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On this edition of THE INTERVUE, our annual fan-run convention, Farpoint, is this weekend, February 25-27th and our next guest is part of the festivities! She is The Chanteuse of Southern Maryland – Drag performer, cosplayer, theater artist, hostess of Eleanor’s New Deal Cabaret in Greenbelt MD, & Captain Green Lantern 2018.

This Saturday, February 26th at 4pm in the Hunt Ballroom, she and her fellow drag superstars will be presenting “To Farpoint and Beyond” – a drag show celebrating fandom and who better to talk about Fandom – then Maryland’s own D’Manda Martini!

D’Manda, welcome to The INTERVUE!

Hi, thank you so much for having me. What a lovely introduction. You like hit all the points.

I must do my research, especially interviewing a queen like you.

Wow. Thank you. Yeah, it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m so excited to come back to Farpoint. It is one of the highlights of my convention season.

Well, it’s great to hear. How many years has it been since you attended your first Farpoint?

So, I am still new so this will be my fourth Farpoint because I did do the virtual one last year.

That’s great. I have been to Farpoint since, wow, 1999. So, it’s been several years for me. So, you are wearing your newest cosplay for the people to see and hear tell us about this newest cosplay?

So, Illyana Rasputin (Magik) from the New Mutants. This is one of her graduation costumes. So, the New Mutants, again for the people who may not know, are an offshoot of the X-Men is first sort of like young students after the first class because after the first class happened, yes, there were like new members, but like, no one was really like, students again. So, the New Mutants introduced in 1983, I believe.

After they sort of graduated from the school, they all got these uniforms, but they never really stuck. The New Mutants team really kept going back to their old school uniforms. And even today, even in the age of Krakoa, for those of you who follow the accent, a lot of them still go back to the old black and gold student uniforms. This is one of her graduation costumes from the 80s when Magneto was their teacher, and they were sneaking out at night to go fight crime. They all started decided to wear masks.

And it’s just like, Girl, you’re still wearing not wearing gloves. So, I know you are. And, these blonde blunt bangs are very iconic, like people know who you are, girl. One of the reasons that I did this number one, because I love doing lesser-known outfits and costumes of characters. There’s sort of like the same ones that you see all the time. And again, if those are your favorite costumes, and those are the cosplays that you want to do, please continue to do them, you know, everyone’s allowed to do whatever they want. I like to do the deep cuts, the cosplays that you don’t see very often. And honestly, I spent $13 on this sweater, and $5 on this mask and everything else already had. A friend of mine on Twitter posted a picture of this of this outfit. I was like, “oh yeah” I have a red sweater and a black mask. And I’m good to go.

You’re good and ready to go. I’m so glad I got to preview this. I see from the background; you are a huge X-Men fan. I love it. Since your fan like me, I always like to ask some of our fans, what was the moment you realize that fandom was the right thing for you?

So, I’m a storyteller. I love to tell stories and anecdotes. Ever since I was little, I’ve just always been sort of obsessed with stories that make believe. I would say like the first sort of fandom that I entered, you know, before the word fandom was really a thing, was probably Star Wars. I remember that was like the first movie that I really remember seeing and being like “Oh okay, like this is like nerdy stuff.” Even before I even understood what nerdy was.

I got into comics through trading cards. In 1990, the first Marvel trading cards came out. I discovered a bunch of characters that I liked. The first one was Shadowcat – Kitty Pryde. And that sort of put me right into comics. Then I really got obsessed with the X-Men, you know, people with powers. I also watched at the reruns of the old “Wonder Woman” TV show. If I flipped my camera this way, you would see like all the Wonder Woman in my house.

I remember being not very little, but my family had just gotten home from the movies. I went to go watch TV and turned-on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, which I had been watching back in the day. Star Trek came on like channel 20 if you’re from Washington DC.

Yep, that was WDCA 20 – that’s how I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation myself.

I was going to say. If people are local, they know Channel 20. It came on like randomly but in syndication. It was like Saturday afternoons, Saturday evenings. It was the episode where Tasha Yar dies. I was inconsolable. My dad had to take me outside and walk me around because she was my favorite character. I was just so over it and then come to find out that the actress just wanted to get off the show. I really loved “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. And then when Lwaxana Troi was introduced, the Auntie Mame of space, I just became obsessed with her and all her appearances. And so, I do have a Lwaxana Troi Cosplay, which I premiered on my first Farpoint, five years ago now.

Miss Carroll, who is the lady who makes a lot of the stuff of like when I need like custom things made. She made this dress for me. And then got me this action figure right before I left for my first Farpoint, which is so lovely and awesome. She is making a reappearance this year at the show on Saturday at Farpoint. I figured who else to host the first drag show at Farpoint convention than Lwaxana Troi.

