Dragnique recently finished its third run in Atlanta, and the drag competition was fiercer than ever. With a talented pool of contenders, each week proved more competitive than the one before. At the end of the season, though, there could only be one winner, and there was no surprise when Edie Cheezburger was named Dragnique: Season 3’s winner.
Even among a strong competition, Edie stood out as The One to Beat all season long. With her lavish production numbers and controversial performance choices, Edie kept the audience on their toes week after week. The result? A tremendous winning sweep that ran through the competition. Edie won the contest for most money raised for charity every week, and won the popular vote four out of five weeks.
Edie’s presence in the Atlanta drag scene isn’t limited to her time on Dragnique. As a member of the Armorettes, Edie makes appearances at the group’s weekly shows at Burkhart’s. She’s also focusing on additional appearances in the community, including a co-hosting gig at Bedlam’s party on June 16th at The W Downtown.
Following the competition, which I covered weekly for David Magazine, I sat down with Edie to discuss all things drag and Dragnique.
How did you get your start in drag?
Well, I really started about a year ago. I was part of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and we were asked to be in a play at Jungle, and that’s really where I got the first start in drag. We did a play – Caberet – and that’s where I met Jaye Lish, and Jaye Lish and I became good friends through that process. I just kind of fell into performing.
You’re now a member of the Armorettes. How did that come about?
In August, I tried out for the Armorettes. It was something that I really wanted to try. Jaye Lish is a big inspiration in my life, and that’s where she performs, so I wanted to be a part of another organization in the community that gave back, and it was a great way to be a performer and just have fun.
Who are your performing inspirations? I know you’ve mentioned Jaye Lish.
Well, Jaye does inspire me to do a lot. Performance-wise, even though I pull from a lot of different people—there are a lot of queens out in San Francisco that I really admire, Glam Amour’s an amazing performer, Detox Icon is a great performer—but…I don’t know. I tend to pull from a lot of different sources and not just have one where I’m like, “Oh, I want to be just like this person.” Because it doesn’t really fit my character to have just one, so I try to source as many as I can.
Now over the course of the Dragnique competition, who helped you out?
So, Jaye Lish was constantly there. He helped me in every performance. He was in every performance except for one – he wasn’t in the Whitney Houston number, but he was in every other performance. So he’s helped me. I made a few friends along the way. Miami Royale actually ended up being in my final number, and was an amazing talent to have with me. Michael Robinson helped me choreograph. Kevin Kochanski and Justin Rogers were there helping me along the way as well, so…I had quite a lot of people pulled who would actually come and help.
What led you to actually join this season of Dragnique?
I watched both of the seasons before, and I really admired it. I loved that it was Drag Race-lite, and I’m really super-competitive, so that was something that I really wanted to try out. It’s a different form of entertainment than what the Armorettes do. There’s more chance for doing production numbers, which I really love. So it was more of a creative endeavor for me.
Of the performances you did, which would you say was your favorite, or your best?
Oh, that’s a hard one to ask! Well, I got a lot of good feedback about the Helen Keller number. That was a lot of people’s favorite. I… Well, just because it was the last one I did, I really loved the last one. I really felt that there was room for improvement, but I just…I loved that number. It was definitely my favorite, just because it was a big, grand thing, and that’s what I love about drag. Just the whole excessive nature.
I know you’re definitely committed to character in each of your performances, but I know for me, it definitely stood out with the Helen Keller number. Even afterwards, when they called everyone back on stage, you stayed in character. I loved when you swung your cane around and were told later that you won, and your reaction only happened then. I…loved it. And I think that’s why a lot of people loved that performance.
It was easy to stay in character with that, because I had much more of a mask to further utilize that.
What was the most challenging week?
The week that I did Whitney Houston. That was really hard for me. I do characters, I don’t do impersonation, so that was really difficult, and when… We had uup ntil Monday to finalize what we were actually doing, and so by Monday, everybody that I had wanted to do as backup had been taken already. So Evah [Destruction] did Barbra Streisand, which would’ve been, like, my #1 backup. And then Aroara [Thunder] did Florence [Welch, of Florence + The Machine], and I was like…psh. That’s the other person that I would do. So both of my red-heads were gone, and I’m like, “I’m just going to have to stick with Whitney Houston.” I was really worried about that performance, because it could have come off as being racist or too soon, or something like that, but…you know, it was a risk. It was just really hard for me, because I didn’t want to put people off. And it was also the next-to-last performance. It was a hard one.
Of all the weeks in the competition, that was the only one where you lost the popular vote, even though it wasn’t by much. How did that feel after winning week after week?
