Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyler McGee.
Hi Tyler, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Hi friends, my name is Tyler McGee and I am the brain and body behind your favorite local drag personas, Chanel Monet and Chance X. My story is like many before me. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, I spent most of my youth playing sports, singing in choirs, and acting in theatrical productions.
Music and theatre have always been my escapes in life. I became more involved in the entertainment community in Memphis in 2014 performing in my first Theatre Memphis show, The Music Man. I continued to find multiple gigs as an actor/creative in the years following, performing at the Orpheum Theatre as well as Playhouse On The Square and Circuit Playhouse.
At Circuit, I began writing and creative directing shows for a local aerial/acrobatics company that my best friend at the time happened to be the owner of. In 2016, I created Chanel Monet, at the time just named CHANEL, first out of a fascination with drag as an art form and secondly as a way to provide something new to what I and the aerial company were already doing. CHANEL, in the beginning, was a prima donna, “Regina George” type that always got her way.
The girls wanted to be her and the guys wanted to be her too. I ended up having to fill in the role of CHANEL in our production and instantly fell in love. The people that know me know that I do not do anything lackluster, so best believe the next time I got on that stage I had fully equipped myself with some of the most inspiring artists/creatives to assist me into the full fantasy that is a drag.
As the months went on, I gained more traction performing at local bars, the Memphis Zoo & also at numerous charity events and galas. I continued to do musical theatre in the community as well. Some of my favorite productions include, The Addams Family (Theatre Memphis), Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Playhouse On The Square), and most recently when I played Barnaby in Theatre Memphis’ Production of Hello, Dolly!
Performance art, for me, has always been a way for me to breathe, challenge myself, and also become more confident as a human. There is nothing like putting yourself into another person’s shoes and seeing how they navigate life. Because I am a person that loves pushing myself to be more creative, I created Chance X in 2019, a male persona to complement Chanel Monet. Chance has been an absolute pleasure to get to know and explore.
He has so much heart and really is the type of “X” you want to keep around. He is me in an amplified form, free of judgment, free to feel all emotions. The power of performance art is so important for our communities. It has really made an impact on my life viewing and being a part of the communities that I am a part of. I have met so many amazingly talented individuals throughout my 8 years in the performance community.
I would not be here today without my drag mothers, Buddy Hart & Joseph Grant (Iris LeFluer), Keleigh Klarke, Rence Phillips (Alanna Stephens), Cecelia Wingate, Jordan Nichols & Travis Bradley, my loving mother, and nana & truly special friend, Moth Moth Moth. Each of these individuals inspires me to no end and I could not be happier to have them in my life.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road to getting to where I am has not been easy. Some struggles I have faced and still on occasion will experience are the long days and nights of preparation and learning, keeping up with skill sets, and staying creative. I have learned for me that it is best to focus on one task at a time than try to tackle everything all at once.
Due to the long hours when rehearsing and preparing for a show, I had to develop excellent time management and communication skills, which are not bad skills to have. It has pushed me to stay on top of things and schedule myself. Our world is so busy, nowadays, that it is very easy to fall off of routines and retain skills you have previously learned.
It was important for me to set time aside to have little refresher courses to help maintain. As far as staying creative, what I have been doing recently is listening to my favorite music or podcasts and pulling inspiration from there. Over the years, I have gained the knowledge that creativity is not always flowing and that’s okay. The worst thing to do is force it. You have to find specific ways to spark your creativity again.
There were definitely times along the way that I felt as though my creativity had disappeared. After speaking with multiple creatives about this topic, I noticed that everyone is different and has their own way of getting back inspired and creative. Music has been my major creative spark.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Well, I am a performance artist, specifically in drag & male entertainment. This includes performing/dancing/lip-syncing to songs predetermined by either I or the show host of the evening. My drag persona, Chanel Monet, is known for her spunky, high-energy performances as well as her more glamorous, ballady moments.
She is a girl that loves to party and entertain a crowd. She is associated with the colors blue, black, and red as these are the colors she normally rocks in her wigs, outfits, and make-up. Chanel Monet has had many reinventions throughout the years. Now Chanel Monet has grown into an “I’m every woman” type. She is constantly changing and very fluid with her expression, references, and inspirations. Some creatives that are really inspiring Chanel right now are Charli XCX, Loreen & Qveen Herby.
Chance X, on the other hand, is a little bit more on the subtle side, though he also has his moments of hypersexuality. He is a charmer, a thinker, a lover boy if you will. He is known for his performances of gushy love songs and childhood fantasies as well as his unabashedly queer outlook on life.
He is a gay boy with a mission for full acceptance for all. Currently, he is very inspired by 80s & 90s fashion in his outward appearance. He is associated with the many colors of the rainbow as well as feminine and masculine societal objects, such as pearls, diamonds, & leather. Some creatives that are really inspiring Chance right now are Josh Harrison, euro-pop icons & club kids.
I am very proud of all I have accomplished through my short time of being in this queer space but very proud of inspiring audiences with my performances and motivating them to love themselves as well as others. A few things that set me apart from others are firstly my two personas, male and female, secondly my genuine love for performing & thirdly my unwillingness to stay in a box.
I am constantly changing as an artist and I have allowed myself to be free with my expression and reference points.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue to push the envelope of gender in our city, show run a few shows that I am currently not ready to share with the public but they are coming, and… overall inspire and push me as an entertainer/creative and my community to spread love and acceptance for all.
- Instagram: Instagram.com/chanelmonet.chancex
Chloe Littlefield, Alexander M Ramirez-Diaz, James Delos Reyes, & Tyler McGee