Saturday, March 15, 2008
Drag Night, 1st Time
Yes, you read that right. My school has a monthly potluck so that members (and friends) of the community can get reunite with each other. For the march "feast night" we had a drag show. I got to perform (lip-synch) for the first time, and it wasn't as bad as I feared, and yet not quite as great as I'd hoped. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work.
Upon reading a little homage from a member of my potential future cohort to Patrick Swayze (blessings be upon him) for his role as Miss Vida Boheme in "To Wong Foo" I realized that I had wanted to post a little about about the show, so here goes.
First, I guess I went a bit overboard in the "biting off more than I could chew" category. I decided during our preparations that I wanted to have a several numbers, with several costume changes, including shaving off a moustache! For my first set, I was going for a bit of a gender-blender. In trying to be the drag king that drag kings only dream about* (I so easily pass as male that I couldn't get to the point of looking like a female trying to impersonate a male, hoho), I had a well-sculpted and trimmed moustache that looked like the best possible paste-on, though I wish I had given my sideburns a bit more time to grow out. Oops. Well if I ever do it again, I'll not make that mistake again. Along with that, I wore brown carhart workpants with some t-shirts stuffed into bike shorts for padding, a grey cowboy shirt over more chest padding secured down by that "yentl" style elastic bandaging, a borrowed bolo tie, my sweetie's cowgirl hat, workboots, leather gloves, and a big ol' acoustic guitar. The number was "Back in the Saddle Again," by Gene Autry, and I think it went OK, especially for the first number. Even though I practiced the routine several times, I somehow had difficulty working the invisible lasso and swung my right arm in a counterclockwise direction(as viewed from below) which felt and looked a tad awkward. I did a good job of shooting my "old 44" into the sky though when that came up in the lyrics. The galloping around with my guitar on my back during the bridge was a bit dopey. Then again, I'M a bit dopey.
*I got the idea from one of our moustache parties a few years back, when one of our female friends dressed up as a drag queen. She made an amazingly excellent drag queen (Go, Jenn!), but to be honest she had about the same passability at doing the double gender changeover as I did.
For the second piece, still dressed up as a drag king extraordinaire, but without the cowboy hat, work gloves and guitar, and with a melvins t-shirt (the pic of the weird mules is what's on the front of the shirt) with the arms cut off that I often wore for volleyball, or just knocking around the house. And I switched to my nutty-looking underused (because they fog up horribly when I sweat) rec-spex glasses and my freshly-dyed red hair, done up into a fauxhawk, because the name of the second tune was "Rooster in Love," off of the album Capable Egg by Lullaby Baxter Trio, which I highly recommend to pretty much anyone. I like that song so much. Anyway, for the tune, I carried around a Shure SM57 with a red microphone foam ball on the tip, and spent a fair amount of the song flapping my elbows, and strutting around a bit like I imagine Lou Reed did, before his parents decided to have him committed (and if memory serves, after he got out as well). I had meant to move my head back and forth like a chicken, but as I finished that number, I realized that I forgot to do that part. I did draw a curvy outline of "Daisy" the hen that I've got a yen for, and drew a heart in the air whenever the words "I am a rooster in love. That's right a rooster in love," came around.
Then my sweetie and I went to the downstairs private bathroom to quickly shave off the moustache and work into the next costume, and apply foundation, blush, and powder to the areas of my face that didn't get it before, most notably the moustache and sideburn areas. I grabbed a bit of the potluck food but didn't even get a chance to eat any, we were so busy changing. She got my face all worked up, and I squeezed into what I needed to try and get some curves in at the waist (though I've been eating ice cream at nights lately, so "the Ru Paul effect" and my curviness ended up being somewhere between Ru and Divine, in other words, curves=barely. C'est la vie.)
