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Transvocalizers — Sherry Vine

| Jan 3, 2011
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Transvocalizers is starting the new year out right by introducing a new (to us…) performer by the name of Sherry Vine.  Vine, whose real name is Keith Levy, has made a definite dent in the world of live vocal drag shows by doing often risque parodies of current hits.

Vine does owe sort of a debt to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton who plugged Vine’s video parody of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.  The video went totally viral on YouTube.  Vine’s version? Shit My Pants.

The character of Sherry Vine was created 18 years ago when Levy was working on his master’s thesis in acting at UCLA.  What originally was meant to be a gimmick of sorts, has turned into a career.  The live performances and video parodies have taken Sherry Vine to theaters and nightclubs around the world.

“If you close your eyes and listen to me sing, you’d probably think ‘I can think of someone who can sing it better’,” Vine said.  “But I know how to sell a song, so it’s about the acting behind it.  With parodies, people aren’t listening to whether I sound pretty or not, it’s about whether I’m funny or not.”

Sherry Vine was gracious enough to submit to our extensive and intensive interview process…and survived.  So, we are proud to begin the new year with this introduction to Miss Sherry Vine.

TGForum: Let’s see if I have your basic background correct: you’re originally from Baltimore, spent time in DC and then studied acting at UCLA, correct?

Sherry Vine: I was born in Florida but grew up in Columbia, MD, a suburb of Baltimore.  Got my BFA at UMBC and then my MFA at USC.

TGF: Where do you live now?

SV: Moved to NYC then lived in Berlin from 2001-2004, and have been back in Manhattan since.

TGF: How extensively do you travel?

SV: I’m always on the road (thank goodness!) I love traveling, performing and meeting people!

TGF: You studied acting, and started doing the Sherry Vince character 18 years ago, correct?   I have to ask, growing up, what were your musical influences?  Did you perform any in high school?

SV: I’ve been performing since I was 3 years old.  It’s definitely my calling and I am happiest onstage. I didn’t expect to have a career in drag, but I absolutely love my life and am so thankful.  I’ve been doing Sherry Vine for 18 years — I was 12 when I started!  My biggest comedic influence was Carol Burnett.  Growing up, I was obsessed with Debbie Harry, Pat Benetar, Siouxsie Sioux and of course Cher.  I totally was a drama geek.  I started doing theater in middle school and never stopped.

TGF: I’ve read that creating Sherry was not what you originally had in mind, that the whole concept was more of a gimmick.  So, what was your original plan while in college, and what was the overall inspiration for Sherry Vine?

SV: Well, I wouldn’t say Sherry was a gimmick.  But it certainly was not in my grand plan.  I was going to be a movie star.  I went out in drag one night in LA with a friend and someone said, ‘You should perform at my club’, and I thought, ‘OK, well, if I’m going to do drag, I don’t want to lip synch to Liza (NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, LOVE THAT, JUST NOT ME!), so maybe I’ll be this broken down ex-showgirl and sing torch songs.’ That’s how it started.

TGF: I understand that your parents are very supportive.  How often do they see you perform?

SV: I cannot be more blessed…my folks rock!  They always come to NYC for big events or opening nights.  I have a theatre company, Theatre Couture, and they are very supportive.  They have been to Bar d’O and came to Berlin to see me and Joey Arias perform.  They are my only — oops — biggest fans.

TGF: What originally inspired you to do parodies?

SV:   I met Jackie Beat in LA in 1992, my first year of drag.  We became instant best friends.  We did parodies together and certainly Jackie has been a big influence on me.  There is no one funnier.

TGF: Do you have a favorite singer to parody?

SV: I tend to stick to current pop songs because I mostly work in  clubs and that’s what the kids know.  Of course, GaGa is so easy to parody — she’s a drag queen! But don’t  get me wrong, I love her.

TGF: Have you ever been contacted by any of the artists you parody, gotten any criticism (both positive and negative), from any of the artists?
SV: I’ve heard lots of positive feedback from Lady GoGa’s camp.  She said ‘Sherry Vine is hilarious!’ So that means a lot.

TGF: On your site, you offer individual song downloads. Do you have any plans for a full album?  Are there any future plans or projects you can talk about at this time?

