Meet Crystal Rasmussen, the glittering drag superstar with the keys to the city
Writer, performer and 180 House member Tom Rasmussen sits down with their drag alter ego, Crystal, to talk about where they found the keys to the city and their plans for a summer full of love
By Tom Rasmussen Directed by Daphne Schmon Cinematography by James Chegwyn Produced by Seek Films
It’s rare to sit down with an icon. I’ve tried it many times: I tweeted Kate Bush for a whole year – nothing. I got punched in the face at a Madonna concert to get an inch closer to the Holidaying legend – she didn’t even look my way. I wrote fan mail to The Saturdays – no reply.
So, I was shocked when Crystal Rasmussen, the critically lauded grifter, nine-time divorcee, author of Diary Of A Drag Queen (and my drag alter ego) agreed to sit down with me for this rare interview.
Shaking, I entered 180 The Strand to find her lounging poolside like Venus of Urbino with six male admirers in attendance. As they applied tanning oil over every inch of her body, she sipped on her Martini. Nine olives stirred about her glass – ‘one for each divorce’, she said – before gobbling them up like a glamorous pig (a descriptor she wouldn’t mind me using, since she has those very words tattooed on her lower back).
There’s so much I want to ask her: what’s it like being a Disney star? How did you feel when you realised you were the lost Romanov sister? You were raised by wolves, how was that for you? But we’re really here to talk about an exciting development in her life. The fact that she’s just been given the keys to the city. Me, ever the professional, starts with that.
Tom: So Crystal, where did you find the keys to the city?
Crystal: ‘You know, I had this Dior saddle bag in the back of my walk-in closet on my Wyoming ranch for years. I was doing a clear-out, since we were locked down, and I had my good friend Marie Kondo on Skype helping. I extracted the bag from the back of my Bag Room – a small room with a pool in the middle – and opened it. And there I found this giant, rusty key. Well, it took me a minute, but I remembered that I used to sleep with the Mayor of London (not the Tory one, don’t worry). And one night, after a particularly good roll in the hay in my farmhouse in West Russia, he turned over and gave me the key, wrapped in a Gucci gown. Safe to say, it sparked joy.’
Tom: It’s a big responsibility having the keys to the city. Can you be trusted with them?
Crystal: ‘Well, what else is a key for, other than to open things? And if there’s one thing I believe in, it’s opening doors. I did it for Cate Blanchett when I got her a leading role in her first movie. I did it for Bernie Sanders when I funded his campaign. I did it for Madonna when I wrote and sang on the Holiday track for her. And so, sure, I can be trusted with them. Of course, if you’re an elitist idiot who likes to close doors, we’re never going to be friends anyway.’
Tom: Opening doors, finally! What have you been doing over the past year?
Crystal: ‘You know, this year gave me pause to ask the important questions. Do I want another breast enlargement? Is it time to re-release my straight to VHS 1989 movie about the cold war Raised By Wolves: The Crystal Rasmussen Story? But what really came to mean a lot to me was love, Tom. It was realising that relationships should be cherished, honoured, and nurtured. So I spent a lot of time on Zoom to my friends, showing them my nude body as they applauded, enraptured. I forgave my husbands. And I was there for my fans. All 17 billion of them, both here on earth and in other interplanetary territories.’
Tom: So, now things are changing a little, what are your plans for this Summer of Love?
Crystal: ‘Well I lost my passport, so it looks like I’ll be staying right here: by the pool, day and night. And I’m drinking far too much water, which means it’s an IV Martini drip for me – don’t be shy with the olives. I also just got 16 dogs, so I’ll be frolicking on the heath with each of them, stumbling in and out of the bushes as my little babies run wild in the sun. Then, come August, I’ll take another lover and retire to my cottage in Blackpool for the month. Is there a Soho House there?’
Tom: I think they’re opening one soon. Will you be singing at all this summer?
Crystal: ‘Oh honey, life is a song. A love song!’
Tom: Speaking of love, what’s your love language?
Crystal: ‘Why, the three Ms, of course: Music. Martinis. Money.’