story by Moth Moth Moth | photos by Marcus Menefee
“I take more stock and pride in compliments such as people enjoy my spirit or my aura or my wisdom.”
This is all about Fantasia Bordeaux.
In the cast of 901 beauties from across ages, Fantasia sticks out. Always. A woman of impressive grace and stature. Sporting trunkfuls of lovingly crafted drag. Jumpsuits and gowns that do indeed hit the floor. Hair that was always a little 70’s or 90’s or styled in a classic soft wave.
Not long after seeing “Truth or Dare” when it was originally in theaters, Fantasia entered the world of gay bars and clubs and has been an underground superstar since. Steadily helping to forge the zeitgeist of Memphis Drag.
“Actually seeing gay men and men kissing and that sorta thing, it was a sorta shock for me. I was 23 years old when I got out of college, and I was like now what? I had all this free time on my hands. It was one of the first times I went to the movies by myself — to see “Truth or Dare” — and low and behold, some of the people that I saw in there WERE at the first club I went! So I saw that film, and I started to try to recreate some of the costumes. And I went to the clubs and started dancing. My fashions started evolving from that point forward. Then I got behind the sewing machine and started from a straight stitch and stretch fabric and went from there.”
After that, Fantasia began to pick up bar tab shows in local drag venues. She developed her own takes on the works of Madonna and Janet Jackson. And became known for not best not only her beauty but also her smooth moves.
You’ll find Fantasia chilling like the home girl she is, watching the other birds peck about. Fantasia is the rare bird that finds herself outside the pecking order.
“I learned early on that you click into Fantasyland when you enter the club, and you click out when you leave the club. And people want to get to know the glitz and glamour and ‘celebrity’ side of drag. But in my mind, I’m like, ‘child I have to go home and do this and that. Gotta cook and get ready for work.’ That’s always what is going through my mind when people are thinking they are hanging out with this superstar.”
I, of course, know the dazzling truth of Fantasia. Superstar she is. Ungrounded, she is not. Fantasia strikes a balance in her life outside of the world of performance and drag.
Fantasia perhaps has the steadiest personality of anyone I have met.
“Soak your oats.” Was the first piece of advice Fantasia ever gave to me. She meant to sit back. Allow things to unfold. “You can’t bully time.”
So yes, you may find her sipping on a watered down drink every once and a while, looking stunning in a bell bottom jumpsuit and sly smile. Fantasia’s air of mystery and ability to influence the drag newcomers is legendary. She is the High Priestess of a chill vibe baby.
Fantasia showed me that the things you save for the stage are magical. But overall it’s to be blinded by sequins and a little cash here or there. She is in it for the fun and the art.
Her career continues to span and one would assume that she had many a crown. She of course competed in a few pageants. But crown chasing just ain’t her style. Same with many other opportunities that other queens jockey for. She has been a cast member before. But is best as a free agent, able to come and go. Doing the good work of the gorgeous good time girl.
I am always curious about the intentions of drag queens. It’s a strange art form attracting polymaths of all kinds but also people with no personality or skills at all. Really it’s about the experience at the end of the day. The worst performer may be doing their best to break through. The best performer might be bored.
You can bet that Fantasia is finding a way to have fun, otherwise she would not be in front of you inviting you to have some of the fun in Fantasyland. But don’t forget you have so much richness in the mundane moments as well.
So what is in it for Fantasia?
“Drag (itself) was never my intention or purpose. I would see celebrities that I admired and female dance artists, and I wonder ‘wow, what would it be like to be a superstar or to have fans’. After going out to the gay bars, I kinda started evolving into eventually what being a drag performer was. I would dress cute and more flamboyant going out to the clubs and that would draw a little attention. I always listened to dance music at home. I wanted to go to a club and dance to that music around other people. The first time I went to a gay bar all my fantasies were fulfilled.”
Fantasia’s perspective is so valuable in this rat racing era of drag with every girl vying for some form of break whether it be from social media, a club, a show, or a pageant.
Fantasia is looking to have a fun night, to make a little money, and then to log out of the fantasy. That’s not to say one shouldn’t have vision and be ambitious in drag, just staying balanced is important. Especially in heels this high.
If you’ve never seen Fantasia perform then I suggest you find a flyer with her name on it and go!!!! Words are only going to be so useful. A night of Fantasia performances will include hot dance tracks every table will know, remixes galore, and that dazzling smile every time she steps from behind the curtain.
“The Fantasia Two-Step” is legendary among the many girls who have had the pleasure of working with her. Fantasia is so smooth she can two step and twirl and before you know it, there ain’t a tip left.
“If you can transport people to Fantasyland for a minute, then you did your job. And that has been my mission to perform and entertain. First and foremost I have to entertain myself. To this day, I still find it fun. Sometimes it can be a chore. Getting older and moving these bones ain’t as easy as it used to be and staying out late when you are usually in bed is not as easy as it used to be. But I continue to do it ‘cus it is still fun. And I still have people saying they enjoy my performance. So I guess when they say they’ve stopped enjoying my performance then I guess I’ll stop.”
“I can’t quite move like I used to, and I wouldn’t say it has dampened my spirit. In my mind I can still do it but in reality it’s like ‘ohhhh I don’t think so’. But I do have a goal to try to slightly get back there at least a couple times before I bid the stage farewell.”
“An older body cannot do the same thing that a younger body can. But at the same time, I still see some counterparts who are killing it and at a more mature age and I never give up hope! Gotta commit to the treadmill and backing away from the table. I think I’m going to get a little more energy going there. It’s just going to take my commitment to get myself into that space.”
I feel that Fantasia takes far too little credit for the wonders she creates for the stage.
More than anything it inspires and excites me to know that my friend is someone who has mentored so many through whispered conversations and wily scary and astute observations of our queer ecosystem. Who has twirled, vogued, and two stepped her way into the heart of all who are lucky enough to see her.
There have been many guiding hands of Memphis, and in our LGBTQIA+ community, but this I can say for certain. Having a beautiful experience in these spaces of historical cross over, is never lost on someone like Fantasia. Someone with her vision and integrity can only live on as an example of the true Memphis Queen’s Queen: an amazing home girl with great taste in tunes, excellent fashion design skills, and moves that can turn a party upside down.
A blast of warm gorgeous light. She is Fantasia Bordeaux. The past. The present. And the future of Memphis Drag.