And that leads to a great segue into my next question. We are about to have the first drag show at Farpoint in almost 30 years. 4pm at the Hunt Ballroom this Saturday. Talk to us about “To Farpoint and Beyond”

So ever since I started doing conventions, in 2018, I won a cosplay competition called Captain Green Lantern. And became best friends with Dax ExclamationPoint who was another drag queen and cosplayer. We bonded quickly over our love of the X-Men, cosplay, and fandom. We’ve just always been talking about like doing shows, and that’s been sort of like our goal. Last year, we finally got to do one at Katsucon.

So, I’ve been talking to Auntie Sharon about doing a show. And when I saw her at Awesome Con this year, which was like the first in person convention that weekend. When I told her “Hey, I would really like to do a show”, she was like, “Absolutely, it’s our first one back, let’s do it!”  I sang at the opening ceremonies at the last live Farpoint. So it was like a Sharon, I would really like to do like a real show during like during regular programming. And so, during all this lockdown quarantine, I finally discovered a drag family. So obviously, Dax is a very good friend, a sister. I didn’t have like a like a big, extended drag family. And so, during lockdown, I entered a competition called Mixx Quarantine. it was hosted by Logan Stone, who was a local DC Drag Queen. Come to find out that when I won Captain Green Lantern, Logan was in the audience. Feeling like “Hey, is this something that like, I want to do because Captain Green Lantern is run by LGBT HQ, which is a queer comic fandom organization. In doing that competition, I just made this amazing drag family. Once the group chat started on Facebook, it hasn’t stopped. Even though that competition ended in May of 2020, I was literally just talking to them sending them pictures of this thing like “Hey, I’m about to do an interview”.

Joining the whole weekend at Farpoint is going to be Logan Stone. She’s really a nerd just like the rest of us. I’m more into comic books, especially the old comic books. She’s more like video games, Pokémon, Steven Universe, a lot of newer stuff, which is great. She is still a Star Trek nerd, which is also great.

I really want to get into more cosplay and going to conventions. And the two other friends are Charlamagne Chateau and Tiffany D. Carter. We’re gonna turn it out, even if I must just turn on my YouTube and like blow out some music.

These numbers that these performers have put together for you guys are not only like nerdy and entertaining, but some of them are some of the stupidest things ever. They’re going to be so funny. I’m going to be doing Lwaxana Troi for the entire show just to give the other performers time to change their numbers. It’s just easier if I just stay in in character. We will be featuring some Star Trek clips, some video games, X-Men, Sesame Street, which is very you know on the nose right now, and some Netflix shows. We have a good mix of pop culture references & cosplay. Again, these performers are bringing out some good stuff for you guys. I am so excited for us to perform for the people at Farpoint.

Since we talk about our fandom, what does attending conventions mean to you, personally?

As I said, my so I had only been to one or two conventions before winning Captain Green Lantern and really starting to go to conventions and be a part of con life. I will say I love going to conventions, because first, for people who know me or follow me on stuff, I’m I love getting in drag. I love getting dressed up. I love being entertaining, but also like, being at a table being at booths, because that’s really my con experience.

I’m not a person who goes to a convention and walks around. I’m a person works at a convention, which again, it’s not really work to me. It’s part of life. I love meeting new people and talking to people. I love introducing people to the weird Z-List cosplays that I do. I’m talking about nerd stuff. So, my very first Farpoint on the very first day I wore a character by the name of Tangerine. She appeared in two issues of Marvel’s Excalibur in 1993. I was like, “Wow, I love this character. She has a cool design.” I wanted to wear her.

For those of you who have been to Farpoint Friday is a day for people to just to get there and get settled. So, the next day, I was on a panel, and we were just talking about like how cosplay develops character or something. Someone in the audience started talking about how their first cosplay that they ever did with their husband was Kitty Pryde and Peter Wisdom from Excalibur. I was like, “Oh my god, like you did Kitty Pryde & Pete Wisdom”. I love it tell ourselves where things like yesterday I did Tangerine. She was like, full stop “You do Tangerine?” And I was like, “Yes, I do Tangerine. I’ll show you pictures on my phone like once the panels over”. Finding those people who like are just like, the same nerd as you are. Yes, I love that. There’s so many fun, con stories. For my first, Farpoint I was just a Snowbird from Alpha Flight. I’m a giant drag queen. I have giant hair like and I’m in all-white. The guest that year was Wallace Shawn, who most people know from “The Princess Bride” or the teacher from “Clueless”. So, as he’s being walked by this handler, and as he saw me, he went “Oooooh” and just kept walking. And I was like, “Oh my god, Wallace Shawn. I love your work. Oh, I gotta love you”. Like those little things are just so much fun.

