Stateside Podcast: Drag Race’s first Michigan queen
Lana Del Rey meets Tura Satana. Amy Winehouse crossed with Xena the Warrior Princess. This is the aesthetic of drag queen Orion Story — also known as Chance Lambert.
It’s an eclectic look that was first inspired by the films of distinguished puppeteer Jim Henson.
“Growing up, [I] would always watch The Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal, and just like those weird, obscure, cult-classic movies. I remember back when VHS tapes were a thing, I would play it, and then rewind the tape and then play it again and just watch it over and over and over again,” Lambert said.
Story became the first queen to represent Michigan on the increasingly popular television drag competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is currently on its 14th season.
In addition to this achievement, Story was named Miss Michigan Drag Queen of the Year in 2019. All this, after just “two years of actual experience.” Orion Story is just a few years into her career, but drag has been a part of Lambert for most of his life, though he may not have realized it.
“I remember when I was really young, like maybe 2 or 3, 4, running around with a T-shirt on my head, pretending it was a wig. So I guess it was kind of always in the cards for me, you know?”
Lambert recalled watching Drag Race with his mother, who introduced him to the show. She often suggested that he would make a formidable contestant on the show.
“Then my mom passed away a few years ago,” Lambert said. “And when I decided to start doing drag, it was kind of like a tribute to her a little bit, you know, because it was like a way for me to kind of feel close to her again.”
In designing his Story persona, Lambert wanted to stay as true to himself as he could. This translated to using his favorite childhood films as a reference point for Story’s “vintage glam” and “campy, fun twist.”
“I love puppets. Actually, my license plate says Kermit,” Lambert said.
While Lambert finds a lot of joy in creating Orion Story's looks and planning performances, he said his time on Drag Race also taught him a lot about himself. It was like therapy, he explained.
“Especially watching it back, it's like, you really see yourself from a different perspective, you know? Because when you're on the show, you might feel one type of way [about the judge’s critiques]. But, like, watching it back, I was like, ‘I see what they mean.’”
Still, Lambert said he's always followed his own creativity as a guide for Orion Story. And with the new attention he's getting for his Drag Race appearance, Lambert said he doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon.
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Stateside’s theme music is by 14KT.
Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.