Breaking The Stigma: Queens of Entertainment Part One
47 ABC – Big Heels. Big Wigs. Dramatic Makeup. And a whole lot of accessories. That’s just what you may see on the outside as you watch Drag Queens perform. But understanding what they do starts with understanding, just what drag is.
“Drag is another type of art. It’s taking theatre and costuming and fashion and makeup and putting it into this art form that you can do anything with,” said Dakota Whitlock, who performs in drag as Miss. Mann.
That art form can range from dancing or singing, to even comedy and hosting game shows. All in all, it’s a performance. But for those who do it, it holds a deeper meaning.
As they tell it getting into drag allows them to play a character. One that frees them and in a sense, gives them the confidence to do what they maybe wouldn’t do out of costume.
“I’m not the most talented singer in the world, but I’ve auditioned for American Idol in drag. I’ve auditioned for The Voice in drag and those are things as Dakota I would never do. Absolutely never dream about it,” Whitlock said.
But even then, for each person being in drag can mean something different. For Jeremy Bernstein, who grew up in Hebron, Md., in some ways, his character Magnolia Applebottom is almost his escape.
“Magnolia, my character for drag is who I wish I was in high school because it’s very loud and vocal and not afraid of anybody,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein, who was bullied in high school, and is still a quiet and reserved person, completely transforms on stage.
“I’m such an introvert and but Magnolia, again, is the queen of snark and eyelashes. She’s got a lot of comments, she’s got a lot of wit,” Bernstein said.
For Whitlock, it allows him to work during the day and take the stage at night.
“Dakota’s the hairstylist that does his own thing and Miss. Mans’s the one that’s like ‘I want to be a star’,” said Whitlock. “That’s why I love drag because I can do all the things that I’ve always wanted to do, but then I can come home and remove it and I’m my normal self.”
Meanwhile, for Charles Bounds, who performs as Roxy Overbrook, it gives him the freedom to express whatever’s on his mind and share that with the audience.
“Whatever I’m performing, I am doing something to express how I feel about whatever that topic it is that I’m performing or whatever that song is,” Bounds said, “It’s just an expression of my feelings.”
The beautiful thing though, they say is that in sharing that expression. It allows them to also provide a release to those who come to watch. A place to let loose and laugh.
“You come to my show because you’ve had a bad day and you need me to make you laugh, that’s what my job is,” Whitlock said.
And the thing they stress is that anyone from any walk of life is welcome to come to watch.
“Drag and what we do isn’t just for gay people. There are so many people from all different walks of life who come through these doors and see us entertain. The majority of our audience at this point isn’t even gay,” Bounds said.
Because the best way to being to understand drag is by going to see it.
“Just come. come to one show. I promise you that you will have a completely different opinion than when you walked in the door,” Bounds said.