The Pride Issue
Drag's New Dawn in SA
Published: June 26, 2013
But doesn’t it bother you when someone calls you a “fag?” I ask.
“No. I make fun of it,” she says. “I brought myself up never to be hurt by words. I’m proud of what God has made me inside. If you don’t have self-respect for yourself you won’t be able to make it in this business. Period.”
• • •
When Tencha was just starting out at the turn of this century, the dominant metaphor was that you’d made it big if you performed at the Saint. Now, you’ve made it big if you perform at the Pegasus. Tencha isn’t surprised when I tell her that the word out on the street is that the Pegasus is the new hub of drag in town.
“I can see why they would say that. A lot of the big names are there. Shady...and Layla...”
And he sees Dominguez as he sees Lopez — “very much the same.”
“They appreciate the art that we do,” he says. “They appreciate the art of drag. They appreciate the art of female impersonation... They appreciate the art of entertainment. I think that’s why people respect them because they see that passion. Gabriel encourages them to do their best. I can see why they’re saying that about Pegasus.”
Lopez is big on giving his girls the star treatment. “He just makes us feel appreciated,” says Tencha. “And as long as I just feel appreciated I think I’ll be okay. I don’t need the red carpet or anything like that.” He looks out the window onto Main Street.
For all their appreciativeness, club owners can get a little possessive. “There’s a rule right now. No showgirl from each bar can perform at the other bar,” says Rodriguez, who says the owners have enforced the regulation since he started with the Pegasus. According to Rodriguez, there are three exceptions. Competing in a pageant: Fine. Judging a pageant: Allowed. Performing at a benefit to help someone go somewhere for a charity: Sure, whatever.
“How is that helping your girl if you are not allowing her to work anywhere else?” Lopez counters. “They have those rules. I don’t.”
Rodriguez brings up the San Antonio Spurs a few times too often for me not to ask. Are you in competition with the Heat and the Saint? “Always. I’m just a competitive person by nature,” Rodriguez says in a quick moment of self-discovery — then hastens to tell me that Dominguez is not.
Although many argue that the Pegasus is the new drag metropolis, Rodriguez thinks they’ve still got a long way to go. “That’s what my goal is,” he says carefully. “I do feel we are getting there.”
• • •
The drag revival on and off the Strip is abetted by the straight world finally getting hip to gay culture. Even RuPaul’s harshest critics must admit that putting drag queens on the small screen have in at least some part contributed to this drag renaissance.
“I performed at a quinceanera in Uvalde and I took a nonstop amount of pictures with children. More than adults,” Andrews says adjusting her glasses.
When I see her show a few days later, her transformation is astonishing.