SV: I’m trying to be green so I haven’t made a CD but people are asking so maybe I should.  I’m part of this amazing behind the scenes look at drag in NYC called The Queens of Drag NYC.  You can see it exclusively on gay.com.

TGF: Is there anybody you wouldn’t parody?  If so, why?

SV: Everyone is fair game!

TGF: Over all, what makes for a good parody?

SV: Well, people like dirty.  So I spend my Saturday nights searching for words that rhyme with poop or cock!  I”ve tried some that I thought were funny but not dirty but they tend to sink.  I have a few witty ones that are PG that people like.  At the same time, I wouldn’t do Shit My Pants at certain venues.  So I try to have something for everyone.

TGF: How often do you develop new material for Sherry, and what criteria do you use in selecting material?

SV: If it’s a hit, I’m on it.  That’s my criteria.  I am ALWAYS working on something.  Really, it drives my husband and friends crazy because I can’t stop working for one hour.

TGF: What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in drag entertainment?

SV: The best advice I was given that I try to share is to find something that makes you different and special.  Nobody wants to see a rip off.  You can find influences from other artists but find that one thing that makes you stand out and then it.

TGF: What’s your opinion of the current state of drag entertainment?

SV: I am always surprised in my travels at the drag talent out there.  Even in small cities with one gay bar, there will be that one queen that blows me away.  In NYC, there is a Renaissance of drag!  So many creative baby drags coming on the scene.

TGF: How political are you? Are you involved in any GLBT politics or activism?

SV: Any man who has the balls to walk out of the house in a wig and heels and face the wave of hate that can come at you — that’s political activism!   I will always say yes to performing at GLBT events for free and consider myself to be a strong supporter.  And — I do vote!

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TGF: In closing, is there anything you’d like to say?   Any famous last words?

SV: Yes…I am a Jew whore!   Just kidding…well, not really.

For more information on Sherry Vine, please check out her web site at www.sherryvine.com.  Note: it does contain some graphic content.  But then again, there are all those YouTube videos.

ALSO THIS MONTH….

Kandi Koated, Kandi Burress

If you think you know Kandi Burress, known simply as Kandi from the Bravo TV show, The Real Housewives Of Atlanta, then guess again.  Her new project, called Kandi Koated, showcases more than just a great voice.  If Kandi never sang another  note in her entire life, her talent as a s ongwriter would keep her busy.

She first gained prominence as a part of the ’90s group Xscape.  After her tenure there ended, she took the songwriting seriously.  Her work has been recorded b y Whitney Houston, Pink, NSYNC, Usher, Boys2Men, Fantasia, and Destiny’s Child.

On her new project, she has had a hand in writing every tune and is executive producer.  Stand out tracks are I Want You, Leroy Jones, Leave U, and Lucky.  I have to say, though, that I feel the strongest message and perhaps Kandi’s strongest performance is on Superwoman, which takes a good hard look at what it means to be a single mother.

Kandi is a lady with some real vocal chops (she has an incredible range), and the behind-the-scenes skill and background to know how to get what she wants out of the producers and musicians she works with.  The album has great drag diva written into most of the material.  But don’t think Kandi is some soon-to-be-forgotten techno flavor of the week. This is a lady who had, and will continue to make a lot of great music.

Also this month, I’ve received a couple more remix CDs.  The first is The Black Eyed Peas —  The Time (Dirty Bit), taken from the group’s recently released The Beginning.  The remix disc contains five different mixes, and the song itself features an interpolation of the theme song from the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing.  The Black Eyed Peas will also be performing for the Super Bowl half-time show on February 6th.

The other remix CD contains seven versions of Pixie Lott’s Boys And Girls, from her album Turn It Up Louder.    Hard to believe she’s only 18.  Nonetheless, this is good dance material that could work in any club situation.

Shonda K of Yo! Majesty will be releasing her solo album, The Most Wanted, on January 11th. The project contains the track I’m Da Best, which is an assault against the Westboro Baptist Church, you know, the “God Hates Fags” a**holes.  There is also a video from the project which is Shonda K’s contribution to the It  Gets Better Project, started by Dan Savage, “…as a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future.”


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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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  1. says:

    hello im new 2 this but i like how u look very hot

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