This week we are catching up with Pandora Boxx, drag queen superstar and contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 2, as well as All Stars 1 and 6. And we are going to find out all about her early days in drag.
Back in the 90s she was one of the top performers at Club Marcella, a drag bar in Rochester, NY, that rode on the crest of the wave of that decades drag explosion (think Ru Paul’s ‘Supermodel of the World’ and ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’) and courted a mostly straight clientele.
We talk about falling in love with straight men, embracing her inner slut, and the pettiest fight that she ever got in to with a fellow queen…
Pandora Boxx 0:00
I think especially in the beginning I wanted to look very passable what I think I wanted to be. Especially when the straight guys started to come. I was like, Yo, I need to be passive I need to be a close up queen. And that’s what I would call it like I need to look okay close up. And like, you know I can I can get some of these dudes.
K Anderson 0:25
Hello, my name is 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. This week we are catching up with Pandora box, drag queen superstar and contestant on ripples, drag race season two, as well as all stars one and six. And we are going to find out all about her early days in drag. Back in the 90s. She was one of the top performers at Club Marcella, a drag bar in Rochester, New York that rode on the crest of the wave of that decades drag explosion and courted a straight clientele. We talk about falling in love with straight men embracing her in a slot and by find out about the pettiest fight that she ever got into with their fellow queen.
And, and so let’s get on to this straight man. thing. So you were interested in passing you were interested in like, you know, getting them a bit excited. Were you actively pursuing them?
Pandora Boxx 2:11
Well, let’s just say I had my own private dressing room downstairs. So there came a point in time where these guys that would have the type of guy that would have picked on me in high school. were suddenly all about me and wanting to be sexual with me. And it was kind of it was a very nice power trip, I guess. Because it was just like, oh, what I can reckon what this can happen. So yes, I did live out my full fans. Okay.
K Anderson 2:48
Just to be clear, it was men who were like the people who bullied you in high school, not the men who bullied you in high school?
Pandora Boxx 2:56
Yes, or like cuz like not the I don’t know what happened to them hopefully.
K Anderson 3:04
That would be like a total ego trip, wouldn’t it?
Pandora Boxx 3:08
Um, my God, I wish I wish that had happened because that would that would have been forever but was just lovely type of like the jocks and the kind of people like that that I never kind of fit in with I’m like, oh, wow, like, okay,
K Anderson 3:22
are these things that like, you know? Maybe this isn’t quite the right thing but like the grass is always greener, like you think that they’re going to be really interesting. Funny and cool. And then you’re just like, oh, you’re kind of dull
Pandora Boxx 3:36
Yes, there was definitely like it was just fun. And I would I would do it and like who cares I’m like these guys are hot. And then I would get attached when I said I wouldn’t so I dated a lot of quote straight guys and yeah, they all they all ended badly. Except one didn’t end badly. He we just we just broke up so he was though he was a good one. But the rest were like not very kind to me.
K Anderson 4:05
So we’d like it was it like this kind of secretive? Like I’ll bring you you don’t ring me in this kind of Cloak and Dagger type thing.
Pandora Boxx 4:16
Ah, it was such a weird mixture with some of them it was day it out. They were the ones that always said well I want you to be my boyfriend and I’m like okay, but you’re only straight and I think a lot of it was their families would never be accepting of it. And they in turn weren’t totally accepting about it themselves. And it just created a lot of extra drama in my life on on both ends and
K Anderson 4:44
is it that kind of head fuck situation where someone is like love bombing you and like telling you how great you are and how amazing you are and then ghosting you the next week. Yeah, it was kind
Pandora Boxx 4:55
of like they want to be my boyfriend. They want to hang out and then sometime party But I realised too is like, Oh, well, because I’m really well known at this club and it’s the hotspot. And of course, you’re going to get to come to the club for free. And you’re going to meet all the people you want to meet. And you know if I’m telling me Oh, I love you, I love you this then they’re trying to sleep with all my friends.
K Anderson 5:20
Oh, okay. And
Pandora Boxx 5:22
yeah, and just, you know, not a healthy relationship, because they’re also not going to come out. And yeah, and then I realised I was dating the same person in any different body. For a while. I was like, Okay, this is exactly the same situation I getting myself into. I think that we just needed this means to
K Anderson 5:40
Yeah, but I mean, like, you know, going back to the point I made earlier, sometimes that drama that like all consuming drama is just just what you need. It’s just fun. Yeah,
Pandora Boxx 5:51
I think that too, you can become addicted to the drama that on? I think I was I think that if there wasn’t that kind of drama or chaos in my life, something was wrong. Like, I’m like, so quick. I kind of guess like, kind of, I don’t know if I never was consciously thinking, Oh, I like the drama. But I think I got so used to the drama that it’s like, I kind of sought it out because then it’s like, oh my god, there’s drama. It’s like all about me. It’s all this. And I’d much rather just watch some dramatic thing on TV. I don’t want any drama in my life.
