By Lawrence Ferber
Originally published on Advocate.com December 25 2008 12:00 AM ET
pageant for female impersonator Victoria Parker, a.k.a.
Victor Bowling. Typically going by the nickname
Porkchop -- a moniker lovingly bestowed by friends as
tribute to his talent for cooking scrumptious
Southern-fried pork chops -- Parker is among the main
subjects of Ron David and Stewart Halpern’s
award-winning documentary Pageant, which profiles
contestants vying for the 34th Miss Gay America title
and tiara. This February. Parker competes yet again,
in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Logo’s
deliciously addictive, cross-dressed take on Project
Runway and America’s Top Model
(challenges include “Drag on a Dime,” in
which the queens assemble looks from Dollar Store
and thrift shop goods).
Born in Anderson,
S.C., and based in Raleigh, N.C., Parker has performed
in clubs across the nation, snagged some 100 pageant titles,
and appeared on TV’s Access Hollywood,My Life Is a Sitcom, and Extra during her more
than 20-year career as a female impersonator.
Currently a “Spotlight Divas!” cast member at
Raleigh’s Legends nightclub, Parker talked with
Advocate.com about her experiences making
Pageant (opening December 26 in New York City),
the scoop on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and
whether Porkchop is kosher for Passover.
How did you get involved with Pageant? I was considering doing Miss Gay America since
it was going to be in Memphis and I was in Nashville
at the time, and I saw a passing notice online that
they were doing a documentary at the competition that year.
I sent them an e-mail that I wanted to compete and be
part of the documentary, and I actually got turned
down to be in the movie. But a week later I got a
phone call and they said they changed their mind. I
asked why, and the film’s other [producer-director],
Stewart, saw my video and said we have to have her,
and both of them flew down to Memphis to see me
compete in Miss Gay Tennessee America. So because of Stewart
I got cast.
Pageantpaints very surprising portraits of its main
subjects -- particularly how accepting and involved
their families are -- but of course
there’s some drama and tensions once the
competition gets going. Did anything dramatic occur that
we don’t see on-screen? They told a pretty truthful story of what
happened. There isn’t any negativity you
missed. But one of the first nights of the competition,
one of the subjects actually passed out and had to be taken
out of the club and revived. She came back and
finished competing that night. They weren’t
able to get that on camera, but that would’ve been
great! They said she was “dehydrated.”
What might people learn from watching the film? The most important thing is it’s another
form of entertainment and the arts. People who go to
pageants, especially female impersonation, appreciate
the art form, work, and preparation it takes to compete on
that level. You gain an appreciation for what they believe
in and whatever they do.
Would former pageant girl Sarah Palin enjoy it? I actually think Palin would enjoy it a great
deal. I know she has conservative values, but a love
for pageants. It would probably open her eyes and [she
would] see we are people just like her.
How else has the film changed your life since it
premiered at Slamdance in 2008? I feel I’ve accomplished so much more
than I thought I would be able to do and [gained] a
sense of responsibility that my life and career will be
forever remembered on film and that’s something to be
very proud of. I’ve always had to be on my game
and now that they’ve seen me in my movie I have
to be my best.
Speaking of, let’s talk RuPaul’s Drag Race. It was a great experience. It’s the first
show of its type where you’re actually looking
at female impersonators competing like America’s
Next Top Model. We had to know how to do hair,
makeup, everything. RuPaul is looking for America’s
next drag superstar. She called me “the
world-famous Victoria Parker.” I was happy with
that she called me “world-famous!” It was a
really big gift in my life to be a part. It’s a
great thing. And it shows how far we’ve come
[as female impersonators] -- in the past 22 years this would
never have happened.
Is there a villain this season? If I had to pick one, it would be Akashia. She
says there has to be a bitch on the show and she feels
that’s her. When you’re young you want to
be noticed. It’s a good thing. She’s happy --
go for it.
How does RuPaul compare to Tyra Banks? Ru is about a foot taller! He’s a
wonderful person and wanted to leave a legacy and give
back to the community that gave him so much, and I think
he does that with this show. He’s not only an idol
for people like me but an idol for everyone.
Does Ru “read” any of the contestants? Do
they cry? Well, he’s honest and tells it like it
is. He doesn’t pull back any punches.
It’s a grown-up game and it has grown-up values.
You live in North Carolina, typically a
conservative red state -- vehemently so during Jesse
Helms’s days. How does it feel with things
suddenly going purple? Since the election it feels like a new day and
chance and there’s something better coming from
where we’ve been. There’s a positivity in
the air. The night of the election was just like everywhere
else -- there were people out in the street
This is a very important question for certain
communities, especially with the holidays upon us -- is
Porkchop kosher? Everybody can enjoy Porkchop. Why eat a bird
when you can have a chop for Christmas?