Queens anything but a drag

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By Amy Brown-Bowers

Ginger’s rounded bottom bulged like a Victorian bustle from the bottom of his corset. His hair fell below his navel in rusty waves. I complimented him on his curls as he swooshed by.

“It’s so fucking tired here” he says. “There are no fags to hold the roof up.”

He walks back to the bar for another drink. At Crews & Tangos, a gay bar on Church Street, every Monday is amateur talent night, seasoned performers and up-and-comers are up on stage for the very first time.

The gay scene is pretty new to me and I always assumed that I’d be unwelcome because, well, I’m straight.

But there’s something about Church Street that draws me in. it’s a hub for great socializing, food, and fun.

I’ve explored Church Street during the day. I’ve bought groceries there, shot the shit for hours at cafes, stopped to listen to street musicians and even looked at real estate. But what I hadn’t done was tap into the nightlife.

At the drag queen competition I went to, Serenity wore a white off-the-shoulder prom dress and I could see faded tattoos on his corded arms. His eyebrows were painted solid black to match his dark wig. Serenity paced back to match his dark wig. Serenity paced back and forth across the stage and sucked on his cigarette under the no smoking sign. He was last week’s winner.

I was rooting for Robyn De Cradle; a friend of Michelle, my companion for the night. This was Robyn’s first drag show. De Cradle walks up wearing a big frizzy wig, glazed pink lip gloss, and tight black pants.

“I have to pee,” he said, pacing nervously.

I wondered if I too looked nervous. This was also a first for me. Candice began the show at 11:45 P.M. and hosted the evening. He opened up the mic to the audience; we had to come up with a drag name for the DJ. The suggestions were varied: Mya Nuts R. Sore, Lubra Cation, and Dolores Dildo.

Robyn was the first performer. He had the crowd cheering with his Electric Circus dance moves. For his finale, he showered us with glitter from exploding plastic capsules.

Ginger’s performance shocked me. His humongous bottom was the focus of his performance. He jiggled it, massaged it, and contorted it. His nipples popped out of the top of his corset. He rolled them like a joint and made sure they were well attended to.

Michelle looked at me, picked up my pen, and wrote “tasteless” across the top of my page. Ginger caught my eye and locked my gaze. I felt exposed.

I was happy to see the bar was nearing capacity. A middle-aged man in a cap and leather jacket tucked five-dollar bills into Ginger’s corset.

Everyone seemed supportive and jovial. I was struck by how much fun I was having. While I felt a little conspicuous, it was fabulously entertaining.

***

A few nights later I set out with my roommate for an evening at Zelda’s, another gay bar on Church Street.

We took two seats at the bar and looked at the menu. We were choosing between a Bitch Slap and Busty Bertha’s Berry burst but we ended up settling for a half-liter of Merlot. It wasn’t long before we had half the bar engaged in conversation.

To my left were three women out celebrating a birthday. The birthday girl, a delicate looking woman, was directly to my left. She described herself as a Stone butch.

“I’m not Trans, but am very male,” she said.

At the tender age of six, Michael told her mom that she wanted to have a wife and at 31 has had much time to grow comfortable with herself.

I introduced my roommate rather ambiguously, as my girlfriend. I was worried if I told Michael I was straight that she would clamp up and feel resentful of me. She asked if we were gay. My roommate answered correctly that she was bisexual. She asked me if I too was bi. I paused, and said, “Yes.”

I felt guilty about the lie for the rest of the evening.

I began to panic, especially when she said that she didn’t like straight people in her refuge. She said that what bothered her most were straight couples out for dates in gay bars.

Michael sees hat every day, and doesn’t want to face it in gay bars too. I felt badly for violating her safe space. I wondered how she’d react if I told her I was dating a (gulp) male.

Michael responded to our admissions of bisexuality with encouragement, “it’s the person, not the plumbing,” she said.

“I live for women like you,” she said referring to our ultra hooched up, feminine image. She called us “femmes.”

We left the bar after working our way through the Merlot and the lives of everyone at the bar.

What a night, what community.

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