Happy as a Clam
By Alex Wilburn
I won't lie, I was a little dubious about checking out Tammie Brown's Popcorn EP, now available on iTunes. It's not that I harbor a grudge against drag queens, it's just... isn't it the drag queen's role on stage to either introduce other performers or to lipsync? We ask for the vocal stylings of Dolly Parton or Katy Perry. The real singing voice of a drag queen is something never requested. So how do you lipsync an album?
Well, Tammie Brown, who made her name on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1, mostly talk-syncs her album and it's actually rather, can I say it? -- Charming. To the strums of folky ukuleles Tammie hums pleasantly through fabled stories and catchy repeating lyrics she entices you to know and sing along with by the second chorus. It's almost like a Drag Queen Camp Fire. "Tiger Lily, she loved to roam, Tiger Lily, you can't call her on the phone. It's plain to see, she's a lot like you, and a lot like me." Rather than the over-eager dance tracks you might expect, Popcorn actually feels like all the real parts of a real drag show, complete with all of Tammie's asides, interactions with her musicians, and "ooo's!" and giggles between sets.
The fun to be had with Tammie and musician Stacey Lee Big's chipper twanging of strings is almost reminiscent of old children's sing-a-longs you used to be able to find on cassette. In fact, why isn't there a drag queen children's CD? Or a drag queen playtime show on television? Aren't drag queens the perfect kind of made-up, larger than life characters bursting with energy and helpful tips that could teach our kids with colorful sets and catchy tunes? Tammie already has that feeling of a vintage '50s housewife with a peach pie in the oven and perfect red lipstick, welcoming you to her sunny and musical dream house. You could almost imagine a chorus of kids singing along to Tammie's "Mash 'tato, mash 'tato, mash 'tato squash..." Except that I assume that's about vegetables, which it most certainly cannot be, considering the track that proceeds it, "Clam Happy":
"But Tammie! Clams don't have pearls... but oysters do!"
"Well then... He'll eat my oysters and they'll be raw, he'll get so frisky that he'll eat all... Clam Happy!"
And this why I don't produce children's programming.
-- ALEX WILBURN
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