On a recent Sunday night my husband and I went to a drag show in one of the hottest clubs in our city (it’s not called Legends for nothing). We hadn’t been to a drag show in ages. It was an evening filled with over-the-top outfits, fabulous wigs, exciting impersonations, comedy, drama, a broken stiletto and even a bloody injury.
Returning home in the wee hours of Monday morning, admittedly being a little tipsy, I reflected on the show and thought to myself: Whoever said being a successful drag artist doesn’t take blood, sweat and tears?
My first date with my husband was a drag show much like the one we attended. Ironically, two of the artists that performed on Sunday also performed on the evening of our first date: The divine divas Bianca Bovia and Nomi Peron! It’s astonishing that both are still performing 11 years later, and are still mesmerising on stage.
Miss Peron, in my opinion, still does the best Tina Turner impersonation, and has the greatest legs I have ever seen. For these divas to be on stage for over a decade is quite an achievement; many Hollywood stars don’t have that kind of staying power.
However, the show wasn’t all standing ovations. The Cher impersonator scared me! She looked the way I imagine Cher would have looked like now, if she didn’t have all her surgeries. But, at least the outfit was perfectly Cher!
Other performances that caught my attention were Miss Cleo Houston Brown as Whitney Houston and a solo cabaret performance by another performer. With Houston Brown’s performance I could imagine Whitney alone in her basement studio at home, high on crack wearing her favourite dress and performing her little heart out to an imaginary audience in her drug induced state. It was the ultimate Whitney impersonation!
Whether straight or gay no one should ever have to die without having been to a drag show…
The solo cabaret performance was also well acted and the humour perfectly timed. I found the artist engaging and her choice of material very well suited for her old-fashioned over-the-top style of drag performance. The beehive wig impressed me; with all the mirrors in it, it could have multiple uses: you can use it either to check your make up or use it as a weapon for self-defence.
Then came Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On: If I have to see one more drag artist perform that song I will scream! I wish the song had sunk with the Titanic. It was beautiful once but it’s been overplayed over the years and it pains my eardrums and agitates my nerves.
However, the rendition we saw at Legends was bizarrely amusing in part because the artist was injured during the performance. Imagine a drag queen in a very expensive looking bikini, sitting in a steel tub pretending to paddle her way to shore with a tennis racket; her aching heart painfully visible on her face. Suddenly, out of nowhere, ice and water are thrown at her until she is soaked.
Unfortunately, amidst all this, the artist’s hand was cut by a piece of ice, but, being the professional she is, she finished the performance. By the end she and her bikini were covered in blood; a very dramatic ending to a very dramatic performance.
That drag show lifted my spirit for the week. It was light-hearted and free entertainment which I highly recommend. Whether straight or gay no one should ever have to die without having been to a drag show. It’s an injustice you’d do to yourself.
There are many successful international drag artists like RuPaul, Jackie Beat and Hedda Lettuce, all famous and talented in their own right. But let’s not forget our own drag celebrities in South Africa; the likes of The Cookie Cups (with my favourite aunty, Chrystal Chandelier) and Mince, not excluding all the artists I mentioned earlier.
Life is a drag, and we should all enjoy it. Without our drag queens the rest of us in the GLBT community would be a dull bunch. So thank you to all our Queens for making us laugh, making us cry and thoroughly entertaining us!