The Pride Issue
Drag's New Dawn in SA
Published: June 26, 2013
Rodriguez still dreams of getting the Saint’s late ’90s gang back together again. “Shady Lady, Erica Andrews, Layla LaRue, Tersa Mathews, Kourtney Devereaux, Jenny McCall, Sweet Savage...Zori Zanell. Those are like the main show cast members at the time back when every night was just busy. We haven’t got them all. We’re still working on some,” he says intently.
“The trick is getting the girls that people want to see. The crowd’s really different now. It’s a lot of younger kids, the 18 to 21 year olds, that don’t know the drag scene — the way it used to be.” He’s seen nights when the throngs who prefer Selena Gomez over Selena Quintanilla simply weren’t responding to the art form. Rodriguez took this as a challenge.
“We are trying to bring it back up by bringing in girls that the older crowds will like for their accomplishments and the younger crowds will like for their performances.”
When the phone rings, Rodriguez glances at the caller ID. “That’s Shady, right there,” he says as he silences his phone and places it back down on his desk. Just like that, one of San Antonio’s most celebrated drag legends, Shady Lady, goes directly to voicemail.
One star, however, will not be able to join the soiree. In March, Erica Andrews passed away of a complicated lung infection according to reports. (See “Erica Andrews: SA’s Brightest LGBT Star is Gone,” March 20, 2013).
Legend has it that last year, the most famous drag queen San Antonio has ever called her own popped out many “children” all at once at a competition at the Pegasus. Instead of crowning just one, the aphroditic somebody passed her gilded Andrews name on to all 25 surprised contestants to mixed responses.
“That was her...knowing what was going on with her,” says Rodriguez. “She wanted to give everybody a chance to be part of that family. If you have that name it opens up a lot of doors.”
The drag cognoscenti would agree that the name Andrews carries with it a Kennedy-like distinction. The name was given to Erica by her “drag mother,” the equally exquisite Tandi Andrews, who once appeared on Sally Jessy Raphael to discuss her transgenderism.
Could any other drag performer in town potentially rise to an Erica Andrews-type royalty in the midst of this perfect storm?
Rodriguez produces two names. “Toni Raven [Andrews]. I think she’s going to be a big deal. She’s still technically new,” he says. “And Ka’aliyah McKim-Diamond. She’s gonna be big.”
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Sometimes, even star names can’t draw crowds alone, and Rodriguez and others have to get a little creative.
“Getting gays to come out early is hard. For years we battled it,” Rodriguez confides. “We would throw cheap drinks, no cover, do early shows and they would not come out ‘til about 11:45 or 12:30.” At the Pegasus, they have a half-hour drag show at 10:30 p.m. that showcases classic club music, and a later one that focuses more on current R&B and hip-hop songs starting at 11:45 p.m. The model seems to be working. Over the course of only an hour after the 10:30 show one recent Friday night, the outdoor crowd grew from about 60 to 200.