The title of this post really highlights the way I’ve felt the last several months and the experiences I’ve had the chance to take in. Since my last update here I’ve really come to find an even deeper purpose for the form of expression I display to the world. Unlike previous years, where I’d get glammed up and mostly stay indoors and occasionally venture out in public, this year I’ve exclusively dressed up with the explicit purpose to venture out and meet up with friends, catch a fun show around town, or in the case of this past April, head up to Chicago for a gender nonconforming kind of a weekend with amazing friends. All this, fitting into my goal of making my place in the world, especially out in public and enjoying the company of great people.
This all leads me to my continued efforts at putting positive energy out into the world and saying “Yes!” to opportunities that pop up. In May, my new friend and performer, Goldie Dee, was hosting a tea dance and drag show and I knew I couldn’t miss it. I was feeling a bit lazy and was just thinking of showing up as my male self, but I had the feeling that it was a good opportunity to dress up for a Sunday afternoon show, feeling like some good things could come from this event, and my feelings didn’t lead me astray that day!
The show and the performers were amazing, and I had a great time having the chance to talk to them a bit in the dressing room and in between acts. While in the crowd, something happened which has become more frequent over the past year or so, I was stopped by a couple of people asking if I was a performer or saying that I should be up on stage. After making a Facebook post about the evening and the thought of maybe hitting the stage myself, I was greeted the following morning by an invitation from the next month’s tea dance host, and a queen I admire, Bella DuBalle. She asked if I’d like to do a number in the upcoming show and my heart immediately started to race, and before I let too much time pass I just said YES, I’m in! Beyond the opportunity to perform for the first time, this show would also help raise money for the Metamorphosis Project, whose goal is to help homeless LGBT youth in the area.
The next few weeks were filled with planning for a song I’ve always thought of performing to (Love Letter by Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes), practicing some moves, planning for a couple of outfits to wear, and practicing some more dramatic makeup looks to display.
On the day of the show things started nice and early getting myself ready and gathering the things I’d need to take. This is where it was great to have my wife there to help out; she was amazing all day helping out, even being my social media manager LOL. The other queens I’d be performing with (Moth, Imagene Azengraber, and Coco Flores) and I wondered around the pub for an hour or so before the show, schmoozing with the growing crowd. As the show got under way I kept track of when it was my time to head to the dressing room and change into the fun bold pink dress I had picked out for my number. As I was waiting for my cue, I had a great opportunity to talk to Coco, who was gracious to share her experiences and thoughts with me.
As my song started I swung the door open, strutted down to the middle of the crowd and started to do what I had planned and before I knew it, it was over. The song went by so fast and I had only done a small amount of the moves I was thinking to do. I became truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in attendance, not only with the tips, but also with the love I felt from everyone that I couldn’t help but say thank you to each person as I was trying to keep on track with the song.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the room, chatting with friends, meeting new people, and supporting the other acts. By the end of the day I was happy to have learned SO much from this opportunity; what to do, what not to do, don’t overthink things. I got great feedback from the other performers, which will only help me going forward, and couldn’t thank them enough for sharing with me. I don’t think this opportunity would have come my way if I’d been a little lazy that one day and miss out on an experience of a lifetime, reinforcing the ideal of never passing up on an opportunity when it shows up.
In the end, this whole experience reaffirmed so many feelings. The love I felt from the city and the community made me feel once again that after living here 8 years, we are where we need to be. We absolutely love the people here and the friends we’ve made. Now I think I’m ready for a little break this summer, which will give me a chance to try some new makeup techniques, think of some new songs that might work for my style, and to keep working to evolving the form of expression I present to the world, all with purpose.
Much love to all,
Over the last few weeks I haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and do some writing. The major reason is that Memphis in springtime is a perfect time to get out of the apartment and enjoy the best that the city has to offer. It’s a perfect time to stroll down Beale Street with some friends and unwind from all of life’s usual stressors. We’ve also been working on brewing our summer beers, getting them ready for the Memphis heat.
Today we got to enjoy one of the numerous crawfish festivals in the area, and got to enjoy our first time sucking on some spicy heads. My wife was able to relax and let the stress of school melt away, even if it was for a short time.
The highlight of the weekend was our visit to Jack Magoo’s sports bar for a drag show, featuring Alexis Mateo! Alexis is one of my all time favorite RuPaul Drag Race contestants and I couldn’t pass up the possibility to dress up and go out for my second drag show. We got to the bar an hour before the show started and was able to meet Alexis as she arrived. We cheered as she arrived and she headed straight to our table. I was in a surreal state when she gave my wife and I a hug. I was able to talk to her, introducing myself as Katie, cheering her on as a fellow Latina, and blushed as she complimented me on my look. I couldn’t believe that just happened.
While we were waiting for the show to start, some guy, who had been at the bar for a while drinking, joined our table. He was pleasant, not rude or obnoxious, but it was the first time I had an extended conversation with a complete stranger as Katie. It took him a while to figure out I was a guy, dressed up as a woman, but then again, he had had a few drinks. Thankfully he didn’t stay long, and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at any time. We then got to enjoy the performance of many local drag kings and drag queens, some of whom recognized me from previous visits, and I got a chance to know them a bit further.
