It’s Pride! Throughout June, HollywoodLife is running The Sound Of Pride, a month-long feature where members of the LGBTQ+ community pick songs that should be on your Pride 2022 playlist. Today, Mercury Stardust, the “Trans Handy’ Ma’am,” joins in to offer some hints to have the best Pride 2022 soundtrack ever. Mercury is known for her helpful home repair videos, her work as her burlesque performer, and the utmost joy within her infectious laugh. However, her selections for The Sound Of Pride come with a very serious message. “Center and protect trans youth,” she tells HollywoodLife. With the continued legislation attacking trans people, especially trans youth, it’s a call that rings louder than ever.
“For many of us, the battles have been waged and won over the decades,” she adds, “but this new one raging so deeply around the world is one that we need to make sure we protect for the LGBTQIA+ community. Smile and spread joy and love, but never forget to check in with those who are about to begin and start their journey. For the more visible they become, the scarier things can be.”
Mercury’s choices for the Pride 2022 playlist reflect the highs of living freely as one’s true self (“I’ve used [this song] as my trans anthem”) and the lows that face every queer youth today. Those who are sensitive to content surrounding suicide to take heed and know that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 (with a new national number – 988, similar to 911 – launching in mid-July.)
Sutton Foster, “I Enjoy Being A Girl” (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel version)
Mercury Stardust: “This is one of the first songs I ever performed to as a burlesque dancer. It’s silly and fun and vibrant and all about the good things to celebrate about your body. I’ve used it as my trans anthem to celebrate my femininity and coming out as a woman.”
Linkin Park, “One More Light”
The song is one of the most heartfelt songs about suicide. We often want to celebrate during pride, but we also need to remember those who came before us who didn’t make it.
We need a lot of support as queer [people], and it’s important to build community in order to receive that support. If we don’t get that support, it can lead to negative mental health experiences: being ostracized, losing friends, and losing family. That can all contribute to suicide rates. It’s important to remember that during pride to celebrate those still here, but remember the ones we’ve lost. It’s vital to our community and experiences.
HollywoodLife: It’s been just a year since you joined TikTok. You posted your first video as the “intersectional feminist trans maintenance lady” before adopting the “Trans Handy Ma’am” title. Today, you’re inching towards 2 million followers, with 36 million Likes. With all these people you helped, does it feel like you’ve found a calling in your work as the “Trans Handy Ma’am?”
It would be impossible to ignore all the emails, messages, texts, and meeting strangers in public or at restaurants. I do not know where this journey will take me, but I do know that the compassion that I share with others has resonated deeply. That’s what drives me to continue every single day on my platforms. It is more than just videos on your phone, because others make it more than just videos on their phone. Some content is trivial, some content is fleeting, but content that resonates with us is the content that stays with us. It’s the audience that decides if it’s more than just a video, and I’m grateful to them for creating this community with me.
What would you say has been one of the biggest challenges with your content creator career? Similarly, what would you say has been one of the biggest successes?
Biggest challenge by far was the lack of support when I was first growing. In order to be this successful online, you need to have a support system; otherwise, you’ll cave in and drown from all of it. Once I put a stronger support system around me, everything got a lot easier, and I was able to get my social life and personal life back that I felt like I lost in my early time on TikTok. If I could tell new creators that are growing rapidly anything, it’s that you should get a partner now, right now. Otherwise, you’ll lose your mental health, your time, and your happiness.
My biggest success was finding people who believe in me and support me, like Maggie, my business partner. I got big quickly and lost a lot of friends, and that can be hard, but what was really good about it was the people who came into my life who share the same mission. And right now, people like Maggie, Basil, Amethyst, and Lumi, people closest to me in my life and my work, have stepped up to support me in the mission I’m on, and that’s beautiful.
This may be a bit obvious, but is there a particular David Bowie album you can listen to any time, anywhere?
Black Star is the greatest album in the last 20 years. It came out after he died, and was designed to do that. He passed away, and a few singles have come out post-mortem, but the album that always resonates with me is Black Star, especially “Lazarus.” It’s one of the saddest, deepest songs I’ve ever heard in my life. I could listen to it for hours. This is a man who soared to the top of the industry, knew his life was coming to an end and chose to turn that pain into music and art to share with others when he was gone. There’s something really beautiful and poetic in that.
You recently posted a video about Marinka and Alexandra the Great “48” as a way to celebrate trans burlesque performers in the past. Will we see you continue this observance? Are there other performers you’d like to see get more mainstream recognition?
There are so many burlesque legends, cis and trans, that deserve so much recognition for the way they’ve shaped our culture. If I do continue to speak of burlesque performers, I need to speak about my dear friend Monique Murray, AKA Bonnie Logan, who passed away recently. She was known as the original M & M girl — she’ll melt in your mouth AND your hands.
She embodied what it was to be a true ally to the trans community. During the height of her career in the ’60s and ’70s, she was one of the only burlesque performers to share a marquee with transgender burlesque performers. She used her fame, her name, and her reputation to elevate the voices of others around her and share her space with them. And when vocabulary and understanding around the trans community shifted, her vocabulary and understanding shifted as well.
In order for us to have a better and more vibrant future, it’s important for us to remember those who came before us who lived beautiful lives and spread joy to millions.