K Anderson 6:25
But when Yeah, but when you’re at that age, it’s like, oh, god, I can’t believe I just said that. Okay, so this is old man. Like when you’re at that age, you know, when you’re in your late 20s. And you’re just like, yeah, it’s just like this thrill of the drama. You should run for it. And so the other question I wanted to ask was in the dressing room, did anyone ever walk in on you?
Pandora Boxx 6:52
No, I don’t think so. Because I had a lock on the door worked. But I did walk in on Darienne once, because her lock did not work. And I was I knocked and I was like, Hey, girl, oh, I’m gonna close this jar. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna Okay. And then later, she apologise. She’s like, Oh my god, I’m so sorry. You had to. I’m like, Girl time. It doesn’t matter. And I think we were if we weren’t roommates at the time because Darienne and I have been roommates. And we’ve I’ve known Darienne since she’s the reason I started doing drugs. So I’ve known Darienne for so long so I really didn’t care. It was kind of funny to me. That’s just like on my lock doesn’t work. I’m like, I know that now. Hi fully No, I will not do that again.
K Anderson 7:46
Darienne then so you said that she got you into drag was that like she was already doing it? And you happen to know where or what happened? Yeah,
Pandora Boxx 7:55
I don’t know. One day I was walking on the street and I got knocked out and I woke up and I was in drag and Darienne was standing over me laughing sprinkling
K Anderson 8:01
Pandora Boxx 8:03
But actually Yeah, I just I there’s a thing called the Park Avenue festival in Rochester, New York, which is Park Avenue. It’s kind of like an artsy Street and there’s a lot of shops and every year they would do a park out fast and have booths set up the street be closed down. And one year they had a drag show outside and somebody porch. I didn’t know what a drag show was or anything like that. I got introduced to Darienne Lake before as Darienne Lake but I didn’t know what why they were calling her that because she’s a bigger girl. I also wasn’t sure if she was a lesbian or what and all I kept thinking is because Darienne Lake I have to preface this to Darienne Lake is the theme park that’s near Rochester. So I thought it was this terrible nickname. They were calling her because she’s a big girl and they’re naming her I think in park and I was like That’s so rude. Why would she do that? And then I thought
K Anderson 8:59
no, because they that she was a ride.
Pandora Boxx 9:04
That couldn’t be I didn’t think that but um, no. And then I saw her perform. And I went oh my god, I get it all now. Now I understand and wait people are giving her money to lip sync a song and I’m doing that in my bedroom already. So how do I do I want to do that. To do that. And then she she definitely helped me out a lot. She did my makeup for much longer than she wanted to. Because I just remember her doing my makeup and kind of scowling as she was doing it one night. I’m like, I think it’s time I need to learn how to do my eyes myself cuz she’s not having it anymore.
K Anderson 9:44
Do you remember that first night when you performed the first time when it was open?
Pandora Boxx 9:50
Um, you know, I don’t really because I think it’s because the club was open for like seven, eight. between seven and nine years.
K Anderson 10:03
So there’s blurry memories from there. Yeah,
Pandora Boxx 10:05
yeah. malicious together. But because there’s so many shows, yeah, I was there every week, I don’t even think I took much time off. So I was always there. And then at one point, I became the show director of the show. And it was, I mean, it was a lot of drama, but with a lot of spin it
K Anderson 10:24
but it started to Okay, let’s pick up this let’s figure this. So lots of drama. Is this just like herding cats?
Pandora Boxx 10:32
Well, there was lots of drama within the cast. I will say that probably at any given moment, one of us hated the other one. For various reasons, and most you think about them now and they’re not
K Anderson 10:47
always but that’s the best kind of growth. So so you weren’t like I’m gonna distance myself from this because I’m the director and I’m going to be professional. You were right in there holding grudges, and being petty.
Pandora Boxx 10:59
No, I I tried not to be but I don’t know some of my other classmates my stories, but I know that there was a Well, I mean, I can say it now because people know and we do talk Aggy Dune was one of the cast members and her and I notoriously to not for quite a while there was a falling out. And yes, we got in some arguments. And and one of them was she was I’m sorry, one of them. She was dressed as Cher. So it’s even funnier in my memory, because it was kind of like having an argument with Cher.
K Anderson 11:37
What kind of era of Cher?
Pandora Boxx 11:39
Oh, it was very 80s Cher. It was like the big.
