A Queen for The People

By Shann Carr

As the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race bring drag into venues from leather bars to lesbian bars and from huge venues to small town book clubs, Bob the Drag Queen stands above the fray. And it isn’t just the stilettos.

In 2016, when Bob scored $100,000 for winning the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” on season 8’s Drag Race, she was new to doing drag herself. When he was a kid, Bob’s mother owned a drag show bar in Columbus, Georgia. But little Bob was terrified of queens after a family friend was shot by a drag queen. He decided that all queens had guns and were dangerous which Bob says today, tongue in cheek, “is correct.”

It wasn’t until he saw the first season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race that Bob was inspired to “doll it all” and wow the world of Drag.

Born Christopher Caldwell, he has taken the legal name Caldwell Tidicue, and before settling on Bob the Drag Queen, his original drag name was Kitten Withawhip, which was an homage to Ann Margaret in a 1964 film. He identifies as non-binary, pansexual, polyamorous and enjoys she/her and he/him pronouns. He is a whole spectrum of diversity all in one person.

Bob has built an equally diverse slate of successes since his big win including multiple hit songs, two favorites being “Purse First” and “Wrong Bitch” from Todrick Hall’s hit film “Straight Outta Oz.” She has crushed roles in HBO’s “High Maintenance” and in Berkeley Rep’s “Angels in America”. She also has two side-splitting, live comedy specials under her bedazzled belt.

In another break-out show, HBO’s “We’re Here,” she stars with Drag Race sisters Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa. In this series, the trio of drag queens travel across the United States to recruit small-town residents to participate in one-night-only drag shows. The heart-warming 3rd season of “We’re Here” is set to drop any time now.

Thanks to the success of the podcast “Sibling Rivalry” that Bob does with his bestie, drag-sister Monet X Change, they are about to hit the road for a flamboyant, US tour, also called “Sibling Rivalry.” It won’t be a touring podcast though, it will be an all-out, live show, full of comedy, song, drama, and dance.

In an interview with Alexander Rodriguez on his show “On the Rocks,” Bob and Monet bicker fast and hard but with tremendous heart, prompting Alexander to ask “Was there ever a spark or an attraction at first? Did you think, ‘hmm, maybe scissor sisters or something?’” Monet answered “Bob is very beautiful, but no, we never had a romantic connection. I call Bob my platonic life partner. We have been through a lot of stuff together with family, personal stuff, and the business. So we really are like platonic life partners.”

Alexander also asked, “What do you admire most about each other?” Monet answered “Something I love about Bob is that he’s one of the most talented and smartest people I know. Bob is very smart, very brilliant. He has an idea for every second of the day. And he often, more times than not, pulls them off because he is also a very hard worker. I just really respect Roberta’s mind.”

This Pride season Bob appeared on “Stand Out Comedy: An LGBTQ+ Celebration” on Netflix with nearly 20 other established and rising stars in the queer comedy industry. Bob’s origins in entertainment start from comedy, and she can “cut a bitch” but she doesn’t really come from that place. Her smarts, her interest in human rights and politics, and the fact that her perspective is one of a lover, not a hater distinguishes her from a lot of comedians, gay and straight.

For example, on the Netflix show, Bob has some “rules for gay men.” Among them “Stop being mean to lesbians. We need these bitches. We can’t do this by ourselves! The Gay Agenda, it was designed by lesbians, so you know it works! And stop being mean to straight women too. They were the very first allies you ever had.”

It is something special for a queer comedian not to hate-on women. Bob’s comedy is structured with openness and inclusivity, while still managing to be sharp. That makes her a feisty crossover queen that can entertain the diverse audiences that the queer community strives to be and to serve. A truly diverse queer audience can be the greatest or the toughest audience. At a time when every comedy performance can be a trigger-minefield, Bob navigates and delivers as safely as possible without compromising.

She is an entertainment mega-threat, in the good way, and she has her bases well covered off stage too. She can sustain a long-term friendship, and she is an honest-enough communicator to have navigated polyamory, which is tricky, but it can be SO worth the work – when it works. Recently, Bob has been enjoying some polyamorous adventures with photographer Jacob Ritts and musician Ezra Michel.

Seems like she can do everything. You know what she can’t do? Style a wig, a gurl can’t be everything!

Bob has a sincerity that lets people get a sense of who he is, for real. He says that all the things that are good about him are things his mom taught him. And that the way to his heart is through his mother Martha. Be sweet to her, you’re in, be bad to her you’re out.

At one point Bob’s Mom saw Monet X Change perform in Atlanta where Monet did one of Martha’s favorite songs “Encourage Yourself” made famous by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. Martha called Bob later to say how much it affected her. She said “Monet really healed my heart. She really is my child. She doesn’t even realize how much that meant to me.” And with that seal of approval, Monet made his way into the inner circle with Bob.

Bob says he is a queen for the people, and he’s proven it with a political willingness to get involved.  Early on, he was arrested in full drag, at Times Square, during one of the many protests he participated in involving public drag queen weddings. His group of friends and activists vowed to keep performing the drag wedding protests until gay marriage became legal. Well, there it is, we have Bob to thank for gay marriage too.

He says he likes to put his hands into the dirt and do the work in the queer community, to help it grow, because it is this community that made him grow! Thanks for all you taught him Martha, we’re lovin’ it.

To get tickets to the tour or info about their collaborations and then to find links to their solo endeavors, you can start at www.bobandmonet.com

Thanks Alexander Rodriguez of On the Rocks with Alexander for his contribution to this article. https://www.ontherocksradioshow.com/