Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh the Hughmanity! Preview: Look What the Catty Drag-ged In

As you may remember, possums and queens, our very own Hughman recently laid down the law to Joe Faris, rapping Joe forcefully on the knuckles with a glitter cane and making the ageless pronouncement,
"Unless you've been in drag and heels in a crowded gay bar (which I have once), you have no right to use the Q-word." And now, in anticipation of tonight's Project Dragway, Hughman is giving us details of just how well he knows whereof he speaks. Please to sample and enjoy:

Get ready, girlfriends. This week is going to be a veritable stuffed bra of goodness. I feel compelled to preface my usual recap (which will come in a few days) with this little historical disquisition.

Let me start by saying I’m no rube from the sticks about Drag. On the contrary, over the years I lived in New York City, I was sort of a Drag Groupie. I even did drag once in the late 80’s, ironic since I was a steroided Chelsea Muscle Boy at the time. You can read about it here (Ed: Oh do, possums, do; it's well worth it).

In addition, I was friends with many of the Drag Stars of the time.

1. Lady Bunny - I was a denizen of The Pyramid Club in NYC’s East Village when Lady Bunny was a go-go dancer on the bar. Once she called me over and said “HONEY, WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” “The South,” I answered honestly. “ME TOO!,” she exclaimed, “WE’RE SISTERS!” True to her word, we became occasional friends afterwards. She also was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the infamous Wigstock, which originally started in the East Village too. Almost all of these Drag Queens performed at Wigstock while hundreds of guys (and gals) stood around shirtless in the sun with wigs on. Fun!

2. RuPaul also performed at The Pyramid and at another East Village haunt called Boy Bar. Once a friend and I were watching her on her talk show and my friend remarked “Remember when we used to push her out of the way to get to the bar?”

3. Joey Arias - I first met Joey at another lounge called Bar D’oh where he’d perform on Wednesdays. I’d often go and see him and we would chat endlessly, and he even met my mother, who whispered to me, “He’s wearing make-up!” Later Joey went to Las Vegas, where he headlined the Cirque du Soleil show called “Zumanity.” He does a flawless imitation of Billie Holiday.

4. Raven-O - worked in tandem with Joey and later became the emcee at the popular NYC cabaret called The Box. He also sang (as a woman) in his natural voice.

5. Lypsinka - lip-synched and acted in several acclaimed revues. I met her when I styled a shoot she did for Italian Vogue photographed by Albert Watson. She performed her whole act on tape while Albert shot pictures and I was an enraptured audience of one in his studio.

6 Other Drag friends included Mona Foot (who also worked at Patricia Field’s old shop on Eighth Street where we’d go hang on Saturday afternoons), Hedda Lettuce and The Duchess who was Susanne Bartsch’s assistant and event doorperson. They were all royalty in their own right in the Drag Scene of the time. Joey and Mona were also both in the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

So you see, I know the gig.

In my opinion, there are two types of Drag Queens. Those who wish to “pass” as real women and those who were more performers, pushing the limits of their presentation towards Art and less concerned with being seen as a possible secretary in the work force. Naturally, I leant more towards the latter. They were always hilarious, glamorous and I hope to think flattered and excited that someone like me (and some of my friends) were willing to have fun with them and not be restricted by boring old stereotypes.

So let’s tuck in (ha ha - get it?) and get ready for the challenge.