Beneath the Wig: A Q&A with Candy Pantzzz
In this series, contributor Eric Russell explores another side of Richmond’s drag performers.
Eric: Who is Candy Pantzzz? Where did she come from and how did she get her name?
Candy: Candy has evolved over many years. I started making my own clothes before going to college to earn a BFA in Fashion Design. Along with fun clothes, wild hair has been a huge part of my life. I’ve done everything from colorful mohawks, braids and hair extensions to short bleached-blonde styles. I wish there were photos of my hair styles over the years, there would certainly be a thick “coffee table” book of wildness! I’m currently enjoying my shaved head which allows me to wear glue-on hair pieces, which I also make. With all the years of craziness, true drag didn’t come into the picture until about four years ago. The name “Candy Pantzzz” was given to me by my dear friend, Dayna Cleveland-Cobb, makeup artist and owner of Vamps and Vixens Makeup Studio. I added the Z’s on the end of Pantzzz, 2 of them are “silent” and are there just for effect!
Eric: What DIVA inspires you the most and why?
Candy: If I had to pick one inspirational Diva, it would have to be Esta Bunny. She is a dear friend and we work closely together on projects, shows and just plain fun! However, with most queens, there are many inspirational Divas’ that we look to for talent, music and style. Some of my personal favorites include Nina Flowers, Acid Betty, Jackie Beat, Lady Bunny and the list goes on!
Eric: You competed in the first season of ESTA’s DRAG RACE, what did you learn from that experience about competitions?
Candy: That was the first competition I’ve ever participated in. I learned that I am not a “pageant queen” and I am only in it for fun! I don’t enjoy being in competition with others, I prefer to be in competition ONLY with myself! I did figure out that I enjoy trying new things and pushing my personal envelope in new directions.
Eric: What made you decide to run for the Second season?
Candy: I thought about it long and hard. Figured if I was going to be there every week, I may as well jump on in again!
Eric: You perform regularly with the TRAILER COURT, what do you like about ensemble performances?
Candy: First of all, it’s really a gift to have such a wonderful “drag family” to work with. We are always available to help each other, bounce ideas around with and most of all, and have a grand old time with!
Eric: You make some of the most amazing outfits and wigs the Purina bag dress was amazing, what inspires you to create such wild looks?
Candy: Glad you liked the Purina dress! I saved dog food bags for well over a year, just waiting on the right opportunity to compose the costume. When Stormie moved on to the “Go Green” week, I knew she NEEDED to have the dog food dress! I enjoy designing and making my own costumes and hair. I find inspiration all over, a song, a piece of fabric or even a piece of art. Most people that know me will tell you that I have a strange sense of design. Why be normal cuz normal (what ever that is) surely can’t be FUN!! Also, I’m somewhat of a pack rat, saving and buying odd things for future projects. Ya’ll would flip over all the drag and such I’ve collected over the last few of years! For me, drag is not serious and is meant to be fun!
Eric: What are three things we don’t know about Candy’s alter ego Jonathan Bennett?
Candy: Jonathan isn’t nearly as much fun as Candy! Jonathan loves to watch Food Network and Project Runway. I have been with my partner, Kevin (aka Enya Pantzzz) for four years. We have 3 dogs, Zoe, Scooter and Bart, as well as 2 cockatiels Big Johnson and Diva. See, I told you Jonathan wasn’t as entertaining as Candy!
Interview & Photos by Eric Russell
You've probably seen Eric "Pop My Flash" Russell around town. The Richmond-based photographer has captured everyone from celebrity drag queens and puppets to international bodybuilders. When not behind the lens, Eric can be found in front of it with his two web series that he hosts and produces Out and About and Under The Wig for GayRVA.com.
Bianca Starr found gold over the rainbow at the Miss Gay Fredericksburg pageant earlier this month.September 11, 2012
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