But then so Naomi did Tina Turner, I told you, and then Aggie would do share. And they also did other lipsticks. And so they had a party house gig plan, and then Naomi couldn’t do it. And so Aggie was like, What about this? CATIA? I like her. And I was like to do what? And they’re like impersonations. And I’m like, Oh, I only do Liza Minnelli. And she’s like you like Tina Turner. It’s just as easy. Just put. So you know, yes, I was obsessed with Tina Turner. And I danced around in my basement as a child from 1983 on. But I don’t know, can I perform her on stage? So we did these, this impersonation show together. And that started only a couple months after I started doing drag. And so she coached me on on different characters I could do. And, and we did this this impersonation show. Now, we still do it on occasion. I mean, it’s, it’s been since 2004. So what is that? 1718 years?
K Anderson 26:51
A lot of you a lot,
Mrs Kasha Davis 26:52
a lot of So, so that that experience came from others?
K Anderson 26:59
And then what are the what are the celebrities went into your repertoire?
Mrs Kasha Davis 27:04
So my go twos, that I would do that I would actually work to impersonate that we’re closer to impersonation would be Tina Turner lies in an alley that medlar and then, like sort of the Ethel mermans, and that funa cello, and she would do Celine Dion Cher. Sometimes, Mariah Carey, but then we would do Oh, and like, I can’t think of her name. I’ll think of it. But then we would do like, you know, camp, like a dolly parton. We were we looked nothing like Dolly Parton. But you know, clearly she had big boobs, big hair, or, you know, funny takes on songs on Katy Perry songs or different things like that. So that we would have, you know, she ended up doing Gaga. And I think I did Katy Perry more seriously towards the end, the last couple shows. But then once we got, you know, we would have five or six of the ones that were closer to impersonation with a quirk. But then there was this goofy aspects and then we were hosting in between. So you have that kind of experience as an audience member, but we would leave ourselves a quick change comedy impersonation show. So it was more about Wow, you just went from linesman led to Tina Turner, while the other one was performing. So you had four minutes. And what did we do, we changed our outfit, we would have a dresser, we would change our outfit and our hair. And because you change your facial expressions, you would wear a general makeup, but you change your facial expressions, maybe your lip colour, and the audience was like, oh, and her makeup was completely different. She changed her makeup and format. You know, and so they thought that you powder your face, maybe if you’re sweaty, but that was it. And so because your facial expressions are different somehow it just looks different with a different wig and everything else. Enjoy. So. So that was a really cool experience that came from others.
K Anderson 29:13
And so when so when you first decided I’m going to do drag, this is what I want to do. And Ambrosia sat you down and said, like, you need to watch out for this. You need to watch out for this. You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this. what she’s saying like that, you know, this seems quite competitive and people are going to be bitchy, and you’re going to have to overcome some of their attitudes.
Mrs Kasha Davis 29:35
Yes, she was very much like, watch out for the scene. Watch out for the competition. The girls are going to try to she was sisterly in that she’s like they’re going to try to give you advice but sometimes the advice and the shame and the shame and then other queens will gravitate to becoming like your bestie but don’t trust them. And so did it play out like that? No. I don’t necessarily, I think she was just trying to give me a realistic view of, it’s not as fat, fantastical, as you might imagine, add to share with you this Hey, I need to tell you something drag queens can be bitchy. Yeah, basically. And, and, and, you know, and just just just mind yourself. And also, you know, there was a lot of other extracurricular partying that would be going on. It wasn’t just drinking, and of course, you know, I, this is like, whatever. I mean, I’ve been in nightclubs for years, I know that, what happens in the bathroom and this, that, and the other, you know, and so fine in I mean, that’s just the nightclub scene. So, um, but I knew that there was this cast of, you know, there’s the A listers, and then there’s the B listers, the ones who wanted to get on the popular nights. And I would get an occasional booking on the popular nights, but it would be consistently on the other nights to kind of work my way up the ladder and the totem pole, however you want to call it and, and I knew that if I aligned myself with Darien, Pandora, Ambrosia and Aggie, that I would be set up for success because I also knew enough about theatre, that I was not a threat to them, that my character and my persona and song selection was not coming. I’m not coming for, you know, if you’ve got the Cher impersonator, I’m not going to try to do shit. You know, I knew enough. And I had enough