There’s reason to believe drag queens are demigods.
When I was 11 years old I was flipping through the television channels when I came across a marathon of the first season of Rupauls Drag Race as Season 2 of the show was soon to air. I was instantly drawn in. In my childhood men with effeminate behavior was strongly frowned upon by kids at school, society in general and especially by my parents. “Fruits and tr*nnies” were extremely taboo in my upbringing yet I couldn’t take my eyes off that RPDR marathon and I totally forgot about cleaning my room. I loved the stark sense of humor, the competitiveness/drama but the glamour was easily my favorite part. Most of all the glamour was encapsulated by men. The forbidden beauty queens were live and in action in front of my eyes. The show had become my guilty pleasure until one day my father walked in on me watching it and promptly banned me from ever watching such “disgusting and wrong” material again.
Fast forward to 6 years and I was a full blown (closeted) drag fanatic. Battle of The Seasons was announced and my favorite queens at the time Alaska and Jinkx were scheduled to come to my city as part of the line up. I was ecstatic. I have always been a fan of live performance and used to be very invested in pop culture and I turned meeting celebrities into a hobby. Name a pop idol within the last 10 years and the probability that I have met or seen them live is highly probable. Meeting usually inaccessible people without crossing the line into invading their personal space is a sport and was always fun yet difficult to do. I decided I wanted to use this knowledge to meet my favorite queens so I early in the morning on February 27, 2015 I headed down to the venue BOTs was taking place at. This particular event was 19+ so my only chance to see the queens would be see them entering or exiting the venue.
While there I had met this girl in stunning makeup by the name of Vanessa. To this day we still hang out and see drag shows together and I’m forever grateful to have met such an intricate and sweet individual who shared interests in something that I was always told wasn’t okay. In the evening after not seeing the queens enter the venue we decided we should just leave but I had a letter that I really wanted to give to Alaska and Jinkx. Two other members of the drag community, Jamie and Courtney, were near the front of the line and had meet & greets for that night. Since I had spoken with them before I asked Jamie if she would be able to get my letters to who they were written for and she agreed to give it to them. Vanessa and I went home and I later checked my Twitter to find that I had been followed and direct messaged from both Alaska and Jinkx and felt that the day wasn’t a complete waste. I was able to share how drag influenced me and how I admired their artwork and that was enough for me.
During that year I started experimenting with makeup secretly and started to develop my drag persona. I had always struggled with my gender identity and had accepted that I was a trans female but I suppressed this as my living circumstances were not sustainable for me to transition. With the neighborhood I lived in I would literally not even feel safe transitioning nor would my parents have allowed me to. Later that year Alaska came back for an American Apparel meet and greet event which was open to all ages. Me and Vanessa headed down early since it was a free event, we wanted to secure a good spot in line. After hours in the heat, Alaska arrived and the meet and greet began. This was my first time ever outside of the house in drag (I literally did my face on the subway so it was tragic) and my second time ever out of the house female presenting. No one judged me, I felt welcome. I was even given compliments. After meeting Alaska I was about to head to her next event but Vanessa said she wanted to go see a drag show. I had never been to a drag show and really wanted to but was hesitant because of how much I liked Alaska. Lo and behold I decided to go to the drag show.
A little while later me and Vanessa met up with a friend of hers and went to this bar called Henhouse. While we were most definitely underage it was a neighborhood bar and we weren’t drinking so we managed to not get kicked out. At this particular event we were watching the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous with commentary by drag queen Allysin Chaynes. Every once in a while there would be intermissions and a performance number. Now, Allysin is completely different from the drag I was used to seeing. I was very used to a gender binary as I had been conditioned to believe there was two ways you can present yourself – male or female. I loved drag because it allowed males to present as female as an illusion. While Allysin fits that description she is completely herself in the decisions she makes. While she’s was femme in the face and has a huge bust, her huge bust is accessorized with thick chest hair! She’s a full sized queen who doesn’t pad and she emphasizes her muffin top rather than trying to fit into the ideal of feminine beauty that society presents. I fell in love with her character immediately despite me being somewhat terrified by her punk meets Hollywood sadcore choice of songs to perform to. After the show I didn’t only appreciate her drag persona I appreciated how friendly she was towards me and Vanessa when we went to talk to her. I became a fan and eventually a friend of Allysin and am lucky she was the reason introduced to local drag otherwise limited knowledge of drag culture might have never expanded beyond “yas queen”, “werk” and “slay me”.
