Drag Queen / Brooklyn Girl / Anti-Fishy
Sometimes babies are born with their organs in a little sac outside their body; Merrie Cherry, on the other hand, seems to have been born with her personality outside her body, surrounding her like a giant chaotic bubble. It’s huge. We’re talking 40-foot radius here. The minute she waltzes into Williamsburg’s newest gay bar, This N That, on a recent Thursday night the kiki is marvelous! Or, rather, it’s very, very merry. There’s vogueing, there’s dancing, there’s general cutting up and carrying on. There’s even some debate over whether her Chanel bag is real, but Merrie isn’t fazed.
“Smell her!” she snaps. “I wouldn’t be rockin’ fake!”
I mention to the bouncer that I’m profiling Merrie for Who’s Next 2013 and she’s not surprised. “This one’s been all over town. They know!”
Except she hasn’t really been all over town. Cherry is a uniquely Brooklyn phenomenon, part of the borough’s emerging drag subculture that includes wild, subversive talents like Krystal Something-Something and Thorgy Thor. Her sphere of influence—for the moment, anyway—seems to end at the East River. The majority of events she helps produce are either in Bushwick or in Williamsburg. “I’m definitely not closed off to Manhattan, whatsoever,” she insists, “but my heart will always be in Brooklyn.”
Cherry herself readily admits that the city’s queens don’t always get what she’s doing. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I don’t like what you guys are doing.’ People say that to my face: ‘I don’t like your look.’”
Merrie Cherry—a.k.a. Jason Daniels—doesn’t play by the rules. She’s a big girl who doesn’t wear corsets or fake tits or hip pads. Her look is wild and sometimes a little messy. She mixes in street clothes with her drag and she doesn’t always wear a wig. She crosses boundaries, and that might be why she’s just a little bit scary. “How I do drag is totally different than how someone in Hell’s Kitchen would do drag. I try to do different things because fishy is easy in my opinion.” And, according to Cherry, “fishy”—more traditionally feminine glamour—isn’t always the most fun. “Manhattan queens, for the most part, will just stay still throughout the night. They’ll do their performance and then you’ll just see them sitting down, standing around not doing anything. Brooklyn queens do their performance and then they’ll get crazy on the dance floor and sweat their makeup off and be like, I don’t give a fuck! And that’s what I love about Brooklyn.”
In Brooklyn, Merrie Cherry has found her tribe. In just under a year, she’s gone from working the coat check at Metropolitan to creating and hosting the bar’s monthly Dragnet and TNT’s Pit Stain with Krystal Something-Something at TNT. She was also a key promoter behind the first-ever Bushwig drag festival this fall, and it was the success of that event that inspired the Brooklyn nightlife awards show she’s planning for early 2013.
After years of toiling away at day jobs in the nonprofit sector, Cherry says she feels more accomplished now after one year on the New York nightlife scene than she ever has before. “I feel like I’ve finally found my niche, you know?”