4 min

If you’re in the mood, do it

Mandy Kamp's an electric personality

BE KINDER. Mandy Kamp loves to quote Justine Tyme's saying that drag queens should be kind to one another because life can be so short. Credit: Kevin Teneycke

We chat in Mandy Kamp’s sweet West End pad amongst her wall of Madonna magazine covers and drag memorabilia. She reflects on her past year as Empress and her glamorous career with always a smile, never a sneer.

Michael Venus: For the poor unfortunate soul who hasn’t heard of Miss

Mandy Kamp, who, in a nutshell, are you and what do you do and why are you doing it, and all that?

Mandy Kamp: At the moment I am Empress XXXI. We are basically the chair people of the Dogwood Monarchist Society, which is set up primarily to fundraise in the city. We fundraise for the charities of our choice. This year A Loving Spoonful and YouthCO are our recipients.

MV: Have you been involved with in the Court system for a long time?

MK: Many years yeah! Even back when I was in Edmonton 10 years ago, I was Empress then and that’s when I got to know Myria and Willie and Venus De Mylo and all the girls from that era. So when I moved here in ’96 I kinda had my ‘in’ connection. I called them and said, ‘Hi I’m here, get me a job’ (laughing), which they did! I was very fortunate because I was snapped up by Willie Taylor at the Denman Station every Saturday and Myria at Celebrities every Wednesday since the day I landed. It was instantly like that. At the moment, every Monday I have a show called Diva Inc at Numbers with Carlotta Gurl. We go on at around 10 o’clock. Every other Thursday I’m at the Dufferin guesting in Mz Adrien’s show. I also do a show that I started called Live by Request where the audience chooses what they want to hear with our character and that’s every two to three month at the Oasis-that is for charity as well. I also have a guest spot at Lips Inc Wednesdays at The Odyssey and Feather Boa there as well on Sundays. So they keep me busy!

MV: When was Mandy born and all that glamour?

MK: Mandy was born I think in, like, 1982. I was a little skinny go-go boy dancing on the speaker at a club called Flashbacks with too much attitude and too much hair to match it. The big head drag queens of Flashbacks-Gloria Hole and Lulu Larue-spotted me one night and talked me into a contest, which I won, and it all snowballed from there: more shows and contests until I was a part of the scene and it was too much fun to pass up.

MV: What is it about being Mandy that’s so great?

MK: I love the performing aspect because I think there is a little bit of a performer in everyone; if you have something to give you should do it. I do have a bit of that ego streak, you know. I like doing what I do and the costumes get to be really fun and sometimes really pretty and that’s what keeps me going.

MV: You have been here in Vancity for, like, six years and in that time what sort of shifts have you seen the drag and gay scene go through?

MK: Oh, huge changes and I know this almost kinda sounds like a cop-out, but since 9/11 the economy has completely changed. Whereas people would give so freely with their time and money, now they safeguard it. They realize they may not be around as long as they thought-it all really came as a shock and an eye-opener. We really felt the crunch within the Courts. People who used to drop $5, $10 or $20 for a charity donation at the door now will maybe drop a loonie or a toonie. It’s been a huge change. In the drag scene, I hate bringing this up with the death of Diana Rose, but that did bring the girls closer together because again Diana went so fast and it totally took everyone off guard. We were all in shock over her death; it made us all realize that we could go in a week, it’s that simple, you can go that quickly. I think it was Justine who put it so eloquently, she said, you know it’s time we be a lot nicer to each other because we aren’t here a long time.

MV: When you’re Mandy, sexuality. How does all that click into the mix?

MK: (Laughing.) I knew you we’re going to get to this part! Of course. I have met some of the most beautiful men in drag, oh my God. I have been very lucky that way because I think they really like what they see. At least I hope they do. There have been lots of hot men that I probably wouldn’t have normally met just because Mandy has the whole hair, make-up and nail thing happening.

MV: It’s a fetish for sure. Now: what happens when you get them home?

MK: You mean if I take them home?

MV: Oh honey, I’ve seen you take them home. Are we forgetting we live in the same building?

MK: (Both cackling away like wild banshees.) I am going to really skirt around this issue because I don’t want it all in print and I know it will be. Whatever they want, whatever they want. Some of the girls and I have talked seriously about this. Some girls have a problem with taking guys home in drag. And for some of us who do take guys home, we realize this is a fetish for them, it is a kink. Quite honestly, if we are spending an hour putting on make-up and hair and dresses and what not, we are obviously doing something that some people find very hot and attractive to them. So, hell, why not? If you’re in the mood, do it; that’s my mantra.

MV: What happens after you step down?

MK: There will definitely be a period where I’ll want to take some time off because we have had such a busy, crazy year and a little bit of a bumpy ride. I will carry one night with Carlotta. I love her and we have such a good working relationship together. I’ll keep on fundraising, doing my Live by Request at Oasis. I just want to keep doing things and the Ball is going to be a huge, fun time.