K Anderson 11:44
The best. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 11:44
K Anderson 11:45
you know, oh, today I was out. I was just out walking and someone drew like, went past me on their bicycle and had speakers on their bike and was playing ‘Believe’ by Cher really loud. I love that. I mean, I’m just walking down the canal is like, oh, okay, hello. Anyway, so it was it just like a your personalities were quite similar. And you were clashing or no,
Pandora Boxx 12:08
I think I think there was a lot of jealousy in that show, because the show became really popular. And they had our faces on billboards. And we were on the radio, we were kind of like, locally famous as I put it in air quotes. And, you know, there was always that, who’s more popular that night. And I think with her and I was just, uh, it really just stemmed from her and Darienne Darienne Lake was also one of the founders of this, this cast. We used to record them and they would play the videos, and they were making fun of me. And I walked up and kind of saw them and just went, because we make fun of everybody. And I’m like, oh, why wouldn’t I think that they’re making fun of me? And I just said, You’re just making fun of me. And Darienne was like, Yes. I was like, okay, but I couldn’t say anything. And I was kind of like, oh, why do you think she’s saying anything? And so it kind of made me just I don’t know if that was like the stem of it. Like, wait, so why can’t you just say it? And then it just kind of it just spiralled. And there’s probably other things and I, and yeah, and little things back and forth.
K Anderson 13:19
So So this isn’t about you, and Aggy. This is just about like everyone that was in the bar. Do you remember the most petty fight that was had?
Pandora Boxx 13:29
The most petty fight? You know, it’s probably it probably is between Aggy and I, and it’s one that everybody still talks about, and still says it, because it was that argument. And I don’t even know because it really had become it really gotten so out of hand, like between us like just that. I don’t even think at one point either of us even remembered why we didn’t like the other one. Like it was just so for a while it was not good. And I don’t remember what was said, but I was when she was stressed to share and I was walking offstage. And I think she said something to me. And I said something to her. And she called me a big nose queen. And I was like, no, it’s Queen and I was like, honey, you ain’t nothing about old old. Oh. And then she had to go out on stage dress to share into her number because they announced her right after I
K Anderson 14:28
said that the emphasis is on the third old right?
Pandora Boxx 14:31
Yes, because I started very dramatically. And now that I’m older I like our right well, but also I knew that she was sensitive about it. So I was like, okay, and it was in the heat of the moment. I just I just said and it’s it was not even that great of a line. That’s why I’m God Why does everyone remember this lame fight but I think we all remember it because it was so lame. It was funny and And silly and none of the time at the time when we were very upset.
K Anderson 15:05
Yes. never speak to her again. She said,
Pandora Boxx 15:08
Oh, I’m sure there was definitely said, you know, either she goes or I go that kind of. Oh, wow. Oh. I know that was that was I don’t know if it were I don’t think it was not set by me but I know it was that. Yeah, it was kind of it was Yes, it was bad. But, but bad for no reason. Like it’s really just like, oh my god, come on. Like, if I would go back, I would just be like, come on. Let’s be adults here. Let’s let it go. It’s not that big of a deal.
K Anderson 15:39
Yeah, but there is something delicious about having a grudge
Pandora Boxx 15:44
we did for for a long time.
K Anderson 15:49
But, but I’m so used to like you work together now. So you just
Pandora Boxx 15:53
Yeah. Oh, noes. Yeah, I don’t even know we haven’t had a grudge for quite a while but sometimes cautious. Still makes fun of it like because Kasha Davis and Darienne Lake were performing a brunch here in LA and I was going to come out and see them. And an Aggy happened to be in town doing work. So she came to see the brand. And we were sitting next to each other. And CATIA was like, Oh my god, you’re sitting next to each other, like made a big deal out of it. And it’s like, Girl that’s been over for a while. None of it really matter. Like it doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter then because in your mind, like it’s just you’re so like, oh my and in this situation, but it it does not matter now.
K Anderson 16:34
Yeah. And it’s I mean, it’s nothing when your colleagues as well you don’t have any distance from each other. So you don’t have any perspective. You’re just like in it
Pandora Boxx 16:41
began it was Rochester, it’s like eventually you’re going to have to get along because it’s not that big of a city. So you’re going to end your leg two of the top drag queens in the city, you’re gonna work together again.
K Anderson 16:52
So that grudges done. Who have you got a grudge on at the moment? I don’t have.
Pandora Boxx 17:01
Yeah, I know. I mean, I have grudges against politicians and horrible people like horrible racist people and all that kind of stuff. But I don’t have any grudge on any drag queens. As far as I know, I mean, maybe somebody will like hear this and go No, I have a grudge with you.
K Anderson 17:22
Just like roll their sleeves up, get into it. Yeah. And so like I said, this, this strategy that the club had to appeal to straight people. Was that successful?
