“I am a drag queen with talent they haven’t seen. Skills they won’t believe. And personalitly that is bursting at the seams!” – Hershae Chocolatae
Abby: Congratulations on making it through the first round of auditions on America’s Got Talent!
Hershae: Thank you.
Abby: I wouldn’t know who you are if you hadn’t made the trek all the way to Atlanta, Georgia from Toledo, Ohio to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” How long of a journey is that?
Hershae: It’s about a 12-hour drive.
Abby: That makes you a very dedicated entertainer in my book.
Hershae: Actually, I worked it to my advantage. I was able to kill two birds with one stone. My sister lives down there as well, so I was able to get a visit in and go audition.
Abby: You do a great Macy Gray impression. Who else do you impersonate?
Hershae: I also do Tina Turner and I’m working on some other ones right now. I would like to do Amy Whinehouse and Anastasia. It is just a matter of finding the right song.
Abby: Absolutely. I noticed that you’ve won over 20 titles such as: “Michigan Drag Queen Of The Year.” What’s involved in capturing a title?
Hershae: In the cases of the titles that I have, I get a gown and put together a talent and usually a presentation. Some of them had interviews and/or question and answers. It takes a lot of work because gowns are expensive and sometimes so are talents. You have to make sure you put your best foot forward and hope that the judges like what they see and give you the crown. I am actually only at 17. I have exactly 17 titles.
Abby: Are you a seamstress?
Hershae: Yes. I make all of my own clothes. Well, at least 99% of them. Sometimes I see something and I go, “Oh, I’ve got a have it” and I will buy it. But I do make my own clothes. I even cover shoes with stuff to make them match the outfit. So I do the whole nine.
Abby: I was looking at the photos on your website and you have some amazing outfits.
Hershae: Thank you.
Abby: The one with the black and white feathers is incredible!
Hershae: Oh, I made that one too. I made that out of coat hangers. It’s amazing what you can do with coat hangers and duct tape.
Abby: I’m learning that duct tape is so important in the world of drag
Hershae: It really is.
Abby: Did you study gymnastics or did this talent develop as you were doing more drag?
Hershae: Actually, I have never had any dance training, acrobatic training or anything. Most of that kind of happened on accident.I found that I could do a flip on my 21st birthday. I was kind of intoxicated because you know on your21st birthdaypeople get you drunk, especially if you’re in a show.They are like, “We love her. Let’s get her a shot.” I was toast basically but I still had another number, and there was a wet spot on the floor. I slipped and somehow I had done a flip and when I opened my eyes again I was sitting in a split. It just kind of developed from there.
Abby: Have you seen Morgan McMichael’s in person?
Hershae: Not in person. No.
Abby: You could give her a run for her money.
Hershae: Is she acrobatic too?
Abby: Oh, yes. She does an impersonation of Pink and she does flips and one-handed cartwheels. She’s amazing.
Hershae: I am still working on the one-handed thing. It scares me.
Abby: I hope that we get to see that on “America’s Got Talent.” Are you a full-time entertainer or do you have a traditional day job?
Hershae: Entertaining is what I do. During the day I sew, rhinestone or make wigs. I do sell stuff. I don’t only make it for myself.
Abby: So if someone needed something done, you are the person to go to?
Hershae: Right. I am the one stop drag shop!
Abby: When did you start doing drag?
Hershae: 12 years ago this July.
Abby: Happy early anniversary!
Hershae: Thank you.
Abby: What made you start doing drag?
Hershae: I used to be a male stripper.
Abby: For men or women?
Hershae: Both.The person that actually helped me and introduced me into the world of drag found me dancing one night and asked when I was going to start doing drag. I told him, “never.” I said, “I’m a man.” I put on my deep voice and everything and said, “That’s not going to happen.”
One of the bars that I attended regularly was having a pageant. I thought, just in support of the bar, it would be a good idea if I just hopped in the pageant and see what it was like.I went to a show that they had, all dressed up, to see what I could work on. They said,”you look great” and then threw me in the show. The crowd erupted into applause and cheering. Since then I’ve been hooked.
Abby: When did you know you were gay?
Hershae: I officially knew I was gay when I was about 16. I also had a very strong upbringing in the church. I was a trustee in the church and an usher. I was in the church a whole lot growing up. I didn’t accept it. I fought it until I was about 18. Then I started slowly dealing with more gay people on a regular basis and realizing that I could be me. I decided to come out when I was 19 finally.
Abby: What was school like for you?
Hershae: I didn’t like school. School was very tough because even though I kind of figured I was [gay] I didn’t know for sure because you don’t know until you experience it really. It was kind of tough. I got picked on a lot. None of the guys liked me and all of the girls did. My hair always matched my outfits. If I had on a purple outfit, my hair was purple. I started to wear finger waves and everybody picked on me because of that.Somehow they all ended up with finger waves too. I just didn’t understand it. I just didn’t really like school until my senior year. That’s probably because I knew it was almost over.
Abby: Do you come from a big family?
