A dashing portrait of the gender-bending icon. Photo: Paul Duane
Willard Cron came into Salt Lake City to fill the dark corners of its alt. nightlife with everlasting light and kitschy attitude. After being crowned the third Miss City Weekly during the Utah Pride Festival last summer, Willard helped initiate the Bad Kids performance group and became an insta-celebrity, towering over crowds at his height of 6’4” (7’ in homemade creepers). Who is Willard? Who are the Bad Kids? Willard answers these and other pressing questions.
SLUG: Who is WILLARD?
Willard: WTF… this question tho? Liiike, DO NOT make me answer this. As if I’m something besides myself. Who is Willard? Fuck… human, I suppose. Okay, if I have to. *Entering 3rd person* Willard is a compassionate, benevolent, queer-minded fucker trying, like most people, to make an impact, matter, change the current state of things; a steward of a better human experience (with a longer, meaningful shelf life). Operating to emphasize the contradictory social/cultural/political structures of the current state and working to replace it with better “shit.”
SLUG: Is WILLARD art? A brand? A drag persona?
Willard: Art? Sure. I have a method, preparing requires time, and I sometimes have a spotlight on me with a viewing audience. Sooooo, I guess. A brand? Duh, pick up my toddler line of unisex platform wedge booties at Gymboree, debuts fall 2032. #SUPERCONCEPTUAL A drag persona? Maybe to an extent, intending to never feel unauthentic. Typically, just an exaggerated expression of what already exists within myself. But given an atmosphere, venue and platform that the #normal 9-5 allows.
SLUG: What are your arbitrary drag categories?
Willard: #BUTCHQUEEN #CATFISH #GIPA #GenderIntegratedPerformanceArtist #GenderQueer #BeardedLady #Moustache I mean, I wish I didn’t have to categorize, but it makes things operate a bit smoother and doesn’t require as much explanation.
SLUG: What are some favorite memories of Miss City Weekly?
Willard: My favorites would include: Having to impromptu my entire performance because the wrong song played … thanks Jesse Walker ;p; establishing relationships with other performers—Drew (drewnicorn) Landerman, Lamia, Indi Skies, among others and being totally caught off guard by winning the title. Most of all, feeling completely supported by friends and family doing something that involved a lot of initial insecurities. Snatching a kiss from talented illustrator and über-babe Christian England on stage post-crowning wasn’t bad, either.
SLUG: Please describe the birth of SLC’s Bad Kids.
Willard: The core group (Lamia, Cartel, Klaus, myself) met during the City Weekly competition in 2012. We all expressed an interest in performing drag, but all have had negative experiences with local contemporaries, stereotypes, and the community in general. We identified that there wasn’t any regular venue/community for people with an alternative mind for the art. We began to brainstorm what we could create together, talked to potential performers for interest, started going out together and set up some shows. Got a regular gig at Metro bar thanks to Michael Elliot and Jeffrey Hacker. Cartel and Klaus have both taken strong leadership roles with organizing and producing the events. Since then, we have kept our stage open, continuing to showcase some of SLC’s most dynamic, interesting, beautiful talent. Our anniversary show is on the 22nd of August at Metro Bar.
SLUG: What is BAD?
Willard: In the context of #bad kids it becomes the synonym to the words queer, creative, filth, thoughtful, intrigue, humor, radical, inclusion, glamour, political, aggressive, compassionate, concern, horror, arousal, optimism, alternative, punk and sexual. To me, BAD is GOOD’s opponent … obviously. Bad exists for perspective and context to #TheMajority. Who, in my opinion, subscribe to Good. #TheGoodLife #ThatGoodShit #NucleurLifestyle #HeteroNormative
SLUG: Who is a BAD KID?
Willard: Anyone with a desire or belief in something different or better and willing to work towards that. Someone actively using mechanisms of change, whether it’s constructive dialogue, self-published media, performing, occupations and community.
SLUG: Is SLC BAD?
Willard: “BAD” … ass? yeah. 4sure. doi. Salt Lake has such a strong, responsive, reactionary, alternative community. Every corner of the city, whether it’s the Avenues, Rose Park, Hawks Court, the new Granary district, Sugarhouse, Downtown—there is a place for people to feel in the company of like-minded #fuckers. With appropriate environments for every kind of conversation: be it café, venue, book store, or gallery. Salt Lake is completely underestimated and underappreciated. A realization I am just now having (,- .-)
SLUG: Is D-R-A-G L-O-V-E?
Willard: Depends on what your concept of love is. I definitely love doing what I do. I think in order to perform in any degree it requires some amount of love. Whether it be for yourself, the audience, the craft, the impact it can make or just the #limelight. I believe anything that takes a person’s time and energy requires Love.
SLUG: What will Willard do next?
Willard: Who the fuck knows, want to do vs. will do. Be with #family, enjoy being back by the coast and fight my chronic #SLC home sickness. Working hard to make my move worth the sense of loss and anxiety it has caused. #GrowTheFuckUp I intend to continue performing, find opportunities to elevate my experience with textiles and design. Could even swallow the idea of going to study at a university. Ultimately, working really fucking hard to have an equally substantial experience like Salt Lake provided.
Willard recently moved to Sacramento/San Francisco. If you’re in the Bay Area, keep your eyes and ears open for this tall fucker—follow @willardistall on Instagram. Stuck in Salt Lake? I’m sure he’ll visit. Until then, support his band of sisters at the Bad Kids Anniversary show @ Metro Bar on August 22 and other events.