By Amy Young-Leith from WillametteLive, Section News: Posted on Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 01:14:04 PM PDT
The thing that separates a great drag show from a mediocre one is simple: attention to detail.
Judging by the success, the benefit drag shows at Southside Speakeasy and Dance Pub are the former.
"We've been doing them for about four years now. We started with once a month, but it's often more frequent due to the good response," said David Such, owner of the club.
The benefits have ranged from raising $3,000 for a cancer patient, to $600 for Shop with a Cop, a program that allows children to interact with police officers in a relaxed environment as they shop for clothes, toys and gifts for family. A slated February benefit will infuse the medical fund for a child with a rare type of cancer with a healthy dose of cash.
"Over the years the beneficiaries have been Women's Crisis Center, Home Youth Resource Center, Rainbow Youth, and the Willamette Valley Humane Society, to name a few," Such said.
The events are community driven; friends and patrons often suggest the cause, and the nights draw regulars and new people into the Speakeasy.
"Some people might have a stereotype of what a "gay bar" or a "drag show" would be," said Such.
Those with trepidation are often pleasantly surprised. Drag shows are primarily a part of Western gay culture, although the art of one gender dressing as another goes back hundreds of years. Most performers are proud gay men who have no wish to be women, but the art and entertainment of the performance of a character appeals to them.
However, there are as many ways and reasons as there are performers, and those performing in drag may include transvestites who take their desire to dress as women off the stage and into day to day life, or transgender men in various stages of a male to female transition. While less prevalent, there are also drag kings, or women that make an art out of disguising themselves and performing as men. In both cases, the results can either be comically outlandish, or amazingly believable.
Drag is not without it's controversy, stirring the pot with some women’s' groups and transgender people who fear the art form is at best mean-spirited fun and at worst an unfair stereotyping that gets in the way of society as a whole understanding a much more deep and serious issue.
At it's best, drag can create a social space where norms can be lampooned, the outlandish can push a more serious social issue, and, sometimes, those with latent (or otherwise) discomfort with gay people can find themselves so entertained that they forget their unease.
Performances range from campy to fashionable to outrageous and reflect the diversity of personalities, styles and ideologies of the performers themselves. A character's performance can be based on a specific performance talent, stand-up comedy, or social commentary. Almost always it is an awe-inspiring performance of costuming, wiggery and makeup.....ORIGINAL ARTICLE