Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts on Lady Gaga at the VMAs & a Shout Out to Drag Kings

Because I'm lame and don't stay up very late anymore (unless I'm writing) I didn't watch the VMAs when they aired. However on the advice of my wife I did catch a video of Lady Gaga's performance number which she did in drag. As with many things she does it seems to have had a divided reaction. I'm too lazy to do the research and find out if the general opinion was positive or negative. However I will say that watching the footage the reaction from those in the audience at the VMAs seemed to be one mostly of confusion. It was sort of odd to me only because the sort of act she did was completely old hat to me. Guess that's what happens when you hang out with drag kings.

Old School Switch N Play.

From left to right: Peter Bigs, Manny Mango, Syditious, Chaz del Diablo, Pepe Pan and Maximum Satisfaction down on the floor.

I had very little knowledge of drag kings before I moved to NYC. I never really came across them during my time in Boston. That all changed thanks to the members of Switch N Play and a little bi-monthly even they hosted called "Open Drag." These Brooklyn based kings performed all around the city but also were sure to give a venue to their friends and even those who had never performed before. The first time I performed at "Open Drag" I was the only queen there. Yet oddly that was not in anyway intimidating. Maybe it's because I just find myself more at ease around women in general but I never felt like the odd one out.

There is a very different metality between drag queens and drag kings, not all that different from the difference between drag queens and burlesque which I've talked about before. I think it's very telling that drag queens are always solo acts (maybe with a subserviant stage-hand) whereas the vast majority of drag kings are in troupes. There's a sense of community and comradery to drag kings rather than the sense of competition that you get with drag queens. If I were to guess I would say it might have to do with woman trying to be men and reaching out for that kind of brotherly attachment they see. In contrast most drag queens gravitate towards the diva persona, and all the drama that comes with it.

Current Switch N Play line up.

From left to right: K. James, Jack Kelly, Maximum Satisfaction, Manny Mango, Jonathan Bitchman and Bianca Dagga.

I was amazed, and frankly am still flattered to this day by the fact that Switch N Play invited me to become a member of the group. They never had a queen member before, but again that gives you an idea of the kind of openness that exists in the drag king community. Even the kings who take on personas of slobs or posturing douche-bags are still sweet-hearts backstage. Nothing against all the talented drag queens out there but if given a choice I opt to hang out with the kings everytime. Also, and I'm less clear on the reason for this, drag kings seem to get what I do a little bit better than drag queens. I get looks sometimes from queens like I'm screwing up their art because I don't do it their way. Perhaps it's because there is much less of a fixed image of what a drag king should be that makes them more open to interpretations of other performance types as well. Or maybe I was just really meant to be born a lesbian, who knows?

I encourage any and all to check out more about Switch N Play on their website, flickr photostream, and YouTube page. Gaga did it well enough, but watch the professionals do their thing!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Crossdressing Tips for Beginners #6: Eye Lashes

I'm back with more! There's always something else to offer advice on, and this time it's eye lashes. Any performer who has ever shared a dressing room with me can tell you about my love/hate relationship with false lashes. And now you can learn all about it too! Hope folks find this helpful.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Child's Play

Well I said that I wasn't sure if I would bring up my daughter again on this blog (who's arrival date is fast approaching) but this struck me as something worth sharing. I had mentioned previously that I have no intention of hiding my dressing from my daughter. The last thing I want to do is inadvertantly teach her that you must hide what you are. However the issue was how to introduce all of this to her in a way that would go smoothly.

The concern has never been about her but about other kids and other people in general. Because little kids love to talk and love to share, which means that inevitably she would tell some friend or teacher or somebody else that her daddy dresses like a girl. And that's where the problems would arise, because it would open her up to be picked on and judged for something that I do. It's not fair but it is a reality, if there's something different about a child the other kids will make her miserable for it. So we want to minimize the chances of that while still being open and honest with her. We don't want to have her know but keep it a secret. First off that's unrealistic and secondly it's instilling a sense of shame or that there's something wrong with our family.

The solution we have struck upon is to treat it as a game, and one that the whole family takes part in. This will work very well for me since I don't live my day to day life in dress, it is rather something that I do for myself on occasion. So on those occasions it will be "dress up time" for the whole family. My wife will dress up in some outfit or costume and our daughter will get to dress up however she wants and play. Doubtless there will even be times when I dress in some outfit that is not drag. This makes it so rather than "daddy wears a dress at home" it becomes "we play dress up together."

A glimpse into my own childhood dress up time with the neighbor's kids.

Doubtless as she grows older there will eventually be questions about why I dress as a woman but at least by them (hopefully) she won't feel that there's something wrong with that. Off to the baby shower soon. Wanted to share this plan just in case there is anybody else out there who might benefit from the idea.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crossdressing Tips for Beginners #5: Eyeliner

I know it's been a while since I got one of these up, but there was Pride and other stuff that was taking up my time. But I haven't abandoned those of you who find these useful. We're getting back to make-up and focusing on the eyes. Talking eyeliner this time. Shadow and lashes will be addressed later.