Mackenzie in the poster art for 'Honey, I Smoked the Weed'

Queen of Ganga, Mackenzie Celebrates 4/20 with Supersized Show, 'Honey, I Smoked the Weed'

Robert Nesti READ TIME: 13 MIN.

When drag performer Mackenzie first brought a 4/20 show to Provincetown five years ago, they made the mistake of looking at how many tickets had been sold on the day of its performance. "I thought it was going to be my biggest flop," they recalled after seeing only 15 had been sold. "I'm going to be a laughingstock," But right before the performance of "4/20 Heennnyy," the line outside the Pilgrim House went down Commercial Street. And this year, Mackenzie (the drag moniker of Mackenzie Miller) is putting together their biggest show yet with some 15 performers joining them in "Honey, I Smoked the Weed" this April 18 and 20 at the Crown and Anchor. (For ticket information, visit the event's Facebook page.)

"It has just grown exponentially over the years. And it's, it involves so many different media facets and creative minds. And it's a really beautiful expression of the variety of of queer talent in town."

Mackenzie spoke with enthusiasm from Provincetown where they moved to ten years ago after a stint in New York City. They explained how as a teenager growing up in Seattle, fascinated by how the gay bars had huge lines outside them on 4/20. "And when I finally was of age to go, I really just fell in love with the kooky campiness of it all. How they're kind of no rules. And so when I came to Provincetown, and I saw that there was definitely a market for it. This was as the dispensaries were starting to open."

The poster artwork for Mackenzie's 2019 show.
Source: Pamela Smith

Drag came to Mackenzie during their freshman year while attending the Boston Conservatory of Music. They said in an interview that drag came as a child when they would strut around the house in mom's clothes performing to '80s divas songs attentive to the fact that she might pull into the driveway at any moment. They turned to drag more seriously when in college and became part of an annual AIDS drag benefit. After appearing as Mackenzie for the first time, they realized a star was born.

"I guess is the first time I put her in front of everyone. I will never forget that energy that you felt. It was like, 'they're clapping for this moose in a dress!' Like it felt good. It was a drug of choice. It was insane," he recalled on an interview with Talking Joints Memo.

According to its press materials, "'Honey I Smoked the Weed' is inspired by the magical and nostalgic world of 90s films and set against the backdrop of the lush ecosystems of Ptown, follow Mackenzie and her creepy-crawly friends into the micro-verse of "Honey, I Smoked the Weed." It's a limited run of only two nights, so make sure to grab your tickets in advance and prepare to be big-time astounded by this teeny-tiny world!

"Back for its fourth year, this larger-than-life spectacle is packed with a powerhouse lineup of Provincetown queer talent. Mackenzie, one of the Crown & Anchor's resident headliners, will be joined by Qya Cristál, Delta Miles, Roxy Pops, Austin Tyler, Jizzelle, Jake Glass, Hilarie Tamar, Anita Cocktail, Brittany Rolfs, Duchess of Sandwich, João Santos, Morgan Sapphire, and Scarlett Strauss.

EDGE spoke to Mackenzie about the show, Provincetown, and, of course, weed.

Mackenzie in a promo image for "CDXX Henny. The Legend of the Ganja Goddesses, a 4/20 Experience" in 2023, (Photo Credit: CDXX Henny/MacKenzie)

EDGE: This year your 4/20 show grown from like a 6 acts to 15 this year?. Can you talk about the variety the acts you have this year?

Mackenzie: I mean, so we're showcasing a lot of really wonderful talents who are year-round residents in Provincetown. And they range from singing, to drag to burlesque to dance. And it's so it's a huge, huge spectrum of talent and abilities. And we're going very 90s nostalgia with queer stoner comedy. But it's also like a Baz Luhrmann-style pop rock opera, and we're filling the show to the brand with nonstop powerhouse talent. It is visually stunning, talent wise, it's off the charts, and truly the biggest production we have ever put on. I couldn't do it without the entire community who has rallied around this and believe so heavily in this project. And it's just such a just out of this world, good kookie time.

A scene from "CDXX Henny. The Legend of the Ganja Goddesses, a 4/20 Experience" in 2023
Source: Pamela Smith

EDGE: But it must be a lot of work for you.

