Hollywood and (Sherry) Vine
BY Advocate Contributors
April 29 2010 1:30 PM ET
For Sherry Vine, becoming an international drag superstar didn’t happen in the 90 minutes it takes her to put on her face. But it did happen in the ’90s “ahem ... when I was 5,” chirps Sherry.
Sherry Vine is supposed to be on a plane bound for Amsterdam. Instead she’s trapped in New York City due to the volcanic activity in Iceland. As usual, she puts her unique signature on the situation: “Yeah, Björk farted or something, so they canceled my flight.” Sherry is a busy lady. She kicks off a West Coast tour in San Francisco April 30, and her latest video parody, of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” is blowing up switchboards all over the Web. Chatting out of drag on a Monday afternoon at a coffee shop in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Keith Levy is dressed in jeans, sneakers, a white T-shirt, and a fitted aqua puff coat. It’s hard to comprehend how this handsome guy transforms into a New York nightlife drag legend. Knowing that underneath the fantastic made-of-plastic evening facade is an actor with a master’s in theater from the University of Southern California helps. We can only speak for a short while because Keith has a show tonight, and much like Cher’s rule of only texting between her Las Vegas acts, Keith must protect Sherry’s voice.
Later that evening Vine is perched atop a bar stool digging in a big yellow handbag. It’s just before her cabaret show at the lounge Vig 27. We chat some more. She dazzles in a custom-made burgundy just short-enough-to-make-you-wonder bell-sleeve dress with a rainbow of sparkling studs glinting off the spotlight. The hair is an achievement in itself — an inspiring hybridized wig giving equal parts Dolly Parton and Peg Bundy. The nails are red round-tips. The gams are bare but well-oiled, and the shoes metallic silver open-toe stilettos with straps snaking her ankles. The lips are lined and glossed like a cherry Blow Pop. Sherry towers (with wig) at 6 feet 3 inches tall. She opens her act with “Don Quixote,” an ironic choice from Man of La Mancha, and sips shots of top shelf tequila between numbers. She teases the crowd with low purrs of “Sherry’s thirsty” and “meow.” She works the stage and the room, sitting in laps, caressing attractive young men and cracking jokes about current events and her ability to please men with ease. She ends the show with an audience request: a lilting version of Mama Cass’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Sherry Vine is a study in stagecraft.
The Advocate: When did you first leave the house dressed as Sherry?
Sherry Vine: Back in 1991 in L.A. My friend and I started dressing up for fun to go out on the town. I remember always wanting to perform the song “Black Coffee” in front of an audience, but it just didn’t make sense to do it as a man when you listen to those lyrics, so Sherry sang it.