Tag Archive | "drag queen"

Could Bearded Drag Queen Win It All?


By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Tomorrow night (Saturday) the annual Eurovision Song Contest will reach it’s much expected finale in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. After an entire week of  semi-finals the ultimate 26 songs have been weeded out from a total of 37 contestants to compete for the coveted trophy and title as winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

One of the finalists is Thomas Neuwirth from Vienna, Austria, whose drag persona Conchita Wurst, a bearded drag queen whose last name literally translates into sausage, has become the most talked about contestant of this year’s singing extravaganza. The publicity surrounding the bearded lady has been predominantly positive as the hosting country of Denmark has seized the opportunity to showcase the country’s inclusive and open attitude towards everyone – including sexual minorities. On the negative side participating countries Belarus and Russia have petitioned to have Conchita Wurst removed altogether from the contest as they found the very concept of an openly gay drag queen offensive to their countries’ moral codex.

The Eurovision Song Contest is not – as the name falsely suggests – a European song contest, but rather a singing competition for members of the Eurovision broadcasting association, which is why non-European countries like Israel and Russia can compete (who are not in in the European Union either). It started out in 1956 as a very Western European song contest, but has over the years evolved to include Eastern European countries and countries not considered European. What was considered a very important music contest launching careers of the likes of ABBA and Celine Dion has over the years become less of a platform to propel a promising music career. In fact, what is mostly noted today is the vast difference between entries from Western and Eastern parts of Europe that span from suggestive milkmaids (Poland) over rainbow color-coordinated rock bands (Iceland) to the staple grand ballads (Norway, Ukraine, Montenegro and Austria).

And then there is Conchita Wurst who has drawn some sort of line through Europe dividing it into West and East when taking into account how nations have reacted to her presence at the singing fete. It’s not the first time there has been transgender controversy in The Eurovision Song Contest because already back 1998 Dana International won the contest with the song “Diva” after she had undergone gender reassignment surgery – so technically she was a girl when competing.

Now the finale awaits and according to Conchita Wurst’s popularity and the bookmakers who tip her to be the hottest favorite, she could be taking the trophy home to Austria with her. And with it maybe no longer the title as “the bearded lady” but the Queen of Eurovision.

We wish Conchita Wurst all the luck in the world – and if you want to see some of the Eurovision Song Contest extravaganza, you can stream it live from right here – the massive show starts at 3 p.m. Saturday Atlanta time.

And please take a look and listen to Conchita’s performance from a semi-final show of her song “Rise Like A Phoenix” – a power ballad of James Bondesque proportions.

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Lauryn Hill Disses Drag Queens


Berlin Sylvestre, Staff Writer

Actress, model, singer, and incarcerated felon Lauryn Hill has something to say about the world — and it’s not pretty.

Citing “drag queens” in a rather long list of what’s wrong with society, her new song “Neurotic Society” has certainly snagged the community’s attention. The singer, currently in the pen for tax evasion, released the track just days before her three-month stint in the big house.

The lyrics put drag queens into the same “godless” category as druggies, pimps, pushers, and the like.

So what’s the verdict? Check out the video below and try not to let the hecticism tax your psyche.

Posted in News, Nightlife, Urban CultureComments (2)

Ashley Kruiz, beloved performer and dear friend to many, passes away


Berlin Sylvestre, Staff Writer

For some time now, Atlanta has been in a state of mourning for a legend of stage and friend to all. The passing of Ashley Kruiz came at the end of an arduous battle in ICU. Initially hospitalized for breathing problems, her condition worsened. Loved ones showed solidarity with bedside visits and prayers, but sadly, she passed on March 31, Easter Sunday. In droves, members of the Atlanta drag community showed support through prayers, fundraisers, and kind words over social media. The outpouring of love and support for her surviving family appear daily on Facebook, and nightly in the many bars she’s graced.

Known as the “Ultimate Pageant Queen,” Ashley was known for her intense attention to detail when preparing for a show. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering her cosmetologly training at Roy’s of Louisville Beauty Academy in Kentucky. Under the tutelage of Kentucky’s own Chelsea Pearl, a two-time winner of the Miss Gay USofA national crown, Ashley flourished in her first drag cast in the Imperial Court of the Bluegrass Empire.

After making waves in Kentucky, Ashley moved to Atlanta in 1987 and jumped right in. For the next six years, she was a staple in the female impersonation nightlife of our city. From gigs at the Gallus basement bar to joining Charlie Brown’s Cabaret, you could count on Ashley to doll up and throw down.

Over the next seven years, Ashley graced the stages of clubs in Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis, honing her skill to an even finer point before returning to Atlanta in 2000. Naturally, Charlie Brown snatched her right back up and she headlined with the cabaret at Backstreet until the club shut its doors.

