Bold & Beautiful: One Million Moths
Performance & Theatre Arts
SLUG: Tell me a little history about yourself?
One Million Moths: I grew up in a small town in the middle of Utah called Ferron, where there’s probably more livestock than humans. I am the youngest of three boys [and] raised in the LDS Church. In college, I studied Performing Arts Design with a focus in Lighting Design while moonlighting as a drag performer/itinerant cellist on the side. In 2016 I met my now-fiancé and decided to move to Los Angeles to be with them. There I worked as the lighting technician/designer for The Boulet Brothers’ weekly stage show, Queen Kong. All the while [I was] juggling performance gigs of my own and supporting my partner’s drag. In 2019 we decided to leave LA behind and resettle back in Salt Lake City.
SLUG: What are your preferred pronouns? Do you have a chosen name you prefer to go by?
I accept any and all meant with respect.
One Million Moths: I go by Tanner, my drag name only exists when I’m performing.
SLUG: When and how did you first become interested in drag/performance art?
One Million Moths: Almost a decade ago, my best friend from High School and I saw it as a vehicle to deal with the trauma from growing up in a relentlessly homophobic community. I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment it happened. It’s been so long that I have had drag in my life it’s hard to draw that line.
SLUG: What does being involved in the LGBTQIA+ world of art mean to you?
One Million Moths: Right now I really don’t know, to be honest. The pandemic and political climate has really distorted how I feel about everything and anything. Right now, my mission is to build structure into the drag I am helping to produce. We all had the rug pulled out from under us, and I think performers really benefit from shows that they can rely on.
SLUG: What have been some of your favorite spaces to work through and express yourself creatively over the last few years?
One Million Moths: Precinct Bar in downtown L.A. really felt like home, and a place that I really learned a lot about what keeps a good drag show going; too many good memories to count. In 2019, my partner and I were able to do a small tour around the UK. Every single venue on that tour was really impactful to me. It was the first time I had ever traveled internationally—to do it for a drag tour made it all the more special.
SLUG: What style of performance are you drawn to participate in?
One Million Moths: The past few years I have been focusing solely on my own personal performance/artistic agenda. Lately, I have been drawn to more “Classical” styles, i.e. opera, ballet, etc.
SLUG: I know you are a skilled musician. Tell me about your instrument, your education, and if you’re still participating in the world of music today?
One Million Moths: My cello is an extension of my voice, being that I don’t dare sing in front of anyone. As far as education goes, I am a self-taught cellist, initially inspired after being introduced to the band Rasputina when I was 15. In school, it served a dual purpose, expression, and a sort of armor. In my adult life, I have accompanied many different musicians/bands. I feel like I got a lot of my real musical education by doing those gigs, rather than through theory or endless cycles of scales. Currently, I am working on my technique and not playing live, although I do hope to apply my cello to drag performance in the future.
SLUG: When you’re not expressing yourself through space and time, what do you like to do?
One Million Moths: For the past two years, exercise has become a very important part of my spare time—it’s given me a sense of control in all this chaos. During that time I’m usually memorizing music and brainstorming. They all feed each other. Some of my favorite ideas have been born on a treadmill!
SLUG: Tell us about Why Kiki (the venue, the atmosphere, the performances, the food)
One Million Moths: It’s a really laid-back, casual space with a wonderful staff and a very beachy atmosphere, which is reflected in the food and drink menu as well. It’s been a great home for Drag and Burlesque performance.
SLUG: What has been your involvement with Why Kiki?
One Million Moths: Ursula Major and I have been running the weekly Sunday Brunch Show since Pride of this year. I also provide sound and light tech assistance for other shows that are produced there. It’s important to me that all of the programming looks and sounds great.
SLUG: The last few years have been rough on lots of us. Any advice on how to try staying sane and as healthy as you can?
One Million Moths: Cut back your social media consumption to a bare minimum.
SLUG: SLUG has had the pleasure of interviewing you several years ago. What have you felt has changed since then, and where do you see yourself as an artist in the future?
One Million Moths: Drag for me now is a different kind of “medicine” than it was back then. I was really angry at my family and the world in general. Now when I am tapping into drag, it is more for comfort and a way to challenge myself. As far as the future, I try not to have expectations. Expectations lead to dissatisfaction. I just hope to still be in a place where I can continue to perform and produce shows.
SLUG: What makes you feel Bold & Beautiful?
One Million Moths: The support from my partner, Ursula Major, and a sheer white chemise.
SLUG: Where can people find you online to follow/tip/support?
One Million Moths: Right now I do not have any social media, however, you can find my partner at @ifvckedursulamajor on Instagram. We are a team—if you support one of us, you support both of us.