Pandora Boxx 17:35
It actually was it took a little bit of time to kind of build up and and they advertised it and they did a 98 picks was the major radio station in Rochester and believe they advertise on there. They did it in the paper. And they really a you know, a lot of the ads were lag, we can’t believe they’re not women kind of like a
K Anderson 18:00
really old fashioned. Yeah.
Pandora Boxx 18:02
Oh, wow. And there was those people that came, were wowed by it. But then once they came and saw that it was more than just like, I mean, it was a gimmick to get them in to say that, but they realised that the show was good. And they enjoyed it. And there was people that came like week after week. So it really, it really took off. And at some point, it was like predominantly straight, like at some nights and type. Wow. This is kind of amazing.
K Anderson 18:30
Was there anyone who was pissy about it?
Pandora Boxx 18:33
About the all the stray people that went Yeah. Yeah, of course. There’s always people that are going to complain about too many stray people being there and all that. But it’s also like our point of view was well then come to the shows every night. Like, we wanted people to come to the show. And if the queer community isn’t going to support us and come to the shows, we need people that are going to come and we want people that are going to come every week and be supportive and be amazed by it and enjoy. And also it was for money too. It was like to make more money. We were like, We need to broaden this horizon because it’s a small community and we want to get other people involved. And on the best nights that it was there it was, it was mixed and nothing ever happened. Like it was just like, people didn’t give a shit. You could be whoever you want it to be there as a matter and
K Anderson 19:21
as a performer and this is just a general question. Like do you notice the difference between a straight or you know? I like I fully homo audience and then one that’s mixed.
Pandora Boxx 19:34
Yes, it depends on what type of show I’m doing. But yeah, I feel like I clear audience maybe is a little more vocal. And you know, quite into it. And nothing that a straight audience isn’t but it’s a little bit different and certainly different jokes. We’ll go over better for elaborate a straight on your lap and again, every Well, I mean, there’s certain like, I mean, straight people aren’t going to get some of the queer references made
K Anderson 20:07
and the fisting jokes.
Pandora Boxx 20:09
In fact, I mean, some of them. But yes, I, it’s that kind of that kind of humour they don’t get. But also, it’s kind of sometimes easier to make a straight audience laugh because you just do like, some kind of dick joke or those kind of stuff, and they’re just gonna immediately laugh and gay people are probably like, Oh, yeah, we’ve heard it.
K Anderson 20:33
So they’re less discerning about their dick jokes. You heard it here first.
Pandora Boxx 20:37
I don’t know. I mean, I prefer like a mixed audience myself. But But no, I do like the gays to be in there because they generally are laughing and having to go
K Anderson 20:52
through tips better. The queers are the streets? That’s a
Pandora Boxx 20:59
tough question. I don’t actually know. I will say that to the straights, especially the girl sometimes like to get up on stage and think they’re a pole dancer when they’re tipping. And that’s no thank you. We don’t need to see that drunk girl. Yeah, it just depends. I think that because it’s so engrained in the queer culture, I think that they probably tip better, because they’re more likely to come up there and give a bunch of dollars. And and I don’t know the exact history of tipping and why it was a drag queen thing. But I really think that it stems from an appreciation to show, I appreciate you, you’re here. Thank you for doing it. And also, because it’s like, drag is expensive. So it’s like here, girl, take $1 go buy a wig,
K Anderson 21:45
get a lace front way.
Pandora Boxx 21:48
K Anderson 21:49
And what was that? Like? Then being local famous, like being on the radio and being on billboards? And people kind of knowing who you are, but not knowing who you were? Because they knew your drag character and not you?
Pandora Boxx 22:03
Yeah, it was, it was really exciting. It was kind of like something and I didn’t know, drag could be an you know, certainly hold because what RuPaul got what seemed unattainable. Like it was like, how do you I mean, I don’t know how you would do this. And I was always knew of, like Lady Bunny, and Coco, Peru, and all of those queens that were like New York City kind of famous. And I thought, well, maybe that, but then I’d have to move to New York City and start over. So it was really cool. It was cool to be on the radio and to get recognised and noticed. And to find out just how many people came to the show, and loved it and knew of us. And definitely cool to have my face on a billboard outside the club. And it’s funny because it’s ridiculous, because I can’t believe I did it. But my boyfriend and I, at the time, were in going out of the basement and these basement stairs were terrifying and scary. I thought I was gonna die on them. Because they’re all rickety. And I don’t know how somebody didn’t. And the door to open it had to be propped open. And if it went close, you couldn’t get out because there was no handle on the other side. So you could be trapped in the basement. So one night, it went close. And I we were banging on the door. And nobody was opening because there was a little like green room area. And everybody was probably fucked up on drugs. And so we walked out the back door, which the back door goes to an alley and it goes round back to the front. So I was out of drag. And then we come back, we’d go there and there’s a security guard working who I didn’t really know I’m usually I knew everybody and I still don’t remember who it was. And I don’t think he worked there very long, maybe because of this, but we didn’t. We didn’t have any idea or anything because it’s like and I didn’t have like, you know, any bracelet or anything on because I worked there and we were going to get in the club and he’s stopping us and I’m like, No, I work here. I’m Pandora, I’m on the drag queens. Well, how do I know that and was just really rude and, and wasn’t gonna let us back in and I was like, Are you fucking kidding me? Right? Oh, I literally just did the show. And now you’re not letting me in and he was such a dick and I I said to him, and point into the billboard, like by the club. I’m like, is your fucking face on a billboard? Let me in the goddamn club. And I was like, Oh, my God. diva, but I was pissed. I’m probably a little drunk.
