Hey kings, queens, and in-betweens. I was super frickin’ honored to be a part of the Austin International Drag Festival this past weekend in Austin, TX. We’re talking four days of workshops, panels, shows, and some sickening-ass drag. Curious about how things went down? Read on.
It was such a pleasure to finally meet performers that I’ve been stalking on Instagram for ages: the inspiring gender-blender Goldie Peacock, out of Brooklyn, NY; badass boi wonders Switch ‘n Play, Brooklyn’s premier drag king troupe; sharp-witted bio queen bad bitch Wendy Ho; and the unique live-singing visionary Ryan Stecken, among many, many others.
Easily the best part of any festival like this is getting the chance to see different performers’ unique takes on drag. There were tons of different styles: slick, masculine drag kings and exotic, feminine queens next to funky art genderfuck on the same stage as dark, goth sleaze-drag. I even met another king who regularly performs in heels (shout out Colin Acumen!) and got to exchange ‘Ni Haos’ with Taiwanese stud muffin Wang Newton.
The thing about this festival is that it’s huge. There are hundreds of performers from all over the world. It’s great because there’s something for everybody, although multiple simultaneous shows meant that it was hard to catch all of the performances I wanted to see. That said, I still had a fabulous time presenting three acts in two different showcases: my Money-inspired angle grinder act, my Soldier Boy act, and my French Fop.
Oh, and let’s talk about this for a second: at performances in the US, people tip!
So while I saw tons and tons of amazing drag at the fest, here are five artists and acts that really stood out to me (in no particular order):
- Erika Clash’s Mommy Dearest tribute
Anime/Gaymer queen Erika Clash of Bronx, NY slayed me with her freaky geek-chic style. On Friday, I got the chance to watch her get a ghostly ass-whooping to a mash-up of Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” with clips from Mommy Dearest. I loved how provocative and cheeky the act was in addition to her insane styling. Definitely going to keep an eye on her work in the future!
- Sammy Silver’s Sexy Robot
Let it be known: drag king Sammy Silver can dance. Not only dance, but bring the whole damn house down with his moves. This king was friendly, down-to-earth, and a little soft-spoken which is why my jaw hit the floor when I saw him perform about ten different dance styles in a row as part of an act where he was a programmable dance robot. Well done, Sammy.
- Crimson Kitty’s ASPCA Parody
Let’s take it back a few years ago. You’re sitting in your living room, watching TV, enjoying a nice night in… when on comes Sarah McLachlan and a host of sad-eyed puppies ready to ruin your entire damn day. Remember that? Crimson Kitty does. This amazing female drag queen from NY stepped on stage to perform a live adoption ad for herself in a leopard-print catsuit. Hilarious and brilliant, Crimson Kitty proved that great drag is great regardless of gender.
- Maximum Capacity and Flare’s Gay Sailor Duet
So my love for Canadian kings Flare and Maximum Capacity has almost certainly reached stalker levels. I can’t help it– they are a sexy pair of kings! They charmed me out of a few dollar bills with a duet between two randy sailors set to *NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” I loved this act because not only for its adorable synchronized dance moves but because of how subtly political it is. In the US, LGBT servicemen and -women were only recently granted the explicit right to serve as openly queer despite a history of extremely competent, highly-decorated service. This act was charming, precious, and hot all at once, with great chemistry between the two performers. (Check out a Game of Thrones-themed version of the same act below.)
- Colin Acumen’s Hot Caulk
Self-styled “Princess King” Colin Acumen of Milwaukee, WI, USA killed me with his tongue-in-cheek display of free-flowing caulk. Caulk all over. Covered in caulk. (“I’m just surprised nobody has done this before,” he told me while we were talking shop.) Colin, you stumbled on a gold mine. This act featured a construction worker getting down and dirty, culminating an explosive finale featuring… tons of caulk. So good!
In closing, I’m already thinking about the acts I’m going to bring to next year’s AIDF. Y’all just wait. You don’t even know.
Until next time.