Madge and Bisket Hit The Big Time in a Tiny Town
by Steve Desroches
In Provincetown drag queens are here in such numbers, all year round, you’d think that buried underneath the town is one of those super colliders that have enormous superconducting magnets like they have in Switzerland, but rather than attracting charged particles, it pulls in big wigs and high heels. While a beloved fixture for almost a century in Provincetown, the Cape tip’s drag queens can all too easily be taken fore granted. Imagine living somewhere with no drag queens. And not just in your town, but the whole state…and the one next to it! Shudder the thought.
That’s the situation Stephanie Michel and Wayne Noffsinger found themselves in. The two best friends—she a straight women and he a gay man—live in Alpine, Wyoming, a town of about 850 people about an hour south from Jackson on the Palisades Reservoir, just on the border with Idaho. Both states lack any kind of a drag scene. Maybe there’s a queen in Boise, but that’s almost six hours away. So these two liberal friends who camp it up when they’re hanging out or about town in ruby red Wyoming decided they would have to be the change they wanted to see in the world and become drag queens themselves. And thus they created Madge and Bisket [madgeandbisket.com], a hard drinking, tough talking drag duo whose hilarious videos have recently become a social media phenomenon catapulting them to drag stardom.
“We act this way when we’re together all the time and decided to film it,” says Michel. “We put it on Instagram and nobody really cared about it. We live in Wyoming in a town full of Mormons, cowboys, and rednecks. We don’t really fit in with the rest of the community. But come the pandemic, our videos just took off. We have people in the freaking Congo watching us! We even had someone in the space station watching. We’re intergalactic now!”
Indeed they are. Madge and Bisket found notoriety on TikTok and that’s now expanded to Instragram, YouTube, Facebook, and Cameo, garnering nearly 300,000 followers and fans from all over the world. Michel and Noffsinger burst out laughing and shake their heads speaking via Zoom from their Wyoming homes. They just can’t believe how fast and widely their fandom has spread. And despite their crazy antics, they are using it to stay some form of sane during the ongoing pandemic and the current state of politics. They use the platform to make people laugh in all of this madness.
“Drag reaches everyone now,” says Noffsinger. “It’s a powerful tool.”
While Madge and Bisket are reaching people wide and far, it’s Provincetown that has continually popped up as a hot bed of fandom. Neither has been before and each has a vague awareness, especially of it being a LGBT vacation favorite. But as their Internet fame rose, they began to hear from fans in Provincetown, a lot of them, saying the two would be a huge hit in the town’s storied performance scene. They even heard from a performance venue, which they’re mum about so as not to jinx it. At the moment they’re focusing on producing their slick and hilarious videos and vignettes, but are working on a full-length live show hoping someday to make it out to Provincetown.
Being drag superstars didn’t ever occur to Noffsinger and Michel. They both moved to Wyoming decades ago, Noffsinger from his native Las Vegas and Michel from South Dakota. There, Noffsinger works as a certified medical assistant and Michel as a special education director. The two also had side business ventures together, including a knitting store called Pearl Necklace, which is where they developed the characters of Madge and Bisket, as the two would sit making scarves and sweaters. What the duo has come to represent for them, they say, is self-acceptance and self-love. Both talk about body issues and feeling like an outsider. Drag through Madge and Bisket celebrates not just their friendship, but each as an individual, too.
Noffsinger had no performance background or aspirations, while Michel acted in high school and briefly after. But reality—and bills—presented themselves, as tends to happen, and she chose a more stable and lucrative profession. So this new opportunity to have a drag career is a total surprise for which they are incredibly grateful, if not still in a bit of a state of disbelief.
“I always felt like I was a drag queen in a previous life, “ says Michel. “Nobody knows I’m a woman. They assume I’m a man in drag.”
“We’re doing this at 52 years old,” says Noffsinger. “I started to joke that I gave my dad one more thing to get over. He’s very proud of me as a gay man, but that’s not enough. Now he’s got a drag queen for a son, and when I told him, all he said was, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ.’”
For more on Madge and Bisket visit madgeandbisket.com or find them on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Cameo, and YouTube.