Actual interview with Erica Andrews
Erica is a female impersonator, currently working in San Antonio and Dallas.
She also travels extensively to her bookings all over the United States.
Q. First let me ask you to how you like to be referred: drag queen, female
impersonator, transvestite, or transie?
A. Outside the gay community, I like to call myself a woman. But working, I
have no problem being referred to in any of those terms. In a nutshell, I am an
Q. Can you tell me how old you were when you first knew you wanted to dress
like a woman? Was it just for business, for a show, or did you just want to be a
A. The first time I put on a dress and make up, I must have been about 5 or 6
years old. My mother found me in the bathroom in full Cleopatra drag! It was
obvious to my family what would be my destiny. Later it became my business.
Q. Did you experience much oppression when you were growing up from your
family or schoolmates?
A. Never from my mom or from my sister. My brothers gave me some shit, but my
schoolmates made my life a living hell. Being gay at that time was not accepted
in my high school. Day in and day out I hated the thought of having to go
through another day of insults, name calling, pushing, shoving, and even
physical abuse. We’ve all had issues growing up, but gay people should not have
to go through what I went through simply because we’re different.
Q. Was there anyone in school who stuck by your side?
A. Yes. My sister Leonie. She has been by my side since we were kids--through
school, at home, and throughout the years. She always knew all my secrets, and
we even fought over some of the same guys.
Q. How does the rest of your family react now?
A. They all know that I live my life as a woman and that I am an entertainer.
Although none of them has been to any of my shows (except for Leonie), they
accept me and my lifestyle.
Q. Obviously you have female body parts, and we know in order to compete in
the pageants you must remain a male, do you one day plan to complete your
transformation into a woman?
A. That is a question I get asked often. Even at some pageants I have been
asked to prove that I am still biologically male. Maybe I will one day make the
transformation, but for now I am very content with the way I am.
Q. Who was your mentor or person who got you into the business of female
A. Well, I got myself started. I booked myself at the small local clubs and
“cantinas” and anywhere else I could find work. I thought I was the best thing
to happen to San Antonio, and then along came Tandi. Boy, was I corrected. What
a bitch! Did she show me how wrong I was about my look, my attitude, my talent,
and my business sense! When I met Tandi, I had no idea she was a queen. She
always said, “There is a right way to do business and a wrong way.” She was
willing to teach me, and I was eager to learn. Tandi, Tandi, Tandi. Couldn’t
live with her, couldn’t live without her.
Q. Tandi was so inspirational in your life. Do you consider yourself to be
her living legacy?
A. Although many say that I am, which is a great honor, I prefer to think
that I am blazing my own trails and setting my own trends.
Q. How is it that you got her last name?
A. Well, it all started back in 1990. My name was Erica Hutton. After meeting
Tandi and becoming the best of friends, not only did she teach me how to polish
my look, but also the ropes of the business. We became so close that she asked
me to change my last name to Andrews and explained to me what a drag mother was.
It took about a year or so before I decided to change my last name because of
the simple fact that people would think I was trying to be her. Finally she took
the initiative to bring me on stage as Erica Hutton Andrews, then eventually
just as Erica Andrews. She said, “Fuck what those queens think. You are my drag
daughter and to hell with what anyone says.”
Q. Is that what you did with Sasha and Sierra? And why did you choose Eric
Andrews as your drag son?
A. Sierra was my first daughter. We were friends for a long time before she
became my drag daughter. She was also very fond of Tandi, so one day I thought,
what the fuck, it’s time to give birth. Sierra has come a long way and is still
improving. I met Sasha two years ago. I was taken by her humility. She reminded
me so much of myself when I first started that I didn’t think twice about making
her my second drag daughter.
Eric is a different story. Throughout my career as an entertainer I have
never met any boy entertainers besides Chachi who really caught my eye. I met
Eric in Dallas at a pageant. His performance was incredible. Then when we worked
together for the first time, we found we had a lot of things we had in common
(mainly Drag!). Eric seemed a little nervous but finally got it out and asked me
if I would consider having any drag sons. I thought to myself, hmmmm, I’ve
always wanted a boy. I am not sure what I could do for a drag son, but I like
him and am proud to support him and his career by giving him my name.
