New York City-based drag performer Tina Burner (@thetinaburner) is a talented singer, master lip-syncer, and glamorous performer who never shies away from bold looks. Tina wants to use her platform as a performer to make a change, and uses humor and positivity to spread a message of inclusivity during her performances.
Growing up in Upstate New York, Kristian Seeber, aka Tina Burner, knew he wanted to be a performer. “I grew up on a horse farm in Upstate New York. I left when I was 16, and moved right outside the city in Jersey to pursue theater,” Kristian tells In The Know.
Kristian first got involved in the drag scene while working at a gay bar in New Jersey. “They needed a host for karaoke and they asked me if I did drag and so I filled in,” Kristian recalls. “I slapped on a Forever 21 dress, horrible wig, tried to paint my face, and then Tina Burner was born there.”
For the last 12 years, Kristian has performed as Tina Burner. In addition to performing on stage, Kristian appeared as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Tina Burner has evolved through many stages from Ronald McDonald eyebrows, really sad eyebrows, to like, smoked out eyes, to finally learning how to paint my face,” Kristian recalls.
These days, Kristian is embarking upon a tour he calls “Mixed Queen: A Relationship Mixtape.” His goal as a performer is to strike a balance between his own creative satisfaction and giving the audience what they want. “Is it about your art? Sometimes. Is it about what everybody else wants? You got it,” Kristian explains. “But you can’t lose yourself. You still have to keep yourself in it. You want to give everybody what they want, but you also don’t want to lose who you are as a performer.”
While Kristian wants his audience to have fun, he also uses his platform to speak out on important issues. “I like to talk about things that need to be talked about,” he explains. “Every time we do a show, you have the opportunity to teach people. You have the opportunity to make people aware. There’s a lot of people who come in who have never been part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
For Kristian, entertainment and education go hand in hand. He believes it’s easier to reach people if they’re having a good time. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘I came to your show, and all I needed was that suspension from life,’” he explains. “That’s what I aim to do, is to make people laugh, to take them out of their day, and to bring them joy.”
While Kristian counts his appearance on Drag Race as one of his greatest accomplishments, he sees his charity work as equally important. “Obviously Drag Race was a huge accomplishment for me. It was like, you know, I auditioned so many times,” he recalls. “I’ve done lots of charity work. I think that’s the biggest thing too, just like trying to give back to the community, because you’re given a platform, and to choose not to use it is just irresponsible.”
Kristian encourages anyone who is interested in getting into drag to do it for the right reasons. For Kristian, drag is about creative fulfillment, not fame. “I think for any of the people up-and-coming who want to do drag, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “Don’t do it to become famous. Do it because you love it. Do it because you love the art.”
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