|Judge Number One, Daniela Fuchilicious|
Sitting backstage, waiting to go on as Judge Number 1 in the first annual Raiders and Tiaras pageant, I did find myself having second thoughts. I wasn’t the least attractive man in drag, sitting back there. In fact two of the three other staff members (who I won’t name here) were downright – well, I don’t want to be unkind. Let’s just say they looked like people you might wake up next to in the local lockup’s drunk tank, just before being called in to appear in night court.
Many of my colleagues have given me the impression, although they were too polite to say it out loud, that they felt it was a foolish move for me to agree to appear in drag in front of three hundred students and their families. But you know what? I disagree, and I do so for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, this was a charity event, raising money for a cause about which I care as an educator, our PALS program, which trains our students to mentor and otherwise work with younger kids. I don’t have any real data to back this up, but I’ll just bet you that when students found out there was an opportunity to see one of their male assistant principals in ladies’ clothing, it caused some to shell out the five dollars that got them in the door.
My second reason for choosing to dress up as a woman was because I am a lover of the theatre, and have always been a frustrated actor. If you ever get an opportunity to see a video of my performance as Daniela Fuchilicious, Judge Number One of the first-annual Raiders and Tiaras pageant, (and I hope that you do) you’ll see a full-on character, start to finish. I did work on my character, and anyone who’s ever taken an acting class knows what I’m talking about. Indeed, those of you who have studied theatre know that there is a long, rich history of male actors appearing in female roles on stage. The Greeks did it, and so did Shakespeare.
Finally, I’ll let you in on a little secret: This was not my first time. It was my third. The first time was when I was 20. My girlfriend and I were living in Provincetown, Massachusetts for the summer. Provincetown is replete with drag queens, some of them world renowned. We did it for no other reason than pure boredom. As I remember it, the day was rainy, and we began with an outfit, then the makeup. Amazingly, I fit into her clothes, and, in the end, I’d say I looked, well, kind of pretty.
Fast forward ten years, and picture a staff and student Halloween fashion show in a tiny, alternative high school in New York City. My advisory group came up with the idea, and they collaborated on a garish costume, with huge hind quarters and breasts, and overdone makeup. They called me Juwakateema, and I embraced the part – sprinting around our tiny lounge, my dress billowing like a multi-colored sail behind me – much to the delight of my students and horror of a couple of colleagues.
Interesting, now that I think of it, how I’ve appeared in drag every ten years for the past thirty years.