K Anderson 24:32
saying Don’t you know who I am? Which is the typical.
Pandora Boxx 24:37
I mean, it was it was. It was it was it was really it was right there. It was basically saying the same. They
K Anderson 24:44
just like storm pass. And then afterwards,
Pandora Boxx 24:47
I think I did or I think another security guard like told him and was like, dude, like, I was like, come on, like this night wouldn’t be busy if it wasn’t for us. So give me a break.
K Anderson 25:00
He was trying to do his job. Fuck him if you’re out there, Mr. Security Man, fuck you. Yeah. Tell me about it performances. What was your act at that time?
Pandora Boxx 25:12
It was I know, I had like a little sexy phase where I had broken up with a I had a boyfriend for like two years while I was there who was gay now one of the straight ones. And it wasn’t a very good relationship.
K Anderson 25:24
I’m sporting a patent on it.
Pandora Boxx 25:29
Yes, yes, I will add to it in case anyone is not aware, I have been with my partner now for 15 years. So I Oh, okay, just rub it in, I definitely definitely figured it out. Finally, after all of like these bad relationships, it was not a it was not a good fit. But after I broke up with him where we broke up, and it was a bad breakup. I was like my sexual awakening, I guess. That’s when I was, you know, when I’m going to be I’m going to be a slot, I’m going to be a blonde slot on stage. And all my numbers are going to be blonde and sledding. And I’m that I like, I’m going to get these straight guys to like me in the audience. And that’s how I’m going to make my money. I’m going to be basically Australia UK move. Yeah, so I had that phase. And yeah, and Mark has a kind of had to be something they know, or sometimes top 40. Just because like, if you did something too obscure, they, they wouldn’t know what it was. And at one point, I used to write down every number I made and how much I made and tips for every number and kind of keep a log of everything. And I went back and looked at it like years after I had started it. And sometimes I couldn’t figure out why some of these numbers weren’t going over and why it wasn’t making as much money as the rest of the queens and I looked at the list and I’m like, girl, you’re doing some obscure Tori, emo song. Went audiences straight people. So that’s probably one of the reasons why it’s not going over, like do things people know. And you’re probably going to do better. And when I realised that you know what, it worked, I did better than this. I was like, okay, it can’t be just for me every night. It’s I got to think about what the audience wants.
K Anderson 27:07
Let me Let’s Can we just talk about this lug that you kept? Because that’s, you know, that’s pretty impressive. So were you just like writing down performed this song tonight made this much money?
Pandora Boxx 27:16
Yeah, it was just the I wrote down the nights and the numbers and tips. And also it was because at a certain point, I was doing like, three shows a week. And originally, we had to do four numbers in the show, we had to do two numbers in the first set two numbers in the second set. And on Fridays, it was three numbers. Wednesdays, I did like two but I hosted it so I could be kind of
K Anderson 27:41
like I’m not feeling it tonight.
Pandora Boxx 27:43
Although I want it although I wanted to get tips. So I’m like I have to I have to do numbers. And it was really just a way to remember what the hell I was doing, like week to week, so I wasn’t repeating.
K Anderson 27:54
Like make a graph or like some pie charts or something like this some is this much.
Pandora Boxx 28:00
Now. Oh, I know. And you know what, I got rid of the book like a few years back. And I when I think about it now I’m like, why did I yeah. Cuz that’s just, I know. And it was in a Spice Girls No. To
K Anderson 28:14
back. And so we we meandered. You were telling me about your study phase. What? Like what songs were you performing?
Pandora Boxx 28:26
Gosh, the first one I did, which was very, I just remember because it was not the Pandora I guess people were used to it was a little
K Anderson 28:38
was this like a Britney? The sexual phase that Britney went through? And like, well, all teen princesses did?
