Maddie May Prime on being a female drag queen


Many students find that college life is difficult and unique, but for those who also identify as drag queens, the experience can be even more distinctive — or fabulous. College students that are active in the drag scene contribute new ideas and originality to the genre while juggling the demands of their performances with their schoolwork.

There aren’t many students on campus who can say they live such a fabulous double life — unless you’re Maddie May Prime and she can tell you all about it.

Maddie Herquet, a 22-year-old senior at Rowan studying vocal music education who uses she/they pronouns, is also known as Maddie May Prime in drag. Herquet developed an interest in drag while growing up in Penn Township after hearing about RuPaul’s Drag Race, a well-known drag competition. Afterward, she began to watch it constantly.

“Throughout my entire life, I have always been so interested in every single aspect of drag. I was super into makeup, performing, singing, dancing and like just lip-synching and putting on shows for people,” Herquet said.

She wasn’t sure if she was allowed to do drag, though, as drag racing was mainly a community of effeminate gay cisgender men. She was concerned that she would be encroaching on a community that, despite piquing her attention, wasn’t really meant for her. She looked into it and found a number of contradictory views.

Some people believed that a woman partaking in drag was unauthentic, unfair to other queens and a form of cheating. Some even claimed that women or any other group besides homosexual men were disrespecting the gay community by dressing up. She also came across some individuals who believed drag was appropriate for everyone and that ladies could participate.

“So for a while, I was just really like not in a competent space to branch out to do drag when I was 16,” Herquet said.

However, she did eventually go after drag. She struggled for a time with how to begin developing her drag persona. She was so influenced by other drag queens that she understood the look she wanted, but she was still having difficulties deciding on her own stage name. She made the decision to initially go by Maddie, their real name.

She reflected on her obsession with Hannah Montana as a child and how she had developed this identity linked with Samantha May, a fictional character so she created Maddie May by fusing the two names.

Herquet launched their drag Instagram at the end of May and they gave their debut performance in the middle of June at an occasion called “Gay Bill” that was held at the Philadelphia gay bar Tavern on Camac. They said it was a scary experience when they performed, but everyone present supported them. All eyes were on them during their debut performance, both for their talent and stunning rainbow jumpsuit.

“I feel like I think of myself as a drag queen first and then like being a woman second. Because I really do take inspiration from a lot of just drag queens and like that’s who I am on stage,” Herquet said.

It has been eight months since her debut performance. Since not every performance or audience is the same, she is currently experimenting with various styles to find what works. 

As previously noted, Herquet was first exposed to drag when she stumbled upon the popular television program RuPaul’s Drag Race, which she binge-watched the entire season of. She then attended her first drag concert in her senior year of high school with a buddy and her then-boyfriend. She characterized the encounter as a fantastic one that inspired her to participate in drag.

They were a little worried about doing drag at first and what their friends would think, but in 2020 for Halloween, they tried it out for the first time and designed an amazing costume that included a wig they had ordered from Amazon. Their pals were amazed when they showed them their outfit. They gave her compliments on it and urged her to keep wearing drag.

Herquet’s current goals are to continue performing as much as she can and to increase her chances of being booked. She recently competed in the “Drag Attack Competition,” and she plans to start organizing her own drag events soon, expanding the opportunity for other drag artists like herself and disseminating drag as widely as she can.

Recently, political figures and officials from several states have been persistent in their criticism of the drag community in various areas of the nation. Many drag performers now feel threatened and targeted as a result of this.

“One thing I would say is that you’re not alone. Because I’ve definitely felt alone before. Especially before I started drag before I found my community,” Herquet said. “There’s always going to be someone out there who is going through the same experience as you. You’re not alone.” 

Herquet’s advice to anyone wishing to join the drag community is to not be hesitant to reach out to people and, more importantly, to go to shows if they can interact with community members and pick their brains.

Maddie May Prime will be performing live on stage next on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. at Axe and Arrow Microbrewery in Glassboro. Along with a performance on Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. at Dragarama at Tabu Philadelphia.

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