Oct. 9, 2011
I am here today with the Star of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2 and 2 time MVP of RuPaul’s Drag U, the always entertaining Pandora Boxx!
PB: Thank you!
AN: What was it like to be Little Pandora?
PB: What was it like to be little Pandora? Well little Pandora didn’t think that she needed a lot of makeup when she first started. It was more about having fun, hanging out, being someone else and playing a character. Drag queens attract a lot of attention so that’s what it was about in the beginning. Now it’s a career. It changed.
AN: Let me ask it a different way. What was your childhood like?
PB: Little Pandora was little Michael. My childhood was like a mixed bag of nuts really. There was some good and some bad. I think the same with anyone’s childhood. I lived in a town called Jamestown, New York. That is where I was born. Life there was actually good and fun and I loved all my memories. I had a lot of friends and I really liked school. It was a couple of blocks so I walked to school. It was a great time.
Then we moved to another town called Olean, NY. That was a little more difficult because I wasn’t used to being picked on. I was picked on in school for being different and effeminate. So that kind of added a different layer to everything else. I don’t really think that it’s just a few. I think that everyone that’s gay that’s a little bit effeminate get’s picked on. I think it’s more the fear of people not being masculine. There is something in the country and world that if you don’t fill this masculine form then there is something wrong with you.
AN: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
PB: I have a younger sister. She was born when we lived in Jamestown so she is like 5 years younger than me.
AN: When did they start picking on you?
PB: When I was in the second grade, about seven or so. We switched schools in the middle of the school year too so that’s tough to begin with. It’s tough to move to a new city when you are moving into a place where kids have all been around each other for several years.
I didn’t think that I was that abnormal but when I went to high school that is how I started to feel. I felt like I was different and I was made to feel different by some of the students. I should clarify that it was some, it wasn’t all the students. I did make friends. I did have friends. When you think back you kind of think of both the good and bad. Sometimes the bad can tend to outweigh the good because it’s the stuff that sticks with you a long time.
AN: What would they do?
PB: It was really an everyday occurrence of saying something like, “Is that a boy or a girl?” Or I would be called fag or gay. I didn’t even know what it was. I didn’t even know what the word meant. I didn’t understand it and so to me it just became this bad thing that I didn’t want to be. I didn’t really understand it.
AN: Did your parents know?
PB: They did not know because I never told anyone. I was really kind of painfully shy at one point. When it started to happen more I didn’t want to tell anybody. I was just embarrassed that I was being picked on so I didn’t want to tell anyone.
AN: Were you good in school? Did you get good grades?
PB: Yeah. I actually was really good in school. I had good grades. I was in all of the advanced classes. I think it started in Jr. High that I was a grade ahead of everyone in certain classes. The only thing was I didn’t want to go to school because I would get picked on. So that kind of set my grades back a little bit more than they should have been. I still did well. I don’t think it suffered but because I didn’t want to go to school a lot of times I missed a lot of stuff.
AN: How were you at sports?
PB: I like to say that I was athletically declined!
I was not very coordinated, kind of awkward. Not really comfortable in my own body and that does not translate well to sports.
AN: Dating in High School?
PB: I was kind of A-sexual for a while. Then I used to date girls in High School because I just thought that is what you do. I really liked girls and I thought that I wanted to date them but I really just wanted to do their hair!
AN: Did you go to your prom?
PB: I did go to my prom. I went to my prom and went to a couple other proms. I went to five proms. I didn’t wear a dress.
AN: I wore a tux to one…
PB: I knew that something was different and I knew that something was going on. I really didn’t know anybody that was gay and we never talked about gay. If they did it was kind of like they might make a joke; not that I remember them making a lot of jokes about it but it just was never talked about. I was just wasn’t exposed to it so I really didn’t think it was something you could be. To me it was something that people made fun of me for and I didn’t want to be it.
AN: What year did you graduate?
PB: Abraham Lincoln was president so…
AN: I’m sorry. I asked a lady her age. How rude of me!
What motivated you to get into drag? Or when were you first exposed to drag?
PB: I was always into theater and that was kind of like my savior from getting picked on and not feeling like I didn’t belong. When I was in the theater group and getting praise I really did feel like I belonged. I felt like I belonged somewhere. I felt like I came to life when I was on stage. I could be somebody else. I could escape.
AN: Did you do that in High School?
