Three of them stand in front of a mirror applying contouring makeup to their faces. Although they are performing the same task, there are significant difference about each of them that make them stand out from one another.
The first person goes by the name of Rose Jackson. Jackson is quick to say that while born a man, deep within it is no secret that she is a woman trapped within the wrong body.
There is a grace to her movement that naturally flows as easily as the makeup that glides along her face. What masculine traits she ever possessed have long left her.
Standing next to her is Brian Coleman. He does not make the same claim as Jackson and often refers to himself as a man in a dress. He lives his life as a man and would be hard to recognize on the street as Fuschia Rage, the female character he is transforms himself into for the evening.
Joining them is Crystal Frost. Frost started to perform drag later in life than many of her peers. She began drag in her thirties while most people start in their teens or early twenties. While she was teased by people who started earlier, Frost began to take a different perspective and give the crowd what they asked for.
“At first I got my feelings hurt a lot because people made allusions to my age and called me the ‘glamor granny’ and things of that nature,” Frost says. “It really started to hurt my feelings. And then I thought, ‘You want a glamor granny? I will give you a glamor granny.’ I took possession over it.”
Coleman says he was heavily involved in pageantry and has several crowns to show for it. However, one day he woke up and decided not to compete. He had come to the point where he only wanted to do drag for the fun of it.
“Don’t get me wrong: I cherish the moments that I spent in pageants,” Coleman says. “The first pageant I ever did, I won. Every now and then I take out that crown and look at it.”
Coleman puts his hands over his heart and deeply exhales.
“Fuschia honey, she was a hey-day, storm getter, back in the day honey and then she just disappeared,” Jackson says. “But all of a sudden one day she decides I’m going to jump back in.”
“All of a sudden …” Jackson begins.
“You got Madonna and Cher,” Frost yells and the trio fall out laughing
These three are a part of a larger cast of characters that are behind Drag Queen Bingo, a quarterly event conceived by the Guilford Green Foundation nearly 15 years ago and held at the Elm Street Center in downtown Greensboro. The production has successfully raised thousands of dollars to promote diversity and inclusion in the Guilford County’s LGBTQ community. The proceeds that are raised through the event go towards grants that are issued to qualified LGBT organizations that share in the foundation’s mission of promoting diversity and inclusion of LGBTQ people in Guilford County.
Every Bingo has its own theme and the music sung by the ladies is based on that theme.
“Please God, no ballads!” Bill Falcon, the emcee and general manager of the Elm Street Center, pleads.
The theme for the July 15 event was a play on the ’80s professional wrestling television show, “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (GLOW), entitled the Gorgeous Ladies of Bingo (GLOB).
“The girls aren’t too happy about being called GLOBs,” Falcon said. “But hey if it works, it works.”
Although drag bingo is not a competition, those within the drag community find themselves navigating the scene as if every day was a competition.
“Well drag is a sport, girl,” Jackson says. “Get into it.”
Coleman lets out a hysterical laugh in agreement.
“It is constantly a competition because what you do is take men who have that male ego already and then you give them that diva sass by trying to outdo each other, as females do, and you pour that all into one person,” Coleman says. “So you have female attitude.”
“Oh God, it gets terrible, honey”, Jackson chimes in.
It’s not long before the host for the evening, who goes by Big Shirli Stevenz, arrives at the Elm Street Center and joins everyone else in their dressing room. Although Stevenz gets to the venue in full makeup there is still much to be done in her eyes. Stevenz questions why no one is rehearsing the opening song for the night’s show. Not long after posing the question, she has the whole room lip-syncing and dancing in preparation for the opening number.
There are two more entertainers that have managed to quietly take their place in front of the wall-to-wall make-up mirror.
Timothy Lee Day, known as Nicole de’ Lancret in the drag queen circuit, is in a mad dash to finish his makeup in time for the show. He periodically asks for a time check.
The closer it gets to show time the faster everyone starts to move, except for Misti Laine Stevenz, the Ball Verifying Diva (BVD) of the show. She takes her time getting ready as those around her move in a hastened pace.
It is not long before Falcon begins running down the halls screaming that it is show time.
One by one each entertainer files out of the dressing room with their belongings in tow.
“As far as why I do drag,” Frost says. “I guess I can attribute it to growing up in an era when people were not as accepting as they are now and I didn’t have a lot of friends. So I escaped in to the world of old movies. It was my way of emulating the stars such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and others that I saw.”
Every one of them possesses their own distinct personality. Even the way in which they prefer to be referred to is fluid. However, the one constant they share is their passion for entertaining and love for one another.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.