Pandora Boxx 28:46
Yeah, I was doing like, kind of like funny numbers. And like, I would have these funny mixes and do that kind of stuff. And yeah, not really like dance too much. Because I mean, I’m not like a dance dancer. But it’s like, but I don’t know, I just I guess I felt a little repressed by this relationship. Because I didn’t like that’s probably the other thing too. I didn’t drink I think for like, two years of the relationship. And I was like, I just want to have fun and party and I felt like I wasn’t myself in that relationship. And he kind of left me for somebody else to say there was a little bit of that of like, well, I’m gonna show that I am hot bitch.
K Anderson 29:30
And this is what you are missing out.
Pandora Boxx 29:32
And I did this song called sick and beautiful by artificial joy club and it’s very like, you know,
K Anderson 29:40
on yes and no way How does the beautiful like me? No.
Pandora Boxx 29:46
Yeah, yes. Oh, no, no,
K Anderson 29:49
no. I’m thinking Oh, no.
Pandora Boxx 29:51
No, no, you’re right. I’m sorry. You are thinking of the song but I know what song you’re thinking of, but I
K Anderson 29:56
can’t think of it. What is that one is Beautiful like you. Yeah, that one. Anyway, sorry. So artificial joy club is a different band company.
Pandora Boxx 30:07
Yes. And I did that song. And it was it’s kind of like gritty, Rocky, slutty. And I just did it. And I moved and I did moves that I had not ever done before and turned up the sexual things to people tipping me. And I think I made out with a guy during the number. In fact, I know I did it with somebody I did. No, no, maybe I didn’t even know him. He was just really cute. And I and I was like, I didn’t just grab him like I looked. And I’m like, he’ll Kiss me. I like I’m slowly to.
K Anderson 30:48
So risky, though. Because what if he was just like, Get off me? And three? Yes, that would have been the performance.
Pandora Boxx 30:54
But I knew that, like, there was the Connect connection. So I knew like it was there was permission there. Like it was definitely not like, I’m just gonna test you. And just go with it. I think he had, he had definitely hit on me earlier in the night. I think that’s how I knew him like he was into it. So. And then. And I knew that my boyfriend at the time was there. And it was my ex at that point. You’re and so I was like, I’m going to show a completely different side. And once I did it, and I saw how it went over. I was like, that’s it. Here we go. And I think also it was a shift in music that was coming out because for a while it was all very grungy and few pop songs here and there. But then it was like, you know, Britney came out. And there were more of these like pop princessy songs that it was like, there was just pop, pop music became more fun. So all the music that was popular was a lot more fun. So you could have more fun with the music. And I was having fun being a slot.
K Anderson 31:56
Well, yeah, I mean, right? Yeah, of course you weren’t. And so you went like in that direction. Then the the Britney Christina, Jessica.
Pandora Boxx 32:04
Yeah. And I mean, and, and Madonna and I still have of course Madonna sir. And I still had fun. I still, I mean, I still did funny comedy things because I just feel like, that’s what I have fun doing as well. So I kind of went in that direction. I think that with the cast that we had to everybody kind of had a slightly different style. So I think that’s why the show worked really well because there was something for everybody’s kind of style of music and drag and
K Anderson 32:32
and you saw a steady gap in the market.
Pandora Boxx 32:34
And nobody was really doing like, like a top slot. So I was like, Hey, I’m gonna be the Pops. Let you guys I’m going to be commenting pop slot.
K Anderson 32:44
And did you start seeing a marked increase in your tip that you were recording and you’re legit. You know why? And Funny thing is yes. What was the song that was guaranteed to fire people?
Pandora Boxx 32:58
Oh, Baby One More Time. Britney Spears. Oh,
K Anderson 33:01
Pandora Boxx 33:03
I took this choice all the time. Because every time I went out there, I would make a shit tonne of money. That one and like you oughta know, Alanis Morissette? Got I’m trying to think of like ones that I was just like, it’s fine. I know. I just did this last week. But guess what, and sometimes you just there, there was that race to kind of claim these songs. Because we knew if it was really popular at the moment, people were just gonna throw money at you. It didn’t really matter. They just love the song and they’re just gonna like here, just take all this money and take all my money. And Darienne actually did Baby One More Time first because Darienne is the queen of finding these new pop song hits. Right as they’re hitting or right before like she Oh, she did them first all all of them. But she didn’t really she didn’t really want to do the song game. So I was like, I’ll do it. How do you guys?
K Anderson 34:00
And I’ve heard there’s often beef, there’s often fights about people who do the same song as someone else. Did you get into any of those? Oh, yeah,
Pandora Boxx 34:08
all the time. There was definitely that happened a lot. People would be like, Oh my God, that’s my song. And there were certain songs that people were like, That’s mine. And had
K Anderson 34:20
that conversation happened though. Like, do you is it when you’re coming off stage and like you’ve just performed their song and then they like come up to you and like, come now.
