This interview originally ran in WUSSY vol.05 and has been condensed for web.
Order your copy of the full spread HERE.
“Dragula was born in our mind as a way to celebrate all that is ridiculous, wild, dark, gay, and subversive.”
Thus sayeth the reigning queens of all things beautiful and brutal in the drag world, The Boulet Brothers. A duo of mysterious avant-garde icons who describe themselves “queer weirdos,” first gained notoriety via their famous – and at times, infamous – Los Angeles-based grand spectacle of an annual Halloween party. The first of its kind – on television, at least – to subvert “mainstream” drag, celebrate the unusual, and capture the true essence of what it means to be an outsider, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is fast-becoming a cult classic in its own right, taking back the slurs hurled at us queer spooky folk, throwing some sequins on them, and dipping them in a corn syrup and red food dye concoction to create beauty out of abasement.
Even Dragula’s intro captures the Boulet Brothers’ essence, especially as the words, “Drag, Filth, Horror, and Glamour,” are emblazoned across your TV screen, the words dripping in old-school-horror-blood type, set to an up-tempo beat. The opening credits of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula are a mixture of eroticism, foreboding, and joy – three other words that can also effectively describe the show’s ethos.
The Boulet Brothers allowed us to pick their twisted brains over an East-to-West call one afternoon, and laid out their secrets to changing the game, throwing a good party, and how to become the next drag supermonster - despite what the world tells you about yourself.
We know your drag names are Swanthula Boulet and Dracmorda Boulet - amazing. How did you come up with your stage names, and what do they mean to you?
SWAN: We like to think that we create fantasy worlds through our nightlife events, and as the high priestesses who are guiding people through our parties, we need equally fantastical names. Both of our names sound otherworldly, but they each conjure up different images and energy. We like to leave it up to the individuals to interpret what our names mean on their own.
Follow-up question that we’re dying to know more about: how did you two meet?
DRAC: It was a blur or whips. chains, champagne and red meat – we met over a thick ass and a bottle of Dom Perignon Rose Gold Methuselah at the now defunct fetish restaurant “La nouvelle Justine” in New York City.
What is the most scandalous thing to ever happen at one of your parties?
DRAC: Let’s put it this way, there is no way we could throw parties today that we used to throw when we started. You can thank basic bitches and their annoying cell phones for ruining events of that scale and level of hedonism.
Not only are we Boulet Brothers fans, but also fans, of course, of drag and horror - when we heard about Dragula being a thing, we were obsessed. How did you come up with the idea to combine the two genres?
SWAN: Horror and drag are two tenets of Dragula no doubt, but we also add a pinch of filth and a splash of glamour to make the magical mix that is Boulet Brothers Dragula. All of these elements come from our collective life experience growing up as queer weirdos.
We know we couldn’t do the stuff the contestants did - like be in a coffin with maggots crawling all over us.
DRAC: Well, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.
How do you pick your contestants? Do they just need to not fit “mainstream” drag norms, and if so, what is “mainstream” to you two?
DRAC: It takes a lot more than just being a misfit to get on the show – we cast people who we feel have the creativity, strength and drive to affect queer culture with the platform we give them. Anyway, the idea of “mainstream drag” is a fallacy. Drag can’t be mainstream at its core. Most contemporary drag was born in seedy gay bars around sex, violence, and drugs – it wasn’t family friendly, and honestly, a lot of us don’t seek, need, or want acceptance from mainstream culture, and those are the type of drag artists we are looking to cast on this show.
What about the gruesome Extermination Challenges - how do you come up with them?
DRAC: So, the whole show is based on our experiences as producers of queer counterculture. All of the things the contestants do in the challenges are things that we have done ourselves either on stage or at the events we used to throw. Piercing and live tattooing and all that (even the paintball fight) harkens back to the irreverent, ridiculous, and no-fucks-given type of events we used to produce. The Dragula competition is like the Boulet School of Drag – we put the contestants through our experiences to shape them into what we perceive is a “Drag Supermonster.”
Changing directions a bit: you had a little controversy on Season 2 with alleged bullying by other contestants towards your Season 2 winner, Biqtch Puddin’. What was your take on that situation? Did you have a meeting with the producers on how to handle the incidents?
