Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Boys' Night Off

Blankets and curtains locked in the aroma of a perfume cocktail and burning cigarettes in the makeshift backstage changing area at Ellis Place on Saturday night. Homemade sequin dresses covered in clear plastic hung on a paint-chipped coat rack. Wigs of every color and length held their shape on mannequin heads that rhythmically lined the booth chairs. Costume jewelry and glamorous four-inch high heels were piled up here and there on the tile floor. Four magnifying mirrors blinked their incandescent light into an endless variety of makeup overflowed the tabletops.
“Fifteen minutes ‘til show time,” James “Chardonnay Divine” Jackson, 23, the Cabaret LaCage Director, announced at 8:45p.m. The clatter of heels grew more rapid as the performers adjusted their pantyhose, zipped up their dresses, flipped over their wigs and did one last makeup check.
“When I went to my first drag show,”

Jackson recalls, “I was weirded out and
intrigued at the same time. I had a hard time understanding that those performers were not actually women all the time.”
For the past year and a half, Jackson has been performing at Ellis Place once a month.
“It’s like acting for me,” Jackson said. “I am a different character in the physical and emotional sense for just one night. I love being a boy. I live the boy. I wear boy clothes every day, except for that one night a month.”
“We do this to entertain. Bowling Green needs a club like this,” Jackson said. “Most bars cater to a certain crowd, but this is the one place we take anybody. It doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, black, white or whatever, it is a spot once a month that people can come out and be together.”
The seats were now full, the bar was buzzing, and members of the audience had pockets full of one-dollar bills ready to tip. Show time!

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