We all know it's hard to make it in New York City, especially if you're in show business.
Now tack on coming to the city after creating a name for yourself on the sunny coasts of Los Angeles, yet inadvertently falling back into the spotlight again.
Meet Vicky Boofont, a Chicago-born drag queen who spent nine years in LA, rising to the top of the West Hollywood scene and is now raising the bar for NYC queens everywhere.
From television and movies, to plans of retirement, only then to win the city's biggest drag competition; Vicky Boofont's journey has in one sense has been both a long one and, in other ways, only just begun.
1. The Life of Chi-Town
vickyboofont Off to the show!! See y'all at 11pm tonight!!! New World Stages 50th and 8th!!! #newworldstages #sytycd #teamvicky #vickyboofont
From a young age growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Vicky Boofont, aka Joe Greene, had dreams of being in show business. A fortunate casting mishap made him don drag for the first time in a production of Best Little Whorehouse In Texas she was involved in for Summer Stock.
"It just sort of grew from there," she explains. "People wanted to see more of Vicky." Vicky went on to develop a cabaret duo with her friend and performance sister Ruby Boofont. Together, The Boofont Sisters took the Chicago piano bars by storm, performing some nights for four hours nonstop.
"We would do solo numbers when one of us needed a bathroom break," remembers Vicky. "If there wasn't always someone on the stage, you'd start to lose the crowd." Their dedication to the show made the twosome a Boystown staple, but they had bigger dreams in mind.
2. LA-LA Land
vickyboofont Serving Old School Pride! #sytycd #soyouthinkyoucandrag #newworldstages #vickyboofont #teamvicky #paigeturnernyc #thegreenroom #gaypride
In 2003, Vicky and Ruby moved to West Hollywood to try their luck at success in the Hollywood and L.A. nightlife scenes. Once there, Vicky tried her hand in a number of documentaries and pilots that never really found their footing, including the 2005 romance/thriller Flirting With Anthony.
"I was in it for just a second, but it was a pivotal scene," she says with a chuckle. "You can find it on Netflix." Vicky was also casted in the very fist season of America's Got Talent and made it through the first cut of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3.
She made a living working at the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts (YADA) and doing drag shows at popular spots like Hamburger Mary's, working with queens how have now been on Drag Race like Tammy Brown, Raja, Kelly Mantle, Detox, Delta Work, Willam and Alaska.
"So many queens out there try out for RuPaul, and I consider a number of them my friends," says Vicki. "But it started to make it harder to get new shows."
3. Winds of Change
vickyboofont #tbt Vicky as Ursula! Come see her tonight at Disney Week!! New World Stages 11pm 50th & 8th! #sytycd #newworldstages #vickyboofont #disneydrag #nycdragqueen #ursula #ursuladrag #paigeturnernyc
As time went by, it became more and more competitive to score and keep gigs and move up the ladder of drag stardom in L.A. "It was easy for the girls coming off of Drag Race to get booked, and the gigs were limited," Vicky admits. "I eventually started to contemplate retirement."
In 2012, Vicky's husband Sunny Chaudhary told her that his job wanted him to move to NYC. "He had always been supportive of my career and I thought this might be a good time to try something different," she explains. So the couple packed up their stuff and moved to the Big Apple.
"I turned my focus to writing, taking classes and just seeing what would stick," says Vicky. "I already had done every position in the theater, from lighting and directing to costuming and choreography." She even tried her hand at stand up comedy and improv, but as Joe, not Vicky.
One evening after a stand-up act, Sunny lovingly mentioned to her that although she was great as Joe on stage, there was a certain joy and magic that came when it was done as Vicky. "I had never done a complete solo act in drag, so I had some trepidation about that," she admits. "But I decided to go for it."
4. Taking a Bite of the Big Apple
vickyboofont I'm so beautiful can't you see? Look at me!!! Haha!!! Feeling Divine with the boys! Thanks @chiffondior and @werrrkdotcom for the photo!!!! #vickyboofont #sytycd #teamvicky #imsobeautiful #divine
Although she only had a few friends in NYC and even fewer nightlife connections, Vicky entered NY's Next Top Drag Queen at The Metropolitan Room, a live singing drag competition where the more people you brought, the better you did. "I didn't even make top five," she says laughing.
"I learned a lot from it though, and met a number of other queens, some of whom became my dear friends and sisters." She gleaned everything she could, from names that were dropped to shows and events she should be seen at. "I would take mental notes and YouTube everything," she says.
Among the things she learned about was the city's biggest drag competition, a ten-week show at New World Stages in Hell's Kitchen called So You Think You Can Drag? Jumping right in again, she submitted her application and was selected to compete in it's seventh season this past September.
5. So You Think You Can Drag?
vickyboofont Tomorrow is the big day! 11pm at New World Stages! Come vote for me!!! #sytycd #newworldstages #teamvicky #vickyboofont #bouffant #paigeturnernyc 📸 by the amazing @prestonburford
The competition allowed Vicky to push herself like she never had before, coming up with original numbers every week as well as a new look for the night's themed runway. "I didn't even know if I could walk a runway!" she confesses. "But it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the competition."
Although a veteran live singer, the show called for an overhaul of lip synching, which she had never done before. "I sang live for all my shows up until then," Vicky says. "But it was just another way to push myself and now I actually love lip synching. You can literally do anything when you do it."
After ten weeks and a number of individual wins in both performance and runway, Vicky Boofont earned the coveted right of being crowned Season 7's winner of So You Think You Can Drag. "I treated each week as if I were doing a production for the children's theater," she says. "And it paid off."
"I went into the competition to build an audience since no one knew who I was," Vicki explains. "I was shocked and so humbled to end up winning, especially with the talented girls I competed with. We all brought something unique and beautiful, and I couldn't be more proud of each one of us."
As part of her prize package, Vicky was given her own headlining show at The Green Room, New World Stage's upstairs bar, on Wednesday nights at 8pm starting at the end of January called "The Vicky Boofont Show." "I'll be bringing a little bit of everything and reminding people why they voted for me."
6. To Infinity and Boofont
vickyboofont I love my neoprene frocks! Must make them in every color combination!!! #neoprene #dragcostume #nycdragqueen #drag #custommade #queenwhosews
To say Vicki has had an eventful year would be an understatement, and is taking her place as one of NYC's newest top drag queens. Her biggest challenge? "For me, it's separating Joe from Vicky, knowing where one stops and where one begins," she says. "They both love to drink though!"
Looking to the future, Vicky wants to one day have a drag variety talk show getting to know people and other queens, which she would call "Shoes Off," since wearing shoes are her least favorite thing about doing drag. "They're pretty, sure, but they f***ing hurt."
Through it all, Vicky remains a kindhearted queen who wants to entertain as well as put happiness and laughter back into the world. "I have so much love and respect for all forms of drag. It's a true passion," she concludes. "I've tried so many careers and the only thing that truly fulfills me is drag."[Feature Image Courtesy via Vicky Boofant]