Mackenzie: We usually start anywhere from six to nine months in advance, just kind of getting ideas together. Once an idea really sticks, and I'm able to start formulating the show, then I'll approach cast members. And this year I had a numerous amount of people who approached me and said, "Hey, I've seen it every year, I have to be involved in this, please, please, please, please, please! How can I be involved?" And I have a tough time saying no. We have an amazing cast of about 15 people. It's my favorite job out of the year. We've put hundreds of hours into this. And this year, we're moving into a very practical set format. In years previous we had little to no set, then last year we took a leap doing sort of a digital interactive set. But this year, we're going back to that before CGI abilities and really, really leaning into that 90s and early 2000s with campy, practical effects.

EDGE: How did cannabis happen to you?

Mackenzie: I was kind of a late in life learner of the cannabis world. I was a pretty good kid and stayed away from a lot of that stuff. Then when I found myself as a queer person, I really learned a lot the medicinal qualities of it and how it can really help you relax. It has just become something that allowed me to open up a lot of the neural pathways in my brain and to really lean into my creativity and my inspiration. And use it modestly because of course I don't want to be affected when it comes to performance and whatnot. The funny part is that I don't even touch this stuff until after the show because we want to produce a great show. But it's been wonderful to help kind of break down the stigma of being a negativity surrounding the drug. And it's brought a lot to our community, especially the artistic community. It's just a great way of bonding with my cast and with my community. And you know, not everybody indulges in or partakes.

I'm actually about six months sober from alcohol. And I found that, that THC and cannabis has been an incredible outlet for me to just still have that sort of release that I need. Without, you know, waking up with a bad hangover, and it's, it's been the best choice of my life.

EDGE: I have friends who smoke because they find that it helps them from not drinking. Not that it is an alternative, but do you see value to that?

Mackenzie: Absolutely. I think when something like that can just kind of help take the edge off or help you relax a little bit, especially in the world that we live in that is so chaotic and kind of falling down around us, I think it is a beautiful way for people to just enjoy themselves. And still go about their daily lives and wake up the next morning feeling absolutely great. In my case, I'll get new creative ideas out the wazoo, which is wonderful.

EDGE: And what do you say about the acceptance of marijuana? It has taken a seismic leap in the past few years...

Mackenzie: It has absolutely. Here in Provincetown in the last about five years, we went from one dispensary to about six, I believe. And now I think it's dwindled back down about four or five. But it's been incredible. It also produces job opportunities for a ton of our locals for year round employment, which is such a blessing. And, again, it's really just opened up avenues of creativity. And it's just because we're such an artists' colony out here in Provincetown, which adds to the wonderment of it all.

Mackenzie in a scene from "CDXX Henny. The Legend of the Ganja Goddesses, a 4/20 Experience" in 2023
Source: Pamela Smith

EDGE:Do you get any pushback?

Mackenzie: I'm fortunate enough to say I haven't received a lot of pushback. I know that sometimes there's concern, that we are glamorizing the drug, but I think that what we're here for is to just show you that it isn't big, scary monster anymore. This is a plant with medicinal qualities. I couldn't see a life without it, that's for sure.

EDGE: When did drag entered your life?

Mackenzie: I've been doing drag for 17 years, and I graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music. And they do a big drag show, which is very heavily musical theater influenced. When I saw it my freshman year, I was so impressed by these beautiful drag queens that got up there and put on one hell of a show. I told myself, I need to be a part of that. There's so much love surrounding it. It was a big fundraiser at the school for Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS. Then my junior and senior year, I ended up directing the shows, and they were wild successes, and I got to direct the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Conservatory drag show. We raised thousands of dollars for Broadway Cares.

After that, I moved to New York and kind of found my social setting. That was when my drag persona, When I moved to Provincetown, I found a community that just embraces all that I am. Mine is a message of love and acceptance and body positivity. And I'm kind of here on this planet to make people feel safer.

EDGE: What was it about Provincetown that made you want to relocate?

Mackenzie: I started vacationing out here 12 years ago, and it was just such a paradise. It definitely wasn't the party town that it's known for. And I saw the beauty in the community. I saw the beauty in the geography of the place. I absolutely fell in love with it. This happened at a time when I had fallen out of love with New York, so on a whim I decided to move out here for one summer. And that was that was it. 10 years later here I am.

This is definitely home for me. And I think the only way that I would end up leaving is if I get priced out, which sadly with the housing crisis that we have all over the all over the world, Provincetown is no different. But I am going to be here for as long as I can.

