Trixie Mattel Showcases Barbie-Realness, Comedy and Live Music

Trixie Mattel is the life-sized doll who brings the humor, drag and live music to Houston this weekend.
Trixie Mattel is the life-sized doll who brings the humor, drag and live music to Houston this weekend. Photo by Cyriel Jacobs
Trixie Mattel is living proof that life in plastic really is fantastic. The Barbie-inspired showgirl is stopping by Houston to promote her music and comedy as part of her Now With Moving Parts tour at 7 p.m. on Saturday at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline.

"The show is about a whole male character dressed up as a complex female character. It’s half stand-up and half acoustic concert. There’s stand-up and jokes and comedy, but I also play music. There’s wigs and costumes. I’m Polly Pocket crossed with Ozzy Osbourne," the life-sized doll said.

The performer, neé Brian Firkus, first burst onto the scene with RuPaul's Drag Race Season Seven and earned a sixth place finish. She eventually returned on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season Three to snatch the crown. Since then, she's released two albums and is currently on a national tour to promote her brand of entertainment.

Trixie is a comedy queen, but there's always a little bit of truth in her humor.

"All my shows have surprising nuggets of honesty. With this show, the main message is that I reflect on all the good and bad things that happen. It's not two categories. It’s more like shifting pieces of a bigger picture," she said. "That’s what I hope people get about it. It’s mostly stand-up, and you don’t have to get profound knowledge from it, but maybe you can make people laugh and then have people recognize something out of it."

The sassy-mouthed drag queen has a history of quick-witted punchlines, over-the-top looks and an almost limitless catalogue of topics she'll openly discuss. For the faint of heart or easily offended, this isn't your show. She's known to discuss gun shootings, white privilege, sex, drugs, drinking and even the #NSFW subject of rimming. However, those looking for an evening of knee-slapping laughter and entertainment, pencil in Now With Moving Parts on the calendar.
It's all rather interesting that such touchy topics come out of a person dressed up like an adorable doll, but Mattel says drag gives her the ability to freely discuss subjects she wouldn't talk about as a white male.

Speaking about the transformation from Brian to Trixie, she says, "It's kind of like porn. You do it once and get stuck in it." She adds, "I was interested in how I could dress up and endow this persona. I'm a white man, but as a drag queen, I can lose my privilege and be dark. I think with drag, I get permission to kill."

To be that honest and real with people, though, Mattel finds the Barbie doll look helps ease the transition.

"People have warm fuzzies with Barbie. With Barbie, as an artist, I can sink my hooks in deep and go dark places because they're going to trust me because Barbie is so recognizable," she said.

She ain't lying. In 2017, Mattel's Barbie brand generated an estimated gross sales of $954.9 million in U.S. currency. Plus, Barbie's story and image harken back to something drag queens, gay men and women can all find relatable.

Toy creater Ruth Handler once said, "My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices."

Ever the enterprising woman, Barbie has been just what Handler imagined. Over her nearly 60 years, and with nary a wrinkle or spider vein, she has held multiple careers. When she first debuted in 1959 at the New York Toy Fair, Barbie was a teenage fashion model. Since then, she has been a teacher, registered nurse, astronaut, doctor, firefighter, pilot, scientist, game developer and President. In total, she has held more than 200 careers, with the most recent one being a robotics engineer, and she still possesses style, grace and aplomb. She has the world at her itty bitty stilettoed feet, and her possibilities are endless.

The woman has literally done it all, and that's the point. Barbie is an inspiration for all to follow their dreams — no matter how big or small — and to pay no mind to anyone who says they can't achieve what their heart desires. She is a force to be reckoned with, just like Trixie Mattel.

The maven is busy building her post-Drag Race empire. In addition to her Now With Moving Parts tour, she's also releasing merchandise and appearing in stage productions. She is one half of The Trixie and Katya Show on Viceland, and she will soon start planning another national tour for next year. That's also while she is wrapping up plans to release a lip color, and she hinted toward an upcoming documentary.

That's one busy drag queen. Watch out world, Trixie has arrived.

See Now With Moving Parts on Saturday at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 7 p.m. For information, call 1-888-402-5837 or visit  $57 -$110.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd