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Houston’s Drag Performers Showcase Their Beards With Real Meaning

Houston's Drag Illusion Performers Proudly Showcase Their Beards Glittering With Real Meaning For A New Generation Of LGBT Pride.

HOUSTON — (March 14) — From big and beautiful hair to mugs that have been painted for the gods, the art of drag has been a staple in the LGBTQ+ community for decades. For many, drag has become an escape from their daily lives allowing them to transform into fabulous and divine drag performers.

It’s an expression of art with inspiration drawn from those before them and also their own originality. When most people think of drag they think of a man who is a female illusionist. However, the drag scene in Houston and across the state has shown us that there are many facets to the art of this centuries old profession.

“Freedom of expression and creativity. For me drag is an outlet to be as flamboyant as I can be without being judged.”- Barbara Coa, Houston Drag Performer

In Season 8 of Dessie’s Drag Race at Michael’s Outpost, the Houston drag scene was introduced to two very intriguing and talented queens who brought something a little different to the table. The wigs, make-up, costumes and high heels were all there but these two beauties decided to keep their full beards instead of shaving like most queens do. Looking around the audience during each of their performances you could read how each person felt. Confused, intrigued, oddly satisfied and definitely wanting more. Unbeknownst to LGBTQ+ youth, beards in drag have been around since late 1969, notably as performed by The Cockettes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.


 


 

I sat down with a few of Houston’s bearded drag queens as well as some of Houston’s most well-known and successful drag queens to get more insight on why bearded drag has once again returned to popularity.

BLACKBERRI

About Blackberri

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SJ: What does drag mean to you?

BB: “For me, drag is an expression of someone’s artistic vision. When I am performing I am showing the world my fantasy persona.”

SJ: Why is it so important for you to have a beard?

BB: “In the bear/cub community everything is hyper masculine, so for me to be able to keep my beard while being feminine was very liberating.”

SJ: What has been the response since you have started doing drag as a bearded queen?

BB: “Most people are confused until they actually see me perform and then they are able to look past the beard. I also have a lot of people tell me that they never understood bearded drag until they saw me perform so that’s always nice.

SJ: Have you faced any sort of adversity? Either from your friends or family or possibly a show director?

BB: “For the most part everyone has been very supportive. There are 2 bars I know I can’t get booked at because of my beard but I’m continually breaking barriers so I’m optimistic that it could happen in the future.”

SJ: Lastly, do you have anything you want to say to other bearded drag queens or just non conforming LGBTQ peoples?

BB: “Just keep living your truth. If you do that you will always be successful.”

KLONOPIN KARDASHIAN

About Klonopin

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SJ: What does drag mean to you?

KK: “Drag to me is gender as a performance/visual form of art. It’s the ultimate commentary on gender and as there are many types of drag, there are as many discourses on gender through this art form.”

SJ: Why is it so important for you to have a beard?

KK: “It is important for me to have a beard because my drag is a juxtaposition of the ultra feminine and the ultra masculine. I want to create my own definition of androgyny and for me that means performing as a bearded drag queen.”

SJ: Would you ever consider competing in one of the big pageantry systems? America, USofA, Continental? Why or why not?

KK: “I would never do a pageant unless it was specifically a bearded pageant. For one, I am not interested in that style of drag. It’s not for me and I would be occupying space that isn’t welcoming to me or one that I belong in.”

BARBARA COA

About Barbara

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SJ: What does drag mean to you?

BC: “Freedom of expression and creativity. For me drag is an outlet to be as flamboyant as I can be without being judged.”

SJ: Would you ever consider competing in one of the big pageantry systems? America, USofA, Continental? Why or why not?

BC: “If the opportunity comes along, why not? I think a bearded queen can be just as beautiful and competitive as a queen who doesn’t have a beard.”

SJ: Lastly, do you have anything you want to say to other bearded drag queens or just non conforming LGBTQ peoples?

BC: “Don’t stop! Saturate the night with beards, beer and LOVE!”

After getting to know these bearded ladies a little better, I was interested to see what some of the more established queens in Houston thought about this new wave of drag queens who were getting so much attention. I sat down with Houstons very own, Dessie Love Blake and Cyn City to get the 411.

DESSIE LOVE BLAKE

About Dessie

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SJ: Who was the first bearded drag queen you ever saw live and what were your initial thoughts?

DLB: Blackberri and Klonopin Kardashian. I was very intrigued and open to the idea. I was excited to see a new twist to the art form. Blackberri is a genius on stage. She has a way of drawing you in even in the simplest ways. That is a true entertainer, beard or not.

SJ: The winner of Dessie’s Drag Race Season 8 was a bearded drag queen. Since you don’t choose the winner alone, what were your thoughts and did you think she would have a successful show?

DLB: I fell in love with Blackberri instantly. I knew she had the charisma, stage presence and talent to go a long way. I didn’t know if she would win in the end but she did with a UNANIMOUS vote! She now has a full time gig every Tuesday night at Michael’s Outpost and I see no signs of it slowing down. I will note that she is the FIRST drag race winner to have her show make it past the allotted trial period they are offered when they win.

SJ: Lastly, do you have any last thoughts for bearded drag queens both local and afar?

DLB: “I would say this just like the Queens, Kings and Male Entertainers, you have to pave your own road. If they come to the stage polished, well rehearsed and professional, I believe the sky is the limit. I do believe that they can’t always be about the “in your face, hairy, half naked comedy. It can work on occasion but to be constantly booked and remain relevant, they will have to be multi dimensional as most good entertainers are.”

CYN CITY

About Cyn

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SJ: Who was the first drag queen you ever saw live and what were your initial thoughts?

CC: “Blackberri was the first bearded queen I ever saw live and she has been giving me life ever since that day. It took me a second to take it all in at first though. When I hear the word “drag” I think of men impersonating women. So to see someone in hyper feminine make-up and a full beard really caught me off guard. After about 30 seconds of her performance, I was hooked!”

SJ: Do you feel like bearded drag queens have a place here in the Houston drag scene?

CC: “I don’t feel as though they have a place in the scene, but they are definitely making a place for themselves in the Houston drag scene.”

SJ: Lastly, do you have any last words for bearded queens both near and afar?

CC: “I would definitely tell all bearded queens to KEEP BEING SICKENING! You have chosen an aesthetic that makes people look twice and really open their minds to how they view drag. You have an opportunity to change drag as we know it and take it to a realm that is fantasy, fierce and FUN! Keep being true to yourself and showcasing your art.”

I think it is fair to say that no matter how we saw things before, that is all changing whether we are ready or not. Life and drag are similar in that we all have an opportunity to create the world we live in. We can live our truth and people will either accept or not. To my furry friends who are just starting out in drag or have been doing it for some time now, I am here for it! And it appears everyone else is as well.

Magic in Montrose: The Broad’s Way

One of the most underrated drag/live singing performances in Montrose is at Michael’s Outpost every Monday night.

(HOUSTON) — After leaving an event last night, I went out into Montrose waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t sure what it was I was waiting for; but I knew that if I could be patient, it would manifest. Was it that I was going to meet a man? Would I run into some old friends I hadn’t seen in years? Or was it just that I might get drunk and find myself having a good time amongst strangers? I couldn’t ascertain the specifics of this premonition, but I knew that if I could wait it out, something magical would happen.

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Regina Blake-DuBois

So, I made my rounds. I started first at Guava Lamp, where I had one drink and chatted with a few friends. Fun, but nothing particularly magical about it. I jumped over to Ripcord, where—as per the usual—the Monday night crowd was light and quiet (just the way I preferred my bar scenes). I had another drink there before deciding I was barking up the wrong tree. Nothing unusual was taking place in Montrose proper; and I therefore forged my way toward Richmond for a glass of Cab at Michael’s Outpost.

And that’s where it happened. It was there that I found myself sitting in a half-full bar where before me stood a trope of entertainers performing songs from some of Broadway’s seminal hits throughout the recent decades.

Be still my beating, gay boy heart.

Hosting The Broad’s Way was the lovely Regina Blake-DuBois, a drag queen I’d seen perform a handful of times and whose performances I’ve always enjoyed. Rolling out the remainder of the cast was singer Scott Lupton, drag king Richard Long, songstress Chaney Moore, and queen Mia Opulent Love, each performing showtunes from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

Let me just interrupt myself to say that while, yes, this is a drag show, it isn’t just a drag show. It’s actually the only show in Houston that incorporates drag queens, kings, and live singers. And when those performers and doing the best of Broadway, there’s nothing more that a theatre-geek gay boy who has seen Wicked onstage nine times like myself could ask for. (Pause to add that I was disappointed I didn’t catch Regina on one of her Wicked performance days, as she states they are frequent).