Pandora Boxx 34:29
Now it’s very it’s very the opposite where they’ll just tell somebody else that they’re pissed. And you find out that way. And Heather Skye, and I who another claim that her and I kind of didn’t really get along for years because I she is actually the first person that ever put me in drag. And it was at the drag party, but I was dating her ex boyfriend at the time and they weren’t really exes. Which I didn’t know cuz I was very naive. And so There was a lot of she didn’t like me, for obvious reasons. And then we were I don’t know, we were always kind of arguing. But mostly, her eyes arguments only happened through other people. Like I don’t ever really remember having like a physical talk with her like any kind of that fight. It was always just, he said this, this whispers back. And she stressed about that. And there was a night that, that she wanted to do a song and I wanted to do the same song. And then I had to relent to give her the song. And it was this, the out was behind button, nothing in between us. It was between Wendy the owner, and she kind of was the liaison between it. And it was a big drama. And I mean, it’s so stupid now. And the thing is Heather, Heather and I did sit down at one point and had a conversation about everything. Because it was kind of like, we had never really just sat down and talk to each other. And I said, You know, I feel like if this guy that dict us both over wasn’t in the equation, we probably would have been friends, we probably would have gotten along and, and it was gonna be how that talk was after that we did we got along, and we realised it doesn’t really matter. So yeah, it just there was a lot of competition at that at that club. Like I said before, just to have everybody wanted that spotlight. So there was a little bit there. Was that under current going on?
K Anderson 36:25
Can you imagine Can you imagine being windy and being a bar owner and then having to be like, to I just need to let you know that you’re not allowed to do that song because this person is doing that song and you can maybe do this song but that person? Like Could you imagine if that was? Wow.
Pandora Boxx 36:40
Yes, she is. She used her friendship against me. Well, I say this a lot. Because she we were friends. So she knew about us.
K Anderson 36:49
Pandora Boxx 36:50
She came to me and asked me to not to just please pick another song because Heather didn’t have that many songs that she does. And and also, she’s like, it’s just gonna save so much. So much if you just don’t do that. And I know that you can you have a lot of things you could do and and just Can you do that? And I was like, pissed, disgruntled. And then later, I’m like, Who the fuck cares? Just It doesn’t matter. Like it literally doesn’t matter. Like now I think about it. And if somebody was doing the song I was doing I be like, Well, all right, what else? To what?
K Anderson 37:22
Let’s figure it out? Oh, no, you would just be like, I’ll just go on and do it better.
Pandora Boxx 37:28
I have gone out of town places though sometimes like travelling for drag race and whatnot. And I have run into the situation where the Queen was going to do that the song I was going to do and did not want to do something else. And it’s literally like, I mean, I’ll change mine. But I’m literally like, you guys paid me a lot of money to be here. And I okay, girl, what do you need? If you need to have that song if you want to pee on it and make it your own? And you don’t want me to do it. That’s good. That’s fine girl.
K Anderson 37:59
I just love to be in the room when like when the penny drops for everyone like so. So What song are you doing today? Oh, I’m doing this. And then just like all of the air like sucks out of the room? at once? That must be
Pandora Boxx 38:11
yes. Oh, yeah, it’s definitely I’ve definitely been there where it’s like what? Oh, okay.
K Anderson 38:19
ridiculous and amazing. And the thing I didn’t ask about that first performance after you’d slotted it up, and you went out beforehand to artificial joy club. You said your your ex was in the room at the time. What is that? Like?
Pandora Boxx 38:37
Um, I actually, I didn’t even know if he actually watched the number because I knew that he was still going to, but and also he brought the guy that he was now dating. And they would come and hang out Like what? Like when they would come and hang out at the shows I they knew I was doing. So it’s always just like, you can’t let me just work and come here.
K Anderson 39:00
But so is this like a small town thing? Like there was no other options. And that was the only place that they could go out? Or was it like, just No, there were other.
Pandora Boxx 39:07
There were other bars? I mean, definitely. It’s a drag and it’s busy. So people want to go there. But there were definitely other places to go. It was I think it was just to be basically because because you knew I’m performing. It’s like why would you come out and like fall into this new relationship when you know, it’s been terrible shitty for me. And I think I mean, I don’t know, I’ve never had that conversation. Yeah, about that particular incident. But I actually was hoping he was looking at me because I was that bitch.
K Anderson 39:38
Well, that’s what I was gonna ask like, so there’s kind of a new me. There’s two tactics you can take and one is like just just like ignore everyone in the audience and hope that you don’t kind of somehow spot him when you’re performing or look out for him and like make him eat it. So you were in the latter category then.
