It Took 23 Years to Burnish Her Marquee Name

By Tatiana Villamil

She stands in the spotlight, a snake tattoo coiled around her left heel. “Hit it, DJ Scotty,” demands Sherry Vine, 33.

It’s midnight on a Thursday. Vine, who’s shared the stage with international celebrities, such as Madonna, is wearing a voluminous, curly blonde wig that matches the shimmery sequins of her gold dress.

She’s known since she was a 5 year old that she was born to perform. In college, she studied acting, earning a master of fine arts degree a the University of Southern California. When she started drag in bars and clubs 1990s, it was only for fun. She hadn’t planned to make a career of it.

Now, she’s a star among drag queens.

“Girl, they live for me!” she said in an interview.

About seven years ago, Vine became a YouTube sensation. A single video of Vines, Katy Perry Dark Horse Parody, has attracted more than 1,050,000 views. YouTube has helped Vine grow her brand from one that merely trotted out short comical sketches to appearing and being spotlighted in film and documentaries on the gay rights movement such as Stonewall. It took 23 years to burnish her marquee name.

“That was some hard ass work,” she said.

Her YouTube web series, “SVTV,” takes up much of her off-stage time. Where shows, such as EduGAYtion , specials, parodies, music videos, and more are a click away.

All her work, she adds, aims solely “to make people laugh.” That’s the legacy she wants to leave.

Deciding whether she’d go all in as a drag performer was not that easy, she said. She doubted that she would be accepted. Around the mid 90s, though, Vine met Joey “Mistress of Seduction” Arias, well known in New York City for doing cabaret performances, at Bar d’O , a lounge in the West Village. Arias helped Vine get a toehold into the drag world. In 1999 they teamed up to present StarLust, a cabaret performance that has played in Berlin, Manchester, Sydney, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Budapest, Vienna, Germany and of course New York City.

Joey Arias has been like a member of Vine’s family, which supported her drag career right from the start. “Of course, my pop songs parodies can get a little dirty but they still come and see the show,” Vine says, laughing.

She has poked fun at Lady Gaga’s – Applause lyrics. Parodying:

“My period, it has stopped and I’ve got a dry pussy.
He {the doctor} asked my age, then this is what he said to me:
They call it menopause ‘opause ‘opause.
They call it menopause ‘pause ‘pause …”

Sherry Vine’s birth name is Keith Levy. She took the name Vine because Vine Street  – the famous one in Hollywood – symbolized show business for her. And she’d decided, when she was around 5, that she wanted to perform on stage someday.

Vine’s drag dressing is strictly for performance, she says. She’s not a cross-dressing man, who wear women’s clothing to fulfill a fetish or as a hobby. Vine says she would never consider having surgery to change her male genitalia to female. She deems herself “totally gay.”

Sherry Vine is a character and critics like the Village Voice have said, “Treasures: Sherry Vine, with a classic command of timing … Broadway should be jealous.”

Tatiana Villamil can be reached at