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Chaney Moore

I entered late in the show, with Blake-Dubois entertaining her group that seemed to consist of many regulars. Her hosting style is on-point: she’s funny … but doesn’t mind roasting herself when a joke falls flat or a line doesn’t quite work. And she knows how to keep the audience paying attention (even if that means jokingly reminding them that her phone number is carved into the wall of a bathroom stall). What’s best about her as a hostess, however, is that she really knows her shit. Blake-DuBois’s own theatre nerdiness packs into each joke that she tells the audience.

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Richard Long

Now, to say that I almost lost my shit more than once last night would be a bit of an understatement. After all, when Chaney Moore (who last night joined the show as a regular performer) pulled out a show-stopping rendition of “Living in Hell” from Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, I was done. TAKE MY MONEY! Granted, I only had three one-dollar bills on me, so I had to make sure they lasted (they did not). Her voice is so clean and smooth. The way she jumps into her upper-register sounds effortless, only to come back down and belt out a note bigger than the bar itself. I was certain that none of the other performers would be able to follow her up. Then came the glitter-beard king, Richard Long, with his comedic take on “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables. Who knew that Enjolras could make me laugh with a song of revolution in 19th century France?

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Scott Lupton

Of course, I would be remiss if not to mention Scott Lupton’s rendition of “We Beseech Thee” from Godspell. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when Lupton took the microphone, but as someone who was previously unfamiliar with his powerhouse voice, I was completely blown away. A song that is often sang with breathy haste was well-paced, lively, interactive, and downright extraordinary. Even when it came time for the key change (which Lupton funnily made sure to mention to the viewers), the entire song was flawless. As for Mia Opulent Love, the queen in her beautiful green wig danced away to a number from Sweet Charity (a favorite show of mine), which she took the liberty of not only making into a fun, vibrant performance, but one that was tinged with just a bit of her trademark sexiness that she brings to every performance.

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Mia Opulent Love

And as the show was winding down, Ms. Blake-DuBois had taken to the back to change (as Love took the mic and regaled us with improptu stories of how someone had asked her if her green hair was natural). When she returned, she donned an effervescent pink coat and knee-high red boots. I knew then, for certain, she could only be bringing to life one of two characters—Glinda the Good of Wicked, or Elle Woods of Legally Blonde. Whether she’d be tackling “Popular,” “Positive,” or any of the other numbers from either musical, I’d be pleased.

Alas, she made a point of mentioning she would not be performing from Wicked, but that she’d be doing a number that was, in her words, “a little more legal.”

Thus came her finale performance of “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde: The Musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007 scoring seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Original Score of a Musical, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Bundy as Elle Woods. The show would go on to tape a live performance for MTV, host a reality show in which actresses competed to be the next Elle Woods, and has seen international productions and tours.

lb Magic in Montrose: The Broad's WayIt was also the very first musical I ever saw live right here in Houston when the first national tour came through the Hobby Center stage, brought to us by Theatre Under the Stars. That year (2009), the lead actress, Becky Gulsvig, had broken her toe while on tour, and Broadway’s leading lady, Laura Bell Bundy, had stepped in to fill her shoes. It’s one of my best memories and the musical holds a very special place in my heart. So, when Regina Blake-DuBois took on the task of lip-syncing and dancing the choreography to “So Much Better” (the act one showstopper that is considerably one of the hardest numbers in Broadway history to sing, right up there with “Defying Gravity”) I knew I’d found my Montrose magic. Hell, she even demonstrated the difficult Elle Woods high-kick at the end of the song (which once ended in Bundy launching her shoe into the audience). And, as luck would have it, I’d run out of ones at that point.

What got me about this production was that, while there was a good number of people there to see it, Michael’s Outpost wasn’t quite as full as I’ve seen it for its many other wonderful shows. From Eye-Cons to Cabernet at the Cabaret, Michael’s is usually good about packing out its seats for performances. Maybe it’s just the luck of having a Monday night show, or maybe the night was just slower than usual. Either way, everyone in the neighborhood that loves the theatre (and I do believe that accounts for a large demographic of LGBTQIA people) should make the time to head to Michael’s Outpost to catch this incredible cast put on one helluva show. With a new Broadway-centric theme each week, Regina and her chorus of talented entertainers put on a fun, audience-interactive show that brings the Broadway stage right into Michael’s Outpost every Monday night. And no matter when you make it out there to see it, The Broad’s Way is certain to never disappoint.


