A friend of mine invited me out to dinner last week. Moderately priced pasta and beer in a cozy little venue, topped off with a drag show to accompany our meal.
When he asked me to come along, I was all “Shit yeah spag and drag, sounds awesome.”
I went about my week as normal, and when it came to getting ready to leave, I asked my housemate if I should bring my camera along. “Do they let cameras in?” I asked, wondering if perhaps it could be perceived as voyeuristic. Or something. Gotta keep other people’s values in mind, you know?
“Sure, but she’ll probably pick on you if she sees you taking photos.” Pick on me? I hadn’t actually thought about what a drag show entailed. Housemate #1 went on to tell me about the nature of the performance. I gathered that people go to these shows to be made fun of by a drag queen while getting drunk. Housemate #2 piped up and said he was berated for looking like a stoner when he went. I started to freak out a little. He does look like a stoner. I don’t know what kind of youth stereotype I look like, and I really wasn’t prepared to have my physical appearance dissected by a man who wears dresses more often than I do. No one needs that.
Off we went, on well the planned public transport system, to Temple Bar. I brought my camera along just in case, preparing myself for the expected tirade of abuse. The bar itself was charming. Nothing too flashy; the only flamboyant things in the room were the red sequined curtains over the stage and the physical mannerisms of the man I assume was the venue owner. Charming. Our table of 14 slowly filled, the beer started to flow, and we laughed about what might be said about the people on the tables around us. We ate, laughed some more, drank some more, then the show began.
Without giving away the show completely, it was fucking brutal. One boy at our table had just arrived in from the night before. She honed in on him because he’s a bit pretty, with comments like: “So, do you pack fudge Kyle?”
Writing doesn’t get across just how lewd she was. She noticed one of the girls sitting at our table as she was finishing off her meal. Calling her a skinny bitch, she demanded to know if she was going to vomit it back up in the toilets. For the rest of the night, my friend was called “the slut up the back”, and got coerced into playing a game the required her to spit a dummy across the room.
A woman at a table near us was “the ugliest woman in Melbourne”, a group of men were “old c*nts”, and a bald man with an unfortunately shaped head was given a lengthy description of why he reminded her of “… what’s the name of that movie… Coneheads?”
There was even a holocaust joke made. I laughed way too loudly at that one. But miraculously, I escaped the attention of the drag goddess. It was incredible. I even managed to share a respect-nod with her at the bar during a break. It may have been my subtle makeup, my modestly stylish hairstyle, or the fact I gave her some rolling papers for a uh… ahem cigarette. One can only speculate about these things. But I escaped uninjured.
As I drank more, I started to loosen up with the photo taking, and got a great snapshot of poor Kyle with his hand up her dress.
I consider myself as being lucky that night, but others may say I missed out. Whatever your interpretation, I’ve never experienced anything like it. I want more. I want to go to themed bars and restaurants and see ridiculous over the top entertainment. Things like that remind me of how decadent we really are as a culture. And I’ve come to the conclusion that we should enjoy and embrace this shit. Everyone should go to a drag show at least once. It’s very, very indulgent, but in a highly acceptable way. Hilarious.