Mimi Gina—local drag queen and creator of Assid Queens—had a succinct description of what drag queens are like for those who don’t know any. “If you’re gonna hang out with a drag queen and be around with a drag queen and work with a drag queen, you have to know that we are all fucking crazy,” Gina said. “None of those motherfuckers were normal… we’re like theater kids, but we serve cunt. That’s how I would describe drag queens.”
In creating Assid Queens for her fellow drag queens, Mimi Gina wanted to give space for the alternative crowd in drag. Queens would collaborate with different bands in the DIY shows and put on hybrid shows with half live music and half drag. Another part of this was showing drag to young people and changing the spaces for DIY bands. “One of the reasons I loved doing stuff on the punk scene was I didn’t feel like we had a lot of fem or queer representation on stage,” Gina said. “When I was going to these punk shows, there was just a bunch of boys in the band. I was like, ‘this is lame.’” It’s this platforming and collaboration that she’s proud of.
Looking back, Gina felt she was destined to become a drag queen, and her journey inspired the creation of Assid Queens. “I’ve always been cross-dressing,” Gina said. “It started before I could remember, so I’ve always just been grabbing shit out of my sister’s closet.”
Despite this instinct, Gina suppressed her identity for a long time. “I grew up in the 2000s, and it still wasn’t totally cool to be like a faggoty faggot, though I was a faggoty faggot,” Gina said.
It was then that she first watched RuPaul’s Drag Race. “I watched season five, and I’m like, this is crazy,” she said. “This is exactly what I want to do with my life.” Gina had always been interested in weird things, so it felt empowering to see people on TV talking about things she thought were niche.
Gina then knew drag was her passion, so she began attending shows around Portland. “I think the first thing that people in the drag community didn’t like before was I used to underage club a lot,” she said.
Part of her reason for sneaking in was the deplorable state of all-ages shows in the scene when she was growing up. Some choice details she shared included cum-stained couches and cigarette smoke and ash everywhere. Worst of all, the drag was lackluster. “People would do the worst drag, and you would just be like, ‘I did not just bus 30 minutes to be here,’ but like, it was the only thing we had,” Gina said.
Gina practiced painting her face at home before going out for the first time in drag to Dante’s. “Oh girl, it was so ugly,” she said. “I looked like I smeared shit on my cheek. Nothing was clean. There was barely any eyeshadow. I could barely draw a brow.”
Despite this, Gina continued to attend shows in drag, walking to and from shows through downtown. “I was so dumb,” Gina said. “I cannot believe I never got hate crimed. Someone called me a chick with a dick out of their car once. I was like, fuck you, pull over.”
Gina continued attending shows until the pandemic hit. When the shows started again, she was at last 21. However, people in the scene didn’t forget her underage past. “I tried to start going to events then, and immediately there were a couple girls who were much older than me were like, ‘oh, I remember this bitch, this bitch used to come clubbing underage and would put venues at danger, and we can’t book her,’” Gina said.
It was her difficulty getting booked that led Gina to start Assid Queens. They started with a house show before finally getting their first bar show. What initially led Gina’s decision in venues was a desire to put on all-ages shows. “Like I mentioned earlier, they were so bum fuck shitty when I was growing up,” Gina said. “I think it’s important for queer kids to see freaky people, cross-dressers on stage and like know it’s normal.”
However, the all-ages shows had their own plethora of issues. “They’re so unregulated,” Gina said. “People are overdosing and shit at shows. I had a show last March where a 16-year-old girl overdosed. She was fine, but that was freaky.”
The overdosing, kids getting drunk and other liabilities that go along with all-ages shows have led Gina to stop hosting them. “I’m moving on from the all-ages thing,” she said. “It’s just too much of a hassle.”
Gina had some good and a lot of bad to say about the state of the drag scene in Portland. One crucial bit that she gave praise to was the inclusivity. “They’re very pro-trans and different sexualities and genders,” Gina said. “Portland’s really progressive about that. And the drag scene, like it doesn’t really matter what you were born as, no one’s gonna be like, oh, you’re cheating at drag cause you have a pussy.”
It’s a refreshing juxtaposition when compared to the drag scenes in other parts of the country. Gina used Texas as an example, where not only is transphobia more abundant, but the rules and regulations are strict. “You have to wear nails, big jewels, be sparkly and have bright colors,” Gina said. “Your wig has to be glued. You have to wear blush, contour and highlighter. That’s why I like alternative drag.”
Gina also shared a long list of the negatives present within the community. “Portland is a vampiric city where people suck on each other,” she said. “There’s a lot of drama, and I just don’t see a lot of people celebrating each other.”
Another issue Gina mentioned was the difficulties that alternative drag performers face. “It’s really hard to move up in the scene and get booked at certain places if you don’t know the right people or have a certain aesthetic,” she said. “If you want to dress up like Rosemary’s Baby and perform an abortion on stage or pretend to be Courtney Love and smoke a crack pipe while pregnant as a number, you’re not gonna move up the ranks of the typical club setting.”
The drama and booking difficulty have led many original Assid Queens and Gina’s favorite queens in the community to quit. “They’re like ‘it’s just too much drama and effort, and I have to try too hard, and I don’t get to do what I want to do,’” Gina said.
As far as Gina’s routines, they are constantly evolving. However, she shared a few that have always been fan favorites, such as her psycho killer number. “It’s like a news video talking about how Lorena Bobbit cut off her husband’s penis,” she said. “And then I come out, and I have a little vegetable board, and to the beat of ‘Psycho Killer’ I’m cutting up zucchini. When I do that, people go crazy.”
Gina doesn’t cartwheel or do death drops, leaning instead into her funny side for hosting shows. “I’m better just chatting with the audience, playing games, telling jokes,” she said. “People will call me a bitch, say that I’m the biggest cunt ever, but the whole cast knows they’re there to get roasted.”
Gina’s main inspirations for her work are relatively straightforward. “I like trash,” she said. “I like hot fucking garbage. I’ve always been attracted to those bold, brazen, nasty but stylish characters. And so there’s a lot of that in drag and in queer culture… Like Dolly Parton said, she loved the way the town whore looked, and her mom would be like, ‘that girl’s nothing but white trash.’ She’s like, ‘I wanna be white trash.’ And I’m like, me too.”
Another major inspiration Gina cited was feminism. “I like angry women,” she said. “I really like listening to Bikini Kill and Hole just cause they scream a lot, and it’s very anti-boy. I really hate men.”
Speaking of patriarchy, Gina had words for straight people wishing to attend her shows. “It’s really disrespectful when you’re someone totally outside the community, like straight dudes or bachelorette parties show up, and they don’t have a fucking dollar for you,” she said. “It’s like, okay, I get it, but stand in the back and cheer a lot. At least don’t be, like, front and center.”
Gina wanted to ensure people know that she isn’t who people assume. “I just want everyone to know that I’m not this horrible cunt they think I am,” she said. “I am kind of a bitch sometimes to people, and there are definitely some people that have the right not to like me. I wish more people got to know me ‘cause we actually have a really tight-knit [group] of people who perform in Assid Queens and the people who come. It’s a bunch of queer weirdos who get to celebrate together and be freaky and punk.”