Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire
Dishwasher/Server, Cyclops, 2423 First Ave (Belltown), 441-1677.

If David Lynch opened a restaurant, he'd definitely want to hire Pugmire as his maitre d'. This charming punk drag queen of ambiguous age has been a fixture at the Cyclops for nearly seven years, filling whatever role (server, busser, dishwasher) suits him at the time. His free hours are often taken up by writing endeavors; Pugmire has published several Gothic short stories and a handful of music- and memoir-themed zines.

I hear you recently converted to Mormonism. "I was raised Mormon, but I was excommunicated 25 years ago for being gay."

But you were working as a missionary? "Yes. [Before excommunication] I worked as a missionary for two years in Ireland and Las Vegas, knocking on doors and preaching the gospel of Joseph Smith. And lately I've kind of missed it; I've been so bored that I needed to do something shocking and interesting. It's so funny--one day I'm a drag queen and the next I'm a Mormon missionary again."

So what do you wear when you're knocking on doors? "I call it 'the Mormon Bondage Suit': It's a black suit, white shirt... and I love it--it's still drag, just a different kind of drag."

So if you were excommunicated, how is it that you're getting, um, re-communicated? "I have to be baptized again. And I have to completely give up boys, coffee, and Dior lipstick. The lipstick will be most difficult. That's the only thing I really don't want to let go of."

Coffee and boys? [Waves hand dismissively.] "Coffee and boys--been there, done that!"

How would you characterize the writing you're doing now? "I write in the tradition of Poe. I'm very Gothic. I'm very old-fashioned. People look at me and think I'm really modern, but I'm a very old, old soul, so my writing style is very antiquated and Victorian. I just finished a collection of my best writing, which will be published this fall on a small press. It'll be a limited run of 300 signed copies. It took me two years to do it, so I want to take some time off, do the Mormon thing. Then when I'm ready, I want to write a collection of ghost stories."

Well, since we're in the Gothic/Victorian vein and I should probably ask you something about food, tell me three literary figures you'd choose to share your last meal with. "I'd have Jesus, Boy George, and Oscar Wilde."

Why? "Jesus because he was cool and rebellious; Boy George because he's my soul sister; and Oscar Wilde because he was not only a brilliant writer, but one of the best conversationalists in the world. It wouldn't be boring at all!"

Interview by Hannah Levin

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