Tuesday, July 27

The Famished King: A Quarantine Drag Story [COMMENTARY]

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by Jared Jameson

It’s another Monday after yet another weekend where life is anything but normal for most of us.

I have to be honest: this quarantine hasn’t been too rough on me. I’ve still been working, and I never really had a huge social life, so my nightlife isn’t something I’m mourning like those around me. I wasn’t out every other night with a group of friends or anything. My life was almost mundane, and has mostly stayed that way. Except for one thing that I’m missing…one huge, magical, dramatic, AMAZING thing:


I’m a Drag King.

Yes, Drag Kings are a thing; maybe not as popular or well-known as Drag Queens, but we are here, and we are a force to be reckoned with!

But I’m afraid Quarantine is going to starve the drag side of me to death.

Before this mess started, performing was a pretty regular thing for me. Not that I was super popular, or super talented or anything like that; I wasn’t booked every weekend like some of the amazing performers we have here locally. But in Cleveland, there’s a massive crowd of people who respect and appreciate and support local artists.

I was able to have a platform in front of that crowd, and now I sit here yearning for them. I miss all of the people I don’t know, the faces in the crowd that I could make eye contact with, flirt with, appreciate and smile at. I knew how essential that was to my sanity; I never realized it could all be taken away from me so quickly.

I realize now that part of me took performing for granted: It was hard work, hours of makeup and costuming, self-doubt and euphoria. But it was worth it! So, so worth it.

I miss the late nights and the adrenaline rush: never truly being sure how the crowd was going to react to you or your song or your performance. I probably sound like a crazy person for missing that kind of chaos, but I do miss it. I miss every second of it. Even after years of performing, the butterflies still attacked me when I least expected it. It kept me awake and alive in a way that nothing else could, and I never appreciated that as much as I do right now.

I found a group of fellow artists where we supported each other in our diversity and differences. And I’ll have you know, you will never find a more supportive and encouraging group than the performers I’ve worked with. QUEENS AND KINGS—and those caps are on purpose.

When I hadn’t quite grown into myself, they were there. They gave me perspective and criticisms, gave me songs and ideas; they gave me courage to become who I am, on and off the stage. They became friends and coworkers—artists who created with me and helped me create on my own. I miss them. I miss their passion, their love, and yes, sometimes I even miss the drama. They are enthralling.

Their stories were mine, and they were their own; all of our stories entwining and mixing to create the most beautiful novel, bound by vodka, lime, tonic, tears and life. We melded in the rainbow together, and we formed a family. And we would weave the crowd into that story for 3-5 minutes at a time, creating stories and moments with them. We gave them a reason to cheer, a performance to behold, and an opportunity to connect. I appreciate more fully now.

I do believe we’ll get through this, and I hope we’ll be stronger for it. But I miss my Drag family—the crowds, the bars, the stage, the hearts in it all. It’s been too long; I feel like part of me is slowly getting smaller and weaker the longer this all lasts. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, but maybe this is what starving to death feels like.

Maybe that’s the what this feeling is.

Jared Jameson is a drag king, an entertainer, an emcee, and an all-around shot of fun in Cleveland, Ohio. You can link up with him on Facebook.

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The Buckeye Flame welcomes guest commentary from LGBTQ+ Ohioans in support of our mission to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging LGBTQ+ Ohio content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

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