It’s undeniable – drag is blowing up in New York. Drag is being redefined and reimagined by young queens that rap, sing, create video backdrops to their performances, and stylize their personas in a multitude of eccentric and artistic ways. One of this year’s brightest drag personalities is Bushwick resident Jason Daniels AKA Merrie Cherry, who has put on her red wig (or on some occasions, hasn’t put on her wig!), waltzed into the Brooklyn queer nightlife scene and taken over. At the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards, she described the beginning of her journey as starting from many nights of networking at Metropolitan in Williamsburg and has since been part of creating and hosting many events all over Brooklyn. Merrie Cherry has been a large part in creating the artistic drag performance art space and party Bushwig, the monthly drag competition Dragnet, the monthly Pit Stain party at This n’ That in Williamsburg, and the weekly game night at This n’ That on Tuesdays.
Merrie Cherry also co-hosted (with Murray Hill), and co-created the very successful Brooklyn Nightlife Awards at Glasslands Gallery on January 27th, which celebrated performers, artists, and employees from all over the LGBTQA spectrum.
We couldn’t miss the chance to ask with this Bushwick character a couple of questions.
Why did you choose the name “Merrie Cherry” to represent your drag persona?
I ran into a guy I met a while back; he did not remember my name so he called me Merry Cherry. Merry, because I was apparently very merry that day and cherry, because I was wearing all red. I liked the name and I just messed with the name a bit and voila!!!!
How long have you been doing drag?
Four years in San Francisco, but nothing serious. Over a year now as Merrie Cherry.
What is your funniest/craziest/most awkward experience while being in drag?
Having a married man hit on me and take me home. For the record I didn’t know he was married until I was looking for tooth paste in the medicine cabinet the next morning and saw the wedding ring,
You were a big part of constructing the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards, would you like to tell us more about the process?
It was a huge undertaking and I did not expect such great feedback in the beginning. I knew people had been talking about how such an event needed to happen, but all they did was talk. This was also a test to see if I could accomplish an event of this size on my own. I have worked on over 50 events in the non-profit world, but always had a team of people supporting one another. I had to be the one to put the pressure on, some of my bitch friends definitely made sure I was on my toes as well. I wanted the creatures of the night to come out and play with one another and I feel I accomplished that goal.
Who is your biggest drag or celebrity inspiration?
My heart inspires me. I go with my feeling and see what happens. If I am a hot mess or a beauty, I am still Merrie!
You live in Bushwick, right? What would you like to say about the neighborhood, especially how it relates to queer nightlife, drag and performance art?
We are moving on up, and definitely not to the Eastside. I am excited to see what is coming out of Bushwick. There is a light here that has only recently started to burn.
Do you think the BNAs will become an annual or semi-annual event after this?
Definitely an annual event.
What events in Bushwick are you most excited about in the next couple of months?
A party that my friend David John Sokolowski and I are doing at the new bar in Bushwick called Bizarre.
Thank you to Cindy Ballentine, Aaron Duesing, Murray Hill, Maty Longo, Steven Mc Enrue, and Pepper Cambeiro.
Favorite moment of BNAs?
Looking out from back stage and seeing people smile.
Do you think the BNAs will bring competition to Brooklyn nightlife that stagnates exploration of new creativity for the sake of votes/nominations?
No. One event could not make this booming borough stagnate. If anything the BNA will have to expand and change with the creative movement.