Recently, there has been a lot of talk about transphobia, trans-pride and trans-acceptance. But, before LGBT activists ever organized, or Caitlyn Jenner ever kicked ass at the men’s decathlon, there were drag queens. Whether they are large, burly and comical or svelte, stylish and convincing, the drag queen is a proud part of theater both domestic and international.
The practice of men dressing up in women’s clothes has been around ever since Shakespearian times when young boys used to dress in drag to play the roles of women. People first started using the expression, “Drag queen” in the early 1940s. No one is a hundred percent sure why a fellow donning hose was originally called drag, but it is rumored that it was a code for, “Dressed Resembling A Girl.” Many famous actors have done entire films while wearing the garb of the gentler sex, including Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta and Jack Lemmon.
In spite of making little pay, the drag performer is one of the most versatile entertainers in show business. The make-up and costumes they wear can take hours to put on. Once onstage they function as comedians, actors and dancers. A female entertainer or politician can’t really be considered a celebrity until she has had at least one drag queen imitate her.
Portland offers many choices when it comes to drag, from clubs dedicated to the art, to competitive drag events. This April offers several opportunities to see the hardest working women in show business.
Drag Me to Church
Saturday, April 2
The troupe, Caravan of Glamour brings their variety show to the First Congressional Church of Portland. The show will be hosted by Vivica A. Valentine and has an eclectic mix of entertainers including aerial dancers, comedians, rappers and hip hop dancers.
The doors open at 6:00 p.m. for a 7:00 p.m. show. Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $5.00 and the proceeds will go to benefit Q Center. Q Center offers a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity and host various events and art shows.
Friday, April 15 to Sunday, May 1
Local choreographer and dancer Pepper Pepper and her partner Mr. E. will perform at studio 2 in Portland in a show that promises, “dance, glitter and drag.”
This show features original music that was written by Cabiria Jones as well as pop tunes. In addition to the singing and the dancing, Pepper will explore the meaning of drag in our society.
Shows run Friday through Sunday and begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 for general admission and $15.00 for students.
Death of Glitter: Dance Night and GenderFuck Cabaret
Every 2nd Saturday
The Southeast district bar, Crush presents a drag show on the second Saturday of every month. Every show has its own theme. Glitter is certain to be in the air for April’s show when the theme will be the future of drag with their review “2016: A Space Goddessy” sci-fi edition.
The show starts at 9:00 p.m., you must be 21 or older to enter and tickets are $5.00 to $10.00.
This drag bar offers a variety of cabaret shows. You can see the club’s namesake Darcelle and her company every Wednesday and Thursday or see the up and coming queens on Tuesday night when the club hosts, Catch a Rising Star.
Darcelle has been performing drag in Portland for thirty-five years. She is best known for her, “Rhinestone Cowboy” routine.
You have to be 21 or older to go to Darcelle. There is a $20 entertainment charge and the bar has a show menu. Shows start at 8:30 p.m. and there is an additional 10:30 p.m. show on Saturdays.
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.