Why You Should Go to A Nashville Drag Queen Show

Credits: Photo - Michael Strocel, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location: 5 Points, East Nashville

When you think of Nashville, aka: Music City, what comes to mind? Honkey Tonks, live music, a lot of drawls, “yee haw’s,” and “y’alls”? All of that is true. What you may not have thoughts about was else the city has to offer. May I suggest the next time you head to Nashville, check out one of the best ticket’s in town: a drag show.

There is over five hundred years of documented drag history – or at the very least, men dressing as women – from stage plays to the modern form of elaborate and deliberate showmanship.

During the month of Pride, I was lucky enough to see Nashville’s finest perform hit after hit in a new look every time. As a young girl who loved playing dress up and wore towels on her head so I’d have the look of long hair, I understand the desire. Why not express – or find - yourself through a character that you can put on for a show and take off when you’re done?

Enjoying shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and outrageous cinema queen Divine have exposed me a tiny sliver to the world of drag. But nothing is quite like seeing it up close and in person. I’m hooked.

The makeup and wig kits that a drag performer must acquire, lug around, and master the application of is astonishing. I’m going to take a leap that a lot of make up fads like mega thick false eyelashes and face contouring was borrowed from the boys. Playing with makeup and trying new techniques can be so liberating. If it doesn’t look good to you, simply clean it off and try something else.

Each performance of a song came with a whole new look. There were more sparkles than a child’s unicorn themed birthday party. Gowns, (p)leather, body suits, feathers, silk, and lace was all featured. It’s easy to stop and simply marvel at what each lady had going on, but the real MVP was what each star had working – and I mean really working – under the costumes. Move over Spanx, drag queens could run workshops on how one can boost, tuck, slim, shape, and cinch nearly any part of a body.

One may criticize that changing your appearance so that you are no longer recognizable is not empowering. They may argue that it’s not an act of self-love. I’d call bullshit. On RuPaul’s Drag Race there are a variety of performers. Size, height, shape, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, background, and age are more varied than any other catwalk I've ever seen.

If the makeup and costumes aren’t enough for you, there appears to be so much love and support in the drag community. It’s a safe space. I have never been at a bar before where I wasn’t worried about one of my girlfriends getting groped, drugged, or creeped on by a bad guy. I had never before seen so much genuine admiration for the performers song after song. On top of that, it’s just a really good time.

Of course it’s more that dressing up and performing. It’s about self-expression. It’s about self-acceptance. It’s about loving what you’ve got and working with the areas you may not be as much in love with to achieve a sense of your best self. It’s about development and evolution. As we all are aware, working on yourself a life long process.

Royale, a past contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race summed it up pretty nicely.

"I want people to realize it's OK to make mistakes, it's OK to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it!" 

Show your Pride this month and enjoy all the festivities all year long.