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She’s been bringing the fierceness to Charlie’s for years, both as Tyler Todd and Yolanti Pussy. Whether it’s behind the scenes managing events or taking the stage with some tequila shots, Yolanti is running things. We caught up with her about diversity in Denver and her career so far.

What brought you to Charlie’s, and what made you want to work for the company?
I started coming to Charlie’s when I first moved to Denver in August of 2011. I would come do line dancing lessons with my sister’s girlfriend. It was actually the first gay bar I ever stepped foot in. I was 22 at the time and had just moved to Denver with my sister and her girlfriend who had been in Denver for a year. I came out to my sister the day after moving to Denver. After living in Denver for almost two years, I was ready to get more involved with the gay community. I only had a few gay friends at the time and had always been interested in bartending, being that I had been in the service industry for the past seven years. I thought bartending was the next step, and Charlie’s was my favorite, so why not?

Did you always have a passion for entertainment?
Being so new to the “gay scene” and still being fresh out of the closet, I was still pretty reserved at first. My first time performing in front of people, I was a back-up dancer for one of the Charlie’s Turnabout shows for my friend and now GM of Charlie’s, Brendan Sullivan. I wasn’t working at Charlie’s yet but was trying to get my foot in the door any way possible.

A few months after that, I was cast in a male revue show at Charlie’s called Flesh. I think that is when I really turned up the volume and started taking performing seriously. I had the host of the show, Kirk Cummings, teaching me all the pole tricks and a few routines, and I think that’s when I really started to get comfortable in front of people and developed the passion for entertaining.

Drag was still a little scary for me at that time, but my first time in drag was a year later at Charlie’s.

I had been working at Charlie’s almost a year, and that was my first Turnabout show. I recruited two of my best friends, one of them my boyfriend, and we came up with two sickening numbers (costumes, concepts, choreography), and that’s when I started to really get into drag, although it wasn’t until the following years’ Turnabout that I performed again and Yolanti Pussy was officially born.

How did your persona as Yolanti Pussy evolve, and what do you think you’ve learned about yourself from drag?
Yolanti Pussy has evolved in the way of not being too serious. I always try my best to practice and make every performance perfect, especially with group numbers that I choreograph, but you have to take a step back every once in a while and make sure you’re having fun, because that’s what it’s all about. I think what I’ve learned the most about myself through drag is just that. Embrace your own brand of weirdness, and don’t be afraid to show people your vulnerable side. If you can’t laugh at yourself, how the hell are you going to make other people laugh?

Tell us about Yolanti’s Kiki. What do you aim to highlight and showcase in the show?
In Yolanti’s Kiki I aim to give the audience something new each week while also bringing back some classic, favorite numbers every once in a while. I like to promote drinking, Don Julio specifically. She’s a tequila girl, and my audience is definitely well aware. And let’s be real, if the bar or establishment hosting a drag show isn’t making money, that show is probably not going to last long.

How do you feel about the Denver drag scene, and what do you think makes it so special?
One of my favorite quotes is “it takes all kinds,” and the Denver drag scene has all kinds and then some! I think that is special and important, especially for new queens in the scene. I feel like, even when I started going to drag shows, it wasn’t as diverse as it is now.

[Back then] I felt like, ‘Well, if I don’t look like this queen, or I don’t perform like that queen, there isn’t much room for me in the scene.’ That is definitely not the case now.

Denver has comedy queens, fishy queens, campy queens, bearded queens, hairy queens, bio queens, bio kings, drag kings, you name it, and I think all the diversity gets more and more people involved and interested in drag, because different people relate to different forms of entertainment and art.

Where would you like to see your show and your drag career in five years?
I realized the other day that, ever since I moved to Denver, I have “evolved” a little about every two years. I worked in the restaurant industry for two years, started at Charlie’s and bartended for two years, became a manager for two years, was the Charlie’s office manager briefly, then, for the past two years, have doing drag and became the entertainment director.

I think in the next couple of years, I would like to focus more on the business side of things, creating and producing fun events and more production numbers besides just Yolanti’s Kiki. In the past at Charlie’s, I have produced, directed, and choreographed shows such as Grease, Aladdin, Mama Mia, and The Lion King, which were a lot of work but also so rewarding and so much fun. I’m also getting married this May to my boyfriend of almost five years, Heli Reyna/Meonya Pussy, so in the next five years I can see myself really focusing on starting a family.

 

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Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of my biggest things with doing drag, and especially hosting, is realizing the power that you do have as an entertainer and personality on the mic. That is why I try my hardest to never promote negativity; I never talk about other queens that I may or may not like, and I never use social media to bully.

That is something you definitely see too often and would be something that I would like to see change within the community. I think it’s easy for people to promote love and equality and all these good things; then you see those same people ranting and stirring sh*t up and just being plain mean via Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think this type of behavior is very two-faced, childish, and sad, and I have had to let girls go in the past who could not control or be responsible with their social media.

In the words of Alaska, ‘If I have issues with you, I will bring it right to your face,’ and if I or any of my Charlie’s Girl’s have been bullied, I can find a way to address the issue in a non-vindictive, funny way that gets my point across without putting someone on blast via social media. If they want to act like that, they don’t deserve to have their name in my mouth anyway.

Photos by Scotty Kirby