Watching Diana Ross’s Toronto gig on May 31 reminded me of seeing Michelle Ross a couple of years ago at Blockorama.
Ross (our Ross) did Miss Ross’s “When You Tell Me That You Love Me,” and the audience’s tears, outstretched hands and screaming easily surpassed the reaction the real Diana’s encore got.
Yet drag queens don’t always get the respect they deserve. (As my mother says, “They don’t even sing!”) Whether you love or hate them, they do deserve our respect. Besides being on the frontlines of Stonewall and the Toronto bathhouse raids, they are also the backbone of community fundraising. Whether it’s for AIDS or humanitarian relief, they are the first and last to dig deep by donating their time and talent.
And the queens you see regularly work hard. I’m a big fan of Ivory Towers. A scant 23 years old, she’s carved out a reputation in a few short years. She’s reliable and she keeps the numbers fresh — that’s why she can be found on so many stages. All that work has made her one of the leaders of a new generation of queens. Geoffrey, the face behind her, is an actor. But he is much better known as Ivory; take a wild guess who brings in more money?
Another hard worker is recent Gowntown winner Yura, who does simply the best Tina Turner I’ve ever seen. That she is white and pulls it off without a hint of offensiveness is testament to her dedication in creating the illusion.
And some of these queens are real heartbreakers. One in particular is known for her feminine beauty, but I think he’s even sexier as a man. Although he won’t fulfill anyone’s lumberjack fantasies, late at night in his ballcap, he literally makes my mouth water. In sexual situations or fully clothed, he oozes a hypnotic male sexuality that completely vanishes when it’s drag time.
As a woman, pretty. As a man, sizzling hot.
I once watched him (as her) at work, opening with Gaga or Beyoncé or some such song, a crowd pleaser to get the audience on his side. And they totally were, ready for an evening’s worth of faux femmeness.
As the night wore on, I kept seeing parts of his male persona: his sexy crooked smile hiding under lipstick, a mole that couldn’t be hidden with foundation, a well-executed tuck that I knew obscured generous equipment. I couldn’t help but wonder if those people ever saw him as I did. It’s plainly obvious that she’s great at hair whipping, but would they agree with me that the way he walks down a flight of stairs in track pants and a hoodie is even more breathtaking?
During Pride, take a sec to think about what’s under that wig. Acknowledge that they have been at the forefront of every battle the gay community has ever fought and the entertainment they give. Realize that they’ve spent much more money getting ready than they are paid, and maybe take a cue from Diana Ross, and reach out and touch some drag queen’s hand; you might be surprised at how strong it is.