MISTRESS VICTORIA DEVILLE
Minneapolis' Dirty Little Secretby Samantha Byrne Leyte
There are more and more female entertainers out there who have fans that seem to like them personally and not just for their hit songs, movie and TV roles, standup comedy, onstage pageantry, etc. They like their female hero performers basically just because they are who they are. Cher for instance. Naturally, sexuality is a part of all this and everybody knows it. These fans know it and know they can look but never get. They are more interested in being entertained by someone they admire. The performers know it and are pleased with the popularity. Many of them don't mind. They gladly sign autographs or stand there talking to fans for a long time. Most of them will associate with their fans and talk to them provided they don't become a big nuisance or follow them to their house.
When I was in grade school I saw female performers on Shindig, Hullabaloo, Shivaree and The Lloyd Thaxton Show like The Ronettes, Martha & The Vandellas, The Shangri Las, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Sandie Shaw, Marianne Faithful, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Deshannon, Barbara Lewis, Mary Wells. I wanted to have hair and clothes like them and others in Rock and Roll and on TV shows in the mid-sixties era. Later, in the seventies I had my own long hair which I dyed with frost and tip and Miss Clairol. I did my hair in bouffants, beehives, updos and my favorite, the "Gloria Steinem" (almost exactly like a "Peg Bundy" or a "Marlo Thomas"). Needless to say, I wasn't included in many family snapshots at that general time window(1975-76-77). I had to close down my little personal beauty parlor when I noticed the tinting was burning up patches of my hair and turning it orange and green. A friend of mine told me to stop dyeing my hair or it could fall out. I recently turned 60 and I was having a terrible problem with dry scalp, psoriasis and seborrhea not long ago. I finally got it under control with some medicated shampoos and rinses. I've been doing wigs for years. I've decided if by chance my hair falls out I'll gladly do a Persis Khambatta, an Anna Rexia, a Princess(Chicago) or a Sinead O'Connor.
Victoria DeVille in Minneapolis is easily the best female performer I've come across in years. Victoria is as bald as an alabaster canopic jar from the time of Hatshepsut. She is a stunning gay beauty. Like Holly Woodlawn or Constance Cooper. The baldness thing is something men do fantasize about from time to time, even though they probably deny it.
Spider John Koerner, Bob Dylan, Prince(sadly passed away), Robert Lockwood Jr., The Castaways, The Trashmen all come from Minnesota. Miss Vicky comes from the suburbs and small towns right outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota. She went to high school at Eden Prairie and she's been performing since before graduation. I honestly don't know if Victoria is a woman, a gay man in drag, a transsexual or a cross dresser. For the sake of this article I'll call her a female performer. Victoria is very captivating. Mrs. Drysdale would walk out of 10 meetings in a row of The Beverly Hills Lady's auxiliary before she would acquiesce and permit Victoria to perform at the lady's luncheon. Imagine the wilted lettuce and flat, tepid ginger ale. Victoria is presently the show director for the Lush gay bar and night club in Minneapolis. She is also the MC for the Black Hearts Burlesque troop started by Elektra Cute and Dahlia Dulce in Minneapolis. Mistress Victoria's performances reflect a great deal of very smooth dynamism and a lot of self-disciplined rehearsing. I realize there are thousands of very good drag performers out there. I was talking to a friend of mine about a year ago and we both agreed that drag is very inclusive and should continue to be. There are occasional exceptions to the egalitarianism.
I think Victoria DeVille could be "coast to coast" famous. Like Hedda Lettuce, Lady Bunny, Ru Paul, Eddie Izzard, Jayne County, Willam, Sharon Needles, Kittinwithawhip, Holly Woodlawn, Charles Busch, Destiny Love. Your 15 year old sons and daughters will shave their heads and wear those Maria Popko transvestite party hats with the rubber bands. Nona at the styling shop checkout will call you up to tell you they're on the way home and they said "you didn't care" if they got the "Miss Vicky" Makeover!? "Are you sure that's OK with you?" OK, alright.
Anyhow, Victoria sings and plays the Ukulele. She does all manner of sketches and standup. She dances and she acts. There are thousands of drag queens all over the country and out of the country, too. Canada, The UK, Germany, France, Holland, Spain. All of them do acts onstage that are pretty good but in this instance I can promise you this is different.
I've written about Miss Vicky at least once before and I think she's ready for prime time. Victoria does great work in local venues in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with regular cohorts like Nocturna Lee Mission, Hiedi Ho or the Black Hearts Burlesque Troop. I've lived in St. Louis and Tampa and I was living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for 10 years. I moved to Mpls/Stpl in 2005. When I first went to the twin cities, I thought it would be full of lumberjacks drinking apple cider and guys in lederhosen yodeling. I thought it would be backward with only a couple of tall buildings and an unimpressive airport and stadium. It turns out that the twin cities along with the surrounding small towns and suburbs occupy an area the same size as Chicago. The two downtowns are very modern, large and impressive. The entire twin cities ("the cities") area is patterned in many ways after Chicago. Mpls/Stpl have the light rail and the freeways instead of the L trains. The cities have almost as large an LGBTQ/TG/TS/CD per capita population as New York or San Francisco.
There are quite a few trans and gay clubs and bars all over the cities in all the various sections of town. Quite a few of them are concentrated in downtown Minneapolis and an adjunct curiosity just across the river from downtown called "Dinky Town." Dinky Town is kind of a Bohemian artsy section. It has significance in the histories of Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway and Bob Dylan. It's a lot of fun to do Dinky Town at night. Especially in drag. Dinky Town is kind of sandwiched between downtown and the "Northeast" neighborhood.
