Throughout the year but mostly during the summer months, a few of us get together. It’s usually at my place, because I have a pool, a Jacuzzi, and the most space. More importantly, I have AstroTurf and enough pink plastic flamingos to stock a John Waters film fest. We grill and eat snacks which in more advanced societies are deemed not fit for human consumption. We down shots of whiskey like Prohibition is coming and chug PBR like it’s water. We blast Danzig and Pantera at an unholy volume and discuss shit that would bring all of our ancestors and most of our living relatives a stench of shame that Lysol couldn’t mask. We call this “White Trash Sunday.”
Somewhere around 3 PM at our most recent gathering—which was at someone else’s place rather than mine this time around—I blurted out: “I fucking hate the concept of drag queens!” There was a split second of silence out of respect for the sudden, tragic death of absolutely all things politically correct, followed by a nervous giggle or two. A tiny gasp emanated from one corner, then the host hugged me while exhaling a huge sigh of relief and enthusiastically thanking me.
This was my cue to launch into my questions. What’s your actual skill beyond parodying women to the extreme and miming to a godawful song? Do you have any real talent beyond not breaking any major bones while mincing about in hooker heels? Sure, I know from experience that mincing about in hooker heels without snapping one’s neck in the process DOES require real talent. But can you sing? Can you dance? Does your performance involve doing something that will leave the not so easily entertained speechless in its utter depravity? What, exactly, is the point?
Before you gather your rainbow-colored rocks of outrage to hurl viciously in my closed-minded direction, pause for a moment while I knock some wind out of your perpetually offended sails on the SS Thought Police.
Ninety-five percent of my friends are gay men. Yes, I’m one of those. A fag hag. And yes, I have full understanding of the differences between being a drag queen and being transgender—keep your wig on, Felicia. Ninety-nine percent of the people who attend White Trash Sundays are gay men. It’s just me and a bunch of homos. Well, that’s not entirely accurate; two White Trash Sundays ago, for the first time, two straight men and one queer girl attended. A smashing time was had by gay, straight, and queer alike. It was an interesting mix of working artists, porn stars (former, current, and possibly future), a neuroscientist, musicians, sex-toy manufacturers, and chefs.
Was it the color spectrum of race, work force, and sexual diversity that made this possible, I wonder? No, it’s just that I don’t associate with gormless wankers, I only spend my time with people who know how to behave as though they’ve been out of the fucking house at least once. People secure enough in themselves to respect opposing opinions, with lives full enough to prevent them from taking those opinions personally. Adults who firmly grasped the concept of “sticks and stones” back in grade school and unlike the rest of Western Civilization, they maintained that grasp well into adulthood. Individuals whose aural exposure to certain words does not compel them to screech “Hate Speech!!!” at predictably regular intervals. Their level of “I don’t give a single fuck” equals mine; it’s somewhere in the vicinity of a Spinal Tap eleven.
I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some extremely creative, interesting faggots. They go by names such as Squeaky Blonde, Benjamin Criteria, The Infamous Boom Boom, and Rainblo. Those not in the know could (almost) be forgiven for categorizing them as drag queens. For instance, I recently sat in the back of the Wilshire Ebell Theatre while Squeaky sang and acted his huge black heart out in the Peaches Christ production of Return to Grey Gardens, feeling pride ordinarily reserved for the mothers of those pageants where three-year-olds dress like the seemingly endless supply of Vegas hookers innocuously masquerading as strippers. Aside from being absolute comedic, camp genius, the entire show consisted of top-quality acting, dancing, and singing. Those bitches are gifted with real, live, actual talent. Squeaky has a vocal range on par with Diamanda Galas, although his props lean more toward enema kits than pianos. Boom Boom recently ran away and joined the circus. Literally. He left the tiny town of Snowflake, AZ and is currently sprinkling his special brand of stomach-churning goodness all over London and Dubai with Cirque le Soir.
My beautiful, entertaining friends are not drag queens. My boys are tranimals. Tranimals are more like grotesque club kids whose performances are borderline—and sometimes way over the line—offensive. Performance art. Not a drag show. Rather than seething with envy and poorly recreating a woman’s persona in a grotesque form, they are their own manifestation of an artistic vision—theirs and theirs alone. They have bona fide talent; throwing shade and being cunty is not traditionally considered a talent, Hunty.
Today I’m coming out of the closet loud and proud to proclaim that a dude in a dress is still just a dude in a dress.