Q. How long have you been living in San Antonio?
A. I have been in San Antonio for 15 years. Prior to that I was in Mexico and
then moved to Laredo, Texas.
Q. Who was the person besides Tandi responsible for your career?
A. Without a doubt, Raphael Ruiz de Velasco. The first time that Raphael ever
saw me do drag, I was at a talent night at the Paper Moon around 1989-90. He
walked me down the stairs, tipped me a twenty dollar bill, and kissed me on the
right cheek. I had no idea who this man was, but I was intimidated and afraid of
him. Needless to say, I won the talent week, then the month, and went on to
Newcomer of the Year and placed third. (I should have won!) Raphael was right
there once again. He handed me an application to do Miss San Antonio USA and
offered his support. Since then I had become, what seemed to others, “Raphael’s
girl.” I will never forget when he told Tandi, “There is this new queen doing
shows, and I’ll tell you, she could come out wearing a potato sack and still
look beautiful.” Whenever I start to lose faith in myself, I think about all the
confidence he had in me and what he said to Tandi. I hold on to the good
memories and go on with my life, because as Raphael would say, “The show must go
Q. How did you take the passing away of Raphael?
A. Not a second, not a minute, not a day goes by without my thinking of him.
I have been dealing with his absence to the best of my ability, but I have
definitely not recovered or adjusted.
Q. What was Raphael like as a friend, mentor, and businessman?
A. As a friend, he was the best friend that any queen could ask for. As a
mentor, the best support and the best advisor for me. As a businessman, I
studied his techniques, his ways, and the ability to negotiate. I learned never
to settle for less that I am worth. He always said to me, “Erica, there is a
difference between friendship and business. Know how to separate the two.”
Q. Shortly after Raphael’s death, you left The Saint. There are a lot of
rumors. Do you want to set the record straight?
A. Most definitely. For me personally, the thought of walking into that
building and not being able to see him there was so painful. Shortly after his
passing, I found myself uncomfortable around everyone. I could not go to work
and do what I was supposed to do. Things were not the same. Without Raphael, I
was no longer allowed certain privileges that came with seniority and years of
faithfulness. After more than twelve years of hard, dedicated work, I felt as
though I was starting from scratch. It was time for me to move on. The Saint was
my home for years. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. I wish
everyone there the best.
Q. You and Shady were together at The Saint, The Bonham, and now at Heat. Are
the two of you a package deal?
A. Absolutely. Raphael had the business sense to put us together for the
Sunday shows. He had his pretty girl and his funny girl. The two of us together
as a package spelled success. Shady Lady has been my friend for many years, but
it was not until recently that we came even closer with the passing of Raphael.
We don’t make any business decisions without each other’s approval. She is
family to me and I love her dearly.
Q. Tell us about the shows at Heat.
A. On Thursdays, I host my own show with a regular cast--Zori Zannell, Sasha
Andrews, Diamond, and Miss Janet. Fridays will sport a slew of strippers hosted
by Shady Lady. On Sundays, Shady, Zori, myself, and a regular cast will join
forces for a fantastic show.
Q. How many times have you have been on The Maury Povich Show?
A. Oh my God, Maury is like my husband! (Laughs out loud.) I have
appeared on the show 3 times. Enough!
Q. How did that lead to landing a job as a make-up artist?
A. The second time I appeared on the show, in true diva fashion, I refused to
let their staff do my make up. They saw me do my own technique and were very
pleased. So pleased, they asked me to help with the other girls’ make up. They
have been flying me to New York for 4 years now for the show. It only tapes
during weekdays which allows me to fly in and out just in time to get back to my
own shows and bookings.
Q. Last spring you took a career swing in the direction of acting. How did
that come about?
A. “Jotos del Barrio,” a fabulous play written by Jesus Alonzo, was my first
professional acting job. I have to say I was a bit nervous because I had not
done any acting since high school and college. But the role called for an
Hispanic biological mother and a transgendered character. It was a challenge
that I could not resist. The play ran for a month and would have run for more,
but unfortunately my schedule did not allow it. At any rate, it was an
unforgettable experience, and it received great reviews.