confidence in my performance ability to say that the show may have a lead character, but then there is somebody who comes on as, as another character and can steal the show. And be memorable. That maybe not be the lead. Yeah, right. And so I knew that I knew that and I was like, Oh, I am I have, there’s a need in this show. For this can’t be housewife, it’s not being fulfilled. nobody’s doing that. Everyone’s trying to be fierce or sexy or comedic. But nobody’s camp. And so I was like, this, you know? And, and then it, it would, it would round out the show is something that was different. And you know, you’re not going to see somebody, and I couldn’t believe sometimes the girls one would come out and do let’s get louder than than the other one. three songs later is doing let’s get loud. We just heard the song. It’s okay. But how about you pick another one out of your dusty CD bag? That made no sense to me. Because, you know, or, well, this is the new top 40 song, we’re all fighting for it. Okay. We don’t need to hear it six times tonight. You know, the audience isn’t coming for that. And certainly Naomi wouldn’t allow it to happen. But you know, I learned those those aspects, that theatrical aspects of putting on the show, and you know, and we had another Queen that we would, oh my gosh. So during I would be hosting the show, we’re sitting over at the bar hosting. And this Queen, her name is Annie rexach. She’s backstage getting ready to perform. And we’re talking the microphone, but we’re making all the patrons go outside. So they’re going outside into the street. And we’re closing the door, and the music starts and she comes out into the onto the stage. And nobody’s like, Where did everybody go, and we’re hiding down behind the bar, you know, another time any rexach was supposed to come out on stage. And she had this big dance number prepared, and we piled up all the chairs in front of the end. So when she came out, she had to crawl through the chair. And another another time, she would come on stage and everybody. I mean, sometimes they would have chairs in the audience. Like I think Sunday nights was more like a cabaret night. So if they had chairs in the audience, we everybody face the other way. And like act like they were facing her. And like cheer her on. And she you know,
so you know,
K Anderson 34:06
so and so anyway, any Linux and he wrecks it had a breakdown in his never she had a break. All right.
Mrs Kasha Davis 34:14
Oh my gosh, we did a duet together. You know, Michael Jackson song Where? Where He’s like, enter any Are you okay? Are you okay? Me? So she came out and got shot and fell to the ground and I came running out and I just the whole time I kept thinking, Danny, are you okay? And I’m trying to wake her up and they’re all yelling wake up, Annie. You know, like, camp, right? Another time somebody started to say that she was a bird so they would feed her pretzels and she would eat them off the floor. I mean,
K Anderson 34:48
she was about everyone’s joke. Yeah.
Mrs Kasha Davis 34:51
Well, and she loved. The great thing was that she loved it. And she did. She did some really great and she still performed she performs now somewhere. In. She’s in South, I can’t remember what Virginia summarise. But um, so she she did some amazing stuff, too. I mean, she would do. Well she was one of the first that would come out and do Sinead O’Connor bald, and we were like, you know, you know, whoo. But because of the club was so much into the glamour with theory and and Aggie and Dora. That that was shocking. But like Pandora, when Madonna’s would have a new song, she would get a limousine and arrive in a limousine with her people, you know, the song music. So she had the first she had the cowboy hat, the limo came, she arrived, she, you know, came in with her entourage and started the song, like, How fun is that, you know, like, for this small city, and you have this, like, you know, kind of entrance like that.
K Anderson 35:58
And it sounds as though you quickly made your way into that inner circle. And we’re like, the royalty of mothers.
Mrs Kasha Davis 36:09
Well, so this particular group, performed previously together for years. So it was difficult to break into that, to that group. I was not an A Lister for a lot for a couple of years, but I would get a guest spot. They would be like, well, we have a Friday available for you, that was the busiest night we have a Friday available for you can you you know, open the show or whatever, like, sure, whatever. You got $20 more in pay as a as a be Lister. And you know, you had more people so there’s more tipping opportunity, but I knew enough to be to befriend them and to, to not be like competitive with them. And so it did take it took a couple years. And now. I mean, so they had they had previous relationship as a as a cast from another bar. That bar closed, called Mark chelas. And then from Marcelo as they all gravitated to this club mothers. And then that’s essentially when I moved to town so I didn’t know anything about this Marcelo as a matter of fact, when I moved to town, I think that weekend that club closed
K Anderson 37:24
yeah timed out, well. She’s in town. Let her in.
