Behind the Scenes: We Denton Drag It
This Saturday at Backyard on Bell, Denton Friends with Benefits hosts OUTreach Denton with one of the crown jewels of Drag, Violet Chachki. Chachki, who won the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race will be the star of this show which also features an emotional and visual onslaught of Denton and Dallas’ top queer artists. This all in the name of Denton’s favorite pastime: raising money for the community and partying. With four local showcases and 8 DAM Award recipient Lorelei K as openers, we couldn’t possibly pass up an opportunity to reach out to the team and talent putting it all together and find out what it takes to take on a behemoth of a show like this.
Saturday evening kicks off with openers Enigma Haus Collective started by Denton-based drag queen Enigma. We asked Enigma, along with other showcase reps, a few basic questions on what it takes to prepare for shows. The responses seemed to average out about the same, ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to two and a half hours. “Depending on how many smoke breaks I take,” Enigma said. “ The fastest I ever got ready was in forty-five minutes.”
For Kylee O’Hara Fatale, SinSational Sundays hostess with the mostess and 2018 DAM Awards’ Best Drag Queen, she found she “can get ready within any time frame”, but her ideal time is two to two and half hours to get ready.
The real proof lies in the costuming.
“Costuming is difficult because [of] money,” Enigma said. “It takes a lot of money to look so cheap, so most of my outfits are from thrift stores or Goodwill. For me, though, costuming isn’t as big of my main focus as is performing. I literally wore a trash bag dress once and it was one of my favorite routines.”
For “pageant queens” like Fatale the tune rings a bit differently but with the same financial stressors.
“Drag and my day job pays for costume,” Fatale said. “I alter and edit a lot of what I wear, but my average costume cost around one hundred and fifty bucks, but you have to think about hair, stones, undergarments, jewelry, which can now make a look two to three hundred dollars, So it’s very expensive. The most I’ve [saved] for a garment is a thousand dollars. So I save a lot for a while to get new things.”
The performers’ manicured looks extend beyond aesthetics and into the performance aspect.
When it comes to preparing the kinesthetics behind a routines, Fatale’s ideas can stem from anywhere.
“If I hear a certain song, I [may] go ‘oh hey, I want to do this to that song!’” Fatale said. “Most of my special performances are comedy mixes I’ve made myself, but a lot of what I do is show off my very 'extra' costumes in some of my favorite songs or just dance. I pride myself on my dancing.”
As far as being comfortable “in the pocket” of a routine goes, the journey for Enigma was the longest part.
“It took me a long time to be comfortable with what I do. Bearded drag is an extreme rarity in north Texas so I had a hard time comparing myself with other queens.” Enigma said. “It was literally comparing apples to oranges. Once I realized that what makes me different makes me special, my career started to take off.”
Glitterbomb showcase performer and producer, Tulla Moore, had a truly inspiring, authentic perspective about her journey as a performer in this community. Tulla is a seasoned performer and artist from the community, performing under her “muggle name” with former group “The Mothers” and UNTs A Capella group, The Green Tones.
“I don’t know if I’m ever comfortable with my performances. I am happy with what I bring to the stage and I am starting to really define my style - it took me some time. I still get nervous; I still wonder if my performance was good; I still think that I can do things better,” Moore said.
“I’ve joked that I’m either brave or too dumb to be nervous, but honestly, the audience reaction and encouragement is what helps to put me at ease after a number.”
On top of these seasoned showcases, We Denton Drag it features musical performances from New York-based 3 The Hardway - Dezi 5, Will Sheridan and Corey TuT, and, Denton’s own, Lorelei K.
Though it’s true we could categorize both realms as “performers,” there are still some differences.
“Words [for a song] come from experiences, so sometimes a text happens after a culmination of events that take years to organize, and others quickly take form, occasionally in a single setting. In short: it depends on subject matter,” recanted K as she reflected on her writing process. “Lately, the music I attach to a piece of text forms itself in a strange order, starting with some type of organic sample, then a beat, and lastly keys or strings. This part of songwriting requires a specific headspace. While I may put together a song in one session, those sessions are scattered sporadically.”
For Dezi 5, collaboration can be key with their writing partner, Forest Brooks.
“Sometimes, it takes one night [to write a song] - sometimes it takes more.”
But where would this entire show be if not for the hosts? Organization leader, Mindy Arendt, Founder and President of Denton Friends with Benefits, was gushing with pride.
“We have a great team that WERKS! They take a task and run with it,” Arendt said in a message. “Local LGBTQIA+ entertainers have made this year amazing, and I cannot wait to see what they bring to that amazing stage.”
For those of you who missed last year's show, the morning was full of rain, meaning the BYOB staff and owners were out laying mulch, shop vaccing puddles, you name it.
“I cannot wait to see the community come together for a great show [supporting] local non-profits that do so much good. That's why we do it - to help them continue to do the great work they do,” Arendt said.
Throughout our conversations with these amazing performers and producers, there was a common theme of advice that seemed to embody the importance of Pride — the greatest thing you can ever be is yourself. “No one can do it better than you,” Fatale said.
We are so fortunate to witness these community pillars in action as they live their best life and will surely leave us gagging for more.
If you can’t make it to this Saturday’s show, here’s where you can check out these performers in the future:
Sinsational Sundays hosted by Kylee Fatale at Crossroads Bar - every Sunday.
August 1 - Kylee’s Queer Off: a 12 week competition style show starting off with 14 girls and eliminate one week by week until a winner is crowned. Website: thequeeroff.com
July 7 @ 10 p.m. - Enigma Haus Collective’s debut show at Q’s Cafe
November 15-18 - 2018 Austin International Drag Festival
June 29 Deep Ellum Pride performance with Will Sheridan and Corey TuT
(He is releasing his EP Club Kids soon, be on the lookout.)
July 11 @ 7 p.m.- PLEASED by Spiderweb Salon: a five-part show she will be collaborating on
August 17 - Improv Lotto at Dan’s Silverleaf
August 24 - first full-band Lorelei K live set at the Granada Theater
July 21 - Midnight Menagerie in Austin: a live band show with Fat Bottom Cabaret, a queer fat POC burlesque troupe
(This will be Moore’s first time performing outside of DFW, show some support!)
July 26-29 - 3rd Annual Texas Queerlesque Festival: a weekend filled with burlesque, panels, workshops, social hours, and the best queerlesque performers from across the nation. (Moore is a producer for the festival.)
Header image by Brittany Keeton.
Header design by Tori Falcon.