Homecoming: Miss Deelicious

by Rowan Collins

 

Kim McEachern strutted into the shoot for this month’s cover with one thing on her lips: “It’s so good to have this come full circle.”

The meta-analysis of our time together stems from McEachern’s involvement with the Alliance youth program during her high school days, when the Alliance held a space on Atlantic Avenue – about as equidistant from the Bachelor Forum as it is today.

“That was where I first learned who I was…the difference between trans and drag. I didn’t even know I could be who I was.”

McEachern is better known to the Rochester community and beyond as Miss Deelicious. Her infectious laugh, memorable song choices, glamorous getups, and staying power have made her a staple of the Rochester drag circuit for years; helping introduce and usher in waves of new performers and audiences.

Miss Deelicious, “Rochester’s Chocolate Brownie and America’s Tasty Treat”, is the reigning Miss Gay Rochester, reigning Miss Syracuse, and has held the Miss Queen of Hearts (2016-17), Miss Victory Alliance (2016-17), and Miss Rochester Pride (2008-09) titles in the past decade. Her shows draw huge crowds of dedicated fans who come to see her anywhere, whether at her weekly Friday show at 140 Alex, her monthly gig with Boyz Night Out at the Firehouse Saloon, or during guest appearances at What the Frock Fridays with Wednesday Westwood at Lux, Big Wigs with Mrs. Kasha Davis at Blackfriars, or turns at Roc Pride and Rochester Black Pride.

McEachern spent lots of her early years on the move, bouncing from Central Islip to the Carolinas to Rochester to the Bronx to Rochester again before middle school. Her father passed away when she was very young but she says the moment was formative for her, a determinative instance that would shape her connections to others and inform her compassionate nature.

A turn in the East Rochester school district proved ultimately unsuccessful as she said she found herself the only Black student while simultaneously grappling with her own gender identity and expression.

“I started living authentically the summer before seventh grade and they were just not ready for me at that point. They basically said I was a disruption and sent me on my way. I got kicked out.”

She insists she is eternally grateful for that dismissal because it led her to lifelong friends and community in Brighton, where she graduated high school.

“I found myself surrounded by people from all different walks of life and it just felt so comfortable. I still feel that way, I am most myself when I’m surrounded by people of all experiences and identities – not just one.”

It was during high school that McEachern got involved with the Alliance’s youth program and found her way into the drag world for the first time.

“There was a Sweetheart Dance that the Alliance put on for youth and Naomi Kane [the late Muther’s owner and Rochester drag mother] was on stage. She performed Tina Turner’s “Baby I’m a Star” – I’ll never forget that number – and she pulled me on stage and it was like a light came on! I was like ‘I want to be that’…that was it, I was gone!”

Her first time performing solo came at Muther’s not long after – a rendition of Missy Elliot’s “Hot Boys” that was followed quickly by a performance to Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” at Club GQ [ed note: GQ’s memorable building is now occupied by Tilt]. The rest, they say, is history.

“I love what I do,” McEachern says with an infectious enthusiasm. “I genuinely get to do what I love and have made it my career. I am always learning and that is what makes it so worth it. I still have that hunger and drive and that passion. I refuse to let anybody tarnish my passion.”

There’s a genuineness to McEachern that has drawn people in throughout her career, on both a professional and personal level. She believes strongly in helping nurture new talent and making space for everyone, passing the lessons she has learned on the next generation. Given her longevity in the Rochester drag scene, she manages to bridge generations – working with legends and those still cutting their teeth.

By the time you read this, McEachern will have officially lived more of her life as her authentic self than not – a fact she did not let slide as she told her life’s story. The realization led to a deluge of gratitude to all those who got her to where she is:

Dee Dee Dubious gave her her first regular gig, Naomi Kane groomed her and supported her from the get-go. Countless friends and family have seen her through thick and thin: “My drag sisters and brothers gave me a family when I didn’t have one. Bar owners and promoters supported me in pageants, performances, and amazing gigs. The Gay Alliance gave me my entry to our amazing culture, MOCHA allowed me to be myself, the Victory Alliance introduced me to my sisters – who keep me grounded and tell it like it is!”

“We have the greatest community [the LGBTQ+ community] here in Rochester. We’re an actual family – we get mad at each other because of some “you’re better than that” stuff. We care, we’re siblings. It genuinely feels as though there are real connections and bonds formed.”

At the same time, she concedes, the small, tight-knit nature of the community can make it easy to get caught up in the limelight or deal with folks who are “building you up to break you down.”

Nevertheless, McEachern is looking forward to the future. She plans to get her first tattoo – a major step for someone who has little tolerance for pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. She envisions the word ‘resilience’ marked down her spine as a constant reminder to herself and her community of their strength.

“I try to be centered, and I do believe in God, in a higher power. Regardless of what is thrown your way, it’s life. We can all come together to fix it. Women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black rights, we can do it together. All of us are so resilient. That’s what keeps me hopeful. I choose to have hope.”

As hungry as she was when she burst on the scene at 17, McEachern wants to see herself on television next and permanently put Rochester’s drag scene on the map.

“To all the people who support me in all of my endeavors, I want to thank you for loving me and nourishing my spirit. I love you like double cheeseburgers, no pickles – add Mac Sauce! Smooches, love muffins.”

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