The feature attraction worked her way to the stage and just rocked it. I love how Alexis does her makeup and I loved the performance she gave. Alexis Mateo was a class act and so kind, taking pictures with her adoring fans (myself included). Needlessly to say, I generously tipped all performers for their excellent performances.
At the end of the night (or should I say early morning), I left the show feeling rejuvenated. I felt much more comfortable going out, talking to strangers, and getting to know some of the local drag queens a bit further. It is a community I feel I want to know further. I also left feeling like there might me a wonderful opportunity here for me. I have never performed in front of a crowd, and never “just let loose”. Could I do drag? This is the question I asked myself after the show. Could I learn to let loose and perform? I’ll have to think about it and see if there are any amateur nights I could check out. At least it might be something to try once…
Till the next drag show,
Yes, this post has to do with my first experience getting hit on by a guy. But first some background on how I got to that point. Last night the fabulous drag queen, Lady Bunny, performed here in Memphis, and we thought it would be a great idea for a bunch of us to attend a drag show for the first time. Being that this crowd would be friendly, I decided to get dressed up for the occasion.
When we picked up the tickets a couple of days before the show, the staff at the pub assured us that there would be many performers ahead of the midnight feature of Lady Bunny. As K and I have a bad habit at getting to events way too early, we got to the pub around 9 pm. Lessoned learned. In the future don’t even think about going out until 11 pm or midnight.
When K and I (in my awesome 6” heel boots) walked into the pub, the majority of the people were watching football, eating dinner, and drinking beers. The vibe certainly didn’t feel right. It was too early. Needlessly to say I felt immediately out of place, as I quickly found a table in a corner to try and blend in. We ordered some food and drinks as we waited for some friends to join us later in the night. Even though K was with me, I felt more vulnerable, compared to a group of friends, which can make for a more comfortable and safe environment.
We headed to the tent setup for the show, and before I knew it, the crowd inside the pub had quickly changed. Some of the drag queens started to arrive at the venue, along with our friends, making me so much more comfortable. I enjoyed myself with a drink or two, and with the help of K, used the ladies room for the first time. There was a line for the single occupancy bathroom, and no one batted an eye at me using the ladies room. There were a couple of ladies I started chatting with while we were in the line for the ladies room. They loved my boots.
We were up by the stage as the show got started (at 12:30 am), and while enjoying the music and the drag queens, this guy in leather chaps, who had been giving me a few looks during the night, gave me a nice squeeze of my ass. I didn’t know how to react, so I just ignored it, which turned out to work, as this guy moved along. I didn’t mind the gesture. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth. When I told my friend (and awesome makeup artist) Britney later that night about it, we had a good laugh about it.
The night ended on a high note, as a group of women came up to compliment me on my look. They kept saying how awesome it was for me to be out and free as Katie, and even complimented my wife, K, for being such an awesome and supportive wife. I later found out that these ladies were makeup artists for some of the drag queens. Getting compliments on my look from professionals was so rewarding.
Lessons learned last night:
- Drag shows make for great opportunities to go out.
- Don’t go to drag shows until really late.
- Be more confident. What’s going to happen in a crowded pub, with good people around you, especially on drag night?
- You might get hit on. Take it in stride and move along.
- At some point, your feet will be screaming at you, even if you do have some awesome heels on.
- And lastly, “Don’t be a drag, be a queen”.
I hope you all had a great weekend,
Lately I’ve been watching some of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix (along with some of the Olympics ). I normally don’t like reality shows, mainly because I hate the way some shows create drama and conflict for the sake of ratings. I started catching up on Drag Race because I remember watching RuPaul’s talk show in the 90’s (only occasionally when I could sneak past my parents late at night to watch tv) and it really made an impression on me, and also because Karen from transbeautiful wrote an awesome post on her experience at a drag show. To think that you could transform from a man to a stunning woman with an impressive personality. The show also seems to have become very popular among regular viewers. There are actually several restaurants and pubs around Memphis that have special RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing nights.
This whole topic has brought up a question for myself. Looking back through my blog, I’ve had a habit of referring to myself in the third person. I talk a lot about how Katie does this and that, and what Katie means to me. Is Katie a character in my mind in a way? Drag queens have certain personas and characters they display on stage, which can be very different from their male self. But I’m no drag queen, although it would be awesome to watch a drag show in person.
I think I use the third person a lot as a way to work through my thoughts as it relates to a new aspect to my life, which are still developing as part of my identity. When I get dressed up as Katie and lounge around the apartment, I don’t feel like a different person. I’m not sure if that will change as I continue to dress from time to time, and one day venture out with friends.
In a way, I’m hopping that by working on my complete identity, it will end up making me a better, more well rounded person. There are some aspects to my character which I don’t like so much and have tried to improve. I am a shy person and it takes me time to open up and trust new people. This results in me being the quiet person in the corner of the party, keeping to himself. We were invited to a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago to a party where I didn’t know anyone else beyond our host. By the end of the night I was disappointed that I hadn’t talked to many people, and I just felt isolated and lonely.
I’m hoping that Katie will help me break out of my shell. I’m hoping that I’ll become a more open and talkative person and let go of the vulnerability I feel sometimes when meeting new people. So I guess I see Katie as a way to become a better person, not as a separate character from myself.
We’ll see how things turn out. At least I’m looking forward to a nice weekend of shopping at some second hand stores. Have a great weekend everyone!