"The kids these days are daring": Seattle drag legend Boy Mike returns to a new scene

Share this Post:
Photo courtesy of Boy Mike
Photo courtesy of Boy Mike

"...and I was on Roseanne Barr's talk show as a Roseanne look-alike. I did a music video with Boy George, and I used to be a cast member of An Evening at La Cage in Las Vegas. Are you familiar with that show?"

Mike Siler — better known as Boy Mike — had started talking before I'd finished setting up my recorder. His enthusiasm was infectious. The passion with which he discussed his craft was undeniable, and I was struggling to keep up.

In the '80s and early '90s, Boy Mike was close to infamous on the Seattle drag scene, from humble beginnings lip-syncing at Seattle Center to hosting Retrovenge Tuesdays at Neighbours. "We'd have stand-up comedians or fire jugglers or a Brady Bunch look-alike contest... It was really a great time. I packed about 750 people into Neighbours. It was more popular than their Saturday nights."

Then he vanished from the Pacific Northwest. For decades, he was a fixture in San Diego, before returning to Seattle in 2008 — when The Stranger described him as "omnipresent and impossible to miss," among other things — disappearing again, and returning again just last year.

"I've toured everywhere, from Florida to Washington to Tijuana to Vancouver, and I just got done with a tour in California, Mexico, and Vegas," he told me.

"And you could say — this is interesting — that I had my own drag queen radio show on the number one station in San Diego, for four years, and it was very successful and very funny."

Mike explained to me that three nights a week, he was on a radio show with The New Guy, a DJ in San Diego, something we'd discussed in the past. He's also written for the SGN off and on for years, including a chat with RuPaul and, most recently, a touching memorial to the late political cartoonist and SGN fixture Ken Campbell. He wrote a regular column in the '00s called "Boy Mike's Fab Gab," which he recently reintroduced to the world via the sometimes-quarterly magazine Unite Seattle.

There's no denying that Boy Mike has an impressive résumé. A regal cape of rumors trails in his wake, and his wild, tampon-tossing performances are legendary. When he called to tell me he was returning to the stage at Julia's on Broadway, I wanted to know one thing:

In his absence, how has the Seattle scene changed?

In response, he recounted his old route through Seattle's clubs: The Monastery, City Beat, then Club Broadway and The Underground.

Photo courtesy of Boy Mike  

"It was a carefree time! It was the '80s, the '90s, the music was great. I mean, how can you say that '80s music was not fabulous? It was so fun to go out on the dance floor and sing along to your favorite songs. You don't really have that anymore."

He also noted that the club scene's grown more diverse. "It's much more mixed. My club night, I promoted to straight, Bisexual, Gay, drag queens, Trans, whatever. I welcomed everybody... I think it's a great mix."

"We used to dress up in full makeup and [dress] like celebrities. The kids these days are daring," he added. "Like, Nonbinary? That's a new thing. They didn't even really talk about Bisexuals back in the '80s."

Considering the boldness with which Mike has approached drag, life, and comedy, "daring" might be one of the highest compliments he could pay to today's youth.

Looking back, Boy Mike lamented the loss of all-night Seattle businesses besides clubs. "We'd stay up and drink coffee and eat donuts all night, and then we'd sleep all day at the Gay youth center called the Orion Center. It was just so much fun! It's not fun for me to go out anymore."

So what happened? Mike boils it down to too many straight people on Capitol Hill. "Over on 13th, the whole place is inundated with straight people. Drunk, obnoxious straight people — they've kind of taken over that area. That [area] used to have the Wildrose, and that's about it."

Boy Mike has a lot of nostalgia for his glory days. When he looks back at his youth, however, it's not all roses. "High school was a horrible time for me... I didn't take any crap from anyone, and I had a sharp tongue on me — sort of like Boy George's — and it got me into a lot of trouble, but I stayed true to myself. I didn't have the option to come out... I never had the luxury of a closet to hide in."

With that experience, though, came some wisdom. Mike had this to say to the next generation of kids in the LGBTQ+ community:

"Maybe they're still in the closet, or maybe they're getting a lot of drama thrown their way... You've got to remember: you will make it through this, and it's a temporary event in your life. Soon, the pain and sorrow will be over, and you can come to Seattle any time you want and be fabulous. We love you."

You can catch Boy Mike performing during PrideFest at Julia's on Broadway (1:40 p.m. on Saturday, June 25) as part of the festivities. Where he'll be next is anyone's guess. Seattle's very own drag queen cryptid still has stories to be told. We'll all just have to wait and see what comes next.