Buck Orchid – USA

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Buck Orchid, drag king, from San Antonio, Texas, USA

 

Performer name(s): Buck Orchid

Where do you live (and perform)?  San Antonio Texas, USA

Gender:  Female

Age: 47

Muggle day job:  Currently an independently working artist which means cobbling together office management, arts education, dance instruction, showcase facilitation, performing etc etc etc. I did use to work in non-profit theater as an arts administrator for close to 20 years before being made redundant. Alas.

Length of time performing:  As a king? Lately it’s been every two months or so. Since I joined a troupe I’ve had the opportunity to perform more regularly in our self-produced shows and we have been slowly picking up appearances and bookings. As a performer though I’ve been in the game since the mid-90s.

What you refer to yourself performance wise? drag king

PrinceCharmingBUCK

Buck Orchid, drag King, from San Antonio, Texas, USA. ‘Prince Charming’.

Why do you perform? Because I am a performer at heart. Specifically as a king, I get to tap into my masculine energy and live a persona that I think is pretty convincing…I enjoy the reactions of my audience. Especially the women 😉

How would you describe your performance style? Flirty, sexy, high-energy

What /who inspires you?  Spykey van Dykey is a huge inspiration as a king because of his style, showman-ship and artistry and let’s face it, he’s fucking hot. Jack the Lad is another inspiration because until I came across him on YouTube I hadn’t heard of another South Asian drag king before! As far as my styling goes, I think of Buck as a very “metro” Bollywood dude, so actors like Arjun Rampal, Ranveer Singh, John Abaraham, Hrthik ROshan are who I look at for styling and choreography inspiration. Finally, one of my first big numbers was a Prince tribute so as a fellow tiny brown man I am also very inspired by him especially since I have been a fan since I was little.

Some information about your costumes:

Well I am kind of petite so it’s been a process to figure out my best options. I have been trolling wish.com for tiny asian man clothes. My husband is a few inches taller than me and has been nice enough to hand off his clothes from his slimmer days etc. As a burlesque performer while I don’t sew anything I am pretty good at blinging out and adapting found items. I am constantly learning through social media from other kings, performers and costumiers about the best ways to dress Buck since I do have some specific aesthetic goals ( Bollywood male model lol).

ParamourBuck

Buck Orchid, drag king, from San Antonio, Texas, USA

 

Your favourite act and why:

Currently my favorite act is still in progress but it is my Prince Charming pole dance because I went all out on the costume, which presented some challenges as a dancer. I think that when its nailed down it will be pretty awesome. My other favorite number of mine is one where I lip-sync to a mashup of shape of you and Urvashi ( a popular Hindi movie song) while hula hooping and stripping. Buck does like to get naked-ish!

As far as someone else’s act, currently I am blown away by Alexander the Great’s Ted Bundy act because it was really unexpected and he committed fully to it. I really enjoy being connected through the internet to so many kings though! I am constantly challenged and inspired and humbled by everyone’s creativity. Buck is the newest of my personas and definitely has work to do.

Biggest challenge as a performer:

Making sure I stay “in the pocket” with my physicality. I have a specific idea of what I want him to embody so I am still working on making sure I don’t slip into my “Black Orchid” more femme gestures. Secondarily I would say that San Antonio is still a market for drag queens ( and definitely all props to the hardworking queens who have made it so) and it is dispiriting to see that even within the queer community, we have yet to be taken seriously for bookings and acknowledgement.

Some of your achievements:

Recently I and the troupe ( Los MENtirosos) was booked to headline a local Fiesta “royalty” event. I’m still not sure how some people there felt about us but to me that’s an example of the kind of gig that normally wouldn’t go to a drag king. Other than that I never lip-synced until I started committing to the character and now I can say I know how to lip-sync in Spanish, Hindi and Arabic for certain numbers lol as well as in English!

Social media handles, any links you want to share:

Buck doesn’t have his own page yet but you can see his pics etc at https://www.facebook.com/blackorchidburlesque/

and IG: @shimarella

 Something you would like to tell readers:

Well here’s my general bio: Buck Orchid is a true Desi man who loves a strong drink, a good beat and the lovely ladies. He is a pocket Prince Charming who has been scandalizing and seducing his way through San Antonio and the South in the past few years. He’s better known…for now… for his family connection to Black Orchid, “The Transoceanic Tropical Tease”, who you can see in full femme action in San Antonio and beyond. Like all Bollywood heroes, he lives to pay sexy tribute to his favorite pop idols. He is also a member of Los MENtirosos, San Antonio’s only drag king troupe!TAG LINE: “Singapore’s Sultan of Swing, with a Thousand Ways to Make You Swing”.

