If you don’t know Noveli, man are we proud to bring her into your life. She’s a touring DJ and drag innovator. A regular haunt at Gladys, she’s also the driving force behind the shows Koven and God Save the Queen. Always pushing the limits of metaphor and fashion, I’d recommend keeping an eye on her.

  • How long have you been doing drag?
      • This is gonna sound pretentious af, but it really depends how you define ‘drag’. I’ve been wearing clothing traditionally reserved for ‘girls’ since my childhood. I’ve been going into public presenting femme for about 15 years. I’ve been performing on stage in bands, presenting femme, for about 11 or 12 years. I’ve been lip syncing to other artists’ songs in queer establishments for maybe 5 or 6 years.
  • Are you originally from Denver?
      • I’m not. I’m originally from the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. If you’ve ever seen the rundown trailer from Kill Bill Volume II where Beatrix Kiddo snatches out Elle Driver’s other eye, that’s basically where I grew up. Though I really got my start in the drag scene when I lived in San Francisco. My drag is super informed by the weird, performance art vibe of SF drag.
  • I heard that you are a professor? Is that true? What do you teach and can we know where?
      • I teach Linguistics at CU Boulder!
  • Do you think your job influences your unique artistic vision? Or vice versa?
      • I think my life as a non-binary person of color who also happens to perform in drag venues definitely informs my work in my day job. My research basically revolves around the practices of drag queens, queer individuals, and POC. It’s kind of autobiographical in a way. I write my autobiography by telling the stories of people like me.
  • I’ve heard you called the underground Queen of Goth, how does that title grab you?
      • I kind of love it. A bunch of people have told me that I’m like the underground drag mom here in Denver, and I’m not mad at that description at all.
  • What events are you currently involved in or helped start?
      • I started two monthly shows here in Denver. One is a queer punk night called God Save the Queens at Hi-Dive. It’s a very raw, gritty and intense show. People have told me that there’s kind of a sense of danger in that show. We get up in people’s faces and do crazy shit and you never know what’s gonna pop off. We’ve literally had performers go to urgent care after the crazy shit that went down.

        My other show is a dark, witchy congregation called Koven at Gladys. The performances are definitely more artsy, theatrical, and elevated. We get very vulnerable on the Koven stage. I feel like there’s something magical and powerful about people being able to expose their deepest struggles in front of an audience, and feeling safe doing so. The performances are almost like exorcisms, where we queer people let out our darkest shit and really just have a space to heal. All of the resident cast are trans and non-binary and that’s something that’s super important to me, and many of us are practitioners of non-Judeo-Christian spiritual paths.
  • What your favorite meal? Dessert?
      • My favorite food is probably Cajun or Creole. Like a seafood boil with crawfish, potatoes, and a lot of spices. As far as dessert, I’m a complete whore for ice cream.
  • What attracted you to drag and how has your relationship with drag evolved over the years?
      • I think I was just attracted to visually presenting myself however I wanted, and that just happened to align with what people called ‘drag’. I never set out to be a drag queen, I set out to be myself, expressing myself in a feminine way, and the label ‘drag queen’ just found me.
  • Drag Queens have historically been critical components of the gay community. Over the decades their roles have varied and manner of influence has evloved with the times and levels of queer oppression. What would you say Drag Queen’s role is in this decade?  
      • With the increased exposure of drag queens, I think it’s important for us to remember that this artform has potential that goes way beyond reality television shows, instagram likes, hashtags, and personal infamy, and we need to remember that there’s still a long way to go as far as our rights as gender-non-conforming human beings are concerned.
  • If you were to be stationed in Antarctica, what would you take with you to save your sanity?
      • A space heater?
  • What’s your favorite misconception that people express when they hear you do drag?
      • I think the big misconception is that Novelí is a character that I play that’s separate from my biographical identity as a person. If anything, Novelí is more real than my ‘boy’ self is, because I have a choice in how I present myself as Novelí. My drag comes from my mind and my personal preferences, not just the cards I was dealt by accident of birth.
  • Are you influenced by any historical or local figures? Who are they and how do their stories affect you?/
      • I’m inspired by people in my community more than I am by famous people. The tenacity and creativity of my drag family rivals that of any famous person. I think the only differences between famous people and the artists I’ve worked with over the years are luck and opportunity.
  • Who or what helps inspire your looks and outfits?
      • My look is very much inspired by 80s underground music, art, and film. I want to look like I stepped out of the fashion show in Liquid Sky, or like a Patrick Nagel portrait come to life.
  • When life tries to knock you down, how do you recover?
      • Ooh, this is hard. I think I have to be real and say that I don’t have a fool-proof method. I think it’s more important for me to be transparent and admit that I suffer from mental illness, let people know that it’s okay to suffer from mental illness, and sometimes it’s okay to not have all the answers. I think time is how I recover from things.
  • Coffee or tea?
      • Either one, iced.
  • If you could nominate someone to be GayDenver’s next Drag Spotlight who would you choose? Why?
      • I think you really need to check out the Den O’ Sin, a new underground drag collective in Denver that’s really stretching boundaries and doing something very new. And everything they do is very independent and self-financed.
  • Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
    • It’s important to show up for your local QTPOC! And I want to express my sincere appreciation for anyone who has indulged me in my crazy bullshit over the past couple of years here in Denver.

 

Jeff Wilson
Author: Jeff Wilson

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