Queen for a Day
Mingling with royalty has gone to your humble Gay Place's head.
By Kate X Messer,
2:50PM, Wed. Aug. 13, 2008
Gender in and of itself carries enough expectation baggage. But when gender skew has a matching suitcase, you know you gotta do some unpacking: even if it means shaving your armpits.
If one more person asked if I were going to wear a tux, I was going to scream.
Both founding Empress Mona littleMore and current/outgoing Empress Simone Riviera sent along invitations to the United Court of Austin's annual Coronation: The Chronicle, "The Gay Place," Getty, and I were being acknowledged with an award and would I like to accept it. I knew that my guayabera and Sansabelts wouldn't cut it. Accessorizing, to me, usually means putting a Romeo y Julieta in the little cigar pocket over my breast.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. When I don the cultural signifiers of my gender, I come off like a drag queen. That is no slur. But in my case, since it is my birth gender, and I do identify as such, there is a sense of some serious cognitive punking when I get "girly." However, this was a night for drag. Why not make an effort, and go in solidarity?
The theme of the evening was to be Night of the Living Dolls: A Celebration at Studio 54. Elizabeth Taylor in one of her patented wild headdresses – or was it a floral turban? – appeared in my dreams, so I bolted up out of bed and began in earnest my Google quest for visual inspiration to carry out an experiment in femininity.
Yes, friends. I went to the coronation as a woman.
Mediterranean goddess? Moroccan princess? Coke-dusted dilettante? Who would I be? Oh the effects of so much 70s Liz Taylor combined with my recent overexposure to Mamma Mia! were having their way with me. To pull off this feat, I knew I had to whip out the big guns. My gunniest (Gail Chovan, Leslie Bonnell) were out of town or too busy – it was such late notice. Then I called Stephen. He implanted a useful seed that changed the entire course of my get up: Spanx. But when he insisted I wear black, I knew I was barking up the wrong diva.
So I called Pink Salon. And Emily came to my rescue. Then I called Cindy, (our managing editor) one of my oldest friends and one with whom I share a history of dress-up (another blog post for another day). Cindy recommended that I try this crazy resale shop up near Northcross Mall. It happened to be right next door to my Spanx ground zero, Petticoat Fair, so I could kill two very chunky birds with one stone.
When I go femme I do not fuck around. I mean business. So I lumbered into these two matron meccas, with hair slicked back and cargo shorts flapping in the breeze and just laid it out on the line: I want you to girl me up; I have drag queens to impress. Summer from Designer Exchange and Magda from Petticoat Fair wasted no time and had me fitted and outfitted in less than an hour.
I emailed Emily the dress coordinates and in no time, stylists Johanna and Sara were planning make-up and hair – or more precisely, the wig.
Wig! That meant a scavenger hunt across the Eastside to all of my fave femme haunts: King's on MLK, Sunny Wigs on Airport, Quarter to Ten on Pleasant Valley. But I finally landed at my favorite hoochie hang-out and wig wigwam: Fashion Outlet at the corner of Springdale and Ed Bluestein. Sara and I picked out a thick brunette braid headband and a crazy item called the Party Dome, basically a bun-top with three three-foot braids that drop off for the purpose of twisting into a... well, party dome.
One whirlwind trip to Hobby Lobby later (we needed doves), and we were ready to rock.
What we ended up with was less Liz in the VIP room with Andy Warhol and closer to Kathy Bates on the Titanic (see pic), but that was fine. For my first foray into femme drag in over a decade, I was fat-tick satisfied.
Coming soon! Part II: The Coronation!