For the third piece, I lip-synched and danced to another Lullaby Baxter song called "Space Girl," wearing a "knee-length" black dress over a pair of brown and white paisley capri pants, with some black platform peep-toe pumps that made me just about seven feet tall. Its weird to duck under doorways. That one is in three-four time, so I kind of did the waltz in circles a bit, and a little bit of a modified cha-cha, all while trying to look graceful and feminine (while I got compliments, I have a feeling there weren't many people fooled, its as difficult for me to pull off feminine as it is easy to look masculine, being big with a big ribcage and shoulders and all.) I did that one with the red mic as well. I was wearing my "Infinity Sunrise" pendant, along with the ox-horn spiral earrings, and some neon-green stone ear-plugs (the kind for earring holes, not for sound dampening), and a wooden bead wrap-around bracelet, with a black sparkly barrette in my regular hair (no wig).
While the audience quite liked the third piece, I think the fourth was the one they enjoyed the most. For it, I had to don pink tights, then squeeze into my sweetie's vintage 60's blue and grey cocktail dress, and put on this wonderful pink Marie Antoinette wig that pretty much matched the tights. The piece was "Is that all there is?" by Peggy Lee (and in honor of her passing a little while back (or just because I've always wanted to), we wrote the word "deceased" in sharpie marker on my left wrist). The song had a very high degree of difficulty because all of the verses are spoken word, and she interjected random pauses into her speech. To get ready, I downloaded the lyrics and practiced and prepared. First, whomever posted those lyrics was totally sloppy, or using a different version of the song than I had. In order to lip synch, you need to do the words exactly as they come out of the singer's mouth. For example, the lyrics say "father" where Peggy said "daddy" and at one point, the lyrics say "watching this marvelous spectacle" while she just says "watching...". So in order to perform the piece, I reworked my lyrics sheet to match exactly what she said, including extra commas wherever she took breaks, and putting double-commas where she took slightly longer breaks, and then I put the music on the music stand, and brought in a mic on a spider shockmount, as if it were in the recording studio. It went pretty well overall, though on looking at the pics my wife took, while the dress fit the tune very well, it looked pretty formless on me. It was supposed to be an empire cut, but even came a bit higher on me, so with a volumizing crinoline slip underneath it looked like a bell hanging on me from just below my armpits. But the song went great. There were tealights on the tables, and people held them aloft and sang along on the choruses. Is that All there Is? is one of my all time favorite songs, right up there with Wish Fulfillment by Sonic Youth, and Parabola by Tool. Who am I kidding? I have so many favorite songs....
So the fifth and sixth songs I did back to back. I put on a several necklaces, several bracelets, and loads of rings. I had a long-sleeve dark and light blue striped shirt, a short denim skirt, red tights, this pair of slides that I'm not entirely fond of, and a red wig. And I forgot to switch to my sweetie's glasses, and I was just wearing my regular glasses, because I had wanted to be able to see the number before mine and forgot to switch. It detracted from the numbers unfortunately. The fifth song was Superconnected by Belly, and the sixth song was another by Peggy Lee called Light of Love. "I'm going to open up the front door, the wide door, the back door, the side door. All the doors of my heart. Gonna open up the left door, the right door, the day door, the night door. Now's the time to start!" Anyway, I think the last two pieces didn't go quite as well, since I don't think anybody in the room knew the Belly song and it wasn't really their style. Though one person did ask me who it was and what was the name, so there was at least one convert.
Overall, it was a good time. I was exhausted by the time it was done, and I couldn't have gotten through it all (the make-up, the nails, the hair, the outfits, the practice, the advice, the list goes on...) without the help of my partner. She rocks!
And all the while during the show, Henry Rollins (not the real Henry Rollins, but our pet stuffed monkey named after him) looked on from the side of the stage wearing a blonde wig. To my knowledge, nobody asked about him, but they probably figured (correctly) that it was just a little big of freak-factor added in just for fun.
"So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to."
-Brandi Carlile, The Story
colors: red, pink, blue
mood: better than bad
chant/prayer/mantra: can hardly wait to start up the passion club
agape to all,