Humans of TCGMC: Matt Hudson
This week, Josh talks with Matt Hudson!
Matt: My drag name is Anastasia C. Principle. Growing up, my two favorite names were Anastasia and Topanga –
Josh: OH, LIKE FROM BOY MEETS WORLD!
Matt: – Yes! That’s why I didn’t go with Topanga. That’s what everyone always said. Obviously, Anastasia is royalty. The “C” stands for “Chapelle,” which was my very first last name in drag, which is now a family name I pass unto my children. “Principle” is part of the family I was adopted into.
Josh: YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN THE HIERARCHY TO ME.
Matt: You have the people who mentor you and adopt you. For example, I mentor Alana Chapelle, who my daughter. Jol D. Principle was the mentor who pushed me to do things outside of the Cities – to grow and to get out of my comfort zone in pageants. So I took his last name.
Josh: I KNOW MANY MEMBERS OF OUR QUEER COMMUNITY – AND OUTSIDE OF IT AS WELL – ARE FAMILIAR WITH DRAG, BUT CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE ART? WHAT DO YOU DO IN A TYPICAL SHOW?
Matt: Everyone’s persona is different. I consider my drag “old school,” very pageant girl, glamor. Most people relate it to Ru Paul’s Drag Race; I’m like your Chad Michaels or Roxie Andrews. I like the big hair and the jewels and the costumes. Drag has come to mean a lot of things to different people, though.
I was a theater major in college (but then I saw my friends were graduating without jobs, so I switched). I’ve always loved being on stage and performing. My first experience was at the Gay 90’s. I met Monica West, who was stepping down from Miss Gay 90’s. She needed backup dancers for her opening production of Miss Gay 90’s that year, and I participated. I fell in love with extravagant makeup, and going from your boy persona to your girl persona.
I consider my drag birthday October 2011. My first real show was at The Townhouse. Esme Rodriguez booked me for “Sequin Sundays” and gave me the amazing opportunity to be in shows, and to MC a show.
Josh: WHAT DIFFERENTIATES DRAG FROM BEING AN MC?
Matt: I think most drag hosts are expected to be a little bit inappropriate and flirtatious. They have to be very outgoing and to be able to go up to strangers and strike a conversation. You have to be able to deal with people who don’t know anything about drag. You have to be able to read the audience and adjust at a moment’s notice, based on their reaction. And just because there is an audience of 2 people doesn’t mean you can be any less of a performer.
Josh: WHAT WOULD AN IDEAL AUDIENCE BE FOR YOU?
Matt: Lately, I’ve been enjoying hosting for a straight audience. Since Drag Race is so common, people have come to have incredibly high expectations. When I’m with a straight crowd, they’re still there to have a good time, and they’re not as judgmental. They’re more relaxed and open to the banter and the jokes. You have to read your audience and to not push them, though. Even if they aren’t necessarily comfortable, you have to respect their boundaries and see if they’re not in a very good head space.
However, I’ve had many types of great audiences. I’ve hosted drag bingo, brunch, pageants, college shows, I’ve played Cher in the TCGMC chorus concert. I’ve done a little of everything!
Josh: YOU, SPECIFICALLY, HAVE DONE A LOT OF WORK TO BRING DRAG TO CHORUS FUNDRAISERS.
Matt: One of my philosophies is that I have to give back to the community. When there are charity shows, I try to always participate.I’m currently the Princess Royale of the Imperial Court of Minnesota. It’s a 501(c)(3) [a non-profit organization] of almost exclusively LGBTQ performers. We do at least one show a month where all tips and earnings are donated to different charities in the Cities. We just did one this past weekend for Peyton’s Promise, which helps people through the expensive adoption process. I’ve worked with groups that raise money for Claire Housing.
I also worked to put on 2 TCGMC drag shows. Most people don’t know this year, but this August we’re having our first ever Miss TCGMC pageant! We’ll have about 10 contestants in couture on the runway, there will be a talent competition, and the third category will be how much money they raise in tips. Judges will decide the winner.
Josh: OH MY GOD, WHAT? WOW! THAT’S SICK! I ATTENDED THE DRAG SHOWS, AND I’M REALLY PROUD OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO DO FOR OUR CHORUS. ON THE FLIP SIDE, THOUGH, I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
SOME PEOPLE HAVE THE OPINION THAT DRAG IS MISOGYNISTIC – THAT IT CAPITALIZES ON FEMININITY IN ITS CARICATURES OF WOMEN, IN A WAY THAT MIGHT BE VIEWED AS MOCKING. HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT?
Matt: In today’s culture, I would say that masculinity and femininity are becoming a thing of the past, in how they’re applied. I don’t think the labels should be used, as people may not identify with those – whether in their dress or their bodies. Who really has the right to say they own a label? You can own your own identity, but you can’t tell others how they can or can’t identify.
Josh: THANK YOU, MATT. I’VE NEVER CONSIDERED THAT. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS UNFAMILIAR WITH THE – WHICH I WON’T DEFINE AS MASCULINE OR FEMININE – FLAMBOYANT AND SOMETIMES INTERACTIVE PERFORMANCES?
If you’re seeing drag for the first time, go in with an open mind. If you feel uncomfortable, step away. Chances are the atmosphere will change with the next performer. Try your best to go in without expectations. Ultimately, drag is about pushing the limit. Everyone should be there to have a good time and know that all drag venues are homes of love where intolerance and negative mindsets won’t be tolerated.
Josh: I’VE YET TO ASK YOU THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: WHY DRAG?
Two reasons. The simple one is that I love Broadway and being a male, there are certain roles I can never play… drag lets me play those parts. The more complex version is that Matt is more of an introverted person (unless around friends) who has a lot of complex body issues. Anastasia doesn’t; she is a proud plus sized diva who owns the stage and is always down to have a good time. Drag gives me a mask to live out a life that I don’t always feel welcome or comfortable living as Matt.