Video by Mikaela Duhs
There’s an emerging scene in San Luis Obispo it’s full of glitz, glam and everything in between.
It’s a drag scene, something that has been mostly foreign to the San Luis Obispo area until Frank Dominguez and Daniel Gomez decided to make a change.
Gomez and Dominguez created SLOqueerdos last year with a goal of creating more places for San Luis Obispo’s queer community to get together.
“I realized there wasn’t a visible queer community,” Dominguez said. “We were really just tired of going out and not having a place to party, so we’re like, ‘fuck it, we’ll just throw a party.’”
Dominguez said that drag shows were a fun way to bring this community together. SLOqueerdos hosted two drag shows last year and “Love’s a Drag” on Feb. 15.
The queens who performed at “Love’s a Drag” were fearless and proud as they strutted their stuff to an adoring crowd in the packed Metro Brewing Company bar. However, drag wasn’t always received this way.
Origins and obstacles
Drag culture has been around since Shakespearean times when young men would play female roles at the theater.
As time went on and women filled those roles themselves, drag culture moved to clubs and cocktail lounges.
Because of its underground nature suppressed by mainstream conservative viewpoints, drag became a taboo subject and received harsh criticism. Some men felt their masculinity was being threatened by challenges to cultural norms.
Even today, many men interested in drag fear the societal disapproval that often comes with the art.
Gomez said he was initially hesitant to try drag because of the way people would view his masculinity.
“I wanted to do drag for a very long time,” Gomez said. “But I was kind of unsure about the perception of other people towards me because I like being a guy and didn’t want people to think I didn’t.”
Now, Gomez is very invested in drag culture and is known as Krystal Methatic. He said there are other common misconceptions surrounding drag, like the queens being transsexuals, drug addicts and prostitutes. Oftentimes queens joke about these stereotypes during shows, but in reality, according to Gomez, drag queens are usually none of these things.
“You have transsexuals and you have drag queens,” Gomez said. “Sometimes they kind of blend together within the different kind of communities. But for the most part, not all drag queens want to be women.”
Video by Gina Randazzo
Choosing a persona
Each queen creates their own identity when performing and the looks can vary greatly. “Fishy” looks are popular, where queens create caricatures of femininity. The term is a reference to the scent of a woman’s vagina, as “fishy” queens are thought to pass as biologically female.
Masculine characteristics are frequently showcased in drag too. Some queens choose to keep their beards, body hair and deep voices as a part of their drag personas.
Drag shows typically feature lip syncing, stand-up comedy and live performances of popular songs. The queens of “Love’s a Drag” lip synced to popular songs by the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce and Britney Spears. Ultimately, a drag performance is what the queen makes of it.
“Drag is a way for me to express my feminine side in a very exaggerated way,” biology junior Jordan Collins said.
With an affinity for flowers, Collins chose Regina Flores as his drag name. Collins got involved with drag two years ago after attending a drag party.
“I just went ‘Whoa, I look pretty!’ and it just went on from there,” Collins said. “I started practicing makeup and then, you know, being irresponsible, I started buying all the woman’s clothes instead of buying food.”
Though elaborate makeup is a big part of dressing in drag, there are many more talents that queens must have to create a complete look. Queens are designers, actors, dancers and artists and work to deliver comedic and believable performances.
However, Gomez said that no matter what, the crowd at drag shows are generally supportive of whatever they’re seeing on stage.
“You could be like the worst dressed drag queen in the world but just the fact you’re a drag queen, people are into it and really like it,” Gomez said.
Dominguez said that ultimately, a drag show can vary greatly depending on the queens performing and there are no rules to being a queen.
“You can’t put it in a box and you can’t have this idea or expectation of what it is, because it can be anything,” Dominguez said. “It’s an art form, it’s very beautiful.”
Dominguez said SLOqueerdos wants to host more drag shows in the future, hopefully at bigger venues.