Hershae: Semi. In my household it was me and my mom and my two older sisters. I also have another brother and sister from my paternal side of the family. I haven’t actually seen my father since I was 16. I haven’t actually seen or spoken to that side of the family either since about then.
Abby: I’m wondering if the show will bring them out of the woodwork.
Hershae: I’m kind of wondering the same thing myself. I put my real name on it so that they would know it was me.
Abby: How does your family deal with your sexuality and your fame?
Hershae: Well actually, my family has taken it pretty well. A lot better than I thought they would. My mother for instance, she knew before I did about the sexuality part. She wasn’t surprised or shocked at all about that. She had a sense of it from a very young age. She told me her clue was that I couldn’t wring out a dishrag.I always thought that was funny. She said it meant that I had limp wrists. My mother is just silly though you know?. She was just being silly. They’ve all taken it very well and they all actually support me a lot. When I went down to Atlanta, my sister and my two nephews came to my audition.
Abby: Yes, they were shown in the audience.
Hershae: Yes. My mother comes out and my aunt from there (Youngstown) has come out. My family in Detroit has come to see me when I’m up there. My other sister that lives in Columbus has been to my shows. My niece and nephews, they all support me. They are all very supportive. My grandmother passed; she was never able to make it to a show. She always enjoyed the videos I brought home and encouraged me to go out and do what I do.
Abby: All right Grandma! I noticed that you are a Valentine’s Day baby!
Hershae: I am. My mother told me I was her gift for my father.
Abby: Are you a romantic?
Hershae: I can be at times. When the mood strikes me.
Abby: You’ve been with your boyfriend for over eight years?
Hershae: It will be nine years in October.
Abby: Do you plan on getting married?
Hershae: He wants to but I want to wait until it is legal.
Abby: Legal in Ohio?
Hershae: Yes. I don’t think that marriage is something that should be taken lightly. If it’s not legal it’s not real. Then I don’t want to do it. I want to do it when it’s real.
Abby: On stage you look very tall. How tall are you without heels?
Hershae: Without heels I’m only 5’10-3/4″. With my tallest heels add 8 inches to that.
Abby: You do flips in the high heels?
Hershae: I do. Flips, splits the whole nine.
Abby: Have you ever broken a heal while doing a flip?
Hershae: Oh my goodness. Definitely! Several times. Repeatedly. Every pair of my shoes has a broken heal. Sometimes I go out on stage and I start with a broken heel.
Abby: Does that add to the difficulty factor?
Hershae: You would think so right? Because I wear such high heels I usually end up on my toes anyway. One time I was at a show and the show was over and they were playing the electric slide or the cha-cha slide or one of those line dances. We’re all line dancing. I thought I was really getting it and having fun and someone taps me on the shoulder and they say,” excuse me” and I say,” yes”, and they hold up a heal. I looked down and it was my heal. My heal was gone and I had no idea. I was still dancing.
Abby: Do you know some of the drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Hershae: I worked with Jade. I have worked with India Ferrah down in Cincinnati but she would be the only one I know personally.I will be working with Nina Flowers soon. That’s it. Those are the only ones I know.
Abby: Did you watch season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Hershae: I watched every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race!
Abby: So, who did your root for?
Hershae: This year I was kind of rooting for Alexis Matteo but I would’ve been equally as happy with Yara Sophia.
Abby: Yara is so sweet.
Hershae: Not that I don’t like Raja, I do. I just would’ve liked them. That’s who I was rooting for.
Abby: In every interview with Abby Normal you get an abnormal question. So are you ready?
Hershae: I love abnormal questions. Go for it!
Abby: On your boyfriend’s Facebook page, there are a lot of pictures of you. In the middle of the photos of you, there is also a picture of “Squeeze Bacon” in a plastic bottle. What the heck is “Squeeze Bacon” and have you ever tried it?
Hershae: (laughing) I have never tried it but I have an obsession with bacon so you have absolutely piqued my interest. I may have to find one so I can try it. I do put bacon on everything.That is probably why he has it on his wall. He knows how I feel about bacon. Bacon makes everything better! I am absolutely interested now.
Abby: So is there anything else we need to know about you?
Hershae: Actually America’s Got Talent wasn’t my first time on TV.
Abby: Oh, what was?
Hershae: In 2006 I was on “Q. I.” on the Q Television Network based out of Texas.
Abby: Is there a website for it?
Hershae: No. I looked them up recently and they no longer exist. Luckily I kept a DVD of the entire show that I was on. It was a 3 hour show that was only able to be seen if you had a satellite.
Abby: Will we be seeing this on Youtube?
Hershae: You may. I have to load it up and put it on there. Look forward to it soon. And I was in a movie.
Abby: Which movie would that be?
Hershae: “On the Down Low” It was very brief. I was in a scene and I was performing to Fantasia Barrino.
Abby: So you were performing as a drag queen in the show?
Hershae: Yes. It was like a documentary movie about straight men being on the down low.
Abby: So you were… acting!
(both start laughing)
Abby: I wish you the best of luck on “America’s Got Talent.”
Hershae: Thank you so much.