The crowd at Cheer Up Charlies eagerly awaited the inaugural performance of Austin’s only drag king troupe. The smooth, subtle confidence of each king combined with perfectly lip-synced verses to retro romance hits drove the ladies mad. These BOIZ have created a whole new reason to swoon.
From androgynous to burly and many shaves in between, BOIZ 4 NOW represent the fluidity of gender expression in Austin’s LGBT community. Some of the BOIZ are androgynous or tomboys in their everyday lives while others transition from feminine to masculine for their character. Guest performer Alexander Sin, a professional aerialist by day, says she feels empowered when she dons some stubble and fills in her pants. Her swagger is in the stuffing. "Once I stuff my pants, I’m ready to be that character. I know that sounds hilarious, but it’s true."
BOIZ 4 NOW, founded by Ali Martin and KT Crouch in October, combines traditional drag performance with elements of burlesque – or “boi-lesque” – aerial, and striptease to create a completely unique show. Mad Max Morrison, Christian Minkle, and Duke Darling make up the core of the troupe, with frequent guest performances by Sin and Lucian Anguish.
Sin’s other performances outside of drag typically require hyper-feminine costuming, “I’ve been in tights, and rhinestones, and lashes my entire life, but there was always this other part for me.” To finally be able to show yourself, to be looked at and seen by others as you see yourself is very liberating, she says.
Before the BOIZ 4 NOW took the stage in December there was no other active drag king troupe in Austin. In early 2015, the long-running troupe Kings N Things disbanded, leaving just Queertini Time – the gender bending, burlesque duo – to represent the the local drag king community. After noticing the lack of kings, Martin and Crouch decided to hold auditions with the hope of showcasing tomboys in collaboration with current Instagram movement, The Invisible Tomboy.
The BOIZ 4 NOW are an unapologetic model for others. “You’re setting the stage quite literally for those to just be themselves,” says co-founder Martin. They represent a continuum of gender expression and masculinity: butch, tomboy, androgynous, boi, and stud. But none of these are the ultimate. Even masculinity itself is not the focus of this drag king troupe. They promote only self expression. Each king has full control over the look, expression, and performance of his character.
What’s more, they truly support the individuality and expression of each of their performers. There is no troupe standard other than quality of performance. “It doesn’t mean it’s a great thing to be anything,” says Martin. “The point is be whoever you want, feel how you want to feel, you don’t have to be rejected for it. Truth is authentic, and it will show when it is true.”
Catch the BOIZ 4 NOW at Tomboy Tuesday, the first Tuesday of every month at Cheer Up Charlies. Mad Max Morrison will also be performing at Austin Community College Rio Grande campus on April 19 for the alumni showcase, A Night of Queer Performance. Queertini Time will be performing at the second annual International Drag Festival in downtown Austin from April 28-May 1.
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