Tuesday, January 26

The Next Generation of Drag Takes Over in “Grownish” at District West

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by Jen Kuhn

“The kids have the keys, and the rules don’t apply!” declares the ad for “Grownish”, the latest show from District West.

Taking over for usual headliners such as Virginia West, Krystal Something Something, and Anisa Love, performers this round include Shawty West, Roxy Nikole, V-Master Chad, Boyoncé, and so many more who are taking over the mainstage January 15 – 17. Although tickets for the show quickly sold out, it will be available for streaming.

Shawty West

The Buckeye Flame caught up with show producer and writer Mariah Ward (AKA: Shawty West) to find out how to this safe and exciting show came together.

Tell us about “Grownish”. What was the inspiration for the show? 
“Grownish” is pretty much the younger generation of entertainers getting together and just having a good time and creating fun content. The inspiration for the show is from everyone who has produced some amazing mainstage shows: Virginia West, Nina West, Krystal Something Something, and Anisa Love to name a few. With their guidance, we decided to create a show that has a similar layout, but with a twist! The audience can expect pure fun! It is literally going to be a house party where everyone is smiling from ear to ear just being themselves.

That sounds like a lot of fun! You know, District West opened up during a pandemic, and has had several shows open and premiere. What has the process been like for everyone producing and performing in these shows during COVID?
The process, fortunately, has been great. We all have a passion for drag, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to entertain and maintain a safe and healthy environment. Because of that, we are able to really celebrate individuality while being a family.

Have there been any challenges that have been particularly hard to adapt to?
The way we interact with our audience has changed a little, so finding new ways to keep them engaged and going along with our journey has been a little challenging. Overall, you can feel the love and respect from the audience, which helps make things a lot easier.

Have there been any COVID-related changes that you think you’ll keep doing long after the pandemic?
We have cashless tipping, which allows the audience to stay seated and really enjoy every ounce of the show! I think that will continue after the pandemic.

It’s great to hear things are going well, and that the audience has been so supportive. Now, the West family has a lot of diverse and creative performers. What does it mean to you to be part of this family, and has that been a conscious decision for everyone when putting together shows, or is it an organic process?  
Being a part of the West family is amazing because we all support each other and try our best to help each other grow. Putting shows together is an organic process because we all love it and want to see each other succeed.

If someone in the community wants to be supportive, but can’t show up in-person, what are some other ways people can support the drag arts in Columbus right now?
Follow all of your amazing entertainers on social media. Many of us are also creating content for virtual shows, led by many drag entertainers throughout the country, so sharing our art is definitely welcomed. At District West, we also stream our mainstage shows! Be sure to tip your entertainers. This is something we love to do, but for many, this is their only source of income. 🔥

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Originally from Toledo, Jen Kuhn now resides in Columbus where she is a creative nonprofit professional moonlighting as a writer and occasional DJ.

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