A born (and fierce) competitor, Ashley thrived on the pageant circuit. It’s unclear just how many awards Ashley racked up over the duration of her illustrious career, but the following list should give you an idea of the dedication she put into her work:

- Miss Georgia USA
- Miss Gay Alabama America
- Miss Georgia Continental
- Miss Renaissance
- Miss Hotlanta International
- Miss Gay National
- Miss Gay World
- Miss Continental Elite
– Miss Gay Cobb County
– 1st runner up at Miss Continental

- 1st runner up (twice) at Miss Gay USofA
-1st runner up (thrice) at National Entertainer of the Year

A star on the national talk show circuit as well, Ashley made appearances on “The Jenny Jones Show,” “Maury,” and “The Phil Donahue Show.”

After the closing of Backstreet, she continued performing with Charlie Brown’s Cabaret through numerous other venues until settling at Burkhart’s Pub as a host, performer, director of entertainment, and most importantly, a sister, godmother, and inspiration to countless people — both performers and those who were simply there to give love back.

And the love continues.

Tonight, Jungle is accepting donations at the end of Ruby’s Tuesday show to benefit Ashley’s family.

Burkhart’s Pub will host a show Wednesday, April 3 (tomorrow) from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. in honor of their director of entertainment.

From their press release:

A legend in the gay and drag community nationwide, Ashley spent decades performing everywhere from the smallest of stages to Pride’s annual Starlight Cabaret in Piedmont Park. This show will be hosted by a trio of Ashley’s close friends: From their many years working together at Backstreet, Mr. Charlie Brown, as well as Burkhart’s own Shavonna B. Brooks and Angelica D’Paige. Ashley gave much to the community and this is our chance to come together and give back. All donations will be used to help offset personal and medical expenses. Please keep Ashley in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Thank you for your support.

A lineup of entertainers scheduled to perform at Burkhart’s:

Princess Alberta
Mariah Paris Balenciaga
Nicole Paige Brooks
Shawnna Brooks
Heather Daniels
Niesha Dupree
Raquell Lord
Lena Lust
Lauren LeMasters
Phoenix
Al’Meria Richman
Deonna Sage
Dorae Saunders
Monte St. James
Lily White
… and many, many more.

On Wednesday, April 10, LeBuzz is organizing a farewell benefit show and memorial event to help with the family’s final expenses and in her memory. This special show will be held at 10 p.m. There is no cover charge and all of the participating entertainers are giving their tips and donations to Ashley’s family, courtesy of Johnathon Murphy and Destiny Brooks, representing the management and entertainment staff of the popular Marietta nightclub. As well, donations will be accepted at the front door. LeBuzz invites anyone interested to donate their time and energy (in any capacity) toward the event. Search for Johnathan Murphy and/or Destiny Brooks on Facebook.

The Atlanta Eagle will be having a special drag show on Friday, April 19. The Eagle isn’t known for extensive drag calendars, so this truly will be an event thrown in Ashley’s honor. The show will be from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Through donations and a silent auction, the club and performers are raising money for a memorial fund for Ashley.

If you are interested in being part of the show at the Atlanta Eagle, please contact Al’Meria RichMan at 770-833-2618 or send her a message via text or Facebook. You can also email her at EaglesManicMondays@gmail.com.

If you’re unable to attend but would like to make a donation, contact Al’Meria or Robby Kelly, the owner of Eagle.

FENUXE will devote space in our next issue to let Ashley’s friends speak of the superstar in their own words. Feel free to contact Berlin@Fenuxe.com if you’d like a few words to be considered for inclusion.

Have a memory of Ashley that you’d like to share right now? FENUXE always welcomes comments in the space below.

Have some information that you feel will enhance the article? Please share. Always. We know Ashley was a beloved member of our community and we hope to provide a safe space to further honor her memory, and what better source than her friends, family, and fans?

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RuPaul Lets It All Hang Out


Berlin Sylvestre, Staff Writer

When you’re lucky enough to score an interview with one of the most famous public figures in our community, you’d best check yourself for a pulse if you don’t get a little jittery. (“What if I stumble over these questions? What if I can’t articulate what I’m trying to ask? What if I sound like a complete nerd?”) Thing is, RuPaul constantly reminds us that we should be comfortable in our own skin and, lucky for me, the audible smile in the “Hello?” coming from the other end of the line put me in good company. “Ru” is quick to laugh – and it’s a loud, infectious, genuine laugh that millions of people worldwide know well.

So let’s talk Atlanta! How has living and working here help shape the RuPaul we know today?

Well, Atlanta is Mecca for drag – at least when I was living there. Let me tell you: I was poor as dirt living in Midtown, back when there was affordable housing. It was great. We could go to [the now-closed nightclub] Illusions on Monday night and for $2 see the world’s greatest drag queens, and we studied them, got to understand the vernacular and what it means to be a part of that society. It created a basis for us. I think they looked at us as mocking them, though. We were punk rock, genderfuck, antiestablishment types.

When you say greats, who are you referring to?

Erica Adams, Lisa King, Dina Jacobs, Tiffany Middlesex, Charlie Brown, Lily White, Apple Love, and Tina Devore.