Also, for a lot of people at conventions, they don’t necessarily know, drag, they don’t like no like drag people. I think it’s also important and important to represent the LGBTQIA community at conventions. because it is a very cis-straight space sometimes. Now, I have only been introduced to conventions, through queer groups and through queer people. It’s still a very queer experience for me, just because that’s usually the type of people that I’m surrounded by when attending. However, I will say I have had some negative experiences. And I feel like in those negative experiences, I tried to make it a teaching moment for the other person being like “I’m still here and I’m part of this nerd community. I’m still a part of this.”

For example, one of my least favorite experiences that I’ve had at Farpoint. It was the Friday of the last Farpoint that happened. I had my one woman show. So, guess who got blasted on stage? I literally had just walked off the elevator. So, I have one of the cosplays that I have is just the basic 1991 X-Men uniform where it’s just like the yellow down the middle and then the blue sides. I decided that I was going to dress as Dr. Moira McTaggart. So, I’m wearing this cosplay, I get off the elevator and this gentleman stops me. And he’s like, “I don’t know who you are”. And I went “Oh, I’m Dr. Moira McTaggart. You know, from the X-Men”. He’s like, “Oh well, she’s never worn that before”. And I was like, “Actually, she helped design these uniforms to put the share technology inside the uniforms. So that way, they would keep you warm when it was cold outside or keep you cool. She was one of the first people to then wear the redesign when she was part of the Muir Island X-Men when Muir Island was attacked by the Reavers. I could give you issue numbers if you really want but she helped design these”. And he was like, “Oh well, I didn’t know that!” And I’m like, well, I did, which is why I wore it.”

And then that same guy was at a panel that I was on the about “Movies that are terrible, but we love them” which was a super fun panel to be on. He kept interrupting us, the people who are on the panel, and like talking over us. And so finally, because the moderator was not saying anything, I finally said, “Oh, it’s great that you have opinions and stuff. However, we’ve all been asked to be here and talk. You were not. So, if you would really like to be a part of the programming experience here at Farpoint. Maybe you should talk to Cindy or Sharon about being a part of a panel next year. Right now, this is about us talking. You know, you’re free to ask questions.” I’m trying to be like more conscious of that and I want everyone to have a good time. However, it’s still that gentleman who was talking to over myself who’s a female presenting person, as well as another woman who was on the panel, and it just became obvious to me that he was just talking over the ladies which happens a lot, and which is super frustrating

As someone who is a little more like on the genderfluid side, it’s interesting that I get interrupted and talked over and made to feel like I don’t know what it is that I’m talking about when talking about like fandom and nerd culture when I’m in drag. People like to gatekeep the Fake Geek Girl. I will say, of those two experiences, that is like the very small number of experiences that I have at conventions. Other than that, I genuinely love to go and have a good time and meet new people and talk to people.

In the 27 years I’ve gone to cons, I’ve rarely had any negative experience and for you to share that I do applaud you and will fight for you. For my last question, we got to talk about your triumphant return to the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt next month, March 27th.

I’ve been doing the New Deal Cabaret. We’re very excited to finally come back to the New Deal. They’ve done a lot of upgrades during lockdown. I decided that to do a big comeback, we’re going to chant kind of change up the show. So, the show started out as me and my musical theater friends just getting up and singing songs. And everyone you know, it’s a good time. Yeah, ever. After being more immersed in the drag community, I was like, “I need more drag” but The New Deal and I again, wanting to do something different. I wanted drag performers who either play instruments, or can sing, like I do. This show is going to be a mixture of my drag and my theater families. We’re doing a lot of fun duets and some group numbers. I have joining me Logan Stone on the violin. Chateau plays the flute. Emerald Star who sings and wants to do a tap number.

Two returning cast members who have been at a lot of the shows are Ben Simpson and Becky Norris Kuhn. And then two brand new faces to the cabaret are Gabriel Gray and Sarah Gravelle. We’re also going to be accompanied on piano by Will Derr.

I’m just very excited to get back to the New Deal. The New Deal Cafe can’t charge a cover for any of their live music events. It was ranked a few years ago as one of the top 25 best live music venues in the United States. So, you get more of an intimate show. However, because we can’t charge a cover, everything’s based on tips, And I wanted to make sure that these performers are getting compensated after, you know, after these two years that we’ve had, you know, really talking about like equitable, equitable pay, paying performers paying for art.

So, for those of you who can’t come to the show, and you still want to support live music, life, theater, drag, just art in general. In on my social media, there is a link to a GoFundMe to help make sure that everybody’s getting at least a little bit of a stipend, and there’s information.

So, if you go to any of my social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you can go to my bio, find a link tree and there is a link to the GoFundMe

D’Manda, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule, to talk to us about your cabaret, and your new show coming up. And by the way, the invitation is open if I ever do Sci-fi Squares to be a guest!

See D’Manda and the gang at “To Farpoint and Beyond” – this Saturday at 4:00pm in the Hunt Ballroom during Farpoint 2022 and her Return at The New Deal Café March 27th!

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