Michael’s Outpost is located at 1419 Richmond Ave. and is open 7 days a week with shows (some drag and some live piano) every night.

Houston Man Who Strangled Drag Queen Scheduled for Execution This Month

Richard Masterson convicted of capital murder in the strangling of a female impersonator is interviewed at the Polunksy Unit Death Row Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Livingston, Tx. Masterson was convicted in the slaying of Darin Shane Honeycutt, who was known by the stage name of Brandi Houston. Honeycutt's nude body was found Jan. 27, 2001, at his apartment in Montrose. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )

The state of Texas will execute a Houston man this month after being found guilty of murder in 2001 of a well known Houston drag queen.

Richard Masterson was convicted of the strangulation of Darrin Honeycutt, who performed under the name Brandi Houston.

The popular queen was found naked in her Montrose apartment on January 27, 2001. According to records Honeycutt and Mastersen had met at a gay bar the day before.

In a death row interview, Masterson said he “accepts responsibility” for his actions but insisted “I never admitted I murdered anybody.”

Making Herstory At Austin Pride With Jackie Huba

Making Herstory At Austin Pride With Jackie Huba- About Magazine

 

Jackie Huba Makes History As First Female Drag Queen To Perform At Austin Pride Celebration

So many of us are controlled by our bosses, lovers and friends who convince us we aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, or strong enough. Not anymore! In a new book titled, FIERCELY YOU: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen, author and TEDx speaker Jackie Huba is handing out lessons and teaching how to apply ‘bold drag queen’ tactics into our everyday lives.  By putting honey where her mouth is, she will take the stage of Austin Pride on Saturday, August 27 to prove just how courageous she can be, performing as her drag persona, Lady Trinity.

About Magazine: You’re making history as the first female drag queen to ever perform on the main stage at the Austin PRIDE Festival!  Jackie Huba: I’m truly honored, to say the least. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it will be unlike any performance I’ve ever done. Given we are right in the middle of a political season, I decided to do a topical theme. So just imagine a pantsuit-wearing badass showing an orange-faced character who’s boss.

 

 

 

About Magazine: How did you find drag?Jackie Huba: Stumbling upon RuPaul’s Drag Race was what led me to my admiration of these fearless drag artists. I began going to the local drag shows in Austin and San Antonio and began meeting the local queens. Then drag event promoter Rey Lopez connected me with the top drag queen in Austin, Kelly Kline, who volunteered to be my drag mother. She spent countless hours teaching me everything a drag performer needs to know: theatrical makeup, wig styling, costuming and lip-sync.Making-Herstory-At-Austin-Pride-With-Jackie-Huba-576x1024 Making Herstory At Austin Pride With Jackie Huba

About Magazine: You’ve gotten incredible support from the drag community.  Jackie Huba: The drag community is extremely accepting of women who do drag. They’ve told me they love seeing anyone love the art form as much as they do.

About Magazine: What are the 5 Keys to Fierce that you write about in your book? Jackie Huba: They are the lessons I have learned. First, Create Your Drag Persona: consciously create the person you’ve always wanted to be. Then, Always Look Sickening in Everyday Drag: dress for power. After that, Strike a Pose and Embody Your Power: use power posing and physicality to instill inner confidence. Then Tell Your Critics to Sashay Away: quiet both inner and outer critics. And lastly, honey, You Better Werk! Take small risks to propel yourself to taking even bigger ones. 

About Magazine: These are lessons anyone can put to use in their everyday lives. Jackie Huba: Exactly! At work and in their personal lives. The Keys work because they are all rooted in psychological principles. For the book, I collaborated with a licensed therapist, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, who breaks down the psychological research into layman’s terms.

About Magazine: Good luck at Austin Pride!  Jackie Huba: Thank you! Austin PRIDE is a terrific organization. I’m honored and humbled to have been selected to perform this year, alongside such amazing artists!


Jackie Huba aka Lady Trinity performs at the Austin PRIDE Festival on Saturday, August 27, with RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Winner Bob the Drag Queen, Miss Texas All-American Goddess Kelly Kline, and the newly crowned Miss Austin Pride 2016 Vegas Van Cartier. 

Jackie Huba’s FIERCELY YOU: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen releases August 15. For more info, visit http://enterthequeendom.com.