Pandora Boxx 39:57
Yes, and I don’t know if he actually I don’t remember if he actually But, but this is the bad thing about working at the most popular club and people want to go to the shows is that it happened to me a lot with a lot of these exes that would come in, and they would come up and they would tip me and it’s like, why are you here? Why are you doing this to me? Because you know, I can’t do anything like you’re giving me like, Why? Why do you have to come and do this? Don’t Don’t give me $1 I don’t tip.
K Anderson 40:27
So do you remember hearing about the bar closing?
Pandora Boxx 40:32
The drug scene in Rochester, New York became quite large. And ecstasy was a was a very popular drug at the time. And the city was kind of cracking down on some of the clubs that they thought were a haven for these drugs and much else was was targeted. And because it they were doing raves, they become so popular. It was very straight on other nights too at this point, and did not always feel like a safe space on the on Saturday nights. And the shows were so good, but it but it just this other subculture kind of started to take over. And I know that there were at some point, they got put under a conditional licence. And so if anything happens under that, you’re you’re basically fucked. And I don’t remember exactly what the incident was. But the police came and then they they basically they shut the club down. But I knew and a couple other people in the club knew that. It seemed like the writing was on the wall at the end. And it wasn’t really it’d become not always fun to be there. Something we had hoped and wanted for were you we knew we get a lot of straight people there. And it’s a good diverse crowd, it started to take the opposite turn where it’s like it’s mostly straight. And sometimes some of the people are paying attention the show, and other people just want to come and party. So it was that kind of mixture, and I knew that it was going to close. Like I just was like there’s no way I like at a new club, it opened a new gay bar called GQ. And I got a job there bartending. And because I was like, well, I need a job. And I don’t think this club is going to it’s gonna.
K Anderson 42:26
And I did it. But but so you never got that, like, final night could just one day with him one day, it wasn’t.
Pandora Boxx 42:36
No. And I think if my memory is correct, that there were a few of us that had gone to see the Eurythmics in New York City. They were doing a live concert, like a reunion concert. And we were in the hotel room after. And that’s when we got the call that the club was closed. Oh, wow. He called so we just had this really, we have this really great time at the, at the show, and we’re on grey, and then we get back to the room. And I think it was probably when two that called me and called one of us and or Marcella, somebody found out that was there and we all kind of were just like, Ah, that really sucks. It’s like, I’m out of a job like and I worked there like three nights a week and, and it was just sad. Like, I knew it was going to close, but then to hear that it actually was officially close. So no, we never got to do ending night or closing night or anything like that. But we did years later, many years later, at a club tilt nightclub in Rochester, so we did a club Marcella reunion party. So we all the Queens came back, except for Heather, because she had passed away. But we did a tribute number to her in the beginning of the show. And so a lot of people that used to come to Marcellas was there. And it was a really great time because it was great to know how much people love this bar. And what a great space it was, you know, until the end, but it was like, it was great to have that. So we did get a final night just yours last night.
K Anderson 44:17
But yeah, so like that, that closing of the club just being so abrupt must have been a really odd shock to the system. It was because it was definitely a family too,
Pandora Boxx 44:27
you know, even dysfunctional at times, like a lot of families are but it was like and we just knew everybody that worked there. We knew each other and the queens and I think especially at that point, because I think all the Queens were pretty much getting along there was you know, those little tussles, but I think we were getting along at a certain point. So it was dad and like the bartenders and DJs. And it was like this family for like, nine years of my life. Eight, nine years, and so it’s tough. It was tough to Same town, it was tough to see a girl and the way that it went and
K Anderson 45:04
and so like, that’s a pretty terrible note to leave this type of interview on. So let’s not do that. What I’m gonna ask you to do is cast your mind back to Pandora, his very, very first performance at much others. And you have the opportunity to speak to her as you are now I feel like I’m making this more complicated than it should be. Anyway, you have the opportunity to hear now. words of advice would you give her
Pandora Boxx 45:38
I would say please do not take this so serious. The drama will not matter eventually. And just have fun with it and be yourself and you’re going to be good kid.
K Anderson 45:52
And also you’ll make more money of your study. So get ahead on that. Yes, just
Pandora Boxx 46:01
girl, the blonde slash you know you are y’all make more money.
K Anderson 46:10
Brilliant. Brilliant. Yes, I think that’s that’s advice that we should all do you have any memories from club Marcella, or from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories. Go To www dot law spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me what you got up to. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as lost spaces pod. For more on Pandora, check out her website, Pandora box.com and make sure that you put two x’s into that address and follow her on Instagram as Pandora box, or Twitter as the Pandora box. Some sneaky person must have taken the other hand a lot of spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next 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 subscribe, left a review on your podcast platform of choice 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 loss spaces.
Whilst you're here...
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