The Real Amy Grindhouse: A Drag Queen’s Tale
By Stacey Gillard
Living in a small town can be tough on any teen growing up. 18-year-old David Thomson calls Squamish, British Columbia home. With a population of 18,000, the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” is a popular stop-off point for visitors traveling the famous Sea-To-Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler and while the community is warm and welcoming, David, as a young gay male has had his struggles. With the support of his extremely accepting family David has created an alter-ego, a beautiful and sassy Drag Queen named Amy Grindhouse. We recently spoke to David about Amy and his life in Squamish.
Who is Amy Grindhouse?
Amy Grindhouse is my Drag Queen creation. Originally a sexy witch, she’s evolved into a Trashy bearded creature of the night. More Frankenstein like than anything. She’s a crazy one woman show who is always trying to do the right thing but fails miserably. She’s very clear on what she wants and will do just about anything to get it. Let’s call her “Trash Fab”!
What or who were your biggest inspirations in Amy’s creation?
Mainly Elvira Mistress of the Dark and a heavy dose of Alaska 5000. I always was attracted to the idea of having my work be a separate entity than myself. Very few people notice Elvira, Cassandra Peterson, out of costume. I love that concept of selecting times to be a celebrity.
Why did you choose this particular form of expression?
Honestly I have a lot of pent-up aggression from living in such a small place for so long. My mind is always racing to the exact opposite of my situation, and what could be more drastic for a Squamish kid than a bearded man in a bikini with stripper shoes and a teased wig. It’s the perfect release.
How did your association with Out TV (Canadian LGBT Television Network) come about?
I submitted my photo into the “Glamazon Project” on their Tumblr page and was selected. This gave my Facebook page a huge boost and it was great to be seen by so many people. I will be approaching them about making Amy into a TV series, but I can’t talk too much about that. I really don’t have enough info.
How old were you when you came out and what was that situation like for you?
I was 12 when I first came out. I was in grade 7 which is a horribly awkward year for anybody. Add living in a small town with some extremely religious friends, it was hard. I still deal with depression and PTSD from past incidents involving people in my town taking advantage of my openness, but at the end of the day I’m the one networking and putting myself out there. I still have that over them.
Do you feel living in a small town presents you with more or less issues as a gay teen?
It’s definitely isolating, I feel like I’m separated from my own culture. It’s next to impossible to date (but I mean who successfully dates in high school). I felt like I had no queer friends and I’d be alone forever. But as the years went on people came out, people moved here and now we have our own budding community. And as far as work is involved, I’d say it’s made me hungrier to achieve success. There aren’t a lot of drag venues in Squamish believe it or not!
What plans do you have for Amy in the coming year?
So many plans so little time! She’s getting her first full length show at the Eagle Eye Theatre [in Squamish] in October and some Vancouver gigs, which will be announced soon. Still have to put a show together before I put myself out there! Also a Christmas calendar, posters and shirts will be coming. Along with a professional website. How fancy! For now you can find me on “The Real Amy Grindhouse” on Facebook.
What are your hopes for Amy as far as inspiration for young people goes?
I want them to see a confident, anarchist queer performer that gives them permission to play with more colors. You never know if you like it until you’ve tried it. I hope they recognize the weird, explosive awkwardness in her character and can relate to her. For such an outlandish character she’s strangely sympathetic.
We’d like to thank David for talking so openly about his experiences. We’ll be sharing Amy’s news on our Twitter and Facebook pages as it comes. She looks set for an exciting and varied career and we can’t wait to see where life takes her!
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