· lgbtq,katya zamolodchikova,trixie mattel,drag queens,performance art
Originally posted on a former blog on May 30, 2020.
I have appreciated or admired the ability for a man to step into a pair of high heels and strategically place some perfect eyeliner the moment that Tim Curry turned around and stepped out of an elevator in the iconic film, "Rocky Horror". It wasn't my first experience with drag, but it was the first time I fell in love with the concept, the art and the illusion.
I remember growing up in Easton, PA not really having any awareness of drag culture or drag shows. I'm sure they had to be there (goodness I hope so), but I just wasn't aware of it. At the time, the most I was aware of gay growing up was the unspoken awareness of a cousin named Marv. He was just "extra", and I loved and adored him for every ounce of it. He was flamboyant and fun and funny and was probably my favorite cousin on my Mom's side. It was who he was, regardless of his sexual identity and he didn't come out until I was in college and he called my Mom to tell her. She said, she always knew and it never changed a thing between them. That was my Mom and she was the person I admired for her acceptance of him...as he is.
I grew up just outside of NYC in town that became a bedroom town for Manhattan. So theater culture was always a part of my passion and fascination. I remember seeing advertisements for La Cage aux Folles when it hit broadway and was just endlessly intrigued. The first deep interest came from seeing Cabaret at the State Theatre. The role of the emcee, the gender intrigue...it was just something I wanted to know and understand. So without growing up completely engulfed in a LGBTQ world, I know that I was always called to it in some way.
RuPaul was the first superstar of drag for me, although I was aware of Lady Bunny as well; but how could you ignore spotting a tall Black woman in the Love Shack video by the B-52s? And well, don't get me started on how much I adore Fred Schneider either...but I digress. RuPaul was just gorgeous and got me super interested in drag culture. However at the time, because it was still not as in the public view I was subtle fan. I think about how much RuPaul has impacted moving drag-arts forward in our country, it's almost astounding. His pushing for representation on mainstream media was honestly so deeply needed to show how much this subset of gay culture was truly artistic, truly gorgeous and truly a valid and much needed form of entertainment.
Thanks to RuPaul I found a deep adoration for queens like Latrice Royale, Shangela, Sharon Needles, Willam, Alaska Thunderfuck, Jinx Monsoon, Alyssa Edwards, Sasha Velour, Bianca del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Chad Michaels, Detox and Eureka O'Hara. In each of these amazing artists, I found something that was deeply resonant in my soul. However, I have to give much gratitude to the incomparable Katya Zamolodchikova. There was something about and her alter ego Brian that just was immediately a hit for me! An artist, and funny and honestly in my opinion probably one of the prettiest women who wasn't born genetically so. You would have to indulge in her initial debut to the world on her season of Drag Race to truly see the layers of why one might fall in love with her. She's just her own invention, and is very real about her flaws and schmalls. I appreciate every ounce of that and when she did the mother/daughter drag moment, it cemented my forever fandom.
In fact, it's Katya that has kept me sane since my accident in January. I started really watching UNHhhh the web-show she has with her friend and collaborator, Trixie Mattel. I'll be honest, it took me a few minutes to warm up to her partner in crime, but now I look forward to hearing their banter so much and the way they make one another crack up. To me it's the epitome of true friendship, and knowing that they've been through rough patches due to Trixie's documentary "Moving Parts", it makes me appreciate them both so much more. They are who they are, and they put it out there...unabashedly and I love them for it!
Now I don't think everyone I love can handle their shows. They are raw and funny and real, and do not mince words about sexuality and such. So if you can't handle just two friends chatting and being completely real and raw with their words (they're not PC y'all), check them out. You can find them in UNHhhh as I've mentioned, in "Trixie and Katya Save the World" right now while we're all in quarantine, and on YouTube under "We Love to Watch", where they review Netflix programming.
As I sit here, in my home I have realized as we see the world burning and riddled with the potential for Covid-19, I encourage you to really explore cultures that aren't yours. Don't be rude, be a student and seek to understand and appreciate. I guarantee your life will be more vivid for every single opportunity to explore what you are not....go forth. Life can be a drag...in the best way possible!