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Thursday, February 22, 2024

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PerformanceOnstageAlaska Thunderfuck's holiday cabaret delightfully promises 'as little Christmas...

Alaska Thunderfuck’s holiday cabaret delightfully promises ‘as little Christmas music as possible’

SF-bound performer recalls the 'scary and hairy' queens of Heklina's Tr*nnyshack inspiring her own career.

Who claims Santa Claus only comes on Christmas? 

OK, so “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” second-season winner Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 is no Saint Nick; but like Kris Kringle, she is sleighing—slaying—her way across the country to gift fans with her latest holiday offering: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like ALASKA … A Christmas Show.

The superstar drag queen, recording artist, book author, podcast host, and fragrance designer is bringing her all-new cabaret show, full of story, song, and yuletide tomfoolery, to Bimbo’s 365 on Sun/10.

In advance of her San Francisco stop, I spoke to Alaska about her Christmastime extravaganza, how a drunken night at Trannyshack made drag her “New Religion,” and the places in the city that bring her the most cheer over the holidays—and year-round.

48HILLS Tell me about the new show.

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 Well, my best friend, Jeremy, and I have been doing Christmas cabaret shows for years. He plays the piano, I sing, and we do as little Christmas music as possible. 

Photo by Albert Sanchez

48HILLS Is there a Christmas song that you actually like?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I love Judy Garland’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I think it’s the only acceptable Christmas song.

I love that it’s depressing. And if you watch the video of it on YouTube, she’s singing it so sad. And she’s like, “Yeah, everything sucks right now, but hopefully next year, it’ll be better.”

48HILLS How do you celebrate the holidays?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 This year, my tour ends in Erie, Pennsylvania, my hometown. I will stay in Erie for Christmas and hang out with my family. We usually get drunk—so we have a good time.

48HILLS What’s it like for you to perform in your hometown?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I love it! Growing up in Erie, I never expected that I could be doing drag there and that people would not only be accepting but would live for it. Erie was the first show of the tour that sold out. So people are excited about it, which makes me proud and happy.

48HILLS Do you tone down your show when your family is present?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 Not really. Although my grandmother sometimes likes to tell me that I swear too much. So I’ll tone down my swearing if she’s in the audience.

48HILLS You have a new fragrance out called Red For Filth. What do you love about it?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I love the fragrance because I wanted something everybody can wear. So I didn’t want it to be super gendered. I didn’t want it to be super flowery or too girly. It rides the line in between. So it’s for everybody. I feel like a hot slut when I wear it.

48HILLS In addition to the fragrance, you have your 2016 sophomore album Poundcake, which was recently reissued on magenta-colored vinylyour YA novel, Alaska Thunderfun and the Inner Space Odyssey; and your tell-all, My Name’s Yours, What’s Alaska?: A Memoir. What makes these the perfect gifts for drag fans? 

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 People love getting drag queen stuff for Christmas. I like anything that makes shopping easy because I’m so brain-dead when trying to buy presents for people. So if somebody loves drag or is an Alaska fan, it makes it easy to say, “Oh, OK, I’ll just buy an Alaska thing.”

48HILLS You’ve said that you recorded Poundcake during a difficult time in your life. How did making that album help you through it?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 Making music and doing work help. It’s therapeutic. A lot of the music was collaborative, and working with people is always lovely. Working with Gia Gunn on “Stun” was wonderful. Doing the music video for “Come to Brazil” in Brazil with an all-Brazilian filmmaking team was cool and inspiring. So yeah, it was a difficult time in my life, but I have good memories of the music.

48HILLS In your memoir, you describe seeing a drag show in San Francisco that changed your life. Tell me more.

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 Well, it was my 22nd birthday, and I had never seen anything like it. I had seen some drag queens back in Pennsylvania, and they were just so elegant—like gorgeous rhinestone-wearing drag queens. And I was like, “I can’t do that.” 

But when I saw these queens in San Francisco, who were scary and hairy and squirting liquids all over the place and telling a story through the music, it was mind-blowing. It was the first time I saw drag and believed I could do that.

48HILLS What was it about nontraditional drag that made it more appealing?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 Well, I don’t remember a lot of specifics because I was drinking a lot, but I know that it was Duran Duran night [at Tr*nnyshack] at The Stud, and I had never even seen drag queens doing songs by men. It just blew the lid off of what I thought drag was and made it seem like drag is this art form where you can wear anything.

48HILLS What has drag taught you about feminism?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 When I started drag, I didn’t think about what it meant or what it would mean to anyone. I just liked it because it was fun. But now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I see the empowerment that drag gives people.

And a lot of our audiences are made up of women now, which is fucking awesome, because drag is the celebration of feminine energy. It’s a room that is just brought to a fever pitch by this exuberant femininity performed. I love that. That’s empowering for planet Earth because feminine energy is something that the Earth needs right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnus Hastings

48HILLS You perform in San Francisco all the time. What makes you excited to appear here?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I just love gay places, and San Francisco is the original gay city.  I love that energy. I feel really at home, and I also have so many friends there. It’s lovely.

48HILLS You appeared at Frameline this year for the God Save the Queen filmWhat was your experience working on the movie?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 God Save the Queen was a great experience. They sent the script to me, and I thought, “Oh God, another drag queen movie.” We usually get relegated to the same roles, but this movie showed drag queens as more human, fully-rounded characters that you see in and out of drag. And I was like, “I can get into this, and I’ve got to be in it,” especially alongside [fellow “Drag Race” alum] Laganja Estranja, who’s amazing. I love her so much. So it was cool, and the movie was good. So I came to San Francisco, and we got featured at Frameline, and it was wonderful.

48HILLS Now, when you come to San Francisco, especially after having come so many times, are there places you’re particularly excited to visit?

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I love Oasis. That’s family; that’s home to me. And what is that corner bar? Twin Peaks. I love going there. Every time I walk by, I just want to go in and have a drink.

48HILLS What’s coming up next for you after this tour? 

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK 5000 I don’t know. You’re just going to have to wait and see.

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE ALASKA…A CHRISTMAS SHOW runs Sun/10. Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. Tickets and more info here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.

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