Mrs Kasha Davis 37:29
Don’t let her in. So mother’s was just opening or not opening was was was existing without that big of a show. And then the Naomi sort of lowered everyone over eventually and then they started to build these shows. And because of their tenure from other clubs over the years, they were just you know Darien, Pandora, Aggie Ambrosia drag royalty they I mean they were and still remain the names that that people at the grocery store if you ask someone did you you know a drag queen they’re likely to say one of those things you know, Darien Lake one best drag queen for years for the local newspaper. They have a you know, the local indie arts newspaper, she’d Win, win and then eventually breaking into that group.
I got to win it a couple times.
Mrs Kasha Davis 38:34
Then, wow. Yeah. I mean, it’s just a different kind of, you know, I even said when Aggie and I would do our night, our impersonation shows, we would go out on stage at the beginning and I would say, you know, I’m so glad to be her. Ethel. You know, Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy. And her support, you know, for support hose I’m hurting ever trusty push up bra. You know, that was the the joke. But I knew I was very important to the success of our shows, because, as I joked about earlier, I will make sure that the show happens I I will make sure that we get booked, I will make sure that we get paid, I will make sure that we get rebooked, and then Mr. Davis, will make sure and and for all those years, he did all the lights and sound and so we took care of a lot of that business and technical aspect of the shows, which is so important if you want to do more than just a spot at a club. So if you wanted to make a career out of it, you have to be able to hustle, hustle and have a business sense. You know, because it’s a constantly it’s a competitive industry and it’s constantly evolving. I mean, it seems like Now, given our circumstances of the pandemic. It’s like, Who’s got who’s the next Queen with a podcast? You know, who’s the next Queen with a online shell?
K Anderson 40:13
And so if we go back to mothers, do you remember hearing about it closing?
Mrs Kasha Davis 40:19
I said, Well, I when it was closing, it was because of the fact that Naomi was very sad, okay. And because they were no longer they nobody was buying it. They were closing the club, and they had a, they had a final performance night that I performed that I believe it’s on YouTube somewhere. And I didn’t realise him and Ellie song at the time. I don’t remember what one it was. But it was very, very sad. And Naomi then disappeared. And, and we don’t know if she stayed in town, or if she went to be with family elsewhere. And we never saw her partner, Brian, as well. He sort of stayed away. And we did a fundraiser for him to help with funeral expenses and things but I don’t know. I don’t even know. I don’t I can’t find Brian, who’s Naomi’s partner. online or anything, they disappear. He’s disappeared. Yeah, so I don’t know anything about I know, there might be some other people I can reach out to, but I’m not even sure if they’re necessarily in touch. So it was, it was very, very sad.
K Anderson 41:36
What was that feeling then on the last night for you?
Mrs Kasha Davis 41:40
Oh, we were all in tears. And because it was the closing of the bar, but it was also saying goodbye. You know, it’s one thing when a bar when a when a business closes like that, but when it was, you know, she was visibly ill. And standing saying goodbye. I mean, I have a couple of her costumes she gave each of us. And then because we’re both big Tina Turner fans, I’m getting a little emotional. She She gave me these framed Tina Turner, like one is from what’s love got to do with it. The other ones from Mad Max movies. So I have those in our office. And so we have like some, you know, old Hollywood kind of celebrities on the walls in our office. And then we have those two. And so it was it was like, it was a celebration, but it was also almost like a funeral service. That day, and, and it it was jam packed. I mean, mother’s was big was great is because it also had, you know, it had its it had his night where it’s night where it was the corner bar when there was you know, 15 people. And then it’s night when there were several 100 people. It wasn’t massive. And so it had that where everybody was real close together and kind of had to be, you know, rubbing up against each other to get up to the stage to tip and then the dance, you know, in between the sets of the show, they would have the dance floor field, but again, it was hot, and it was close. And so when they would have those really, really busy nights the line would go around the corner. So it created all of that excitement as well to go. I mean, it was there were a couple big big dance clubs in town, but they never they would get busy, but it was never that field because, you know, they are capacity with so much bigger. And so I think that made it special too. And, you know, they had the nights when they would do other just all different themes. You know.