BUCKremisit

Buck Orchid, drag king, from San Antonio, Texas, USA

Mike Litoris – New Zealand

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Mike Litoris, drag king from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Paradox Photography. Design: Caleb McNabb. Makeup and styling by Mike Litoris. Courtesy of Gag Collective

Performer name(s): Mike Litoris

Where do you live (and perform): Wellington, New Zealand

Gender: Woman (she/her)

Age: 26

Muggle day job: Sex Worker/Busker

Length of time performing:  2 ½ years. Done multiple gigs, usually perform once, sometimes twice a month. Performed at Wellington Pride Festival.

What you refer to yourself performance wise: Drag King

Why do you perform? For expression, to subvert and challenge the norm, promote body positivity, because I enjoy it.

How would you describe your performance style: Gritty, masculine, gay, challenging, powerful.

What /who inspires you: Other drag kings, my drag community, the wider drag king community. My partner (a transmasc drag queen).

After Party Pic

 Mike Litoris, drag king from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Jeff Tolan. Makeup and Costume by Mike Litoris.

Some information about your costumes: Often self-created from thrift shop finds on a budget, I usually buy base garments, adding to them with embroidery, stitching, studs and rhinestones etc. as I see fit. I have a couple of standard outfits, and then I might have a couple of outfits designed specifically for a certain act.

Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why: My act, where I am a silver android, with light-up reveals and several cuts of electronica tracks. My best act to date.

Biggest challenge as a performer: Budget limitations

Some of your achievements: Performed at Wellington Pride Festival, including the afterparty with an international Drag Queen, Laila McQueen, part of a collective called Gag Collective, producing my own show bi-monthly called Open Mike.

Social media handles, any links you want to share:

Instagram: @mikelitorisdrag (https://www.instagram.com/mikelitorisdrag)

Facebook: Mike Litoris Drag King (https://www.facebook.com/MikeLitorisDragKing/)

Twitter: @mikelitorisdrag (https://twitter.com/mikelitorisdrag)

 Something you would like to tell readers: Drag is for anybody. If you feel like your gender, age, divergence or disability makes you less valid to try drag because of the overwhelming majority with privilege, fight to prove them wrong. You are valid. Your drag is valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Mike Litoris from Wellington, New Zealand.  Photo: Ngarongonui Mareikura-Ellery. Makeup and costume by Mike Litoris.

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Mike Litoris from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Bernie Homes. Makeup and costume by Mike Litoris.

Damien D’Luxe – USA

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

 

Performer name(s): Damien D’Luxe

Where do you live (and perform): Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Gender: Gender Queer

Age: 32

Muggle day job:  Tattoo Shop Owner/ Tattoo Artist

Length of time performing: I have been performing for 15 years. I would say I have likely done at least 600 or more shows (estimating).

What you refer to yourself performance wise ?: Drag King

 

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

Why do you perform?

I perform as a way to express my gender identity. Because I identify as gender queer but present more “female” in my daily life, it is a great outlet for me to feel more masculine when I am on stage. I see it as a way of being a man without being a man. I also use drag to assist with my social anxiety. I have a difficult time interacting with others in my daily life and doing drag allows me to be someone else and helps me to socialize with people when I normally wouldn’t be able to.  Drag is also another art form for me. I don’t do a ton of artwork outside of my work in tattooing. Doing drag allows me to use my body as my canvas. I paint my artwork on myself at every show.

How would you describe your performance style ?

My performance style varies a lot between cosplay, hip hop and pop/lock dancing style numbers, boilesque and dark/creepy numbers. I try to bring varying looks to each show and do dramatic make up and costume changes between numbers.

What /who inspires you ?

I am inspired by a lot of things around me. I do a lot of research in high fashion looks and male couture online. I also use inspiration from specific characters when I create them for cosplay. The celebrity that I am inspired by the most is Marilyn Manson. I also find inspiration in make up from the drag queens that I work with and from fellow kings on social media.

Some information about your costumes:

My costumes range from dark and sexy to bright and colorful. I use a lot of feathers, sequins, rhinestones, studs and other embellishments.  I do a lot of singular colors from head to toe or use color themes varying by the song. I also do a lot of cosplay numbers that use costuming from specific well known characters. I make most everything myself and my wife helps me embellish them a lot of times when I am short on time.

Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why:

My favourite act changes by the month. I feel like my favourite act generally is my most recent act. I love bringing new pieces to the stage and the invigorating feel of new costuming and song choices. My current favourite act of mine is performing to Macho Man by the Village People. I perform it as a circus strongman with a big barbell. I love the campiness and fun in the number and that I am able to bring theatrics to the stage.

