Miss Richfield 1981 is the national gay treasure we never knew we needed. Hailing from Richfield, the first suburb of Minnesota, she has dedicated her life to the friendly citizens and responsible merchants of her hometown. Miss Richfield continues to sell out at venues across the country, winning over cabaret and theatre audiences with interactive shows that combine homespun growth and edgy improv. Her original performances are truly one-of-a-kind. Additionally, Miss Richfield is a constant staple in Provincetown, filling the Pilgrim House nightly each summer.
As the spokesperson for Orbitz Travel, she is constantly on the road. This year, in honor of Stonewall’s 50-year anniversary, Miss Richfield is trying to hit up and visit as many Pride festivals as possible. Will she be making an appearance at Denver’s PrideFest? Who knows, but keep a lookout just in case.
OUT FRONT caught up with this quirky queen about her hectic schedule and upcoming projects.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Miss Richfield!
Of course! I am glad to be here!
Let me start off by asking, how did your drag persona begin? How did Miss Richfield 1981 come to be?
Oh my word, I am glad you asked. Back in 1981 in Richfield, I was in a beauty pageant where there were 11 contestants. You had to be either single, a virgin, or under 250 pounds. I was a bit heavier, and it was a nail-biter, but I realized I skipped breakfast that morning. I only had half a danish.
Anyway, this other contestant named Trudy Olsen was twirling not only one, not two, but three flaming batons! She took out all the other contestants and the front row. It was a terrible fire. I don’t know if you ever seen taffeta burn, but fortunately I was wearing 100 percent polyester. The other girls were hauled off to the burn unit, but it overall had a good ending. I got a beautiful tiara!
Wow, so it all worked out for the best! And is it true you never had an interest in drag before creating this character?
No, no, no. I didn’t care for it. It wasn’t until they started paying me. You’d be surprised how interested I got into it at that point.
Why did you want to pursue a full-time entertainment career?
It was a dream, and it is so amazing to do this kind of work, Denny. I think of all these people with jobs who are sad. Think of the news media, I would hate to be doing the news these days, and here I am standing in a beautiful rainbow outfit talking and sharing the amazing stories about Pride! Think of New York Pride, 50 years! It’s unbelievable. And my work with Orbitz made me realize all the Pride festivals that are happening around the country. How amazing they are.
How did you initially get involved with Orbitz?
What happened was, they needed someone for an advertisement. They weren’t sure who to hire, but everyone they looked at demanded payment. I was just happy to show up. So, they gave me a bus ticket and they Greyhounded me to Atlanta where we filmed our first commercial in a pool. And it was God awful cold, I think it was like February. But I got a free night in a hotel in Atlanta. Who’s going to turn that down? We had a great time even though I almost froze to death. And Orbitz is the first travel site that has a dedicated section for the LGBTQ community. We really need to respect and be supportive of companies that support the community.
What was it like growing up in Richfield, the first suburb of Minnesota?
It has always been a beautiful suburb, and as the first suburb of Minnesota, you can imagine how modern and stylish it is! Richfield is a land where butter is a spice, gravy is a beverage and bingo is not viewed as gambling, since it is not mentioned in the Bible. The only drawback is the cold winter months, which can be treacherous when scampering across the icy walkways in nine-inch stilettos!
Your live performances have received critical acclaim, especially your act in Provincetown. What can audiences generally expect from a Miss Richfield performance?
Each year, I do a brand-new show with new songs, new costumes, new videos, and usually the same jokes. This year is “Gender Fluids,” which I selected because these are some changing times we are living in with the kids making new and exciting life decisions. The rest of us need to catch up! So, my show this year explains the wonderful genders, both old and new, along with a message of hope–or at least survival. And I adore doing this show. It is supreme happiness to hear the folks go crazy with my upbeat music, informative videos, and audience interaction! It’s also always a bonus when I remember the words to the songs!
What makes Miss Richfield so unique?
Beauty! As Miss Richfield 1981, a beauty professional and pageant title holder, I know the buzz about scholarships and high school diplomas and all, but it’s a fact that only 50 percent of beauty queens can actually read and write, and virtually none of us do math. Let’s face it, beauty is skin-deep, and everybody knows that your skin is not connected to your brain, so I keep my message light and pretty.
What tips do you have for us to make sure we are getting the most out of our vacations?
Well, as a member of the mile-long club on the Greyhound bus line, I am always sitting in the front seat visiting with the driver while we motor to another fascinating destination. But over the last few years, I have discovered a whole new traveling world with my buddies at Orbtiz. They were the first travel site to have a special area just for LGBTQ travelers. So, when starting or even thinking of traveling, I go to Orbitz.com/Pride, where they have travels tips, reviews by other LGBTQ travelers, ideas for best way to get from place to place and, this year for World Pride, travel tips from me. It’s all teed up for you, so all you need to do is click and go.
What is something that can always be found in your suitcase?
Oh my word! Often my cat. Yea, until he had that unfortunate bladder infection then I had to quit brining him with me. The smell in my suitcase was getting pretty bad. It’s almost gone, but I do get a whiff every once in a while. Other things that can be found, usually codeine. I can get that from Mexico. And of course, anything rainbow. I don’t always travel with a rainbow outfit, but this year, I am committing to not going anywhere without it. I want to remind people about Pride!
What is one of your most memorable Pride memories?
The year I was included on an episode of Cake Boss. For this installment back in 2015, I ordered a cake for the New York City Pride Family Movie Night on Chelsea Pier. Buddy and his crew made a giant, gorgeous rainbow-colored cake the size of a banquet table. It was delicious and beautiful. This was my second cake with Buddy. Six years ago, the cake was based on Jesus and Christmas, and this time it was homos and children. So, I guess you never know!
What is the craziest thing Miss Richfield has ever done at a Pride festival?
One of my first pride parades – this is a true story – I decided to ride a three-wheeled bicycle and hand out balloons to the children. So, I dolled myself up with my nicest rainbow outfit, a matching handbag and nine-inch high heels, along with 500 helium-filled balloons. Unfortunately, the bike broke in the first block of the parade, so I had to push it the rest of the way on a very hot and windy parade route. The children loved the balloons and the pace was nice and slow, so I could visit with everyone, but by the end of a two-mile march in stilettos, I collapsed on the grass at the park and was there for the following three days. Thankfully, my LGBTQ friends kept me alive with corn dogs, cotton candy and coffee, so by 9 p.m. Tuesday evening, I was back on the bus heading home to Richfield.
What’s next for Miss Richfield?
I have a hectic schedule this summer. Sixty shows in Provincetown, a night in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Kennebunk, Maine, and celebrating World Pride with Orbitz in New York City! Along with all that, I am trying to find a boyfriend. You know, most single gals in my stage of life are more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find love. So, I am thinking of relocating to Iraq to better my chances. Speaking of terror, I should probably end in a Bible verse. I like the one where Jesus says, “It’s important to be nice, but it’s nicer to be important!” Amen! See you soon!
Photo courtesy of Miss Richfield