Bold & Beautiful: Magnys Voss
Art and Fashion
Magnys Voss describes himself as a baby in the drag world, having only started performing as Leroy Dagger about a year ago. Despite not having the official title, this king has been playing the part his whole life.
Through theater, skits, music and writing, Voss has been expressing all aspects of his masculinity since the beginning. “Presenting feminine felt so uncomfortable for me growing up,” Voss explains. “I didn’t feel fully comfortable in my own skin or comfortable trying to portray those feminine roles I was trying out for.” At the age of eight, Voss saw a girl play Peter Pan in a school play. “It pushed me further into wanting to be in theater and such because I wanted to play those masculine parts,” he says. Often he was given masculine roles by accident, filling in as a butler in Les Misérables and acting as a prince in a skit at girls camp. “I was actually wearing something similar to what I have on now,” he laughs. Wearing a puffy white, button-up shirt layered with a black vest, Voss is hard to imagine as anything other than royalty, be that of a prince or a king.
Voss moved to Salt Lake and reached out to Madazon Can-Can, an accomplished local drag king he admires. This was right before COVID-19 hit, leaving him without means to perform. Once things started opening back up, Can-Can offered a drag king class. “I was like, ‘I have to take this chance.’” Voss joined Can-Can’s classes along with seven others, and he created the Bowie-inspired Dagger we see today. Dagger began performing at Why Kiki, debuting a David Bowie tribute for his first-ever performance. The “Space-Oddity” into “Life on Mars” piece made him feel at home. Bowie again proved to be life-changing.
“Presenting feminine felt so uncomfortable for me growing up.”
Sitting in an art class sophomore year of high school, Voss’s friend first exposed him to the world of Bowie. For the first time as they shared headphones, “As the World Falls Down” from Labyrinth played. “I couldn’t believe it was a man singing. I was really amazed and really confused,” he says. The friend leant the movie to Voss, who was about the same age as Jennifer Connelly in the film. “It was a pivotal point in my life, and it’s still my favorite film to this day.” The spirit of Bowie haunted Voss, leading him to search more of his works. He was careful to erase all search history of the non-gender conforming artist. Gender roles were very important in Voss’s religious childhood home, making his curiosity over these ideas seem dangerous and disappointing.
Voss hasn’t always had permission to be himself, but he slowly gained confidence through others. Landon Cider on Dragula was the first king he’d ever seen, as the show was the only one giving a space for drag kings at the time. Voss’s uncle also became a main source of support and confidence. In 1991, his uncle was crowned the 16th princess of The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire—Utah’s oldest LGBTQ+ organization. He reigned as Princess Mickie Holland before Voss was even born. “I’m so honored to be following in my uncle’s flamboyant footsteps,” Voss says. “My uncle actually gave me this ring,” he says, flashing his hand up. The ring is a purple and blue peacock sitting big on his index finger. Peacocks resonate with Voss, even inspiring a piece he performed for a show Can-Can put together. “I’m masculine in the way that a peacock is masculine,” he explains. He takes special care to place focus on all the beauty, tenderness and even sensuality that fits in the realm of masculinity. The peacock conveys this perfectly.”
“I hope I can inspire people to pursue becoming their authentic selves.”
Voss has become a figure for kids to look up to, just like his uncle did for him. He recently read at Drag King Story Hour at Under the Umbrella BookStore alongside Can-Can. The ages of children attending ranged from babies to about eight years old. “I think there’s something to be said about bringing awareness to kids that this is a way he can express himself,” Voss says. Coming from a childhood where queerness wasn’t celebrated, it’s a breath of fresh air for Voss to see parents teaching their children tolerance and self-expression. “I hope I can inspire people to pursue becoming their authentic selves,” says the king.
Why Kiki has been his home stage for the past year, and Voss plans to have more performances in the near future. These act as a way for Voss to express himself, to celebrate masculinity alongside the other kings and burlesque performers. “I feel overjoyed to be living my dream,” he says through a smile. Voss hopes to leave people with the realization that they can do whatever brings them joy, just like drag does for him: “If they proceed to go out and follow their dreams … Then I’d say I’ve fulfilled what I intended to do with my performances.”
Follow Magnys Voss on Instagram @magnys.voss to see what this king gets up to next.