PB: I started when I was in grade school. When I was in the sixth grade I wrote my own play and we put it on for the whole school. So that was my first experience with theater.
AN: Woo Hoo!
And so it was an escape. I didn’t really like myself so I could be somebody else that I liked. It was when I graduated High school, around that time is when I saw a drag show because one of my friends actually came out. That is when I started to think, oh, maybe I’m gay too. We went to a gay bar and it was just down hill from there!
I saw my first drag show shortly after that. It was at an outdoor festival in Rochester, New York. The queen there was Darienne Lake who is one of my best friends to this day. I saw her perform and I was just blown away. I was like, “I want to do that.” It’s like being a rock star. Everyone is paying attention to you. You get to wear all of these glamorous clothes. I was like, “What’s not to love?”
AN: Would you say that Darienne Lake is your drag mother?
PB: There is an interesting story about my drag mother. Generally the drag mother is either the first person that puts you in drag or somebody that has really helped you and made you grow. In that aspect there are a lot of queens that I kind of feel added and helped me. Everybody was really supportive. I never really think I have a drag mother because I don’t really have someone that mothered me into doing it. It was just friends and we would all help each other. Darienne definitely helped me with a lot with makeup and is an amazing performer. Darienne is kind of like my adoptive mother.
The first person that put me in drag was Heather Skye and I was dating her ex-boyfriend. He really liked me at the time. We were at a drag party at her apartment. We went and I brought the boyfriend and I didn’t realize that they really weren’t totally exes.
AN: Oh. Ooooh.
PB: It became a huge debacle. Heather and I hated each other for years and then we finally made up. I said to her, I said, “You know if it wasn’t for this stupid a**hole we probably would have been friends in the beginning.” She’s like yeah, I think so. It is kind of sad because she did just recently pass away.
AN: I’m sorry.
PB: We are having a reunion show for this club that we used to work at in Rochester and it is kind of like a benefit for her because it was really sudden.
AN: When did the name Pandora come about?
PB: The very first night that I did drag. I mean that was my drag name. I had a few that I was thinking of and that is the one that I wanted to go with. It had the same amount of letters as Madonna in it. They both end in an A. I really liked the story of Pandora and I was into Greek Mythology at the time. You kind of didn’t know what to expect with a name like that. That’s what I wanted.
AN: We never know what to expect and that is one of the things we love about you!
PB: I never know what to expect sometimes either. Sometimes my mouth just starts going and I’m like, “What did I just say?”
AN: What tips do you have for the kids in school that are being bullied?
PB: The way that they feel is the way that almost every kid feels in school because everybody is getting bullied or picked on for something. The ones that are picking on them really aren’t secure or happy in their own life.
There are usually three reasons why somebody is a bully. They are either not happy because of whatever reason. Maybe they are abused at home or they are not happy with themselves or they don’t like themselves. Maybe they are ignorant and they were raised around an ignorant family which always should go first. Or they are gay themselves. Don’t focus on that one. Don’t live out that fantasy because that repressed homosexuality is a very deadly thing.
AN: It is a good way to get beat up.
PB: Oh yeah.
If you realize where it is coming from then you can deal with it a little bit better. It is still going to suck, but the bottom line is that life just does suck sometimes. It just does. I don’t know any gay person that didn’t get picked on in school.
AN: Do you think that it gets better?
AN: As your song Cooter is climbing the charts, do you think life gets better?
PB: I think life only gets better if you make it better. I think it is a very blanket statement to say, “Oh it is definitely going to get better.” It’s not going to get better if you wallow in self pity, no. It is certainly not going to get better if you try and kill yourself because that is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Teen years are very tough. It was tough for me. It was really tough for me. I got through it. Everybody goes through a lot. I enjoy my life now. I enjoy having a song called Cooter. It is available on iTunes and Amazon.com
I think that shows what you can accomplish if you really want to. I was somebody that was picked on and harassed not only for being gay but for being effeminate. Now that is my career. I truly was and they can suck on it!
AN: When does your video drop?
PB: My music video for Cooter has been banned from U.S. television. It will be released exclusively on pandoraboxx.com on October 18, 2011.
AN: I can’t wait. I hear it’s Cooterlishious!
Part two of this interview has Pandora Boxx answering fans questions. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/9015583/pandora_boxx_answers_questions_from.html?cat=33
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Photos by:Chelse Thompson