On the evening of Jan. 14, an all-ages drag show called the Glamateur Hour was held at the Wayward Lamb in downtown Eugene. About 30 to 40 people crowded into the lounge room throughout the performances. The chairs scattered throughout the room were quickly filled, leaving most of the visitors standing or dancing to the music.
Purple, pink and blue lights leaped off of the disco ball hanging from the ceiling, illuminating different areas of the lounge room and its variety of attendees. As visitors, from infants to the elderly, trickled into the room, pulsing music and cheerful chatter blended into a single, energetic, unintelligible din of noises. Strangers struck conversations with each other and parents held their babies as they waited for the drag performances to commence.
Andrea Herrera and Kat Herrera, a queer couple who attended the event with their young child, valued and practiced “gender-creative parenting,” giving their child the opportunity to grow up with options as to their gender identity and expression. They found solidarity at drag performances like Glamateur Hour, they said.
Theresa Bleisch attended the event for her daughter, Victoria, one of the teen performers that night. To Bleisch, events like Glamateur Hour are especially important “because everyone supports each other.” After taking medication to cope with her anxiety, Victoria was encouraged to participate in more activities, including drag performances, Bleisch said.
The first performance was carried out by Cookie Glacier, whose purple dress matched her eyeshadow and whose sparkling silver bow glittered in the lounge’s flashing lights. Her long brown hair swayed as she danced and lip-synced to upbeat music. Her colorful makeup and clothing, combined with her charismatic energy, transformed the audience’s thrill into claps and cheers. Some stretched out their arms and offered dollar bills to the performer, who gracefully accepted them while mouthing song lyrics directly to their grinning faces.
Various performers followed Cookie Glacier, each one with a shared passion but a unique aura. Even the music, from Katy Perry’s “Roar” to David Bowie’s “Lady Stardust,” projected different styles, themes and eras.
Babe, who wore a short, brown wig and black dress, was soon followed by Sassy Hero, who donned a cowboy hat, plaid shirt and a silver chain that hung from a pair of jeans and bounced to the rhythm of the music. 17-year-old Mai Flowers’ artfully blended pink contours, crisp eyeliner, long eyelashes and glittery eyeshadow, combined with her floral skirt, backless top, red lipstick and wig hinted at a doll-like character with both a delicate and an assertive persona. One of the last drag performers to take the stage was 7-year-old Del Taco Rio, who wore her hair in a high ponytail with a subtle pink tint. She gently spun and sang along to a cover of John Legend’s “All of Me,” taking dollar bills from outstretched arms before handing them to an adult in the audience.
Each drag performer took complete control of the room, captivating the audience and making the stage their own, but a message of community and support remained at the center of their work.
Performer Freyja Valkyrie, who wore a sparkling black dress with matching heels, said that events like Glamateur Hour attract her because they do not revolve around competition but, rather, support from fellow drag queens and kings. These events are different from the beauty pageants that played a significant role in sparking her interest in drag. Drag performances are “more of an achievement than a contest,” she said.
Nicky Serene, drag performer and host of Glamateur Hour, ended the show in a long wig, fierce makeup and a silver-sequined dress lined with black feathers at the bottom. Her goals as a drag performer lie beyond goals for herself. Young, aspiring drag performers who are not of age to perform in bars often turn to online outlets to express their art, but “the Internet is not always a safe place” for young performers in need of encouragement, she said. Shows like Glamateur Hour are especially important, she added, because they give drag performers who are not yet 21 the chance to display their talents in an uplifting environment.