Our gorgeous queens—wigged, lashed, tucked and stuffed—flaunt their sequined selves on the Strip and in gay bars. And we love them. But where are all the kings in this town? Where are the mustached women with slicked-back pompadours, chest fur and machismo swagger, butching out to song and boasting like peacocks courting their peahens?
“What I’ve been told is that they tried to have a drag king community here, but it wasn’t picking up,” says Karen (aka Richard Tyler Longcock the Third). “But that was a generation ago.”
It’s not likely that Saturday’s performance at Tommy Rocker’s will spark a king scene in the Valley, but it will at least bring more variety to what’s usually a one-gender drag town. It’s part of International Drag Day, an annual event launched by U.K. web designer Adam Stewart in 2009 to celebrate contributions drag artists make to their communities. Think of it as a big, fat worldwide thank you to our queens and kings, with each city in charge of coordinating its own celebrations.
- International Drag Day Celebration
- July 16, 7-9 p.m.
- Suggested $10 donation, to benefit Sin Sity Sisters AIDS drug assistance program
- Tommy Rocker's
- 4275 Dean Martin Dr., 261-6688
“I always thought it would be fun to have kings in Vegas,” Karen says. “We have them in California and New York, but not a scene here. International Drag Day gave me an excuse. The Sisters use drag throughout the year to benefit the community, so we thought we’d use this to benefit the Sisters.”
By Sisters, Karen means the Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charitable advocacy group of drag nuns that raises money for HIV and AIDS programs.
You might have seen them in their exaggerated makeup, updated nun habits and cornettes, passing out condoms and discussing safe sex at bars and events. On Saturday, Sister Hope N’ Grope of Safer Sinning participates in the opening number as a sex-ed teacher.
Last year’s Drag Day show was held at the Erotic Heritage Museum, where 50 people were expected and 160 turned out, before the lack of air-conditioning in the museum’s breezeless breezeway dwindled the audience to 20 by night’s end. This year’s version at Tommy Rocker’s promises cooler temperatures, two queens and six kings.
“We have funny pieces, serious pieces, overtly sexual pieces and a connected story line that joins them together,” says Kim Vonganakasame, the show’s producer. It also has an unusual rule for a drag show: No divas dominating the spotlight. And the kings have a twist.
“We’re lesbians pretending to be men who are gay,” says Shea (aka Hunter Bentley). It’s a role not unfamiliar to most of them. Jyl (aka Jeffery Xerxes Brice) says she sees herself as an equal balance of both genders and wouldn’t be opposed to performing as a woman. But like the others, she says performing as a king is about celebrating her inner male. JT (aka TJ Smooth) she got her fill of performing female during a recent stint in heels and a dress for a Thai New Year’s pageant.
And Shea? “It would be more like drag to dress like a woman,” she says, adding that she gets funny looks when she uses the women’s restroom and gets ushered to men’s dressing rooms when shopping for clothing. “Gender-wise, I’m in the middle. I wanted to wear a tux to prom, but my mom wouldn’t let me.”