Friday, October 22

The Famished King: A Quarantine Drag Story [COMMENTARY]

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

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:

Drag.

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.

About Author

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. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in these pieces belong solely to the author of that individual piece, and not necessarily to the The Buckeye Flame.

Share this piece.

Leave a Reply