Houstonian Tales: Doomstress Alexis
Photo: James Stender
I’ve said for some time that what makes Houston a great city, is that it’s full of creative types who try daily to overcome the size, population, and layout of our mammoth city. Getting people to come see you art show, your dance troupe, or even your band is a feat that many can’t seem to conquer in this town. However, if you make it out to a Project Armageddon or a Vendetta Diabolique show, you can learn a lot about the music business in this town. From the start of the night up until the very end, leader and singer Doomstress Alexis shakes almost every hand, hugs every friend, and networks more than anyone else you’ll see in Houston. That networking has paid off, and in just two short years she’s made a name for both her music projects and has helped pretty much every person she’s worked with. Her own day, July 5th 2013, two bands, and the leader of the Houston Doom Brigade are just a sample of all she’s achieved. It would be one thing if this was done for some sort of financial gain, but in the case of Alexis, it’s because she likes what these others are doing or at least attempting to do.
“When Mayor Parker honored me with the day, I hosted a metal show at Walter’s to celebrate the day, as well as try to help the trans community. But moments after the show, I had people asking what are you gonna’ do next year. I came across Grace Note when I was trying to set up something to celebrate the anniversary of the day, while helping people as well,” according to Alexis. She made some calls, she got in touch with Lou Weaver, who suggested Grace Place. “I liked the group because they don’t just deal with homeless people in the LGBT community; but they don’t discriminate against them either. After I pitched the idea at a board meeting with those at Grace Lutheran church, they were 100% on board and made the whole experience super easy and nice,” says Alexis. The end result was the Grace Note Benefit that featured dozens of local bands playing the Big Top/Continental Club corridor earlier this year. They helped raise a good amount of money, and because they’re so eager to do it again; she’ll work with them on a similar event next year.
But, the Grace Note Benefit is just a small example of how Doomstress does for her community. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Doomstress has lived in the Houston area for sixteen years, and has made a career out of fixing motorcycles. “I came out to everyone at work and they’ve been super supportive,” Alexis says of her co-workers. “In 2012, I came out and then played a metal fest in Lake Jackson for the first time as trans on stage. Then three weeks later we opened for Cough at The Mink, and I’ve never had an issue,” she says. It may have something to do with the fact that on stage, she’s quite the force to be reckoned with. Whether it’s a Vendetta show or an Armageddon show, she really seems to own the stage and her presence demands respect in demeanor alone. “I try to keep a strong presence, so other people in the LGBT community can come to our shows and feel safe,” she explains. Since then it’s been a pretty non-stop push to help others, forward her music, and make cool stuff happen in all she’s involved with.
That cool stuff all starts from connections. As Alexis explains, “when I see someone who I can do a show with, I include them. Artists, bands, dancers like Devyn Lane who does burlesque, or even body painters like Rudy Campos of RCC Creations; anyone who I like and I can help, I try to include.” Everything from a fetish ball where Vendetta Diabolique can perform to a fashion show involving Erotic Cabaret, Alexis tries her hardest to utilize her connections to help all involved. “I feel like, when people go to a show, they can see three or four bands, dancing, art, maybe a fashion show, and body painting; then it’s something they won’t see anywhere else. And by using and helping people who I’ve worked with, we all get something from it,” explains Alexis. It’s refreshing, as someone who covers music to see someone who’s trying their best to make the scene here a little more interesting. Even when she put on a show at Avant Garden with Only Beast, Giant Kitty, and The Dirty Seeds, she found a way to donate all of the proceeds to the AIDS Foundation. All that she does with The Houston Doom Brigade, the bands she books on Bayou Doom Fest, and her Doomsgiving show, are all incorporations of helping those she’s worked with.
This all started from growing up in the Humble/Kingwood area. “When Project Armageddon started playing shows, we’d play the same places outside the loop with the same bands who had the same fans at all of their shows. We wanted something more. None of us had family members who could come see us play, so getting shows in town was important to build up a real fanbase,” explains Alexis. The same could be said of how Doomstress got involved with performing at fetish balls. “When I started dressing, I went to a fetish ball where I could go and be accepted. That community is the first where I felt accepted and where I could be myself,” Alexis explains. Since those balls, she’s incorporated her contacts like Jesse Salazar from Darkness_Hyde”s Closet, or Mars Simons, or Chuyz Beard into starting to do more modeling, and incorporating that as well. The two dancers who go-go in the background at a Vendetta Diabolique show, they’re both models that Doomstress worked with in the past. “Caitlin (Caselli) and Madeline (Kiley) I decided to incorporate to add to the show’s appearance. It just seemed like a no brainer to get two models to dance at the shows, so we get a cooler overall presence, and they get exposure, it’s win win,” Doomstress explains. That exposure, has netted Alexis her own line of outfits to wear at Vendetta Diabolique shows for her and her dancers made by Gin Martini Designs, and designed by Alexis herself. “It all comes from being on plenty of shoots, using erotic modeling in an artistic way, to where I’ve met enough people who can help me make the end result of my ideas a reality,” she says.
Whether you’re a fan of the doom metal from Project Armageddon, or the industrial dance sound of Vendetta Diabolique; the Houston music scene would be a lot more vibrant if every genre had its own Doomstress Alexis. You can hear the new guitar heavy dance infused song from Vendetta Diabolique, on itunes as well as CD Baby, and you can catch them live at Notsuoh September 27th. If you’re more of a Project Armageddon fan, you can hear them also on itunes, and catch them live at Acadia on September 18th. In a perfect world, someone will see all that Doomstress does, and incorporate that skill set of networking into their own arts. With people like her in the world, it makes you realize what could happen if we all supported one another’s endeavors.