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“Showbiz Spitfire” Paige Turner is a two-time Glam Award Winner, Mac nominee, and featured regular on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She has the longest running drag show in NYC, Slurp Sundays at Therapy Lounge, and was a cast member on Shade Queens of NYC on the Fusion Network. During quarantine she performs on Facebook on Sundays at 9pm ET and Thursdays at 7pm ET.
What’s your Hell’s Kitchen story? What brought you here and – more importantly – keeps you here?
I moved to HK over 15 years ago after going to school at AMDA on the Upper West, which brought me to NYC at 18. I was very lucky to get a rent-stabilized three-bedroom that was mine for many years on W49th Str then eventually got into Manhattan Plaza. I always knew I wanted to be in midtown, where it was easier to pursue theater, go to auditions, etc. Now that I work in nightlife and cabaret, I’m so lucky to be able to walk to about 90% of my gigs. Plus, there’s still a thrill of all the Broadway marquees and being within arms’ reach of them.
What’s the best thing about living here?
It’s just so convenient.
And the worst?
The amount of people. As much as I love midtown, you unfortunately have the tourists, not just the neighborhood folk. It’s very noisy and a challenge to find quiet and calm in midtown. It’s the double-edged sword where I’m looking to escape and also can’t wait to get back when I’m away.
What does an average day in your life look like?
Most people don’t realize I work an eight to 10-hour day before putting on a show at night. You’ll find me in a HK cafe writing, memorizing, promoting, rehearsing, etc. I mix that with gym time, lots of shopping, and meditating.
OK, let’s talk about those go-to places in the neighborhood.
I’m really big on supporting local businesses/non-chains. Amy’s Bread is like Cheers for me – they’ve known me for years and I frequent there at least three or four times a week. My favorite bar is Therapy – it really is a great place for entertainment and the food is above and beyond typical bar food.
Couture Du Jour on W44th St is this tiny little, below-street-level vintage store which you have to enter by appointment or luck out that they’re open. You’ll find really authentic vintage pieces with fair prices, and the owner is so knowledgable and passionate about what she sells. I love that. Then, just across the street between 9th and 10th is Domus, which is another gem – a gift shop that embraces the different and seeks out the unusual. The owners Luisa and Nicki are fab.
“I can walk around the neighborhood all day and no one has any idea who I am until it’s showtime.”
Who/what inspires you?
I get inspired by the energy of the city. Laughter inspires me. Community inspires me. During this past year, with the election and the not-so-happy times thrown upon us, I realized I had a role that I needed to play and that was to entertain and make light of things. People needed to laugh, cry etc. I’m grateful that I get to connect with so many people – it definitely keeps me going and inspires me to do more/create more. As far as people that have had an impact on me, it’s larger-than-life personalities or true old-school entertainers, those who always played the role when they put on the costume and make up: Pee Wee Herman and Phyllis Diller are huge for me and, of course, Joan Rivers.
Where’s your Hell’s Kitchen happy place?
Besides the Little Pie Company? Actually, it’s the Clinton Community Garden on W48th St. You need to have a key to enter. It’s special, semi-private, there are bugs and birds and nature and even … stillness. It has definitely become my happy place. I’m usually sitting there writing in my journal drinking an iced coffee from Amy’s Bread.
Do you have a neighborhood secret?
Ha! I think I gave that away with the garden, but I’ll tell you a secret about me. I can walk around the neighborhood all day and no one has any idea who I am until it’s showtime and I’m all decked out. It’s a fun Bozo meets Clark Kent kind of feeling. I guess that’s my escape from show business
Amy’s Bread, 9th Ave – 46th/47th St
Therapy, W52nd St – 8th/9th Ave
Couture du Jour, W44th St – 8th/9th Ave
Domus, W44th St – 9th/10th Ave
Little Pie Company, W43rd St – 9th/10th Ave
A version of this interview first appeared in the June 2017 issue of W42ST magazine. Stay in touch – and be the first to read stories like this – when you join our newsletter at w42st.com.