How do you think Atlanta is representing on the show?

We’ve had many contestants from Atlanta, but we choose the best of the auditioners from wherever they come. It’s a process, but we choose the best of the best from all over. This season coming up, we have our first girl from San Francisco. People have been going, “WHY don’t you have San Fran girls on?” and I’m like, “Send me some and we’ll see!” I mean, Nicole Paige Brooks is from Atlanta … Phoenix … and season two’s winner [Tyra Sanchez] lives in Atlanta now, so Atlanta’s well-represented.

You were born and raised in San Diego, but you consider Atlanta your true birth place. What happened here that makes you claim that?

Honey, I had my bar mitzvah there. It’s where I became an adult. It was my coming out – not of the closet, but out of my shell. In San Diego, I was involved with my parents’ melodrama. I was, at best, a background actor in their drama. In Atlanta, I was able to be the star of my own movie. It was such a conducive place to develop my personality.

Your mantra “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?” has a real self-discovery feel to it. Are you ever hard on yourself?

I wouldn’t say I’m hard on myself, but I’m always having a conversation with myself. There’s this … internal dialogue I keep: “What’s going on with you? How do you feel?” I’m always present, always in the moment, and focusing on the now – and am diligent about it.

We can tell! So pretend you’re coming to Atlanta this weekend: What places would you want to hit up first?

I’d wanna walk around Piedmont Park. It was a hub, our Central Park. I’m telling you, 1976 to 1987 was the boom time for Atlanta. It started in ‘74 when Maynard Jackson took [mayoral] office. The city, like a phoenix, reinvented itself. From ‘76 to ‘87, we had an amazing time!

And then what?

Well, big business took over Midtown and tore down all the clubs, got rid of affordable housing, and really just … changed the texture of the city. Piedmont Park is still there, though.

But can you do that, as famous as you are? Can you just walk around?

I can, sure – especially if it’s a little chilly. I put on a hat and no one knows it’s me. People are usually texting or doing their taxes or something. And it’s weird to me, that people aren’t there, even when they’re present.

You’ve talked about, how after your parents’ divorce, you and your sister took on the reverse role of parenting your mother, who more or less turned her back to the world. Do you think that maternal instinct and experience kicks in with the contestants on “Drag Race?”

Absolutely! But even if it wasn’t my story, it’s intrinsically part of me to be empathetic and compassionate. I place kindness at the top of my human virtues – I always have. I always try to be understanding of [the contestants’] doubts and feelings. Helping them self-realize is the role I play on the show. Even in my personal life, I ask people questions they should be asking themselves.

And what about you? Is there anything you’re insecure about?

That’s a good question. In my constant dialogue, I sometimes have to check myself and say: “Ru! Honey! There’s nothing to be afraid of!” Well, actually, there is one thing … and it’s the ignorance and fear in other people that can scare me sometimes. But am I insecure about the way I look? No. There comes a point where you just say “f*#k it.”

I’m at that point too. You should see what I’m wearing, it’s awful. Usually is.

*laughs*

So let’s take some fan questions: Since you had contestants play it on “Untucked,” choose one drag queen from “Drag Race” you would marry, one you would screw, and one you would kill.

*laughs* Well, you know … they’re all my kids so, as the Mommy, I can’t play favorites. I want all of them to know I love and respect them, so I really can’t answer that!

Boo!

*laughs*

How did you feel about giving Team Latrila the chop?

I hate it everytime I have to give the chop, but I also understand that it’s life. We’re on a competition show – someone’s gotta go, someone’s gotta win. It’s like life: You have to acknowledge night and day. But the thing is … I’ve chosen each girl to be there. I’m in love with them, sure, but someone’s gotta go. I understand and live with it. But just because the competition is over doesn’t mean they’re not being watched or sought after.

No way! It’s career launching just to be on.

Absolutely! Even the first girl to leave is sought after immediately.

OK, now what happened to Willam?

Well … *nervous laugh* … several things happened but the big thing was that she broke the rules. We take away cell phones, computers, all outside contact and … well, Willam had a computer and outside contact. You just can’t do that.

Another fan question: “Do drag queens, as a result of facing so much prejudice historically, have more ‘license’ to say whatever they want?”

Its not just queens – it’s all of us. As people, we’re ego-driven. The ego has to separate itself from other people, because in reality, we’re all one. Ego will tell you you’re better or worse and it’s true for all people unless they actively work on overriding the ego. So yeah, there’s prejudice and nastiness wherever you go, but I think drag queens actually have less of that because they understand you can’t take life too seriously. You can’t take identity too seriously. And that’s what drag is all about.

What did the young Ru want to be as an adult?

I just wanted to be famous. I wasn’t sure in what capacity, but I wanted to be famous. My mother prophesized I would be, so …

So she hit the nail on the head with that one!

She certainly did!

Well, I do appreciate you taking the interview.

It was an honor. Thank you, Berlin.

Season 5 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” premieres January 28 at 9pm on Logo.

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