Fabulous Fauxs Fight for Fame
Copyright 1998 by Christine Beatty
(Originally published in Spectator Magazine on January 15, 1999)
Dolly Parton once said in an interview something to the effect of “If I hadn’t been born a woman I probably would be a transvestite.” Well, it seemed that six of her soul sisters showed up on Sunday, December 6th to compete in the annual Faux Queen Pageant presented by the KLUBSTiTUE KOLLECTiVE. In addition to these twice-stunning sirens, the evening was graced by the presence of former Faux Queen titleists, including acting Faux Queen 1997, Allthata and Faux Queen 1996, Patty O’Furniture.
Billed as a “Night that will live in infauxmy” the Faux Queen contest is open to all “genetically-challenged drag queens.” Like the KLUBSTiTUTE Virgin Queen contest of a few months ago, this event doubled as a fundraiser as well as a funraiser. The beneficiary of this latest production was W.O.R.L.D. (Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases), a women’s health education, outreach and advocacy group.
Photo by Christine Beatty
On hand was an awesome lineup of local celebrity judges including columnist Silke Tudor of the SF Weekly, Leah Garchik of the Chronicle, Deena Davenport, Trauma Flintsone and Birdie Bob Watt. This panoply of panelists stared down the unenviable task of deciding which of the highly qualified contestants was the penultimate Drag Queen Trapped in a Real Woman’s Body. And, oh, the competition was fierce.
As always during an event like this, I like to get the story right from the participants, and this pageant was no exception. The first person I collared was the eventual winner, “Be Dazzler” who showed up with two menfriends in tow. A secondtime entrant, her motivation was defined in a single word: fun. When I asked if she had any suggestions for aspiring faux queens, she smiled “You can never have too many wigs or enough glitter!”
The next glamour girl I spoke with was “Patty O’Furniture,” who performed in the show in drag king mode, decked out in an Elvis getup. A winner the second time she entered, Patty explained her original aspirations to faux queendom.
“The reason why I entered the first time was because I really like to dress up. I was really surprised in Madonna’s movie “Truth or Dare” when she said she was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, and I thought that was funny because I’ve been calling myself that since I was fifteen. I really got into dressing up when I was eighteen, and I started doing Rocky Horror. And through that I met Ruby and got into Klubstitute., The first year [of the contest] I didn’t even place and the next year I did it as Marylin Monroe [and won].”
When I uttered the traditional showbiz wish “break a leg,” she responded with “break a nail, a heel and a heart!”
As with the Virgin Queen contest, the driving force behind the show is Ruby Toosday. When I asked her how this show compared with the Virgin Queen version she replied, “It’s very different. The Faux Queen quality of drag and performance is higher, because a lot of these girls have been working on it for a while. We always get some Faux Queens who call up to enter and say ‘Oh, my God. Everybody’s always told me all my life I look like a drag queen. I never knew I had an outlet.’ As far as I know it’s the only event of its kind anywhere. And last year’s was one of the best damn drag shows I ever saw.”
In the lull right before the show began, I hightailed it downstairs to speak with the judges and get their take on the evening. The panelists were a highspirited bunch, exemplified by Deena Davenport’s comment.
Deena: “How come there’s no butches for hire in the Spectator?”
Still chuckling, I approached Silke Tudor, best known for her Night Crawler column.
Spectator: “What makes a winning faux queen?”
Silke: “I’m looking for a little subtlety. A woman being a man being a woman. I think the talent competition will be the most important thing.”
Spectator: “Any words of wisdom for our Spectator audience?”
Silke: “I don’t think there’s anything I can tell the Spectator audience that they don’t already know.”
(Silke later told me that what she really looks for in a contestant is bribes. “Boas, drinks, money.”)
The entertainment portion of the evening soon commenced, and we were first regaled with a lipsynched performance of the Blue Danube waltz, “belched” out by Emcee Ruby Toosday. (You had to be there.) She was followed by Patty O’Furniture, Allthata and her Thangs, and 1998 Virgin Queen Demanda Man and her drag mother, Erika Candy Cane.
Next came the contestants, who strutted out onstage for the Personality phase of the contest. And what great drag names they had. Barbie Q. Lily. Oh Jackie Oh. Spitoona Clark. Lady Godiva Muff. At one point, judge Birdie Bob Watt asked Ms. Muff why she didn’t use “Godiva Bar” instead, who glibly answered that moniker had been done too often.
Then it was upstairs for a costume change and preparations for the Talent portion. I managed to get a word in edgewise with “Barbie Q.” who was being fitted with one of the most fantastic costumes of the evening by her drag “mother.”
Barbie Q: My inspiration is my mother here, Gilda Lily. My inspiration for everything.
Spectator: He’s adorable. Or should I say “she?” Did I just make a faux pas?
Gilda: You never know when you’re going to catch something male or female inside.
Barbie explained she began doing “drag” when she was in Chile a couple years ago.
S: Professionally? Or just for the fun of it?
B: For the fun of it. You can’t really do it professionally unless you’re Julie Andrews doing Victor/Victoria.
S: Someday. Someday.
Not all of the contestants opted for a costume change. I caught up with Oh Jackie Oh out in the foyer, nursing a beverage and looking lovely. I opted for an existential question.
Spectator: What is a faux queen?
Jackie: Someone who is, at heart, happy to be a ham.
S: Any particular inspiration?
J: I missed my calling. I really should have been an actress.
Soon it was time to see Talent personified. As with the Virgin Queen contest, audience members were able to influence the decision by thrusting money into the willing hands of the performers and casting it upon the stage. Barbie Q. Lily electrified the crowd with her stunningly wild costume, awesome dance moves and exotic performance, garnering the most tips, eighty-three deadpresidents. The other standout was Be Dazzler who was joined onstage by her friends Michael and Josh, adding to the cabaret feel of her number. Her over-the-top, self-made costume, well-rehearsed pantomime and theatrical production with smokebombs and sparklers, not to mention the seventyplus dollars in tips, eventually swayed the decision in her favor.
When all was said and done, about 1:30 AM, contestant Be Dazzler was crowned Faux Queen 1998, with the First Runner-up award going to Barbie Q. The Second Runner-up, Spitoona Clark, put in an admirable effort, having registered just minutes before the show began. As the audience slowly began to filter from the room, was filled with the heavy reek of fireworks sulfur, one thing was clear. Just by getting up there and having fun, whether they walked away with a title or not, all of the contestants were winners.
Photo by Christine Beatty