K Anderson 43:59
You talked about before that a lot of Mrs. Kasha Davis is based on your mother. What happened then with your relationship with your parents over time and has your mom ever met kashia
Mrs Kasha Davis 44:16
Okay, so my character of Mrs. Kasha Davis is a combination of my mother and my grandmother, grandmother, my grandmother, my mother’s mother, and then my father’s Ma. So the two grandmothers my mother. So my mother’s mother was a Whistler and vaudeville days. She used to host shows and she would perform in the 1930s and 40s in vaudeville shows and on a radio show.
K Anderson 44:47
Just whistling she would whistle. How impressive was whistle.
Mrs Kasha Davis 44:55
Apparently it was very it was very impressive. So she was just a gorgeous talk. Hall, glamorous woman, and she would host the show. And she had a band in the band would play and instead of singing, she would whistle. Oh, wow. And then she would say, you know, and then she would host it and she’d be so so sort of a drag. Up next we have whatever performer and, and we have her old contracts and things and. And so when I and then she became a beautician because she had my mom and my uncle, and she was travelling with them, and they would, they would be on the road and going from club to club, and they saw an accident. And it scared her being out late at night with the alcohol and drinking and driving. So she changed careers on the.on a dime and changed to hair. And so she had her salon and she would whistle when nobody was there. And tell me all these stories about the performances and she performed a Radio City Music Hall. Wow. Yeah, like since she was just and she would show me her costumes. And and did she teach you how to know, she never really I mean, she whistled. I mean, we were just all like, What’s so great about this whistle was she didn’t do she didn’t just whistle all the time. She would whistle when she was like, he was almost sad. Like she would whistle when she was alone. If you caught if we caught her, she’d stop. It was like, she didn’t follow her dream. And that’s what I kind of felt like I was like, oh, and so she remained glamorous, of course. And then she taught my mother to be glamorous. So these these overdressed ladies for every occasion. We’re we’re in my life. And I would go to my grandmother’s beauty salon and watch her do hair and makeup. And then in the mornings, I’d watch my mother do her makeup. And then my other my father’s mother was sort of a 1950s housewife where she Everything was perfect. We set everything up. And then once my grandfather would go to work, she pull out paper dolls. She’s like, you play with dolls. I’m gonna drink some wine. And where am I tube top and smoke cigarettes out in the sun. And I was like, she’s got like, two lives going on here. I loved the whole like, dual, like, and then the minute we got close to coming home from work time, she put my paper dolls away, get back kind of get herself, you know, back in order and she had a lovely dinner and we’d have nice TV and and Grandpa Grandpa didn’t know thing. So that was kind of fascinating to me like this sort of anyway, so fast forward. mama’s boy obsessed with all these ladies. The men in my family, we’re always trying to make me be less feminine. And I then for years, were performing my mother would be fine with whatever if I was in ballet, if I dressed in drag for a show, whatever, that was never an issue. But when I came out, it was an issue being gay was not acceptable. So she never saw me perform. And she passed away in 2011. And she was sick at one point in the hospital she had, she had all kinds of complications. And the one situation was I was sitting at her bedside and holding her hand and she said, What have I done with my life? And again, it made me think of my grandmother of like, Oh, that’s not good. That’s not something you want to say. And and it was sort of that experience. I had pre drag race where I was like, I can’t just be a director of a telemarketing company. I’m an artist, I’m performer. This is what I’m meant to do. And I’m not sure if it’s theatre or drag, but I know what’s on stage. And I know I have messages to tell stories to tell. And so I was inspired, essentially after her passing to do just that. And then my father hadn’t seen Let’s face it, you know, I was on drag race. So my local the local paper I was on the front page in Scranton because they were just like, she’s a star. And her name is Ed Pope. And my parents were like, you know, so? Yeah, they saw they saw this, but they sort of just, you know, they would ignore it. It was denial. Yeah, so they didn’t sell. They didn’t celebrate any of that. Until my son My mother passed away. My father and I began to mend a relationship. And we began to mean he was the first one to call me a fairy when I was a kid to make fun of my voice and my gestures and and so we realised we don’t like each other. And this isn’t good either. And so in my sobriety, and in time, we began to build a relationship. And I, I always laughed before I tell this story, because it’s just so adorable. I was booked in Pennsylvania, in Scranton at a Toyota dealership for a drag
K Anderson 50:44
to help them move units is that
Mrs Kasha Davis 50:46
