PRINT Summer 2018


Miz Cracker

Miz Cracker (RuPaul’s Drag Race, season ten) is a drag queen, writer, and comedienne based in New York City. She lives her best life on Instagram (@miz_cracker). Her one-woman show, It’s Time, will begin touring this summer. She writes a column on LGBTQ issues for Slate.


    Once, while I was washing plates at a friend’s house, a pretty young woman told me that I wasted water because I was an American, and Americans don’t understand water’s true worth. Now, when life brings me low, I do the dishes with vengeful efficiency, running the tap only once or twice. Who wastes less water than me? No one! My mood lifts. I’ve shown her. Fifteen years later, I’ve shown her.


    I was cut off from friends and family for nearly two months while filming season ten of RuPaul’s Drag Race, sequestered in a tiny hotel room after each day’s shoot. Davis was often my only companion. Tales of memory, loss, translation: Davis is celebrated as a virtuoso of the short story, but really she’s a master of breaking the fourth wall. Reading her, I feel like she’s staring straight at me. There are Italo Calvino–type moments where she describes what it’s like to read—to hold a book in one hand while the other lies useless to one side. I think, OMG, that’s what’s happening right now!


    The internet is flooded with recaps of each RuPaul’s Drag Race episode. But here I am, postponing my shower to watch Lee Dawson’s very sloppy, very tardy YouTuberemixes. Combining episode clips with tidbits from every corner of popular culture—cinema, memes, viral videos—these mash-ups make a mockery of the whole Drag Race enterprise. Wonderfully cruel. Dawson’s videos are constantly being removed for legal reasons, but that’s part of the allure. It’s criminal to make them, and criminal to miss them.

    *Three stills from Lee Dawson’s _Ru-Cap_, season 9, episode 4, 2017.* Three stills from Lee Dawson’s Ru-Cap, season 9, episode 4, 2017.

    There’s only one stop prior to mine on the 3 line, so when the train pulls up, it’s always empty. I say out loud, “Here’s my boyfriend!” and step onto him. I did not want to leave the house, where I was alone. But now, in this car, I am almost entirely alone again. So, all’s well that ends well.

    *Miz Cracker on the 3 train, New York, 2018.* Miz Cracker on the 3 train, New York, 2018.

    I like a love song that incorporates subtle death threats. That’s why I own Mason Jennings’s early albums—this pile of scratched CDs I’m pulling out from under my bed—where he bemoans whiskey and women in his Bob Dylan/Lou Reed howl. Jennings was on a brutal, confusing downward spiral when he wrote these songs, and he was not ashamed to fantasize about mortality, chopping up his ex-girlfriend, or making love to a beautiful local man: “Damn, what a beautiful man.” Sadly, Jennings would survive to clean up his act, and his music became insufferable. Here’s hoping his life goes left again.

    *Mason Jennings performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival, September 27, 2008*. Photo: Andy Thrasher. Mason Jennings performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival, September 27, 2008. Photo: Andy Thrasher.

    Maffe is comfort food. Sweet, savory, spicy, it’s a West African peanut stew of carrots, cabbage, yucca, and lamb over rice. Today, I will order the maffe at Lenox Saphire in Central Harlem, where it’s done right. Fair warning to anyone who hasn’t tried it: It may be an acquired taste. Every year I visit the farming villages near Nioro du Rip, Senegal, where I’ve built a new family of friends while shelling and roasting peanuts. So for me, there’s more to the flavor of maffe than the ingredients.


    A snail-slow drama about a pretentious, aging Canadian model? Sign me up. If your favorite part of Sex and the City was Kim Cattrall but you wished there were a spin-off where Samantha’s life is so desperately lonely that she strikes up imaginary conversations with characters from Chekhov’s Three Sisters, this show is for you, too. I discovered Sensitive Skin while looking for a throwaway binge series to provide some background noise while I scrubbed my studio apartment. But an hour after I clicked Play I was standing stock-still in my rubber gloves, captivated, racked with grief.

    *_Sensitive Skin_, 2014–16*, TV show on HBO Canada. Season 1, episode 3, “The Three Sisters.” Davina Jackson (Kim Cattrall). Production still. Sensitive Skin, 2014–16, TV show on HBO Canada. Season 1, episode 3, “The Three Sisters.” Davina Jackson (Kim Cattrall). Production still.

    If I read all the newspapers piled on my desk, I will be a new kind of person—someone who has read all of the newspapers. Then, if someone says to me, “How do you not know about ⎽⎽⎽⎽⎽?” I can just shrug. The Times did not think I needed to know that.

    *Miz Cracker’s stack of _New York Times_, 2018.* Miz Cracker’s stack of New York Times, 2018.

    As a queen, I avoid experiences that make me feel small. Still, on a day when I don’t have to paint my face, I’m drawn to the paintings of Jennifer Packer. On canvases that often sprawl nearly from floor to ceiling, human figures slouch, submerged in washes of color (is it bathwater?)—the fog of memory. Packer has expressed interest in tenderness: Maybe she’s talking about the way the bodies and objects in her paintings seem to have real heft, meat, gravity—something missing from the work of so many contemporary figurative painters. An elbow presses into a knee. A stack of cardboard boxes buckles under its own weight. In Packer’s imagined spaces, objects slump and collapse. I look at them and think, Same.

    *Jennifer Packer, _Transfiguration (He’s No Saint)_, 2017*, oil on canvas, 72 × 36". Jennifer Packer, Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017, oil on canvas, 72 × 36".
  10. EGGS

    My mother had just two soft-boiled eggs for breakfast every morning in the years before I was born. It was still dark when she left the house to go work at the local ferry docks, so when the bus came, it was not a bus but a row of windows floating toward her. This morning, I am in a car headed home from the airport. It will still be dark when I set a pot on the stove and heat water for two soft-boiled eggs.