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Gottmik talks 'Pride Season,' Chucky, and what makes horror so queer
Pride Month may be coming to an end for 2021, but for recent RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 finalist and drag performer Gottmik, “Pride Season” is just getting started.
“Now that I'm touring and stuff... I have Pride events going into the next couple months,” Kade Gottlieb, the performer behind Gottmik, told SYFY in a recent phone conversation. “This month was so cool because I was just on this tour... I'm with some of my favorite people I've ever met in my life just on a bus traveling around going from city to city and getting to see everyone's Pride, so it's everything.”
The international tour, which will carry on through the end of October, has seen Gottlieb team up with friends and loved ones along the way to bring high-femme and often-horror-inspired looks to audiences across the U.S. and U.K. That he’ll be taking the stage up until the Halloween season as Gottmik is no surprise given his life-long love for all things horror.
“In my family, Halloween is the biggest holiday ever,” he explains. “We treat it like it's just full Christmas. And we got full props and did costume runs with multiple stores to figure everything out. And I just remember Party City would always have this crazy mask section with all the masks and Chucky always confused me. I was like, ‘What is that one?’ Being so little, it was always Pinhead was my one I was always staring at. And then Chucky, too. I was like, ‘What are these and what is going on?’”
Gottlieb’s self-admitted obsession with Chucky’s memorable look eventually led him to incorporate elements from Don Mancini’s Child’s Play franchise into his drag. The biggest inspiration? The fourth film in the franchise, 1998’s Bride of Chucky, which he credits as being one of his “favorite movies of all time.” Like countless other fans, Gottlieb was especially enamored by Tiffany Valentine, as played by horror icon Jennifer Tilly.
In April of this year, Gottlieb was watching Bride of Chucky and tweeted that Tiffany was a number-one drag inspiration for him, and Tilly responded. “I was dying,” Gottlieb enthuses, though his love for Child’s Play doesn’t stop with Bride.
“I hadn't seen Seed of Chucky until, I don't even know, a few years ago,” he adds. “I was watching and I was like, ‘How have I never seen this before? This is the most queer horror movie maybe ever.’”
Franchise creator Mancini, who himself is a gay man, recently told SYFY that he intentionally began including “LGBTQ elements into the franchise” starting with Bride. So by the time Seed of Chucky rolled around in 2004, Mancini was fully invested in adding queer elements. This included Glen, Chucky and Tiffany’s child who realizes in the film he has the soul of his dead twin sister Glenda caught inside his body.
“To create like fully this non-binary doll?” Gottlieb says. “I was obsessed with it… I feel like horror is queer, [queer] people love horror. I don’t know why, but they just love it. And so when I take these iconic characters, and I make them drag queens, and they're really pretty, but also scary... it always hits from what I've seen. And it's so fun for me too, because it's my childhood fantasy mixed in with my current fantasy.
“I was actually thinking about this the other day, because there's these two drag queens that have a show together, Trixie [Mattel] and Katya [Zamolodchikova],” Gottlieb continues. “And they were literally talking about this the other day. Trixie was literally like, ‘Why are queer people obsessed with horror?’ And Katya said it’s because we like to see straight people getting killed.”
He pauses to laugh uproariously at the joke before adding, “I feel like for me, it's just because... a lot of these movies do have queer elements. And they're not in negative ways. They're always kind of just there and celebrated.”
Non-horror movies, he explains, often don’t celebrate queer stories in the same way as horror films. The artistry, the outfits, the over-the-top makeup, and dramatic storylines — horror is the drag of the film world. “It’s gorg,” Gottlieb says.
SYFY and USA’s Chucky premieres this fall.