“I’m primarily a visual, performance and conceptual artist, experimental filmmaker, writer and social critic,” Vaginal Creme Davis says in a somewhat long-winded introduction of herself for those not familiar with the 6’4” drag queen who has long used celebrity gossip to expose the fabricated web of sin, skin and scandal that is the entertainment industry.
More simply, however, the self-described “blacktress” says that her “medium is the indefinite nature of my own whimsy.”
It’s an apt description for la Diva Davis’ various art, activisms and shock schlock. Since she began performing at age 12 in Los Angeles’ rough ‘n’ tumble Watts neighborhood, Davis has been a rabble-rousing fixture on the underground as she’s straddled the art, punk and queer scenes by forming the band Black Fag with Beck’s mum, collaborating with Bruce La Bruce and emceeing celebrity galas only to embarrass the hoity-toity entertainment icons in the room. (Her face-to-face humiliation of Gwyneth Paltrow even landed in the New York Times.)
It’s Davis’ stint as the hostess-with-the-mostest of L.A.’s dive bar-beer bust Club Sucker, however, that’s gained the glamazon the most notoriety.
“[Club Sucker was] under the radar of the police and vice squads, so I could get away with murder,” Ms. Davis, who named herself after the radical activist Angela Davis, explains of the sexual shenanigans that transpired at her now-defunct Sunday-evening event.
“I performed fellatio and hot buttered analingus on many humpy boys in the bands that played at my club. I also encouraged public nudity at every turn.”
Not surprisingly, word of mouth made the hole-in-the-wall club one of the country’s hottest tour stops during its five-year run, featuring unannounced shows by everyone from Weezer to the Foo Fighters, as well as countless appearances by slumming celebrities.
It is inevitable, then, that our interview more than occasionally turns to hot gossip. And as the mastermind behind the legendary ’80s rumor-mill mag, The Fertile La Toyah Jackson, Davis is a treasure trove of info. She dishes the most scandalous — and equally unprintable — dirt and drama on everyone from the Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin and “ER”’s Noah Wiley to Detroit’s own Witches, Eminem and Madonna (who once stopped by Club Sucker “with her dim-witted sperm donor” and “trainer-concubine” Carlos Leon to see Mike Watt’s cover band, the Madonnabees).
“First let me explain that I’m not interested in the entertainment world or entertaining in and of itself,” she says once we specifically broach the subject of her notoriety as one of L.A.’s biggest gossip queens. “I utilize gossip as a literary device, so to speak. It’s a reference point that everyone can relate to, and I take it to a different level ... it’s just a tool that I use like an X-acto knife.”
She continues, “My point [is] to show that what is considered newsworthy is only pure entertainment with no news value at all, and that even the so-called ‘scandals’ are glossed over and spun-dried of any real content, so that what you read in newspapers, magazines and see on TV is served, lacquered, orchestrated and sometimes leaked by the stars themselves.”
It’s this line-blurring of fact and fiction, of celebrity and the pedestrian, that self-made myth-legend Davis has perfected through her various performances, music and art.
“I’ll do anything to shake up tired white middle class-ism,” she says, claiming that as “a black ghetto drag queen at the bottom of the totem pole,” she has nothing to lose by exposing stories that might embarrass or enrage celebrities.
As someone who has also exposed the often racist and sexist absurdity of Hollywood in her own stand-up material, Margaret Cho found a kindred spirit in Davis when she became a regular at Club Sucker years ago. So when it came time for the Notorious C.H.O. tour, Cho called on Davis to perform material from her Steve Albini-produced The White To Be Angry album.
“She wanted something a little different for this tour,” Davis explains matter-of-factly. “And, well, I’m as different as it comes.”Jimmy Draper explores genres and genders for Metro Times. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org