Tammie Brown is one of those performers who's known for a particularly eccentric character. So when he came on board to be part of our Los Angeles issue, the prospect of getting to the person beneath the persona in Elska's typically intimate and honest way was so enticing, and also a little intimidating.
However, even though Tammie is one of the most quirky and charismatic artists to ever go through the Drag Race system, his authenticity was never in question. After all, no one until Asia O'Hara had the nerve to challenge RuPaul; and no one until BenDeLaCreme was willing to walk away, putting integrity above all else. There's nothing fake about Tammie, which makes him total Elska material, and all the more welcome in our Los Angeles issue, helping put to rest a stereotype that LA is chock-full of phonies.
It was early on the Monday morning after Drag Con weekend when I got to Tammie's house. He opened the door and gave me a big hug. Maybe I'm just too reserved, but it felt like he couldn't have meant it, as if he was still in Drag Con's autograph-hug-selfie mode. I didn't buy a t-shirt, I didn't feel like I deserved the hug. But I accepted and reciprocated as best as I could and then we went straight out to start shooting. We decided to take a walk in the neighbourhood, enjoying the weather, chatting, and taking shots here and there along the way. He was surprisingly shy and quiet, rather like a lot of artists are, but open and genuine, saying whatever he felt without a filter. Like most Elska shoots, it didn't feel like work, just like a couple of new friends getting to know each other, albeit with the mild distraction of a camera constantly snapping.
When we got back home, his friend Bri (Bri Cirel - you must check out her art) was in the middle of making some coffee, so we decided to take a break before moving on to the less clothed part of the shoot. As we sat around the kitchen table, we leafed through some Elskas together, talked about art, talked about life, and also talked about how Tammie had clearly beat Latrice Royale in their All Stars One lipsync!
Over coffee we also built an understanding that we all were so committed to our crafts and to supporting each other. It's true that his talking was peppered with a fair share of "Put some butter on it" style Tammie-isms, but I always understood him completely. I was now comfortably settled on Planet Tammie, I knew the layout, I knew the language. Later, when we finished shooting, he hugged me again, and this time it felt really real, it felt really right. Hopefully one day we will meet again, but until then... "See you in the magazines!"
Get to really know Tammie Brown in Elska Los Angeles: bit.ly/elskala