Gay rap star Honey Bucket does drag her way
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
I've always said that my favorite drag queens are character actors. In fact, I don't even see them as drag queens per se, because the characters they become are so much bigger than, oh, let's say... Lady Bunny. I'm talking about the comedic genius of Dina Martina, and the dark comedy lyrics performed by BenDeLaCreme. The list of drag queens who sing badly, but oh-so-beautifully, just got a little longer and a lot more talented. I'm speaking of course, about Mizz Honey Bucket (pronounced 'Bouquet,' darling).
'Before I ever thought of doing drag,' explained Eric Lowell, the man behind the character Honey Bucket, 'I drove by a Honey Bucket and made the correlation with Keeping Up Appearances and the character Hyacinth Bucket.' (Hyacinth Bucket, likewise pronounced 'Bouquet,' played by Patricia Routledge, is the main character in the celebrated BBC sitcom, which ran from 1990 to 1995.)
Honey Bucket is a rap star. This is not your typical drag performance because Honey is not your typical queen. She performs live, all of her raps are really her own, and audiences can't get enough! The lyricist ladyboy is consistently booked for shows on the Hill and surrounding area. Honey Bucket never breaks character - she stays all 'ho,' all the time. Channeling her best streetwalker 'hood rat, one almost gets the notion that Honey Bucket is not an act at all.
'I have been a musician since high school,' Lowell told Seattle Gay News. 'I started performing in drag in 2007. Honey Bucket was actually created in 2005. She came about by a total fluke of circumstances.'
At the time, Lowell says, he'd been away from performing music as a male for a couple of years. 'I contacted my producer and talked about doing music that was more electronic. So he sent me the music track for what became 'My Connie.'
'I thought it was a really cool track, but could not come up with a melody,' he explained. 'As I listened to it, I could totally see it being a rap song, a genre I had never tried, and I couldn't see myself pulling off rap/hip-hop as a male.'
'I thought, 'why not try it in drag?' I wrote the lyrics to 'My Connie' and recorded the song,' said Lowell. 'The response I got from co-workers told me I was on to something, so I spent the next two years sporadically recording enough material to finally perform live.'
In other words, the character was built around the music, which explains why Honey Bucket performances are so strong.
According to Lowell, Honey Bucket's style is ghetto-trailer-trash-ho. 'When I first came up with the name Honey Bucket, I decided to write a back story,' he told SGN. 'She grew up in Las Vegas with her mother in a trailer park on Boulder Highway watching her favorite TV show, Solid Gold. Her mother was a showgirl in Rollergirls, a roller-skating musical extravaganza. Honey got involved in theater in high school, and dropped out to become a dancer in Crazy Girls at the Riviera. Not long after, she made the switch to working the pole at Olympic Gardens. After blowing all of her money on blow, she decided she needed a change and moved to Kent, Washington, where she landed in Pine Terrace Village trailer park.'
'And to make ends meet,' says Lowell, 'she started turning tricks on Pacific Highway and Aurora Avenue.'
So, if you haven't yet guessed, Honey Bucket is not a G-rated act. She is strictly-dickly adult content.
Seattleites aren't known for tipping well. Needless to say, drag queens (even the really, really good ones like Honey Bucket) don't make a lot.
'Queens should either find a day sugar daddy (everyone should) or have a day job,' advises Lowell. 'This shit ain't cheap. Having released American Ho, I'm hoping I can start breaking even.'
A SUPPORTIVE SISTERHOOD
Seattle is home to a robust drag community. Most queens Lowell says he's met are 'very kind.'
'A lot of people, when they first see Honey Bucket before they see her perform are like, 'What the fuck!' 'Hot tranny mess!' Once they see her in the context of her music, they usually get it,' said Lowell.
Honey Bucket got her big break in Seattle performing in Sylvia O'Stayformore's 'Bacon Strip' at Re-bar.
'The performers are all very creative and supportive of each other,' said Lowell. 'My favorite show to perform in is 'West Side Glory - A Queer Variety Show' at the Skylark in West Seattle. I love it because there are lots of Bears who come to show, there are go-go Bears, and people actually tip the performers. All of the shows I've done there have been a blast.'
Drag entertainment is a serious business on the Hill. Between the seasoned and not-so-seasoned queens scraping and clawing to get on RuPaul's Drag Race, auditioning for the one slot or guest spot on a weekly show, getting booked regularly is not something most Seattle drag queens are accustomed to. Honey Bucket, however, is an exception to that rule.
'I take the music very seriously as an artist, but Honey Bucket is lucky because she is not some fishy drag queen,' said Lowell. 'Her makeup, wigs, clothing don't have to be perfect. She doesn't need to be some thin thing or cinch herself up in a corset. She can just let it all hang out. I still find it funny when people see Honey's ass crack showing and try to inform her like she doesn't know.'
So who is Honey Bucket most impressed with? 'Jinkx Monsoon blew me away the first time I saw her perform,' admits Lowell. 'A true talent.'
'Sylvia O'Stayformore is a classic gem and perfect hostess,' he continued. 'Colony is a sick-and-twisted genius who amazes me every time she performs. I am jealous of Ade and her singing ability. I am so lucky to have had her sing on my track 'Crystal Queen.' There are so many others that I could mention. Seattle has an amazing drag community.'
Lowell, 41, named The Killers and Morrissey as his favorite bands.
Most people, let alone most drag queens, could go a whole lifetime and never record a CD. Honey Bucket, however, was created around the music, so Lowell explains that the recording part for him is almost sexual. 'When I started recording the album, I tried to think of themes that would reflect the type of character Honey is,' Lowell told SGN. 'My producer would give me some tracks, or I would tell him an idea of the style of song I wanted to record. We didn't meet weekly, it was just every month or so. Most of the time we could record a basic vocal track and then I would spend a lot of time figuring out how to approach the song and find the true character of the song. Once we had a good number of songs, we then whittled them down to enough for a CD.'
Earlier this month, Honey Bucket officially released American Ho to much acclaim. Musically the album is good and vocally, Honey Bucket hit a home run. There's a lot of camp, but also substance. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of fun, Gay rap music. (Is that a thing now? I hope so!)
We know plenty about Honey Bucket. So I asked Lowell to tell me three things that might interest readers and boy, did he deliver. I, for one, never would've guessed that he used to be a middle school English teacher. Currently he is an accountant by day, and the first rap album Lowell ever bought was when 'I created Honey Bucket and wanted to research the genre.'
'Seattle Gay News readers, you can catch me at West Side Glory at the Skylark in West Seattle November 24, and Bacon Strip at Re-bar on December 1,' concludes Lowell. 'Right now people can get my CD American Ho at my shows. I hope to have stuff available online once I get my website, mizzhoneybucket.com, going.'
Lowell wanted to end with a request: 'Always tip your drag queens. Always!'
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