Jarvis Hammer represents Atlanta in “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula” season five. / Photo by Danielle S. Ross

Jarvis Hammer Represents Atlanta in “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula” Season Five

I first saw Jarvis Hammer at a Halloween drag show at My Sister’s Room in 2021, and I immediately knew he was a star. The king of horror comedy perfectly blends artistry and comedy with a reverence for classic horror into a performance that is one of a kind. Hammer’s star power has only amplified, and he will be showing off his talent and penchant for all things creepy on the upcoming season of “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula,” premiering this Halloween.

Ahead of the premiere, he spoke to Georgia Voice about the creation and backstory of Jarvis Hammer, his love for horror, and what fans can expect from the upcoming season.

Quotes have been edited for clarity.

Before we start talking about “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula,” I would like to talk about you and your history with drag. Can you tell me how Jarvis Hammer came to be?

I had found out about king culture through local entity Mystery Meat. They were the first time I had ever seen an AFAB person doing drag in a way that was more creature-esque or horror-inspired, rather than sort of a Justin Bieber impersonation — no shade to it, it just wasn’t my personal bag. And so, it kind of opened up this whole world to me. Through Mystery Meat I found out about Andro Gin, and then that sent me down a rabbit hole of research and searching through people’s Instagrams and reading up on dragkinghistory.com and realizing that drag kings date back time immemorial. Basically, we’ve been playing with gender for as long as we could play with ourselves.

How long ago was that?

I think I first went out to a club in face in May 2019, and then my very first performance was at MSR in June 2019.

Like you said, the more traditional or mainstream kind of drag kings didn’t appeal to you as much as this kind of horror-inspired, weird form of drag. Can you talk a little bit about why this appeals to you and your relationship to horror in general?

As a child, I used to be drawn to creepy-cute, Burton-esque stuff. I always loved “Emily the Strange,” and I loved goth music, but I could never really handle capital-H horror until — I think a switch flips when you enter your 20s and adulthood and life knocks you down a bit — these monsters started to seem more like confidants.

I fell in love with horror, especially the artistry, the practical effects of it, all the costuming, all the behind-the-scenes stuff. And so, I knew when I started drag, I wanted to be that horror-inflected cartoon character that I had been obsessed with since I was a kid.

Are you pulling inspiration from more classic horror motifs, or are you pulling from anything contemporary?

When I’m Jarvis, I am an entirely different character. His story is that he was a Z-list actor in swinging ’60s London who thought he was A-list. He died in a freak accident on set in 1973 when a spotlight fell on his head, so now he haunts wherever his film work can be seen, and he cannot be seen outside of the screen unless he possesses me. If I may be insufferable about my art, it’s sort of this metacommentary on performance. You go on stage. and you don’t know what takes over you. I just made it literal; I am the conduit for him.

So yeah, I pull inspiration from that time period. I’ve always been a big fan of vintage fashion and the music, fashion, and culture of the ’60s and ’70s. So, I position him looks-wise in that peacock revolution era of masculine dandyism, of which some of the proponents were Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, and so on. That is the aesthetic I pull from, as well as the “Haunted Mansion.” I think that’s pretty apparent in my drag.

I took the last name Hammer because I thought, well, I’m going to be creepy, campy, colorful, and cheap, just like a Hammer horror film. So that’s my brand of drag; I’m the king of comedy horror.

Speaking of horror leads up into “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula.” We will tread lightly so as not to spoil anything, but I would like to hear about what you felt when you learned you were going to be on, and what the experience was like filming the show.

Nobody should start drag seeking fame or fortune, because that ain’t the way, baby. I started purely because my soul was withering away in my nine-to-five job, and I wanted to express myself and have fun with makeup and costume and building worlds around songs. But in 2020, something shifted. In the depths of quarantine and experiencing a loss of my own, it hit me that I didn’t want to do anything else, and it gave me a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought to myself that if I made it out of this thing alive, someday I’ll be on “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula,” and I will work toward that goal by getting my name out there, funding my own mini tours, and just getting better at sewing and look-crafting. It was a long road to a beautiful hell.

I’m glad you worked toward your goal, that’s really exciting. Obviously, with “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula,” it’s drag and then it’s also the more physical, frightening elements. Was that daunting at all before you went on?

On the application, they asked you to list your fears, so I did a sort of two truths and a lie approach to that. I’ll let everyone figure out which one’s the lie. One of the most infamous extermination challenges was the jumping out of a plane on episode one of season three, and that was something I was absolutely terrified to do because I am genuinely very afraid of heights. So, it’s terror on all sides because every day you go in and you want to do good art. But if you don’t do good art, that’s bad because you’re doing that in front of hundreds of thousands of people. But then also if you don’t do art good, you might get thrown out of a plane or covered in cockroaches or stabbed with40 needles. The stakes are extremely high.

Even watching it is terrifying, I can’t imagine. If you can share anything about what people can expect from the new season, what can they get excited for?

There’s the new stage and the many new cameras. This season was filmed in all new locations. It’s in some ways the old tried and true “Dragula” formula, but there’s some new twists and turns mixed in there. We’ve also got one of the most diverse casts to date, so we each brought something very different to the table. Those will be fun dynamics to watch play out.

“The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula” season five premieres on Shudder and AMC+ on Tuesday, October 31. You can keep up with Jarvis Hammer on Instagram @jarvis.hammer or online at jarvishammer.com.