I wasn’t surprised that I lost, because I don’t feel like it was my strongest performance. You know, Aroara deserved to win. I, more than anything, wanted people to win based off of how well they did. I didn’t really want it to be about how many people were in the audience voting. Talent deserves credit. It went to the right person that week.
If you could redo any moment from the competition, what would it be?
Like, if I had a chance to go back and fix it?
No. I’m satisfied with how everything went.
We kind of touched on this when we discussed the Celebrity Impersonations week, but s there a song, performance, or idea that you had in mind for another week that you never had the chance to do?
I kind of had it in my mind that, at the very end, we would have a song that we would choose. And so, starting off in the competition, I had started planning out my final number. But that was based off of the first and second seasons. Everybody at the end got to pick something and then something was chosen for them. I was going to do a Florence + The Machine song, and I couldn’t do it the week after Aroara did Florence + The Machine, just purely based off of…I didn’t want it to seem like I was riding on her coattails. I didn’t want to bore the audience with another song by Florence. So I really wanted to do “Cosmic Love,” and I had this big production planned out, and…that week, once she did that number, I started changing what I wanted to do for the finale.
Speaking of Aroara and the finale, how did you come up with the number that you did for the duet?
I love Smash – it’s Glee for grown-ups – and I really wanted to do that duet since I saw the duet on the show. I hadn’t had a chance to do that. So once we found out that we had duets, that popped into my mind. backstage after we found out, I went up to her and I was like, “I have the perfect song. Let’s think about it.” And on Saturday, we finalized it and came up with a campy way to do it. I really feel like it played to both of our strengths.
Of the other contestants in the competition, who are your favorites?
Evah is an amazing, talented performer. I loved watching her perform. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next. Miami Royale is fabulously talented. And I’m really interested to see where Violet goes with her drag. I think she’s very different from most other drag in Atlanta, and I’m excited to see what she does.
Are there any contestants you think should’ve gone farther than they did, or were in for too long?
I think once we got to the final four, the people who made it are… We really worked the hardest, and I think we deserved to be the final four. There wasn’t anybody I would’ve chosen other than the people who were there over who made it to the final show.
Speaking of Evah and Violet, do you think they had a disadvantage in performing because they were under 21, and they were performing at a 21+ bar?
I feel like some of the votes were popularity, but if they were all popularity, I would’ve won the Whitney Houston one. I really felt like it was based off of performance, though. And in the end, Evah ended up coming in second place. I don’t know. I feel like they might’ve gotten a little bit more, but I’m not sure how much.
Of the judges in the competition, who was your favorite judge from the competition, or the most helpful?
Ooh, good one. Well, I don’t know, because I didn’t get feedback that was…all I got was positive feedback. I never got anything that was more of a critique, other than the last number where Alissa Summers decided to tell me her club was better for black lights or whatever. I really enjoyed getting Phoenix’s feedback, just because she’s been in the game for quite a bit, and she’s Drag Race royalty.
Do you think the judges could’ve been a little more helpful if they had offered more critiques, or was it fine the way it was?
I think there’s a possibility. I mean, I’m my hardest critic, so it’s really hard for me to watch my performances, ‘cause I’m like, “God, why did I do that? That needs to change,” and stuff like that. I probably would’ve taken their feedback and tried to improve on it, but there’s only so much you can do in a week.
Do you think that the judging panel would benefit from having more people who aren’t drag queens on it?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I feel like drag queens look for different things. I’ve gotten feedback outside of it where my whole thing was, “Your lipsync needs to be better” and all this other stuff, and it’s stuff that queens catch, because that’s what they’re all about. But…I think, maybe as an ancillary judge, or the third judge could be somebody outside of the drag scene, but I don’t know how much they would offer, because they don’t have that trained eye. Unless it’s for something like makeup or performance. You know, if it was a comedy challenge, having a comedian, maybe.
What advice would you give to future Dragnique contestants?
Really bring 110%. That’s what I kept trying to stress to everybody was, I was in it to win. That was my goal for being in the show, and that meant I had to be the most creative, the most entertaining, getting the most help. I probably had the most people helping me throughout the entire season, and that’s because people were willing to go that extra mile for me. So don’t be afraid to lean on other people for support. And dig deep. It shouldn’t be something that you coast through. I worked my ass off for this, and if you’re that dedicated to your craft, it needs to show. Be the most you can be, really.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your supporters or to the community at large?
Well, I want to thank everybody that came out to the shows. I definitely want to thank everybody that helped me along the way. I feel great for being the person who raised the most money. It’s primarily what I do as an entertainer. Everything that I get goes to charity, so I really want to thank everybody for coming out and donating and supporting me throughout the competition.