By Caitlin Arcand
Have you ever thought about dating Shrek? This drag queen has! Boston's Robin from HR is reimagining your early 2000's obsessions like you've never seen them before. Her love for pop culture has turned into an art form, creating numbers inspired by characters like Hey Arnold's Helga and All That's Repair MAN-MAN-MAN-MAN.
We had a chance to sit down with Robin and find out more about her nostalgic and entertaining performances.
Tell us a little bit about your drag and how it came to be.
My drag started because I used to get really drunk in college and used to perform “Boy is a Bottom” to an entire apartment full of other drunk people with two of my best friends. One day, someone made a comment about how I was a really good lipsyncher and we settled on the fact that I should do drag. So, six years ago, I started doing drag online in my parents’ basement via an online competition where it was a drag race style challenge where you made a look or did a comedic video or something, and I did that for almost a year before ever actually leaving my house in drag. I was so scared because I was BUSTED, but then I moved to Western Massachusetts where I met Ivanna and she encouraged me to go out in drag and the rest was history, bitch, I have been performing ever since.
How do you choose which TV shows you are going to turn into numbers?
Basically, I’m a big kid. A lot of the shows I end up parodying into numbers are shows that I still enjoy watching. My Disney+ subscription gets a work out - let me tell you. I grew up just obsessed with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, like I loved these characters. I used to have wall decals of animated Lizzie McGuire around my bedroom. I was just obsessed! As I got into performing more, I would just remember things about these shows and be like - wait I wanna do this. Or I’d think of a specific character or reference from a show and be like - I wanna do that. One of my first drag numbers that I ever made myself was my Miss Trunchbull number from the 90s movie, Matilda, and it’s still one of my favorites because I just knew I wanted to be that character. I just like to recreate moments that I loved watching as a child.
While watching these shows as a child, did you ever imagine you’d be performing them in drag years later?
Never! Oh my gosh! I would have never guessed I’d find a way to make the garbage I loved so much into even more garbage. It’s interesting because in a lot of ways I’m ruining my own childhood along with the audience’s in the best way. Like - who has ever watched Shrek the same since watching me do Shrek is love, Shrek is life? I would have never thought I’d be doing this type of art and I could not even be happier to tell younger me that we’re a big disappointment to the Disney Channel.
What challenges, if any, have you encountered so far?
I think the biggest challenge with pulling from the 90s or 2000s to create numbers is just getting your audio quality right. I have this Helga mix that I do, but the leveling is constantly getting perfected because just the source quality is older and harder to access and download in a strong quality. I think also sometimes my references are too obscure - like I have a whole Arthur mix based on DW having lice and people were like what? Or my favorite mix I have never done *spoiler* was this PBS KIDs Zoom Mix I made to deal with the trauma as a child of not being taken to my callback for Zoom, but I will never perform it because the audio is whack.
What is your favorite look/number you’ve done so far?
Honestly, my two favorite looks that I enjoy doing in the realm of 90s/2000s culture references has to be either Helga Pataki or Animated Lizzie McGuire. I am obsessed with my Helga look because it is one of those looks that I thought about the different parts and I commissioned this amazing head piece from local Boston artists, Haus of Oni, which is Akira Oni and their partner, James. Animated Lizzie McGuire is one of my favorite looks because I did it for Bragging Rights in Providence, RI as a cultural icon - they told me she wasn’t one, but we know the truth, right?
Any future numbers in the works that you are excited about?
Right now, currently, I’m into bringing back Vine which I know is a little passed the topic of this interview, but Vine really didn’t deserve to die, people. It’s still a plethora of great content that just needs to come back!
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