Biggest challenge as a performer:

The biggest challenge for me as a performer is balancing my life and having proper time management. Because I own my own business and have employees along with managing my own tattooing my free time is very limited. I also perform 1-3 times every week. This does not leave me a lot of time for my home, family and friends. Over the years I have learned to find a sort of balance but at times I find myself burned out. Sometimes I simply wish there were more hours in the day!

Social media handles, any links you want to share:

Instagram @damiendluxe

FB @damiendluxe

Twitter @tattoosbyemi

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeGsfcVnYVGDVjrICvW91cQ?view_as=subscriber

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

 

Damien D'Luxe

Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

Flare – Canada

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Flare, Drag King from Toronto Canada. One of the first kings to tassel twirl.  Photo by Sammy Snapshots (2008)

 

Performer name(s): main one is Flare, Drag King Flare, Flarington King, Buck Off

Where do you live (and perform): Live – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – perform all over the world

Gender: Out of drag She – In drag He

Age: 44

Muggle day: Entertainment Contract Manager

Length of time performing: 22 years performing – I have done monthly performances almost the whole time, give or take a few years when I was coupled and didn’t perform as much – but so many I couldn’t even guess a number.

What you refer to yourself performance wise: Drag King and Draglesque

 

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Flare, Drag king from Toronto Canada. photo: selfie, beard made by Spikey Van Dykey

 

Why do you perform?  To share with others that gender is fluid, to share stories, to be a character, and to show that a human can be sexy/attractive outside of the square box models that I used to only see on TV and in print.  Over 22 years this has changed.  I am seeing now more gender fluidity in mainstream media.

How would you describe your performance style: I’m a character performer.  I find a song I like, a story develops with a character in mind, and then I breakdown the song as the character would.

What /who inspires you:  Other performers who push the boundaries and are also characters.  Two kings I’m inspired by right now are the Qzars from Austin, Texas.  Their concept, makeup, outfits, and delivery is so energetic, different, and visually appealing.  I want to join their band.

Some information about your costumes: I currently live in a loft studio and 80% of its use is for my drag costumes.  I live in a big ol’ tickle trunk!

Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why: My favourite act of mine is my newest one “I want to know what love is” by Foreigner.  It’s my favourite because I dress up as this big bearded 70’s guy who is still trying to find love the ‘bad old fashioned way’…he doesn’t get ahead.  I love it cause it’s so camp, the song is one of my favorites, and deep down I’m kind of that guy.

Biggest challenge as a performer: EGO – I’m a performer and I’m a producer.  I’ve seen what EGO does to a well mannered person.  The trend I’ve seen over the years is this: a new performer takes to the stage and they are nervous, they do it, they get their jitter relief, they get their applause and they are filled with acceptance and adrenaline.  This first wave they are humble and grateful.  Then, as they build, and get more attention something shifts from humble to cocky to arrogant.  I think what happens is someone who may not be considered ‘mainstream attractive’ or doesn’t feel validated in themselves somehow gets a new form of attention.  And most of us, except for the theatre kids, aren’t used to it and aren’t prepared for how it can change you.  When EGO comes in people get competitive and actually unsupportive of one another.  Been in many a dressing room where someone is rude to another performer or even the Producer because they think they are Elvis not just playing him.

Some of your achievements: Headliner of the following: Great Big International Drag King Show – Washington DC; Saturday night Headliner 2015 – Fierce! International Queerlesque Festival; Headliner 2016 – Austin International Drag Festival.  Sat on the IDKE (International Drag King Community Extravaganza) for ten years helping the IDKE festival continue to move from different cities.  I’m one of the first drag kings in the world to twirl tassels.  Started in 2003.  I have found out that there was a Boylesque troupe in San Francisco at the same time (I’m in Canada) where the drag kings twirled tassels.  When I started I had never seen another king do it and I was already at an International level.  I was on Maury Povich and Queer as Folk.  I made a documentary called “A Drag King Extravaganza” about the first 10 years of IDKE which is distributed by Frameline.

Social media handles, any links you want to share:  Currently working on the website dragkinghistory.com with Ken Vegas and Mo.B.Dick – site should be up by 2019.

Something you would like to tell readers: If you want to try drag DO IT.  And know Drag can encompass any idea, character, style that you want (as long as you don’t culturally appropriate or act in a violent non-consensual way towards others).  Be creative and use the stage to express your creativity.  Also be mindful of your audience.  I change my acts according to whom my audience is.  They are the ones coming to be entertained.  Your job is to entertain them, so keep them in your mind as you create. xo

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Flare, Drag King from Toronto, Canada.  Photo taken by Tania Anderson from ‘Game of Kings’

 

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Flare, Drag King from Toronto, Canada. Photo by Kevin Kelly