In addition to her amazing stage presence, Miss Laila Carry, one of the most profound drag queens in Israel, has kicked off her acting career in Yair Hochner’s movie ‘Antarctica’, which will screen in New York City on July 2. Nona Chalant, an upcoming drag queen sensation, caught her for a girl talk, about her stardom in the 90s Tel Aviv gay nightlife.
What an honor to interview such an experienced queen like you, an actress, an entertainer and even a dancer when needed with a spectacular range of characters and looks from all periods. But let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about your first gig?
“My first performance was actually an accident, at a Purim party in 1997. I had put on makeup like an amateur, I dressed as an amateur, but I performed incredibly.”
Were you afraid to go on stage for the first time?
“Certainly there were some concerns: will the audience be able to understand how amazing I am? It’s a little hard to bring so much quality all at once to an audience, so much beauty, humor and professionalism. Fortunately for the universe, in my first performances there were some people who immediately realized the potential.”
Who gave you the first opportunity?
“Ummm …. no one did. I think I always took it. At the time, I knew the legendary Mina de la Chorba, and she saw me at a Purim party and asked me if I would agree to join her performance in Haifa (of all places). From then on, performance opportunities and offers just came one after the other. ”
In your performances you imitate a wide range of figures. Who is the most fun to imitate?
“It’s fun to play juicy characters, larger than life, dramatic and theatric with stage presence, in a number that will totally make the audience laugh. Because of that, dramatic singers with big voices fit me better than others. I prefer doing black female singers, singers who sing in Arabic or Spanish and, of course, opera singers. ”
Your career started in Tel Aviv’s gay nightlife in the early nineties. What do you remember about the period and how would you compare it to the nightlife of today?
“I think I joined the nightlife of Tel Aviv right at the end of ‘the Innocence era,’ if you can call it that. Dana International had yet to win Eurovision, there were no parades, and most of all, the parties had more soul and less drugs, if any. The music that was played at the parties was much more melodic and there was a sense of precedency in everything. That was a great base for creativity and development. Nowadays I’ve quite moved away from the club scene, mainly because of the smoking that to me turns every night out into a nightmare. But if there’s a good idea, a good connection and a proper budget to produce innovative and interesting shows, I’m always happy to appear at a special evening. And by the way, there’s talk about all sorts of related factors, so watch out for new developments.”