Do I have what it takes to be a drag queen pageant judge?
I didn't have particularly soaring aspirations as a child. I wanted to be a fashion designer or a hair stylist -- it was the '80s, and those careers seemed very glamorous at the time. But I couldn't draw for shit and when I graduated high school at seventeen, my mom refused to let me go to hair school. I also hoped to one day turn my detailed front-yard choreography talent into a career, or at least become an aerobics instructor. Again, this was the '80s, when marketing the idea of becoming a fitness instructor (or even worse, a Natty Gann-style teenage runaway) to little girls was the thing to do.
My judging will be guided by the advice of my Spirit Animal, Divine.
If I played make-believe, I wasn't terribly inventive, either; I usually played "apartment" or law office with my cousin. She was the attorney and I was the secretary. I loved answering the telephone, taking messages, filing, directing calls and looking busy. If I remember correctly, our law office was called Babes -- or maybe it became Babes once the firm morphed into a dating service.
As much as tweenage me was obsessed with my clothes, my hair, my beauty products and myself, I somehow had never dreamed of being in a beauty pageant. I had plenty of Polaroid home-modeling shoots under my belt but no desire to wear a crown of even be prom queen. But now, as an adult, I get to do something that little me probably would think was really cool: I get to be a drag-queen pageant judge.
- As Drag Machine's Shirley Delta Blow, actor Stuart Sanks tells drag's vibrant history
- Drag Machine makes history at The Jones
- It ain't easy being queen: Luke List on the "anti-masculinity" stigma of drag performance
When I was asked by my friend Luke List, aka Zoe O., Queen Of Aces pageant winner for 2012, to be a judge at this year's event -- going down this Saturday, February 9 at Hamburger Mary's Club M-- I was thrilled. And nervous. I mean, what kinds of things would I need to know in order to judge the beauty of people already considered queens?
Dread falls. Yuck.
I feel like I have an informed handle on what makes a good weave, fall and wig. For one, it has to be on straight -- nothing says "bad wig" quite like a hairpiece that is eating a contestant's forehead. And though I'm not at all fond of wigs and weave in unnatural colors -- I especially hate the neo-raver/burner dread fall look -- I'll have to put aside my bias. It's not a drag queen's fault that I automatically think blondes are prettier individuals. (It's Gwen Stefani's fault, actually.)
I've been told there's a "creative volleyball wear" portion of the competition, as this pageant is a fundraiser for the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association. This I can get into. Though I now spend most of my adult days in yoga clothes or pajamas, I did, once upon a time, create costumes for everyday wear. During high school, I spent considerable time considering whether to wear a Red Cross nurse's outfit or a Girl Scout's uniform to school. Sometimes I even mixed the two together to get some sort of accidentally deviant-looking nurse scout. It was the '90s, I was sixteen and I was able to get away with dressing like Courtney Love at her career peak.
But as I started thinking more about this pageant thing, I realized that I haven't ever watched RuPaul's Drag Race religiously. I've adored Ru since I was ten, but we don't have a working TV at my commune, so I don't do much regular viewing. And besides, as much as I love The Hills, I'm not one for catty faux-reality. I have enough of that in real life.
Regardless of my lack of current queen knowledge, I still think I'll know a good queen when I see one. At least, I hope I do. I don't want to be responsible for putting the wrong beauty on the throne. Oh, god. What if I screw this whole thing up? Wait. Divine is my spirit animal and she's always got my back.