DRAC: Dragula is a bit of a parody of what the real world is like when you’re a drag entertainer - it’s a little like Lord of the Flies – a little “kill or be killed.” We would never intervene in a situation like that, because in order for her to survive after the show, she needed to learn how to deal with people picking at her while she was on the show. She didn’t need us – what she needed was to realize that she already had everything she needed to deal with the situation and that’s exactly what she did. We were proud of the way she was able to stand up for herself by slaying the competition and not giving into the temptation to engage negatively with her competitors.
She handled it so well. It almost seems that in the Supermonster drag world, comedy queens - or at least queens with awesome, big personalities, like Biqtch or Vander Von Odd [winner of Boulet Brothers Dragula Season 1] - come out on top.
SWAN: There’s a difference between their personalities. Vander is an amazing presence onstage. I think his energy and personality really come out full-force when he performs. His personality [offstage] is quiet and reserved. He’s not like a Meatball, where he’s on Level 10 at all times - but I think he does share that with Biqtch: when those heels hit the stage, those personalities are on [Level] 10. They’re amazing performers...when a drag queen can capture your attention and deliver that performance, that’s what it’s all about. We’re entertainers.
DRAC: It’s interesting, the parallel between Biqtch and Vander. At The Last Supper, before we crowned the winner of Season 1, there was a Judas moment where the girls of Season 1 turned on Vander. It was interesting, because both Biqtch and Vander chose not to engage in an accepted way. I felt like it showed leadership and strength in the way that they handled it, and I was proud of that. They could’ve lashed out, but they didn’t. It was an interesting display of reserved strength.
If you had a Miss Congeniality of Season 2, who would it be?
SWAN: We’ve gone back and forth about this very subject a few times, but I now think the choice is clear. She stayed clear of drama, acted as a mentor to some of her younger counterparts, and showed us all that a straight male has the chops to make it in the drag world, all while fending off her shady agent Barbara and mourning the murder of her pussy – our choice would be Disasterina.
I love the fact that there was even a straight person on queer show – not even in an ally capacity, but as a member of the LGBTQ+ family.
SWAN: Thank you for recognizing the significance of it. It’s a conversation no one has in America. And I say, “America,” because in other parts of the world, things like sexuality, orientation, identity, may play a little bit less of a significant role. Sexuality is so stigmatized. But Disasterina is a creative force - a wild spirit, just like the rest of the girls, so where she puts her dick is not what I’m worried about. It’s about how she expresses herself and her artistry. That’s what the girls thought, too. She’s a freak!
DRAC: That, too, is what connects all of us and the cast members from Season 2. First and foremost, we all come from the freakier side of life. We’re all black sheep. That’s what connects us. All of those people in that room are all shunned by their community, so they all have that in common right out of the gate. They can relate to each other in a way that’s beyond sexuality. For some mainstream gay people, I think, [their sexuality] is the only thing that sets them apart, but for Dragula contestants, it’s more than that.
SWAN: Right. There’s a meme that I love, and I don’t think I’ll get it [exactly right], but it’s, “When I was little, I wasn’t only gay - I was gay and goth.” It’s like you’re twice removed.
DRAC: I always liken it to when you are young, and you feel unaccepted by your family or community, and you’re like, “I’m gay. Let me go to the gay city and join the gay community,” and then you get there, and you’re like, “Oh. I don’t fit in here at all. This is not what I expected.” Those are the people who end up on Dragula.
What advice would you give to a Baby Supermonster, who is just starting to explore the occult through their drag?
SWAN: Well little darling, first off, always trust your gut instinct - it will never let you down. Oh, and If any of your little friends try to discourage or stifle your creativity in any way, eliminate them from your life - they will take so much of your energy. Also, you have to start somewhere, so find something you are naturally good at, and become great at it. If you are a talented makeup artist, beat that face to the gods and let everyone see it, vogue the house down if you can move, create fabulous designs if you can sew - whatever it is, push yourself to be the best that you can be in your given strength.
Finally, get away with as much shit as you possibly can now before you can be prosecuted as an adult.
Season three of Dragula is streaming now, week by week, on Amazon Prime — as well as the first two seasons in full. You can catch The Boulet Brothers in Atlanta on October 25th at the fifth annual Shalloween party. Grab your tickets now!
Anna Jones is a writer and producer currently based in Atlanta. She is the proud owner of digital copywriting agency Girl.Copy and independent film production company Tiny Park Productions. She loves a lot of stuff, but mainly: her husband, kid, and cat, writing and filmmaking, coffee and Diet Coke, millennial pink, sushi, gay stuff, and horror films.