Klaus performs for the crowd during an opening number at the pageant. Photo: Paul Duane
Pre-Pride weekend 2013 kicked off deliciously under last Thursday’s gorgeous sunset at Salt Lake’s Metro Bar as four founding members of Salt Lake’s alternative drag scene, the Bad Kids, hosted a pageant for its expanding fanbase. The evening’s gracious hosts, Cartel Fenice, Klaus Von Austerlitz, Lamia and Miss City Weekly 2012, Willard, (who were gracious enough to remove themselves from the competition and give other contestants a decent chance), organized the event in conjunction with Metro Bar’s Thursday night proprietors, the venue’s all inclusive alternative night Dance Evolution. Together, the Bad Kids and Metro are cultivating a scene where diverse gender expression reigns, and talent refers not to exclusive abilities, but rather the courage to get on stage and perform one’s artistic vision to completion.
The Gods, Goddesses and Monsters Pageant was designed to provide a stage for such diverse talent and expression, untethered from the strictures of traditional drag culture. The use of categories (Gods, Goddesses, Monsters) provided an informal, inclusive atmosphere to all participants—instead of focusing on biological male expression of various femininities, the Bad Kids are using performance as an educational tool to widen the conversation of the queer community to include all of its members, often divided between sexuality, gender orientation and biology. What’s fantastic about this group––at its core, a tight-knit group of friends––is their commitment to employing such change beyond their social environment.
The spirit of John Waters lingered over the evening—a larger-than-life cutout of Divine hung on the wall behind the stage, an homage to that kitschy and campy traditional drag culture. Upon their entrance, each member of the audience received a ballot with which to cast their votes for best performer in each of the three categories. Additionally, there were more specific categories to vote performers for, based on their overall performance, congeniality and role model qualities. The competition, then, was divided into two sections—first, prepared speeches covering topics such as “internalized homophobia,” “bullying” and “identity,” and second—the talent showcase. Think of all the fantasies you had about your high school talent show, of all the things you (casual SLUG readers or divine divas alike) would like to have done to frighten all of the awfully straight and boring popular kids and assert your own queer taste above all of it—that’s generally the approach here.
The performers were a great sampling of Salt Lake’s young drag scene. Among them were your more traditional campy queens Mae Daye, Marilyn Go-Lightly, Chloe Summers, Savannah Van Cartier and Harry-It Winston; the generally freaky “Monsters” Gore, October and the Bearded Femme; biological femme fatales Arousalind and Jezebel Jet; genderbending rockers Dee-Day & Adam Antium and Sophia Scott; a country superstar mockery Loretta Buck; and a twinned postmodern performance duo Rozwell & Ethel Mormon. Between hosts, contestants and crowd, there were dozens of beautiful people, and I feel a bit embarrassed to resort to such loose generalizations.
The four hosts began the evening with a short dance segment, meant to introduce themselves. The speeches followed a short break. Since they were prepared, and not the typical on-the-spot question and response you’d find in a traditional pageant, participants were able to comfortably rehearse what they wanted to say. Loretta Buck threw down some lite shade during hers, but otherwise each contestant’s speech touched upon various issues confronting the queer community. Dee-Day’s and Adam Antium’s inspirational speeches, touching upon the necessity of non-binary gender fluid identity, won my vote in the Gods category (and my heart, duh).
The evening benefited from Metro’s newly built stage, which elevated the performances. Each performer brought their passion and individuality to the stage. There were a few song and dance numbers, the best of which was Mae Daye’s campy housewife mash-up of The Producers’ “If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It” and My Favorite Martians “Bitch Got A Penis.” Arousalind channeled Siouxsie Sioux in gorgeous dance. Loretta Buck did Dolly Parton’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Dee-Day and Adam Antium mimed hilariously to Tenacious D’s “Fuck Her Gently.” In his performance, Sophia Scott took off a manly suit to reveal an LBD while singing (not syncing). Jezebel Jet’s ended in a blood sacrifice that took a break in the show to clean up.
After a lengthy deliberation, the hosts returned with ballots tallied. Dee-Day and Adam Antium won the God category, Savannah Van Cartier won in the Goddess category and The Bearded Femme was crowned the first Monster. The overall winner of the Pageant was Mae Daye, who received the title of the Baddest Kid and Teen Scream, a generous prize and a homemade Bad Kids crown. Overall, the event was a fun showcase of local personalities and a perfect early start for Pride Week!