I've seen Victoria perform at The Phoenix Theatre in Minneapolis (Dinky Town). Victoria has been on the road many times. She's been in New York and LA lotsa times. Fargo, Nashville, St.Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Witchita are big stops for Miss Vicky.
I've seen and heard all kinds of entertainment, rock bands, drag queens all over the country and I think any old shmoe should have a chance anytime to get up and entertain. It's no big deal anyway and quite a few of the big time superstar acts are over promoted, over played, over praised, over paid, over publicized. But sometimes you come across a performer like this and this is different. All this is not to say that Victoria is doing badly as it is. She's plenty busy with her work onstage in places like Dinkytown. She has a fulltime relationship with Brandon Olsen. They moved into a house recently. And like she sings in the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival Video-"life is good." If someone high powered were to come along and svengali on her behalf, they would need to understand that her act, clothes, skits, jokes, songs, the baldness, all of it, should stay the same. Miss Vicky could always try new material, songs, sketches yet the basic style would have to remain the same. She is an all round entertainer in the same basic style as Beyonce, Madonna, Christine Aguilera, Britney Spears. You will, however, notice something different about Mistress Victoria DeVille. She's got that very special magic about her that Marianne Faithful, Martha Reeves, Sandie Shaw, Mary Weiss, Ronnie Spector, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Cher Bono, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Deshannon, Dusty Springfield, Barbara Lewis, Mary Wells all had and still have. Victoria DeVille is essentially a burlesque performer with very, very strong LGBT/TG/TS/CD overtones.
There is something of whatever it was Divine, Lou Reed and Wendy O. Williams had working as part of what Victoria is all about. I don't mean to champion elitism but not many performers have what they had. I've rarely seen acts which are this talented in the various places I've lived around the good old USA. Another thing you'll notice when you see Victoria DeVille perform is her masterful confidence. She could have big hit songs. She could also be in movies and on network and cable TV. But it would all have to be in her own style.
But in some ways, Victoria is like many burlesque and drag performers. She is oozing with non-conformity and with non-conventionality. Vicky is very outspoken on behalf of gay rights. Although she's as gentle as Aunt Agnes handing out ice creams at a Presbyterean or Methodist church basement get together, Victoria uses a great deal of so-called lewd content onstage and people should have sense enough to understand this.
I had one Mistress Victoria DeVille moment about 3 months before I moved out of Minneapolis. I wanted to see her "Suck it, Gag on the Drag" show w/guests at The Phoenix Theatre. I bought a ticket online for the show, then a day or two later, I received a message saying that the ticket wouldn't come to me in the mail until two days after the show. I didn't know what else to do so I messaged Victoria about all this and she got back to me in about half an hour. She said it was just kind of a mixup. It was a math mistake on the computer print outs for the ticket sales and show scheduling. Vicky said they hadn't gotten it fixed yet. Then she told me my ticket would be waiting at the ticket office booth and just tell them who you are and they'll give it to you. So... I was out that weekend in my Peg Bundy wig and my tear drop frame glasses and my ticket was right where Victoria said it would be. I thanked her online a couple of days later. I would've gone backstage to thank her but I didn't want to make a nuisance out of myself.
That business about my ticket is an example of what kind of lady Victoria DeVille is. She's something of a local legend in The Cities. I'm from St. Louis and I'm definitely not an expert on the drag scene in The Cities or it's history. But I'm confident I'll be proved right about Miss Vicky. I'm only expressing that I think she's a superior talent. I mean, if they're giving Caitlyn her own reality show, then why doesn't a beat up old 1968 Oldsmobile deserve to be parked in the same studio lot as a Lincoln limousine. I damn well do know from apple butter what I'm talking about and I think Mistress Victoria DeVille deserves to be a big star. Or as they call her in Minnesota-"Minneapolis' Dirty Little Secret."
So you can figure out that Miss Vicky is a fairly social person and probably would not like to be thought of any other way. Victoria is very active in favor of legislation that helps LGBT/TG/TS/CD matters. She is probably first and foremost in helping The Burlesque community in Mpls/Stpl maintain cordial relations with the local citizenry.
But there are implications to all of this. Victoria is not exclusively a rock and roll singer although most of her songs seem to come from the general variety of '70's-'80's-'90's hits. I'll come out and say it- your parents and teachers and ministers would not like Mistress Victoria DeVille (they probably wouldn't like Shadows of Knight, The Standells, The Animals, Them, MC5, Sky Saxon, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, New York Dolls, The Stooges either). But I think the scene in general could use a healthy dose of Victoria DeVille. I wonder if digital cable and satellite are ready for Victoria DeVille- she is and we should be.
Selected discography of Mistress Victoria DeVille videos
1. Mistress Victoria DeVille "Part of Your World"
2. Mistress Victoria DeVille "Torn Between Two Lovers"
3. Mistress Victoria DeVille "Why Don't You Do Right"
4. Mistress Victoria DeVille- Sarah Palin (Mistress Victoria DeVille style)
5. Mistress Victoria DeVille Bright/Minneapolis Burlesque Festival(10/2/15)
6.Mistress Victoria DeVille "The Way I Am"
7.Heidi Ho and Mistress Victoria DeVille "Sisters"
8.Heidi Ho and Mistress Victoria DeVille "Two Little Girls"
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