Surely you’ve seen the hilarious videos: A strangely intent drag queen identifies herself as “Chloe Sevigny,” and proceeds to regale the audience with weird stories of celebrity encounters and odd possessions. Where on Earth did this come from, and why is it happening?
For the last five years, performer Drew Droege has been bringing the character to life, and nobody is more surprised at her enduring charm than he is. (Well, the actual Chloe Sevigny might be a little freaked out by it too.) He was a recent guest on the podcast The Sewers of Paris, featuring gay men and the entertainment that changed their lives.
It all started one day when Drew put a blonde wig one day. “I look like Chloe Sevigny,” he realized. He had just read an article where she’d name-dropped some “really bizarre things,” and he showed a director his impression. The director hated it, and when Drew performed it live for the first time, the audience hated it.
“But there was something about it,” Drew said. “I’m going to keep going with this. I had no idea it was going to be my calling card and the most famous thing I’ve ever done. But I started trusting myself more: Well I think this is funny.”
Oddly enough, those Chloe impressions gave him the courage to pursue more strange, idiosyncratic characters. That was perfect for him, because he had a lifelong obsession with weirdos.
As a kid, he loved Batman, the old 60s series with Adam West. He loved the weird villains played by aging Hollywood stars like Tallulah Bankhead, and also the younger up-and-comers like Joan Collins. He was so obsessed that he once told him mother that a girl on his soccer team looked like Eartha Kitt (Catwoman).
“I love monsters. I love the villains,” he said. “When I was three, I dressed up as Gene Simmons from KISS… I saw them on TV and was like ‘I want that.'” He used to make his family gather around to watch Thriller and Clash of the Titans. Over his bed hung Freddie Krueger and Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
“There’s something fabulous about all of them.” He was Ming the Merciless one year for Halloween: “There was this pageantry involved in all of it… I hated the heroes. They’re so boring. I didn’t care what He-Man was doing. Flash Gordon’s hot, but I want to know the crazy people. I loved the women and the monsters.”
That sensibility was a blessing and a curse when he moved to LA and began pursuing an acting career. He’d done a lot of serious plays in college, but had no opportunity to play cartoonish villains. In Los Angeles, he could learn about improv comedy and develop the personas that made sense to him.
It took years of experimentation and self-exploration, and countless characters. But the moment he slipped on that Chloe wig, he knew — he’d found someone special.
For more stories about gay men and entertainment, subscribe to The Sewers of Paris, and check out Drew’s interview below.