Drinks With Gina: Q&A with Astoria’s Most Famous Drag Queen
By Kate Fry
For those of you who might live under a rock, this month is Pride Month, and given that COVID robbed us of our traditional celebrations last year, we’ve got some making up to do. While Pride is best known for the parades and the partying, we can’t forget the meaning of Pride Month on the individual level: acknowledging and accepting the members of the LGBTQ+ community for exactly who they are and who they want to be. One such member is Astoria’s very own Gina Tonic – “Drag Comedienne, Live Vocalist and the Queen of Stage & Screen.” Gina was kind enough to do a brief Q&A with us, so keep on reading to learn more about Astoria’s most famous Queen!
GMA: How and when was the Gina Tonic persona born?
GT: I feel like I’ve been doing drag my whole life; you know, trying on my mom’s heels as a kid and that sort of thing. My first time performing in drag, in front of people, was in my college’s production of The Threepenny Opera. After college, I swore off drag and moved to NYC to start a theatre company. After a brutal break up, I turned to drag again to find a community. This is when I took on the name “Gina Tonic,” and now I feel like I run a one-woman theatre company.
GMA: How did your business grow to the level of success that it has?
GT: My drag has grown to the level of success it has purely by treating it like a business. I seek out my own opportunities as an artist and build a place for myself where there is need. For example, when the pandemic closed the bars and clubs that have been the staple of drag performance, fans were craving a venue to watch drag. I started hosting socially distant drive-in shows here in Astoria to sold-out audiences.
GMA: What are some of the services/performances you offer?
GT: I’ve been singing since the age of ten, so, naturally, I enjoy singing live at my shows. I have a wide range of taste in music and perform everything from Top 40 hits, to Broadway and jazz standards, to rock and roll classics. I’m also a standup comedian, who has performed to standing ovations at Broadway Comedy Club and The Knitting Factory. One of my old day jobs was teaching sip & paint classes, so I even taught painting classes in drag at one point.
GMA: What does being a drag queen/Pride Month as a whole mean to you?
GT: Pride is such a special time of year for me because drag queens, along with trans women, were on the frontlines of the battles that gave us the rights [that] we, LGBTQ+ people, have today. I honor the legacy they left behind through activism and continuing to work for the rights of future generations. And, as somebody who waves her rainbow flag year-round, it feels great to see everyone waving theirs right back!
GMA: What are your hopes/goals for the future?
GT: I began my drag career as an actor, so I’d love to bring everything full circle with more film, TV and theatre work. I was on a few episodes of the CW’s Katy Keene at the beginning of 2020, and I’m eager to get in front of a camera again. As a vocalist and musician, I’m also working to release some original music.
GMA: Are you hosting any special events for Pride this year?
GT: Yes! I will be hosting a special pride edition of Dears in the Headlights, the drive-in drag show that I host at The Bel Aire Diner, on June 26th at 2pm. To stay up to date with all of my other pride events, you can find me on social media at @ginatonicnyc along with additional contact info at ginatonicnyc.com.