All photos courtesy of Julian Vankim Photography (unless otherwise noted)
It’s hard at first to describe Team Peaches. Part Cirque du Soleil, part RuPaul’s Drag Race – that might be the closest that one could get. The team originated from the solo performance by the winner of the 2009 Miss Adams Morgan Pageant (Washington’s secretive amatuer drag pageant, which finds thousands of DC’s powerful elite and everyday citizens donning wigs and dresses each October at the Washington Hilton). That year, when DC designer Paul Corrie was crowned Miss Adam Morgan 2009, he had little idea that his performance that night would grow into a group of tumblers, acrobats, and dancers centered around his drag persona – all known as Team Peaches.
Team Peaches was such a hit at our last two Brightest Young Things Pride Parties that we asked the group to return to perform this Friday at Arena Stage for the BYT/Capital Pride FLASHBACK Opening Party. They’ll be in our performance theatre next to our main dance floor and will be dazzling you in two shows that night. Tickets always sell out. So, grab your tickets to FLASHBACK now as we check-in with Team Peaches.
Brightest Young Things: What has been happening with Team Peaches since we last saw you at our BYT/Capital Pride party last June?
Peaches: In the past year, Team Peaches has performed at various venues, notably Town and the Howard Theatre for BYT’s Homo for the Holidays party. As Peaches, I’ve had the opportunity to perform many solo gigs as well. Those push me as a performer and ultimately makes the Team performances stronger.
BYT: Would you consider yourself a drag act? I mean, you do have a drag queen at the center of your routine. But, you’re something…different.
Peaches: Yes, absolutely. Peaches is a drag queen and the art of drag informs every decision when it comes to the act. That said, we believe we are evolving the art by including elements of choreographed dance, tumbling, and stunts. And we have a few other tricks up our sleeve that you’ll have to wait until Friday to see.
BYT: Many people wouldn’t have considered someone like Sharon Needles as representative of drag before she competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race and won. At that point, she just didn’t fit in to the traditional mold of drag. With her success on the show, there are now dozens of queens across the country performing her genre of drag. Do you see the the niche created by Team Peaches as something that can evolve into its own genre and done by others? Or, is this all just too crazy to be repeated?
Peaches: Sharon’s goth visual and persona was so original when she was on the show and I think it inspired a lot of queens. So much so that even she has moved on to more of a high fashion range since the look became so commonplace. Do I think performers are inspired by what we do and would want to replicate? I hope so. At the end of the day, our goal is to entertain. It’s always about the audience.
BYT: Do you think there’s room for even more types of drag? Anything that hasn’t been done before that you’d like to see (synchronized swimming queens?)?
Peaches: We’ve already done synchronized swimming! Yes, I always think there’s more room for different types of drag – just as long as it’s well done. I have always been a firm believer that there’s room for all, always. There should never been any restrictions on art, as far as I’m concerned. So, I applaud anything new and different that’s well done.
BYT: Peaches started as a contestant (and winner) of the annual Miss Adams Morgan competition. Somewhere, you made the jump from ‘Peaches’ as a singular identity to ‘Team Peaches’ – a group composed of dancers and stunt artists surrounding that drag personality. Can you tell us a little bit about that evolution?
BYT: When people ask us about Team Peaches, the best we can say is “Just see it! You just have to see it.” Do you ever have a hard time explaining to bookers and potential venues just what exactly Team Peaches is?
Peaches: I couldn’t agree with you more. Just see it! What we do isn’t necessarily hard to explain but the level of complexity and the layering involved in each performance can be. So, yes, we try to encourage others to view our work and when others who have seen us speak on our behalf, it pretty much seals the deal.
BYT: To say that your performance is ‘athletic’ is an understatement. You all are tumbling, cartwheeling, air tossing, and seemingly flying through the air. Can you walk us through your typical training in the week leading up to a show?
Peaches: Many times, a routine can take us two-to-three months to develop. We meet once a week to rehearse and learn the dancing. But, as we get closer, we meet much for frequently. For the two-to-three weeks up to the event, we sometimes meet three or four times a week. Once the dancing is learned, it then becomes essential to develop the blocking but also add more layers and dimension.
I think I have a good perspective on what keeps an audience member’s attention so when I feel as though there might be a hole or lull, we brainstorm. We are literally doing that as we speak as we enter our final week before the performance.As far as diet is concerned, I’m pretty regimented throughout the year. I have my bad days for sure, but I also try to be aware of my weight for stunt purposes so the last month is definitely filled with tons and tons of cardio. I’m not a trained cheerleader, but someone who’s determine to succeed no matter how difficult the challenge. So, most of the stunts I’ve executed have been my ideas that I’ve asked others to teach and train me in order for me to do.
BYT: Do you ever worry about injuries?
Peaches: I do worry about injuries. But, I’ve surrounded myself with trained individuals who consider safety the most important goal no matter what. I know anything we do has a risk associated with it. But, we’re willing to take that risk knowing everyone involved understands the seriousness of what’s taking place.
BYT: I love sneaking out into the audience and watching your routine with people who have never seen you before. Their reactions are always amazing – with a mix of shock, delight, and ‘wow’ on their faces. What reactions do you get as a team from people seeing your show for the first time? Or, are you just filled with so much adrenaline after the show that it’s all a blur?
Peaches: You guessed it. It’s the adrenaline that takes over when performing so noticing people’s reactions is pretty non-existent for me. I do have to say that if and when I do experience anything with audience members, it’s more shock for those that have never seen us before. It all happens so quickly that they almost need to take time after to process it all and ultimately say “wow!”. Once you’ve seen us, you know you’re going to be taken on one of the most intense roller coasters of your life. So, it’s exciting to prepare to perform for those that do know us and what we do.
BYT: You’ve got a big, in-the-round stage with the Fichandler Theatre as part of our FLASHBACK party. How do you intend to use it all?
Peaches: We plan on using it all. Our blocking has specifically been designed so that we can create a visually stunning show viewable from all four sides. It’s details, such as these, that we take great pride in and feel that they help define the quality that we are, Team Peaches.
Team Peaches will perform at our BYT/Capital Pride FLASHBACK Opening Party this Friday, June 12 at Arena Stage. Discount advance tickets are $20 and day-of tickets (if available) are $25.
– BYT & Capital Pride Present FLASHBACK –
The Official Opening Party of Capital Pride
This Friday, June 12 – Arena Stage
$20 Advance – $25 Day-Of (If Available)
Get your tickets now as we always sell out
Featuring: Adore Delano (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Pearl (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Frenchie Davis, Summer Camp, Pussy Noir, Jezzibel Jaxknife, Adam Kyle, Mundy, and DJs Shea Van Horn, Lemz, Matt Bailer and Cassidy.
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