Born to Be a Drag Queen

I sincerely feel it was what I was put here to do, but I look too much like a woman to be a man dressed like a woman

I can’t possibly be the only woman on earth who wants to be a drag queen. Can I?

I can’t quite remember when I first got fascinated with drag queens, although I can tell you that as a child, I spent hours at my grandmother’s vanity, piling on the makeup. I tried different looks: the femme fatale, the Star Trek alien, the JonBenet Ramsey. Makeup was my world, and an excellent way for my grandmother to not have to hear it from me for at least the duration of "Starsky & Hutch," and maybe even on into "Kojak."

Another important facet of this draggy obsession was that Paul Lynde was my favorite "Hollywood Squares" character, and in elementary school one of my closest friends was a boy who wore pink ribbons in his hair and joined the cheerleading squad. So what I’m saying to you is I have pretty much loved me a gay man since day one.

I guess not every drag queen is gay (right?), but I have always been drawn to the gay world, and once moved on from Charles Nelson Riley’s jaunty ascot and saw me a real drag queen? I was no longer drawn: I was dragged.

I guess it’s the over-the-top-ness, the excessive makeup-ness, the tall hair, the 49-inch heels. I’ve always been very girly, but drag queens put the grrrr in girl. And the names! Chlamydia Burns. Lotta Slots. Clara Tin. Beth Israel. Come on. How could you not embrace that with every inch of it, with your bronzed and bedazzled self?

I’ve heard there’s a restaurant in New York where the hostesses are women dressed like drag queens, and it was right then that my dream job moved from go-go dancer in 1968 to New York restaurant hostess. (I realize my dream jobs leave a little something to be desired in the making-money department.) What I wouldn’t give to be able to airbrush some foundation on, contour my nose till it’s a little bud of a thing, and slather on the cats-eye black liner till I look like Endora on "Bewitched."

Really, I think I was born to be a drag queen. I need to be in a tight spangle-y dress and obscene heels with too much makeup and Marie Antoinette hair. I need for you all to watch me while I lip sync "I Will Survive." I sincerely feel it was what I was put here to do. I realize this does not make me Mother Teresa. But I can totally be Teresa Company!

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The irony is, of course, that I don’t have the boy body to really be a successful drag queen. I have too many curves. In short (and round), I look too much like a woman to be a man dressed like a woman. If I were your drag queen, I’d be the old, chubby, last-minute choice that you got because it’s the day before the bachelor party and dammit, you forgot to arrange a drag queen for your bachelor friend of questionable sexuality. The one who was in "Up With People" maybe a few too many seasons.

I am not so much a drag queen as I am a dregs queen.

But hell, I will survive.

Tags: memoirs

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