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The Other White

The Other White


As one of the subjects of the documentary about the drag pageant circuit, Pageant, opening in select theaters, and one of the contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race, premiering next month on Logo, Victoria "Porkchop" Parker may not look or act like your typical female impersonator, but make no mistake, she is one of the best.

Life's a 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 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 celebrating.

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?

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Lawrence Ferber