In a city teeming with talent, there are so many times that we only see an artist's "presentation" rather than getting to know the person behind it, their creative journey, who they are as part of the creative community and what they hope to accomplish.
This is especially true in the world of drag, where under all the makeup, outfits, wigs and jewelry lies a unique individual who has their own story to share.
Cocktails and Contours was created not only give a new take on the video makeup tutorial game, but also allow for a peek beneath the skin of one of NYC's notable or up-and-coming drag queens.
Each installment is tied to a Facebook Live make-up face-off with another drag queen where we discuss their career, what continues to inspire them and the difference they hope to make in both the community and the world.
My newest extra special guest was the dangerously charming Sam Themer, a.k.a. Beverly Leslie Sills, who has been using her quick wit, fierce face and exceptional musicality to take the city by storm while spreading a little bit of laughter wherever she goes.
1. A Starlet Is Born
beverlylesliesills Mug 💖 @albatrossastoria #BrokebackBingo now! #instadrag #dangerouslycharming #dragqueen #dragstagram #nyc #newyork #astoria
From her beginnings of studying opera in Lexington, Kentucky, Beverly made the trek to NYC and found her way uptown to her first drag performance at The West End Lounge, guesting at NYC drag diva Brita Filter's weekly show where she sang live.
"I went in a flat ass wig and a terrible thrift store dress and I sang all three roles of 'I'm Not Getting Married Today' from Company," she remembers. "I looked busted but the audience loved it. I was completely hooked after that."
Before she knew it, Beverly was going after all the gigs she could, and led her to the next chapter of her performance art journey.
2. Family Ties
beverlylesliesills Come see this beautiful mug at @albatrossastoria tomorrow night for #BrokebackBingo. Happy Hour from 5-8, bingo starts just after 9. It's gonna be a good time AND you can win a cash prize 💸 What's not to love? #astoria #dragqueen #bingo #nightlife #gaynightlife #gaynewyork #gayny #instagay #instadrag #nycdrag
Sometimes one of the hardest things a drag queen has to face in her career is her family and how they feel about or perceive their art. But for some queens, the support from home is immeasurable. "I grew up very conservative and my family and I went to a conservative Lutheran Church."
"When I first came out, I was deeply religious and very conflicted. I spent two years writing an essay on why it was OK to be gay and a Christian," Beverly says. "This past September, my mom called me and said that my pastor quoted my essay on a sermon about homosexuality defending my position."
The love and support that Beverly has gotten from her home and church family further fuels and inspires her to keep going. She admits, "I'm super lucky when it comes to my family and when I go back and visit everyone asks how Beverly is doing. But I had to leave to really become who I am."
3. Grabbing Those Gigs
beverlylesliesills #TBT to last weeks #2Girls1Tuck! @emigr8_drag and I are back again at 10pm with special guest @crimsonkitty. Won't you join us? 😘
Nothing could stop Beverly after she competed in the New York's Next Top Drag Queen at The Metropolitan Room, making a name for herself out in Astoria at Albatross Bar, where she got her first show hosting "Brokeback Bingo" on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
She recently has also started a Thursday night show at Boots & Saddle Drag Lounge with her co-host Emi Grate at 10 p.m., "2 Girls, 1 Tuck." Beverly is also diving into in the NYC brunch scene, launching "Sisters Drag Brunch" with Gina Tonic on Sunday, February 12 at 11:30 a.m.
"My goal for the end of the year is to be a full-time drag queen," she says. "People like to tell me, 'You're such a dreamer.' But I dream of goals that are attainable. If it's a dream that I have, I find a way to attain it. Period."
4. Curtain Call
beverlylesliesills If you all can't tell, @paigeturnernyc cracks me up! WTF! Wednesday was so cute thanks to the wonderful crowd we had at @hardwarebarnyc 😘 #dangerouslycharming #paigeturnernyc #gaynightlife #hk #nightlife #instadrag #dragstagram #instagay #newyork #gaynyc #nycdrag #liveyourbestlife
Beverly's drag journey may have just begun, but she carries herself with the poise and professionalism of a seasoned queen. "My proudest achievement as a drag queen is my reputation. I'm extremely professional and people know I put on a show."
Although she is always living her best life, as she likes to say, Beverly still pushes herself to attain goals that many wouldn't have the courage to pursue. When asked what her biggest aspiration is as a drag queen, she says, "I would sing on the Metropolitan Opera stage doing a female role in drag."
"And If I ever get to a place in my life where I think that dream could actually be possible, you better believe I'm f***king going for it."
Catch the full interview here on YouTube![Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]