EDGE: How have you seen the drag scene change in the town over the 10 years, you've been there?

Mackenzie: When I first started coming out here, there were the drag queens who would come and perform all summer, and then head elsewhere. There wasn't a year around drag scene. But now with the success of "RuPaul's Drag Race," it has empowered a lot of people to discover their gender-bendy creative outlet. I'm so supportive of anyone and anyone who wants to try drag. I think it is so liberating. It is so healing for people. I love it. I think the more the merrier. Were here for the greater good of the world to just promote love and joy and happiness. And so we're seeing massive amounts of drag brunches, and different varieties of shows and talents from all over the world.

EDGE: But what about how drag has become so politicized?
Mackenzie: That has really weighed heavily on me. It is such a blessing to be part of a community where I don't have to fear for safety. I don't have to fear how I present myself, when I'm walking down the street. It's heartbreaking to watch, our country believe that we're pedophiles, or we're promoting the sexualization of our children. That's just not the case. But it's a narrative that has been spun in such a horrible way. If these people took the time to get to know a drag queen, or go see a drag show, they would see things differently. Yes, there is the raunchy craziness that we have, but those events take place in bars have age requirements that exclude children. If they saw a drag show, they would also see the range of the drag community, who can go from a burlesque number on a Friday night to reading a beautiful book to children in the library the next day. This is this beautiful breadth of our art form. There's something for everyone. So, I do hope to hope that the world smiles a little brighter on on drag, especially because the whole reason that anyone I believe really does drag is to just make the world a little bit brighter and shinier.

Mackenzie in a scene from "CDXX Henny. The Legend of the Ganja Goddesses, a 4/20 Experience" in 2023
Source: Pamela Smith

EDGE: What's strange is drag has long been a part of popular culture from the late 19th century on, but that legacy is ignored by those attacking drag...

Mackenzie: Absolutely. And we all we've grown up with drag I mean, "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Tootsie" come to mind for me But all of a sudden there's this big target on our backs that we're horrible people or we're promoting terrible things to the masses, which is just not the case. And I do believe one day we will see peace when it comes to that because that is what especially me as a drag queen. You know, I'm here for just to make our world a better and safer place for all.

EDGE: Have you sent an audition tape to "RuPaul's Drag Race?"

Mackenzie: Not yet, I have never auditioned. I have been asked when I'm going to get up there, but for me, I recognize that especially the McKenzie drag persona, a lot of my drag celebrates the beauty of imperfection, how things might not always go according to plan that is very slapstick. There's a beauty to its ridiculousness and the camp ethos of it all. I do recognize that when these girls go on that show that they are subjects for ridicule and critiques. I found such a safety and a beautiful paradise within my drag that I think I want to keep that intimate, and I want to keep that safe with me and my audience is here in Provincetown. I'm getting out there across the country and doing some performances all over. But I don't know if "RuPaul's Drag Race" will be in my wheelhouse someday. I will never say never because the world is a funny place and things change constantly. One day I do think I would like to see Mackenzie on a national platform to promote my message of love and acceptance.

EDGE: Are you watching the current season?

Mackenzie: I am one of the hosts of our "Drag Race" viewing parties in town. I've been doing that for six years and we get a huge community turnout. Everybody piles into the Crown and Anchor every single week. And we have a little drag show at the end. Aside from the 420 show, it is one of my favorite jobs ever,

EDGE: Who is going to win this year?

Mackenzie: I have to say she is my dear sister, Sapphira Cristál. We've worked together in here. But I think we have a powerful top three, I think it's gonna be a hell of a showdown for the for the crowd, but always worth watching.

EDGE: Now you're doing the show next week for people? Have you thought about doing it during the summer?

Mackenzie: I have. The question I get asked quite a bit is how can this be made a show that can play throughout the season. And it's something that I would love to, Our show is little longer than the usual Provincetown drag show, which run about an hour and is the standard. But with 14-15 acts, we need more time than that, so we would need to edit things down and do kind of a "4/20 Forever" variety show. I definitely would love to see that happen because I do think that while it is beautiful to have a limited run, that makes it really special, I would love to see this show extend to a larger audience.

EDGE: How about a shortened show is just only you talking about? Your wish,

Mackenzie: I would definitely be down for that. That would be really, really fun.

For more on Mackenzie, visit his Facebook page.

For ticket information, for "Honeyvisit the event's Facebook page.)

by Robert Nesti , EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].

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