As the Covid-19 pandemic has made performers find new ways to interact with their audience via virtual shows, local resources for those performers have become diminished with the takeover of online shopping. But what happens if you’re in a pinch and need some products; a wig or a last minute costume? The opening of Whips N Furs on University Avenue in North Park is such a refreshing site to see especially since it takes over the long standing home of Maria’s Secrets Wig Shop. We caught up with Kyle Vincent aka; Vivvi Incognito aka; The Force to “talk shop.”
CAR: Give us some background on who Vivvi is?
VI: Vivvi Incognito is the stage persona of Kyle Vincent. Formerly known as Vivvi “The Force”. I am a San Diego local drag queen, show host and event curator. I am known for my unique high glamour punk rock style and terrifying demonic performances. I am passionate about highlighting diversity in our local LGBTQ community and expanding opportunities for local performers and artists to create, network and showcase their talents.
CAR: Earlier in the year you had announced that you wanted to open a shop, and then COVID-19 happened. What originally made you want to open one back then?
VI: I always wanted to open my own costume store! I worked at one in San Francisco for 3 years and I fell in love with the atmosphere and unlimited imagination that a costume store offers. I saw the need in San Diego to have a place for costumes and theatrical quality makeup. I want to be a resource for the community to have access to everything they need to put their creative ideas into reality and have a place to go to be inspired. I plan on having workshops taught by myself and other masters of the trade, including makeup application, special fx, wig styling, pad making and more!
CAR: When Maria announced that she would be closing Secrets Wig Shop, it was sad news. She has been such a staple in the entertainment community. But we are so happy to see the space continue with new life and your concept. How did that come about?
VI: I was offered the chance by Maria of Secrets Wigs to operate a small makeup counter in the corner of her store and get my “feet wet” starting my own business. I had everything lined up- I registered Whips n Furs as a business, began contracting with vendors and purchased a display cabinet. The day I was going to drop everything off at the store, Maria informed me that because of Covid, she needed to close the store for the time being. 4 months passed and she eventually had to go out of business completely. I decided to go big or go home. I spoke with the landlord and applied to lease the store front myself. I am sad Secrets had to close, but I am grateful to be able to expand on Maria’s legacy and keep the spot open! There are still plenty of wigs, but now you can also find costumes, accessories, theatrical makeup, and just about anything to feel glamorous all year around.
CAR: It’s been frustrating to see local costume shops disappear. These days if you have the need for supplies, you are left hoping amazon can deliver next day. What can folks who visit find at the shop?
VI: You can find your entire make up and special fx supplies. We carry Ben Nye, Mehron and Kyrolan products. I have costumes and accessories for Drag Kings and Queens, Burlesque performers, Cosplay folx, and Halloween all year long. You’ll find Halloween and masquerade masks, wigs, corsets, hats galore, pasties, professional reusable beards and staches, prop weapons and other stage props, lashes, glasses and tutus! I also have two “Drag on a Dime Bins” of fun random thangs for under $10.
CAR: How scary is it to open a boutique in the middle of a pandemic?
VI: As you are probably well aware, Vivvi is fearless as Hell! But this is definitely terrifying!! I have moments of extreme confidence and moments of doubt. Ironically, without Covid happening, my store may not have been able to open and my dream may have just stayed as that. The store is already a success and I know when this is all over, I’ll be able to open in full capacity and hopefully become a staple shop for our city. I am enjoying the calm before the storm.
CAR: What is the importance of the community supporting local small business?
VI: It is very important for the local community to support small businesses because we are the backbone of society. Small businesses have a connection to the local folx they serve that big corporations cannot replicate. Supporting small business owners who are active participants in the communities they serve is something to value. I am not sure of any other Black Queer owned businesses in town. Why is that? We need no more than ever to uplift new ventures like Whips n Furs and inspire more Black LGBTQ folks to go for their goals!
CAR: What would you tell people who want to stop by the shop? What precautions are you taking to be safe not only for yourself but for your clients?
VI: I am requiring that all shoppers wear a mask while inside of the store. I provide hand sanitizer upon entering the store and hand sanitizer can be found throughout the store. I also have clear plastic slips on most of the costumes; I ask that people please try to use the plastic when you browse through clothing.
CAR: Being locked inside has made entertainers find new avenues for sharing their creativity. How do you handle that?
VI: I mostly just sign up for things and then cancel last minute. I have been casted for a few virtual shows that are coming up soon. Please follow me on IG @vivvi_incognito to catch the dates and where to view. With opening the store I haven’t had much time lately to film any new at-home performances but will be working on some stuff soon!! I have a ton of ideas, just not the time to do them all! You can see all of the videos I have made so far on YouTube! Subscribe to Vivvi The Force to watch!
CAR: With people discovering new ways of being creative and entertaining themselves at home, they might need some shopping assistance for drag or special effects make up, I am sure Vivvi will be happy to guide them along? Is that a safe assumption?
VI: Of course! That is what I am here for! Please reach out to me or stop by the store and tell me all about your ideas and makeup or performance goals! I love to be of service and love to brainstorm ways to execute an idea or vision. I am willing to share my knowledge of makeup, drag and performance with anyone willing to take the time to learn and I love helping others find and reach their potential. Instagram: @whipsnfurssandiego
Whips n Furs Boutique
2800 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104