Yeah, well, there’s just so it was the kickoff for the show Kinky Boots, okay. And they had the the person who was a part of the committee was putting on this, this fundraiser, and they, you know, they wanted Mrs. Kasha Davis, because I’m, you know, a celebrity drag queen in their mind from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who made it, you know, so bring her back home. So I did. So I go to visit my mother’s grave, and I have this gut instinct to go see my father, go visit my father, and we’re better, you know, we’re better. I was sober. We’re closer, I was owning some of the, some of the wreckage on my side of the street. It wasn’t all his fault in terms of our relationship, as you find out in life, and so therefore, he says, I see that you have a show tonight. I’m very proud of you that it’s at the Toyota dealership. And what time is the show? And he was alluding to coming to the show? And I’m like, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about I’m in drag. He’s like, Yeah, I saw the paper. I know you’re in drag. What time is the show? And I said, six o’clock. He’s like, okay, I’ll be there. And I was like, I immediately like, was like crapping my pants like this is not happening. We went to the hotel, with my friend who came with me. And she and I were sitting there, and I was freaking out. I didn’t want to drink. But I was like, I need I don’t even know how to speak. I can’t imagine him actually coming to see the show. So lo and behold, we’re going to get ready for the show. I’m in the dressing room, which is the sales department. He walks around the corner to see me and his first. He was shocked because I resembled my mother. And he says, Wow, Eddie, you’re beautiful. And it was so beautiful. To hear him say that. And then it wasn’t a joke. And it wasn’t sarcastic. And it wasn’t mean. And then he watched the show. And I sang live throughout the whole show about my mother. And some of it funny, some of it. No more sentimental. I held his hand at one point. There’s all photographs and video of this. And then it was like this gift from the universe, like what is happening? Like how is how are we having all this forgiveness and joy. And so I post a picture about it on social media. And then in time, he passes away relatively shortly after that. And we were a part of the hole. We were there with him for for those several weeks. And then I find when we’re cleaning out his house, we find he had print, somebody printed out my post from social media. And I talked about how I was amazed that my dad and I had this moment. And he replies to his friend. Yes, that’s my son, Eddie. And I’m so proud. So it was just, it was this moment like that I could never have planned. I could, it couldn’t have. It was so accepting. And I can’t believe I’m saying those words right now. Because we just did not mix. I mean, we tried. And then we would argue and that we get physical, verbal. And we it was just it always seemed to be centred around my me as a person. My not being good enough because of my feminine quality. So being gay. And so I mean talk about just like thank you universe. Thank you, mom. Thank you dad. And and so now I tell that story just for multiple reasons. I mean, it’s a sobriety story. It’s an acceptance story. It’s a forgiveness story. It’s a powerful story about hope and that relationships can can change and he’ll I mean, both both parties had to put in the work.
K Anderson 54:53
But isn’t that like incredible the him seeing you pen drag is almost when he saw you. Yeah, first time. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think
Mrs Kasha Davis 55:10
the combination of it I laugh every time I like being in a Toyota dealership, I mean, that’s he had Toyota’s, you know, he loved his car. And he’s like, they’re good people, maybe they’ll give you a discount. Like he was convinced that at that moment that not only was does he see me, Eddie, but he was like, you’re actually good. And funny, and his, there were his brother, who hadn’t spoken to in years, I’m saying at least 15 years, came to that show. And they built a little relationship before he passed away. He was at that show. And so to see his sibling to see other people in the community that he knew people that I went to school with college professors. They’re celebrating to helped. I’m sure. It just helped him to be like, Oh, well, boy, if I’m not accepting any, then I’m out of the loop. Do you know like, so. But then, of course, after that, it became, now you need to be charging more money. And all of a sudden, he’s an expert. I was like, Oh, my gosh.
K Anderson 56:26
Well, I mean, like, getting onto drag race. That’s, that’s something that performing at a Toyota dealership, that’s like the pinnacle of your career.
Mrs Kasha Davis 56:35
It is, it is something that lets you know that, that I hope I never forget, it was such a beautiful moment. And, you know, I suffered and had a lot of pain, not feeling accepted. And to be able to have that, and I was just feeling well, maybe when he passes away, I’ll just attend the funeral. And, you know, this was earlier in life. You know, I’ll just respectfully attend the funeral. I mean, I’m not even sure if I’ll be in the will, like I was being so dramatic to. Yeah, but I had right to feel that way. And so that was a shocker. And I think it was, in my belief, and in my recovery process, I think it was sort of a gift. In sobriety.
