Relatively new to the drag scene, Muffy Vanderbilt III has made a name for herself in four short years of performing. The bodacious bombshell leans on her musical theater background to inform her drag persona, much to the delight of audiences across Houston.
Early in her career, “I did professional theater and I got to play an ‘Ugly Stepsister’ in Cinderella,” Vanderbilt says. “It was so much fun!” The performer, who describes her aesthetic as “campy, but fashion forward,” starred in other productions, including another turn in Cinderella at A.D. Players. “I went on to play ‘Mary Sunshine’ in Chicago and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m pretty.’”
The drag bug bit, as it often does, at a local bar. “I was going to this drag show called the Broad’sWay because I’m a musical theater person. I thought, ‘I can do this—maybe even better.’” But the early days for Vanderbilt weren’t as successful as she predicted. “I was not better,” she said with a laugh. “I was very average at it. But the more I worked, and the more stage experience I got, it just clicked.”
Today, Vanderbilt hosts Sing! at Hamburger Mary’s once a month, and Theme Queens at Buddy’s on Sundays at 7:30 p.m. She said that her fans make performing intoxicatingly fun, and her drag family makes performing worthwhile. “The family aspect of drag has been really important to me,” she said. “It’s hard to make friends as an adult. To be able to make best friends and lifelong connections with people, I think that’s really rare.”