During 2016 I struggled a lot with my mental health and after being hospitalized from a nervous breakdown due to sleep deprivation and other symptoms of my illness I was left in a state of shock and was riddled with anxiety, paranoia, debilitated and depression. The world around me seemed dark and generally unsafe and had my elements completely thrown off. However, my undying love for performance art and music kept me going to drag events. and I started to slowly feel better. Autumn of that year there was an afterparty at a restaurant bar for the event Shady Queens that queens I liked such as; Willam, Alaska, Courtney Act were attending. My friends could tell I was feeling off, Allysin could tell I was feeling off but I wanted to stay because I appreciate drag culture and the community I was around. Since I was particularly quiet that night I didn’t really interact with the local queens that I usually do.
While at the Blake House that night in walks this bombshell wearing Louboutins and a mug beat to kill. Scarlett Bobo. She seemed intimidating due to her confidence and beauty and I had never taken a particular affinity towards her when I had seen her in the village. After a few months of not being able to get away from her (she was literally booked everywhere, it’s kind of impossible to not see her) I started to see how talented she was as a performer. She’s can dance amazingly with ease, she’s funny on the mic and her quirks as a person are adorable. She can be loud but sweet and she’s always vulgar but in a charming way. Once I started to appreciate this I realized what I was missing out on. Since the beginning of this 2017 I started to go to more of her shows and realized how dimensional Bobo is as a drag persona and as a person. She pushes the edge between what being a “polished femme queen” is as she often times wears short hair and jumpsuits instead of blown out wigs and stoned gowns and I love that about her because she knows what her drag is and doesn’t let it be defined for her.
The best part of a Bobo show is that it’s always interactive and always hilarious. Another thing that’s amazing about Bobo is how inclusive she is. She hosts open stages to showcase local new talent in ways they might not get exposure with otherwise and she’s an easy person to talk to whether it be about personal issues, drag, general interests or even the Google Pixel, which she once went on a rant for 45 minutes about how much she loves her it, thus proving her passion. Also as a friend she’s incredibly supportive and she’s always fun to be around, especially at arcades because she gets overly excited when she wins jackpot during games of chance.
While on the topic of chance and probability I want to reiterate how difficult it is for most people to break into the drag scene, let alone be successful in getting regular bookings as a drag performer. For most performers it’s not enough to just do drag as a career because the queens are usually underpaid, under booked due to the wide availability of some queens and unfortunately under appreciated at times. For Priyanka Love however, she defied all odds. just weeks after being getting in drag for the first time. With the frequency that I go to The Village to see my friends and perfumers I like I generally don’t take interest in many queens that aren’t already in my scope of appreciation. I haven’t taken great interest in a new queen literally since 2016 when I became a became a victim of the Bobo Takeover. The only exception to this is Sasha Velour (who I could write a whole article on in herself) and Lady Kunterpunt (and I don’t even consider them a queen, they’re a straight up artist). My aversion to liking any more queens was broken summer last year when Priyanka entered drag race. While I had met her twice, once at an El Convento Rico meeting and once at a Crews Drag Race meeting) I had no idea she would soon be dominating the village, snatching gigs left and right throughout the province and probably breaking the record for newest queen to be booked internationally.
On the first day of Crews Drag Race I was backstage helping a friend for her audition. I saw Priyanka getting ready and I said hello and wished her luck. A short while later once everyone backstage was ready wandered to the television that was showing what was happening on stage. Auditions had started and Priyanka was up, everyone was glued to the screen. The crowd was screaming. Miss Thing was all over the stage doing kicks, twirls and crawling across the stage and into the souls of everyone present. She went on to be in the top of the competition every week and was on the track to winning, but ultimately didn’t. She did however win her way into the hearts of many regulars in the village and she rose to success and widespread recognition extremely quickly. To witness a performer develop and flourish before your eyes is sort of a rarity and to see someone enter the industry and accomplish a lot in a small period of time is truly inspiring. The energizer bunny, Priyanka, is such a captivating, kind hearted person and I look forward to seeing her growth and improving as time goes on.
These queens are more than drop dead gorgeous to me and the community. They are accepting and always ready to help in any way they can even when they have no requirement to do so. They’re so protective, Allysin will literally confuse and intimidate anyone who is predatory. She knows how to put someone in their place and make sure they know their tomfoolery is not acceptable. Bobo will banish any wrong doer and apologize to profusely for mistreatment even if she had nothing to do with it. Priyanka once saved my night by pretending to be my boyfriend when a man wouldn’t leave me alone at the bar. On top of their acceptance and protection their fearlessness inspires me. Drag to me represents hard work, beauty (inside and out) and creativity. Being a drag performer is also about being active in the community and bringing people joy. That’s what makes drag so relatable to me is because all in all it is about the betterment of LGBT persons and it provides work for members of the queer community in queer spaces where we can all come together.