Undoubtedly a bright spot in this long, strange 2020, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 also delivered the unexpected pleasure of getting to know Heidi N Closet, a charismatic queen from rural North Carolina. Heidi — otherwise known as Trevien Anthonie Cheek — caught a lot of shade for her punny drag name, but stayed “soft and supple” episode after episode, placing fifth and earning the title of Miss Congeniality.
No stranger to snatching titles, Heidi currently reigns as North Carolina’s Entertainer of the Year F.I., a crown she wears proudly. (“I just polished it yesterday, so it’s looking gorgeous,” she says.) It was a mere two weeks after landing that pageant win that the performer learned she would be competing on Drag Race, and she was ready.
“I feel like competing for [Entertainer of the Year] was a lot more relaxed and laid-back, because it was my second time competing,” she says. “The first year I was very all over the place, getting stuff done last minute, and this time around…[the] only thing I had to do the day of the pageant was stoning a pair of heels. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m cool. I’m laid-back.’
“But the whole time at Drag Race,” she continues, “you can’t be laid-back and feel comfortable with your spot in the competition. You have to be on your toes the whole competition, and it’s a long period of time that you’re on your toes if you last long, so it was like, ‘Uff.’ It’s a high-pressure cooker.”
Quarantining in her hometown of Ramseur, the performer watched along with viewers everywhere as she stole the Drag Race fandom’s hearts. But lockdown has left her unable to share the love with a live audience. “I’ve done a lot of virtual shows, which is just as good,” says Heidi. “I do it at home in my basement, where the ceiling is six feet and I’m right there bumping up against it. So it’s definitely been an adjustment for spacing, and you don’t get that same rush of energy from the crowd when you’re performing in your basement.”
But just in time to celebrate Pride, Heidi will emerge from her basement to join sister Drag Race favorites Raja, Naomi Smalls, Kim Chi, Plastique Tiara, season 11 winner Yvie Oddly and season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall for a new drag spectacle, Werq the World: Pride Castle. For the event, hosted by choreographer and trans activist Candis Cayne, each of the seven queens will take over a room at palatial Pride Castle to serve up a solo performance, before they all come together for a grand live ball. Net proceeds from ticket sales, and 100% of viewer tips, will be donated to the National Black Justice Coalition.
Heidi, a Drag Race viewer from season one, admits she’ll be fangirling over her own favorite queens in the castle. And perhaps they’ll be won over by this country charmer, who’s become the pride of Ramseur. The reality show sensation was just recently added to her hometown’s “notable people list on Wikipedia, so I felt important,” Heidi enthuses. “I don’t think it’s really been much of an adjustment — I feel like I’ve always been a star. At the end of the day, just more people notice me.”
Werq the World: Pride Castle streams live on Saturday, June 27, at 8 p.m. ET, and will be available for replay for 48 hours after the live event. Pre-sale tickets are $9.99 for a limited time. Please visit www.vossevents.com.
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