- The Geisha is Danny Becerril (Natasha Red)
“EVERYBODY line up! Places, the show is about to start! You have to show a look, have a look, or give a look! Faces, Beautiful! No one ugly allowed!”
“Fashionista” by Jimmy James rings through the speakers, and the audience automatically knows where to move. The center of the club lights up, guiding all eyes to the black theater curtains toward the back of the room.
On Thursdays and Sundays at 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. drag queens are found at Club One lip syncing, giving life, and of course, taking tips from those who come to visit.
Since the death of The Lady Chablis, who starred in the Clint Eastwood-directed “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” bringing the Savannah drag scene plenty of attention, the drag scene hasn’t been the same. Now, Savannah drag queens are fighting to get to the top in hopes of gaining more exposure for themselves and their city.
Atlanta-based drag queen Steven Diehl, better known as Biqtch Puddiń, and best friend/drag queen Brendan Scanlon, performer for The House of Gunt (local Savannah drag troupe) as Lazanya Ontré, are both sending in audition tapes, and in a time when drag is in its prime and on the up and up, competition is thick.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race is a platform to launch a career off of. The true competition happens after the show airs. Now you have a larger audience looking at your body of work. It’s up to you to present that to the best of your ability,” say Biqtch Puddiń.
New Savannah resident from Puerto Rico, Danny Becerill, performing as Natasha Red will be sending in an application as well, this being his third attempt.
Thousands of queens submit their audition tapes every year for a new season hoping to receive a spot on the show, but what viewers don’t see is what happens in the process of creating the looks and performances for auditions. Getting dressed and preparing for the performance, Lazanya says, is the most tedious part.
Drag queens tuck their genitals behind them to create the illusion of a vagina, and they use make-up to create breasts. Some slide on two or more pairs of dancer tights to hide the hair on their legs, and some even shave their eyebrows so they can have a blank canvas to draw on.
“I live for it! I promise I do. All the colors, personalities and characters, it’s exciting, it gives me almost like a rush. I always feel like I want to go back stage, beat face, and throw on one of their costumes and perform for the crowd, they’d love me,” says 23-year-old Club One audience member, N’Gina Wright.
(BEAT FACE: “When the make-up applied to a person's face is so powerful and amazing that it makes them look truly stunning,” says UrbanDictionary.com.)
When the make-up comes off and they’re all untucked, the drag queens have a house, friends, and a family to go home to. Chris Becerril, Natasha Red’s husband, says that being in a relationship with a drag queen is completely different from being in a relationship with a regular person.
Drag queens are perfectionists and sometimes Natasha can get upset.
“Everything from their make-up, and outfit to the props and accessories. Every small detail matters. There are times when I’m yelled at just because I grabbed the wrong brush. Or because I don’t know the names of the makeups. I mean I don’t know about makeup because It's not my forte and I could care less, but I try so things are easier for him. Besides that, It's a good time. Gets me away from home and work and back into a fantasy world, I guess.”
In Savannah, drag is collaboration, coming together to educate and have a good time. Drag performance isn’t a craft that people wake up and are good at. Drag didn’t come easy for most performers but friends, family, passion and art is what keeps them moving, that’s what Savannah is about.
In the words of RuPaul “Sashay away.”