Diva decadence

For one night only, you can witness the spectacle of Glamarama, a professional drag show and benefit for Jump-Start Theatre Performance Co. Glamarama — Legends of Drag will be a festive party for all who attend — a night to remember where fearless performers will be in abundance. Costumes will sport zigzag patterns that look like melted
liquorice lying in pools of milky white fabric with sparkles embedded in every inch of pink satin, and Louis Vuitton leather will be strapped to the curves of grown men.

If you’re not familiar with the basics of drag-queenology, here’s a quick lesson: A drag queen is a man who dresses up in female clothing and make-up for a special occasion, often performing or entertaining at an event.

Small, quiet, elegant drag shows, and more extravagant theatrical productions have graced auditoriums and famous nightclubs in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles since the early ’70s, when drag began to seep into the mainstream. One of the most infamous drag queens is Divine, immortalized by John Waters in his filthy and engrossingly hilarious pulp film Pink Flamingos.

Today’s drag scene is not unlike the days of early theater when only men could play female roles — but men aren’t the only ones wearing corsets and bras. Known as faux queens, some women dress up like their favorite drag queens. These ladies, who walk a thin line between fake and real, are met with loving hugs by the drag community.

In the spotlight of American drag culture are Ru Paul, the Darling Bears (performers who purposely grow out their beards for performances), and perhaps the most famous of them all: Miss Understood (Notice how drag-queen names like to play on words? Barbie Q, Shasta Cola, Chi Chi LaRue, and Rikki Reeves).

The Current recently had the opportunity to speak with John McBurney, a lead performer and head make-up artist for Glamarama. We talked about his long history working with Selena, Jennifer Lopez, George Strait, George Lopez, and on Broadway plays featured at the Majestic Theatre. He is not just a famed face painter, but an equally talented fashion designer in his own style — which can be bombastic to the ordinary viewer.

“A good pair of scissors makes a designer, I am constantly tearing up new things and old — trying to create new patterns that can be used for show,” he said, displaying a piece for Miss Eva Green, a tall lanky woman who will perform during Glamarama. McBurney’s avant-garde designs earned him the 2007 Robert L.B. Tobin Award for costume design from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio.

Glamarama will feature 13 acts by local San Antonio Drag Queens such as Erica Andrews, the Mill Sisters, and Tommie Ross. They will entertain with sketch comedy, dance pantomime, and various undisclosed fireworks; ending with a grandiose finale that will be hair-raisingly fantastic.

“I want people to come to the show and leave with a good happy laugh that will last forever,” says McBurney. “The memories are all we have.”


Drag Show

Glamarama — Legends of Drag
9pm Sat, Dec 1
$15 general admission
$25 table seating
Jump-Start Performance Co. Theater
108 Blue Star

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