Q. Do you have any future acting plans?
A. “The Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” is my current project. I play the lead--a
bitchy, stylish, slutty, snobby, blood-sucking vampire lesbian. (Can you blame
them for typecasting me?!) The play opened on October 26th and will
run through December 14th at the Woodlawn Theater in San Antonio. It
has been running for years. I had always wanted to see it, but I never made it.
Now I’m starring in it and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!
Q. Would you ever consider posing for any transgender magazine?
Q. You brought the house down in Austin at The Austin Music Hall Circuit
Party for Splash. People are still talking about that split-second costume
change. How did you do it?
A. Circuit parties are my favorite bookings. It is an entirely different gig.
I have done them in Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Austin, and here at home in San
Antonio. As far as the costume change in Austin, I’ll never tell. I really enjoy
doing the shows and the circuit scene. It allows me to perform in another realm
of the “nouveau drag” and to entertain a different group of faggots!
Q. Do you have any more circuit gigs coming up?
A. Yes. In Dallas at The Brick in late-November.
Q. A lot of female impersonators do illusions, which are your favorites?
A. “YO!” Cher, by far. I also like doing dramatic characters such as Joan
Crawford, Pink, Annie Lennox, and Marilyn Manson. Let’s not forget the trend
setting queen herself, Madonna. And of course, Selena.
Q. You met Cher. What did she think of you? What did you think of her?
A. I won the Cher look-alike contest in Austin and went backstage to meet her
before the concert. She looked like a perfect porcelain doll. I went with Shady,
and when it came time for us to meet her and shake her hand, Shady started
crying and could barely remember her own name! But Cher was great. She was
gracious and fabulous. She couldn’t believe I was a queen.
Q. Speaking of queens, you are a former Miss Gay UsofA, and a former Miss
Texas Continental; you placed in the top five at Miss Continental. What’s next?
A. I am definitely going back to Miss Continental. After that, who knows.
Q. Raphael and Tandi were your mentors and promoters. Who would say now is
your biggest support?
A. Roles have switched. Now at times I find myself being the mentor and
supporter. I do, however, have a wonderful circle of friends who keep me
grounded, sane, and real. I’d like to thank: Chris--my husband, I love you &
Max; Shady--my best friend; Angela--an angel in disguise; Rodrigo--friend,
designer of my favorite pieces; Sasha, Eric, & Sierra--you wear the name well;
Maria Chavez--my San Antonio mom; Leonie--the best sister anyone could have;
Petie--the speediest mixmaster; Dane--friend, photographer, the webmaster; and
Zori--my partner in crime (literally).
Q. You are young and have years in front of you, what do you see yourself
doing down the road, like in your fifties?
A. Botox, collagen, lipo, silicone, angioplasty, cracked ribs, face lifts,
dermabrasion, the whole Barbie gig--whatever it takes. Anything can happen
between now and then. I like to consider myself successful in the art of female
impersonation and I feel that if I’m blessed to be around in my fifties, I’d
like to have carried that success to other endeavors that have always interested
me. The sky is the limit.
Q. Have you seen an acceptance of gays and transgenders in the last few
A. Absolutely. It seems we’re seeing more people coming out at earlier ages,
the talent nights are filled with younger and younger queens, people’s family
members are attending the shows; straight people are always in the clubs and at
the shows; an increasing number of positive gay characters are appearing on
television and in the movies. We’ve come a long way, but we still have farther
Q. Have you had any plastic surgery?
A. Not a stitch!!!
Q. When is the documentary “A Little Too Perfect” coming out?
A. Hopefully in December or early next year.
Q. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for young drag queens that
want to come out or get into the business?
A. Yes, get a drag mother. Find someone you like, admire, want to emulate.
Learn from her, ask questions, pay her lots and lots of money, and then
experiment and make the gig your own.
Q. Do you have any advice on becoming a transsexual?
A. Know this, it’s a long and involved process and there are a lot of
sacrifices to be made. If it is in your heart to become transsexual, do it
right. Look into it, research it, and talk with other transsexuals. But whatever
path you take in life