If gender studies and vaudeville had a baby and that baby could sing, dance or perform a politically-conscious striptease, it would be a shoe-in for “Dykes Do Drag,” the enduring queer performance evening that has become something of a local institution since its inception in 1999.
On title alone, “Dykes Do Drag” initially reads as an evening chock-full of butch women in button-down shirts and self-adhesive sideburns. Lift the veil, or top-hat, or wig or what have you, and the all-inclusive, multi-disciplinary crowd that enlivens “Dykes” quickly reveals itself — sometimes with pasties on.
Drag kings and queens reign supreme in this vaudeville-style revue, which was borne out of collaboration between Heather Spear, Sarah Gordon and Rudy Renaud, who sought a venue where they could showcase all shades of gender-performativity.
Spear, who performs as her dapper and dandyish Gentleman King, was long involved in theater and dance before she came to co-found “Dykes Do Drag.” Spear has fashioned her own male drag character as slightly effeminate, to explore what she calls “the third space in-between the binary.”
“I don't try to be a man. I don't try to trick anybody into thinking I'm a man, but I enjoy the fact that I can intrigue audience members — from gay men to straight women,” Spear said. “You're kind of questioning what the audience assumes is their basis of desire,” Spear said.
Gordon's drag persona similarly straddles the realms of femininity and masculinity in her own Glam King character, influenced by intentionally androgynous glam rockers like David Bowie or Marc Bolan. Gordon occupies this space across the gender spectrum as her way, through crafted theatrical performance, of “busting the binary.”
“It's about busting the binary to the point where none of that is really important; it's about presenting characters,” Gordon said.
This emphasis on character study is reflected in the female impersonations by women who identify as female to begin with. Natasha Oreskovich performs as Paulie Graff, for which she dresses up in elegant gowns and long gloves.
“I think of it as a character that I've created, and this specific character has a higher level of glamour than I do in my daily life,” Oreskovich said. “I consider it drag in the sense that I perform in a more heightened sense of femininity than how I go through my daily life, but I'm not a drag king.”
Fellow female-female impersonator Foxy Tann performs burlesque in her “ass-kicking, bad mamma jamma” character inspired by blaxploitation heroine Foxy Brown. Tann started out doing drag through shows at the Gay '90s and at the time was the only female-female impersonator.
“[I was] using the aesthetics of the drag queen and kind of making fun with it a little bit,” Tann said. “People didn't know I was a girl, so I let that go and stayed there for a while.”
Where drag kings like Gordon and Spear may stir up the masculine and feminine in their own playful concoction, Tann's iteration of gender presentation slaps it all together in a multilayered perceptual trick.
“It's going around full circle because I'm imitating men who are imitating women, but I'm a woman,” Tann said.
The performances in “Dykes Do Drag” are often helmedby trained actors and dancers who use their craft to create characters that blur the boundaries demarcating gender presentation. The skits of “Dykes” all examine, dismantle or forge gender identities through character creation and the occasional lip-synching routine. Ultimately, it's a theatrical revue that — even as it stretches into its 13th year — has still proven every bit as seductive to performers as their characters have been to audiences.
“It seemed more fun than performing Shakespeare. You know what I mean?” Tann said.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.