One of the first drag kings to start performing in Phoenix’s Melrose district, self-described gentleman Freddy Prinze Charming (named after the charming 90s actor Freddie Prinze Jr.), brings theatrical flair to the drag show stage, often alongside longtime friend and fellow drag performer, Dustin Riot.
Write On Downtown (WOD): There’s plenty of people who aren’t as familiar with more masculine-presenting drag performers the way they are with “traditional,” feminine-presenting drag queens. How do you begin that conversation of introducing people to different types of performers?
Freddy Prinze Charming (FPC): On the rare occasion I come across someone who isn’t familiar with AFAB (assigned female at birth) performers (kings OR queens), or think that AFAB entertainers are “boring” and “not as fierce” as traditional drag queens, I usually go to social media and bring up not just my own Instagram, but other AFAB performers around the country.
WOD: When and how did you start getting into drag?
FPC: I started performing as Freddy about 15 years ago, in Tucson. Though, if we want to get technical, I was doing drag long before that. During my high school drama years, I was being cast as male parts in various plays. Freddy was a way to be on stage and tap into my theatrical roots, while not sacrificing my own personal comfort.
WOD: Where did the inspiration for your style come from?
FPC: My first real inspiration for my drag came from the book ‘Tipping the Velvet’, and then later the miniseries. I drew inspiration from the classic men of old MGM musicals; Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Fred Astair, because first and foremost Freddy is always a gentleman. As I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin, my style has evolved over the years to a place where I’m not afraid to play with gender, gender stereotypes, and over-the-top makeup and costuming.
WOD: Where do you see yourself going from here? Do you have any specific goals that you are currently working to achieve?
FPC: I have been so fortunate over my drag career to have won titles, won awards, headlined festivals, travelled, that there isn’t much that I have left on my bucket list. My plan is to continue to grow, to try new things, push boundaries. I would love to travel overseas to perform! I’ve got friends all over the world who are entertainers and it would be amazing to share the stage with them. I will continue to use my platform to be visible, to educate, and to continue to make connections.
WOD: How has Phoenix influenced you and your performances? Is there anything unique to the Phoenix drag community that you really love?
FPC: I’ve been performing in Phoenix for over a decade and I’ve seen it grow so much in that time. I was one of the first handful of kings to really hit the drag scene here, and fight for the same representation and visibility as the queens. Being one of the first, I’ve seen kings in Phoenix go from being an afterthought to headlining festivals, being booked regularly locally, winning national titles, and more! For me, what I really love about the drag community here are the connections I’ve made with people who have become friends and family. Those connections mean having an incredible support system, which is essential.
WOD: What has been your favorite/best experience in the drag community to date?
FPC: There have been many highlights throughout the years, but I think one of my favourite was being able to produce my ‘Spotlight’ shows, see them grow, perform to packed houses, win awards, perform on the mainstage at Rainbows Festival and Pride, and do something that is totally inclusive, and totally unique to Arizona.