The Pride Issue
Drag's New Dawn in SA
Published: June 26, 2013
I’m reminded of something Andrews said about everyone having "their own drag" as I take in a performance at the Saint by Austin-based performer Joey Fatale, 22, who lip synced “Amazing” by Hi Fashion. He wears a huge faux-hawk wig (that, no doubt, could have only been found in Austin), a white tutu, suspenders and...well, little else.
And he’s wearing no makeup whatsoever. “I call it male drag,” Fatale says after the show. “I don’t want to be a drag queen. I just couldn't do all the pads and the boobs, the makeup, the wigs.”
He says the response in SA is better than in Austin where he says “they don't get it.” But the pageant system tends not to get it, either. “I’ve performed in my underwear and high heels before and it’s something that’s not really loved or accepted among pageants,” he says.
Despite all this, he still feels a part of the drag environment. “I feel like a part of it...but I feel like a bit of an outcast,” Fatale concludes. “I love it.”
59-year-old Mario Tapia, a San Antonio resident also crowned Mr. Gay Laredo for Life 2013, offers another view to the drag experience. As a guest performer, he lip synced to a Mexican ranchera dressed in a charro outfit and sombrero. No make-up. “A title opens doors for you,” he says, noting that as a titleholder it’s easier to ask for things like donations to your charity. His cause of choice is HIV/AIDS awareness. This year, his 16-year-old grandson was diagnosed with HIV.
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Winning isn’t everything, of course. Plenty of queens honed their acts in the clubs before hitting the pageant circuit. Take Andrews, who is one of the hotter local names, for instance.
Andrews took her first last name from her drag mother Odyssey Raven. “They call them drag mothers but for other audiences to understand they’re like mentors,” she explains. “Like Asians will have their senseis...people to train you to be certain ways...people to look up to.”
Andrews snuck into a “Super Sunday” show at the Saint at the age of 16. “I was a horrible, horrible crossdresser mess,” she says with a shake of the head. She entered her first pageant three years later. “I was just a little amateur queen trying to find my place in this business,” she says. “Little did I know that eight years later I would be one of the premiere girls of this city.”
Most drag queens need to be able to do crowd work on the mic between numbers. Andrews shares one of the secrets of a great emcee. “Pop culture,” she says banging the table with the palm of her hand. “We emulate celebrities or make fun of celebrities,” she says. “Celebrity lifestyles are what we base some of our characteristics on. Right now everyone is making fun of Amanda Bynes. In my day, everyone made fun of Britney Spears because she was crazy.”
Even in a post-politically correct world, it still seems important to ask how someone would like to be labeled in print. Andrews prefers “drag queen.” Tencha prefers “entertainer.” “Because that’s what it is,” says Andrews. “When most people think of a drag queen they think of RuPaul — a man trying to look like a woman. I just say crossdressers, queens with wigs, chicks with dicks...” She palpably tries to control her passion. “I don’t really care, I mean I use the term drag queen but you can call me fag, or this or...at the end of the day I go home and wash it off and I’m still a male. We all are going to be put down one way or another and if you can’t have your own sense of humor with it you’re never going to get over it,” she says.