K Anderson 57:32
Yeah, huge gift. I mean, this is the thing. So this is what I was gonna say, at the top of our conversation, when we were talking about you first moving to Rochester. And, like, figuring yourself out and finding yourself, there’s this kind of, there’s two things going on, this is like trauma, this escaping drama, I mean, for want of a better term, and then this liberation. And like, there’s this sheer excitement at the same time as this kind of processor recovery. And that’s, like a really confusing and weird time. It was.
Mrs Kasha Davis 58:14
And if I go through my gratitude, you know, the, the biggest dream wasn’t necessarily to be on drag race or to perform, where I’ve performed and to do what I’ve done, it was to have children, and so to have Steve, and our daughters and our life. And, you know, for them to be 26 and 28, and to say, hey, do you want to go for dinner, like to be interested in spending time with us, because, you know, at that age, it’s sort of like, Mom and Dad, you know, it doesn’t matter what relationship you have, but that they want to actually, you know, hang out, go to dinner, spend time. That is special. And I mean, that was my dream, you know, and that remains my dream. And that’s what I’m most grateful for is that I have that that experience and that those relationships now. I, I feel like I’m a big, open book. So I share the rest of the experiences in the trauma. Because I know that no matter what, how you identify, in life, we go through those things, you know, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Case straight gender, sexuality, whatever. It just people in life go through tough times, and they may try to go around search certain situations, or they may enesta size like I did with alcohol. And the way to go through it is to go through it and to to to be able to share my experience and my story, isn’t it More isn’t to be like, oh, look what happened to me. It’s more so to say that this is the path that I went through. And maybe you can identify something in that story. And if you can, there is another side, there is a way, there is a way through it.
K Anderson 1:00:16
So, so with all of that in mind, if we could travel back in time, 20 years to when Ed had first moved to Rochester, 20 odd years. If you had the opportunity to talk to him and have a conversation with him, what advice would you give, be patient.
Mrs Kasha Davis 1:00:39
I wanted to control things and make things happen immediately. I think patients and sort of the two words that come to my three words that come to mind were patients acceptance and gratitude. So patients don’t try to control and rush things, except the process. You know, I think whether it’s performing or coming out or getting the force, I mean, you don’t just get divorced. And the next day you’re happy doesn’t matter whether you want a divorce, or not, like there’s a there’s some morning, there’s some, there’s a process that happens there. And so there’s some acceptance for where you are in that moment. And if you don’t feel those feelings, and you try to avoid them, they’re just going to be prolonged at some point, and they’re gonna, they’re gonna come out and manifest in another way. And then just gratitude for the moment. I mean, like, you know, I, I look back at some of those stories, and they’re just some of the best moments. I mean, trying to figure out my finances and selling my CDs to be able to keep the lights on and in my apartment
K Anderson 1:01:48
was fun when people still bought CDs. And tried to sell your CDs now you’d get nothing. Exactly. And
Mrs Kasha Davis 1:01:56
I remember, my friend Alyssa and I, we would go out and she’s like, Alright, so how much do you need, and I’d be like this much for the bill. And she’s like, well, but if we sell these other CDs, and we’d be putting out CDs that like, I don’t really want to, I mean, I had such a big music collection. And she was like, I don’t really want to sell that one yet. And she’s like, if you sell these, you’ll be able to pay your light bill. But then if you sell these we can go to mothers tonight. So no, I mean, I did. I was like fine. So we would go to these CD shops and and
K Anderson 1:02:29
but you didn’t tell your Ethel Merman disco up until now? I
Mrs Kasha Davis 1:02:33
still have it. Isn’t that fantastic? It’s just so ridiculous. And just she’s so ridiculous. And I have to tell you, like, oh, like that as a character, because it’s not really that specific, except that she’s like, you know, a fun one to play because you’re just always saying, you know, and she doesn’t matter even good. Just sort of have that belt and look like a mom, you know, and
K Anderson 1:03:04
and you don’t have to send in your hair. Now. It’s all that. Did you ever go to mothers? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Find me on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook with the user name K Anderson music and share your photos and stories and tell me what you got up to. And whilst you’re at it, go and give kasha some love on Instagram. Her user profile name is Mrs. kasha Davis. La spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.