Hey, chicas! It's Bella Noche, bringing you the first of a new video series we're doing called Cocktails And Contours, where anther New York City drag queen and I kiki over cocktails while we do each other's makeup.
This series is designed to not only give a new twist to the video makeup tutorial game, but also allows a view beneath the skin of one of NYC's notable or up-and-coming drag queens.
There are so many talented queens in NYC nightlife, but most people only get to know them through their Facebook statuses.
We're here to change that.
So cheers to our first #CocktailsAndContours Queen, who I had so much fun with in this pilot episode, Jaymie Bellous, a.k.a. Gina Tonic!
1. Theater Queen
Gina's first interaction with makeup and drag was in high school, where she was an active member of her theater program. "I played a lot of character roles, like old people, with a lot of highlighting and contouring to bring out certain features," she says."It's actually very similar to drag makeup,"
In 2009, Gina stepped into full drag for the first time playing a role in Bertolt Brecht's "play with music" The Threepenny Opera. "Drag wasn't something that was on my radar back then," Gina says. "Drag queens were just these weird, tall ladies at the club."
After graduation, her track on the theater path continued and she was casted in the play Cloud Nine, also portraying a drag character. "I'm a 'drag-tress', basically," she says with a smile. "After that, I did drag on Halloween and a few fundraisers with that theater company."
It wasn't until she moved to NYC that things took an unexpected turn.
2. A Drop in the Appletini
Originally from Los Angeles, Gina had yet to take the full dive into drag nightlife until she moved to the Big Apple in 2014 and got her first gig on the Upper West Side. "My friend Ruby Powers was doing a show at Bar Thalia inside Symphony Space and she asked me if I wanted to join her."
"From there I did Marti [Cumming]'s G Lounge show and a few shows at The Metropolitan Room." After showing off her theatrical talents and charismatic peronsality, The Metropolitan Room invited her to take part in their spring competition called NY's Next Top Drag Queen.
"It was a chance to perform, so why the f**k not?" she ways. "I was amazing, obviously. Although I didn't win, it was a really cool experience." Through this competition, other doors began to open and Gina Tonic began her NYC rise.
3. Signature Sips
When asked what her favorite venue to perform in the city is, Gina says, "Among my favorites is New World Stages, because it's one of the biggest stages you'll ever get to perform on in NYC." Gina was one of the semi-finalists of the venue's annual So You Think You Can Drag competition.
"I also love The West End, Albatross and Rockbar. They have audiences who actually want to see you perform. It's good times." It's also a queen's job to dream, and Gina still has spaces and venues on her wish list. "Queen at Industry would be one. To me, that's the epitome in NYC drag."
"I'd love to go perform back in California one day. It would be like a homecoming." Funnily enough, this past month Gina lived that dream and was able to head back to her home state and perform at The Boulevard in Pasadena.
Gina continues to be the toast of the town around NYC, grabbing gigs and guest spots in both Manhattan and Queens. Coming up this weekend, she is hosting a variety show at Albatross Bar called QueenPeace, which is raising funds for The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBTQ youth. "I think it's so important to raise money and awareness for their cause, especially given the political climate of the country right now," Gina says.
Equipped with her love for the theater, spotless optimism and a bottomless gin & tonic, Gina is ready to keep making a mark as a bi-coastal queen. She concludes, "Doing drag has been such an unexpected joy in my life and, as long as they'll keep having me, and even if they don't, I'll keep performing in drag."
You can check out the full video interview and makeup face-off below on YouTube!
[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]