Why the fascination? To be clear, I do not see drag queens as walking freak shows. I have an addiction to glitz and glam, and I’ve always been somewhat of an outcast myself. From a young age, the queens taught me to unabashedly dress to the nines and bedazzle my life. And that confidence is a woman’s best accessory, especially when she stands out from the crowd. Drag queens also know they’re not perfect, and it doesn’t break their stride. I recognized all of this instantly in that movie theater, all of those years ago.
Back to July of 2012, when myself and four girlfriends champagned it up in the hotel room before taking our high-heeled and sequined selves to Lips (“The Ultimate In Drag Dining”). On the outside, this place looked like a dingy strip club, but inside, it was a disco ball, chandelier, and velvet-adorned wonderland! We were immediately greeted by a blonde queen who looked like a Swedish supermodel. (I’m pretty sure she’s fooled a few straight guys in her time.) The ladies looked amazing and put on a great show. We enjoyed the music, dinner and the laughs.
Afterward is when the trouble began. The free drinks at the Elbow Room, the Art Bar, Euro, some private, corporate event that we snuck into and then, worst of all, America’s Backyard, really did us in. I’ve been drinking for 11 years and know better than to drink from the bottom shelf (and to mix), but countless drinks and adventures later, I stumbled to the car, oddly with makeup in tact. The queens would have been proud. They would not have approved of me taking my six-inch high heels off at the end of the night and carelessly walking the streets of downtown Ft. Lauderdale, but allow me my one drunk faux pas.
The next day was anything but glamorous as I threw up twice in public. Did I care about my makeup-less self, with messy hair piled on top of my head, standing over a high-traffic gas station’s trash can on Powerline Rd., puking my guts out while rocking my Michael Jackson Beat It shirt? Of course not. I felt like death and knew the homeless guys who asked if I was OK had been there before, but maybe not in the awesome Michael Jackson shirt.
Looking back, I wonder how the queens felt the next morning. I wonder if they rolled out of bed, looked in the mirror and wondered what happened to the glamazon from the night before. I wonder if they felt as sick as I did, but without the alcohol to blame. As the Bright Eyes lyrics in “Lua” eloquently proclaim, “The mask I polish in the evening, by the morning looks like shit.”
I certainly hope that’s not the case. I know that I love myself the night of the fantasy and the morning of the reality. In the words of the ultimate queen, RuPaul, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love anybody else?”
As for my birthday extravaganza, I would do it all again, but with top shelf drinks and water in between the alcohol…and I could have gone without that brown, cinnamon shot towards the end (What the hell was that?!).