Posts Tagged ‘drag king troupe’

Emily Yoffe’s stint as a drag king

December 19, 2007

“My Short Life as a Drag King,” Emily Yoffe, Slate – click through to watch the video as well of Emily performing as “Johnson Manly” (via Feministing)

I was familiar with drag queens—men who dress flamboyantly as women for shows or events, but I wasn’t aware of a complementary drag king culture until a Slate colleague suggested I enter it. I quickly found the D.C. Kings, founded in 2000, which bills itself as “The World’s Longest Running Drag King Troupe.” The first thing that struck me when looking at their Web site was that drag kings are nice girls. “[W]e are extremely supportive of one another,” they promised. “We are here for you and we want you to have fun.”

Their shows—consisting of 10 individual or paired-up performers lip syncing to popular songs—occur twice a month. To get on the roster, all I had to do was attend their monthly meeting. There were about 18 of us, a mixed-race group mostly in their 20s and 30s. Some were feminine-looking women with long hair and makeup. Some were clearly female but with short haircuts and mannish clothes. Some just looked like men.

The meeting was run by the troupe’s founder, Ken Vegas, 34, a graphic designer whose real name is Kendra Kuliga. Ken (I will refer to people by their preferred names and pronouns—usually male) began the meeting by suggesting we all introduce ourselves by giving our names, astrological signs, and packing preferences. This last item does not mean Styrofoam versus bubble wrap, but what kings like to put in their pants as a simulated phallus. The answers ranged from socks, to Mr. Bendy, to half an apple.

At the meeting, Herbie, 23, volunteered to be my guide. He is stout, has a blond crew cut, and describes himself as a “non-op female-body transgender person”—essentially a lesbian who identifies as a male but is not doing anything surgically about it. Each day, he packs and wears what’s known as a compression shirt to bind his breasts. “I call it ‘manning up,’ ” he explained.

All The Kings Men drag king troupe

December 3, 2007


Boston-based All The Kings Men

Anyone who read all of Crossdressing: Erotic Stories, or who snuck ahead to the end to read Melinda Johnson’s wonderful “Some Things Never Change,” got to vicariously experience the thrill of being a drag king. Here’s a snippet:

Writing is a lonely profession, so I break the monotony sometimes by doing a little drag. I’m not the world’s greatest drag king, but still, there’s nothing like the feeling you get from prancing around on stage, women whistling and screaming for you. But it’s more than that, really. I love the way a drag king or queen can be old, saggy, butt-ugly in either gender, but what counts is that they’re up there, doing it. The shows I do are very small, in an old, beat beat-up hall on the east side of town, but when I’m up there, I feel like I’m king of the world. I even throw a few Leo references into my act sometimes, just to amuse myself. No true drag artist can resist a pun. It’s that magic, the magic of the stage, that lets awkward, geeky me get a few girls now and then. Like Christine.

I can replay my first sight of her like a movie in my head. The MC, Mr. Dick Manly, resplendent in a blue sequined tux, had just announced me, “Put your hands together, ladies, for that stud muffin, Herman Leman!” My music started, and I strutted slowly on stage, keeping time to a slow, throbbing electronic beat. I don’t dance so much as pose, gesture languidly, and gradually peel off my outfit. I make a pretty convincing guy, as long as I strap down my generous chest and add a little judicial facial hair. I’ve been told I look a lot like a female James Dean, —the same cast of face, the same carriage. Well, maybe James Dean after a nice motherly type fed him up properly; I’ve always been stocky, and I capitalize on it by lifting weights.

I was dressed in black pants, black shirt, black leather jacket. I walked out on stage, hands on hips. The crowd whistled. And I saw her. They must have seen my tongue hit the floor from the back row. She was a small, slim woman dressed to kill in an acid-green sequined dress and a hot-pink feather boa. Both were Value Village specials, and showed some wear on closer inspection, but from my view on the stage, she shone like a scarlet rhododendron gleaming through the mists of a soft Vancouver rain. I stood open-mouthed, staring, missed my cue to start flexing.

(read the book for the rest!)

You can also catch real drag kings on stages across the country…such as Boston-based drag king troupe All The Kings Men. They describe themselves thusly:

ATKM is an all female performance troupe dedicated to pushing the boundaries and exploring the stereotypes of gender identity through comedic and dramatic story telling set to music.

And another hot description from their MySpage page:

“Sexy melt-in-your-mouth and through your seat theater with hilarious pee-your-pants-and-on-your-neighbor moments, lip-synched, choreographed and improvisationally personality-driven comedic, political, and purely entertaining homo/hetero/bi/a/pan-sexual snort-laughing costume fest.”

There’s a very interesting Bay Windows piece about a straight, married drag king:

But Ryan Stone, known in her daily life as Robin Maxfield, wasn’t like most of her competitors. A straight, married mom in her early 40s from Jamaica Plain, Maxfield works by day as a real estate agent, one of the co-owners of Prudential Unlimited, which has offices in the South End, Brookline, J.P. and Belmont. And she first dabbled in the world of drag a mere three weeks before blowing the competition away at Drag King Idol.

She said her friend David Elliott, owner of the Taylor House bed and breakfast in J.P., told her he was doing drag at Jacques Cabaret as Hazel Nutz, and she was immediately intrigued.

“I said, ’David, I want to be a drag queen. I am a drag queen. I want to do that.’ I have always made costumes, I’ve always liked acting out, but I’ve never really had the opportunities growing up. I didn’t have dance and theater and all that stuff. So I think it’s just been constantly there, but I’ve been living it through other people,” said Maxwell. “He said, ’Well, Robin, you can’t be a drag queen, but you can be a drag king.’ And I said, ’What’s a drag king?’”

Once Elliott explained the basics of drag king performance, Maxwell decided to give it a shot. At a birthday bash for Elliott’s partner, Maxwell and Elliott did a Barry Manilow/Bette Midler duet, “Slow Boat to China.” Maxwell was hooked. (read the rest here)

You can catch them December 6th (see flyer below) and check them out on MySpace.