Some queens are just nice. Don’t tell anyone, but behind the make-up and glitter, there is a heart (sometimes). Cierra Desiree Nichole is one of those nice queens. Seemingly everyone loves her and, like Switzerland, you can find her remaining neutral in most any conflict.
We sat down at my gayborhood favorite spot, Plaza Midwood’s Dish, for some food and girl talk. Cierra defines herself as a drag entertainer and her male persona Tony Land is a sharp contrast to her female impersonation. She was 21 when she started drag in 2000. It was a joke with friends who wanted to go out in drag one night. It wasn’t even Halloween, she recalls: “My friend OJ begged me to do it. So we both got some stuff from Fifi Mahony’s, got two little outfits, and went out. One night turned into doing a talent show. I was the only one suckered into doing it.”
Cierra went on to compete in Scorpio’s monthly talent shows where she won and then began getting bookings. Before she knew it, she did her first pageant and won her first title as Miss Forsyth County America in Winston-Salem, later competing in Miss North Carolina America.
“I have a thing for being in the spotlight,” Cierra says. “I was a drum major in high school — the feathers, sequin cape, that was always there. Doing drag gave me an outlet to explore in a different way. Front center, spotlight on me, feathers, doing my salute… drag gives me that moment too.”
Cierra was still living with family when she began drag. One day, her mom came into her room, where Cierra had 10 wig heads, and asked, “You don’t want to be a woman do you?” Cierra respectfully said no. Her mom’s always been supportive, though. She’s never seen a live performance, but has seen videos and compares Cierra to her sister, “top heavy and all.” Cierra laughs: “My mom said I will do anything for money — well not quite.”
Originally from Salisbury, Cierra is quite proud of the growing Salisbury Pride celebration. Becoming Miss Charlotte Pride in 2010 was one of her greatest accomplishments in drag. “I got to do a lot of work in the community with that title. The step down was emotional too, a line of people waiting to tip you. I had to go through my number three times,” Cierra says. “If people come up to me and say I love your number, you touched me in some way — and if whatever you have going on in the outside world, if I can make you forget that for the three to four minutes I am on stage than I have done my job.”
Cierra currently holds the title of Miss Don’t H8 Diva East Coast and Miss Hide-a-Way At-Large. She performs regularly at The Scorpio and Hide-A-Way.
Cierra’s drag mother is Elaine Davis. She’s done a lot for Cierra, namely teaching her make-up skills and forcing her to know her words for lip-syncing — an art some drag queens have forgotten these days, I might add. She also has two other role models that inspire her — Ivey White and the deceased Whitney Paige from Dallas, Texas.
Cierra shares this sage advice for drag queens today: “You got to have tough skin. People are going to judge you. Take in what they are saying without making it personal. Remember any feedback helps you grow as an individual.”
As we wrap-up our girl talk, I asked Cierra what the future holds. She says her drop-dead date for drag is at the age of 40. I gasp. That means I only have 20 years left. She laughs and reiterates: “I might get an extra year or two, but I have told my husband that is when I retire.”
Shame. The drag AARP will be disappointed. I love you “Queen of Nice.”
DRAG TIP: “Blend, blend, blend,” Cierra quips. Maybe she’s not so nice. I think she was directing that towards me.
— Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to post kitten memes on Facebook (and to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her monthly Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye.
It’s a New Year with new drag happenings. Starting at Bar at 316 this Sunday, Jan. 18 is the first weekly Showtune Sundays from 4-8 p.m. followed by Karaoke. Plus the foxy “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Joslyn Fox comes to town on Jan. 24 weekend. Sunday, Jan. 25 is the annual Miss Scorpios pageant at The Scorpio. And don’t forget Snug Harbor for Lip Gloss on Thursday, Jan. 29!