A good drag husband is like a good sous chef: fast, able to take commands under high pressure and patient with the dramatics of creative/culinary genius. All these skills will be put to the test Monday, when South Bay queens Pam Cakes and Lemon Skweezy compete in SV Pride’s Drag Queen Cooking Showdown to kick off a week of Pride celebrations—with their respective partners assisting the challenge.
“He literally does anything I need him to: zip me up, unzip me, I have him glue my nails on for me. Once I get my nails on I can’t really do anything, so he’s my extra set of hands,” Pam says of her partner, Jeremy.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t realize you need until the last minute,” Lemon adds. “And then you need them now.”
Both performers (and hopefully their sous-chef/drag-husbands) are ready to feel the heat—full face of makeup and all. Over the course of my chat with them, Lemon and Pam flitted in and out of character, trading jabs as well as costume-making contacts for the show. While the event clearly has notes of both Great British Bake Off (of which Jeremy is a fan) and Drag Race, the conversation takes on hints of Keeping Up With the Kardashians as the two reveal they also share a drag mom.
Drag culture has a long-running tradition of “drag mothers,” essentially mentors to newer queens who can then claim themselves as part of a “house.” Since the art form’s roots in New York City’s primarily Black and Latin-American underground ballroom scene, drag houses have also been vital chosen families for gay and trans youth—many of them estranged from their biological families, at risk of police violence and marginalized from society.
While drag has entered the mainstream radar in a post-RuPaul world, drag mothers and houses remain a part of the culture, for both aesthetic and honor. Pam Cakes and Lemon Skweezy are both fairly recent additions to House of Woo, namesake of local celebrity WooWoo Monroe.
“We’re very new drag daughters to her post-pandemic,” Pam says, whose persona formed over lockdown with performance videos. She cites whispers that WooWoo may be a guest judge for the showdown as well, adding to the theatrics: “Mom has to choose between us.”
“It’s been really dramatic—traumatic too,” Lemon says. “I don’t know if me and Pam’s relationship can take much more of this.”
“It probably won’t survive,” Pam says, laughing.
Lemon quips, “I’ll do my meltdown research.”
We discuss the possibility of a food fight breaking out on stage.
The sisters’ commonality of food-based names is coincidental (Skweezy was inspired by Liz Lemon, while Pam Cakes was inspired by, well…), but the two are both passionate about Drag Brunch, the monthly SV Pride event that birthed the Cooking Showdown in 2018.
“It’s electric, they make it a really welcome spot for everybody,” Lemon says of current hosts Alpha Andromeda and Jackie Layshun. While events like brunches, bingo games, and cooking competitions are relatively new to drag, they become popular as novel and less bar-centered ways of building and celebrating queer communities, as well as an opportunity to show a different side of one’s drag persona than may come out during a lip-synced number.
“It’s a little more expressive, a different experience,” Lemon explains.
Even as nemeses, Pam and Lemon are excited to share the Showdown stage as one big family. While the two queens have made a music video together set to Dolly Parton’s “Two Doors Down,” this will be their first shared live event.
“I think the four of us are gonna have a bunch of laughs doing it, and maybe forget the crowd is even there,” says Pam.
When the subject of actual cooking skills shows up, the drag sisters make dinner plans for the real world as well.
“You guys are gonna have us over soon, right?” Pam asks. Lemon replies in the vocal equivalent of a giant wink: “Yep, absolutely! And I promise I won’t poison it.”
Drag Queen Cooking Showdown
Mon, Aug. 23, 6pm, Free
Homewood Suites, Sunnyvale