It’s no surprise – I love drag. And Isis Brooks D’Shey (The Goddess Isis) runs a tight ship upstairs at Tabu on Sunday nights. She typically gets things cookin’ around 11pm and things start getting real around midnight. She peppers in performances of her own between introducing and interviewing up-and-coming Philly queens. Last night she praised Lisa Lisa and Sandy Beach as perhaps the only queens who’ve been doing Philly drag as long as she has. There was a definite Christmas theme running through last night’s performances but the really mind-effing performance was turned in by a young, brand new queen named Ann Artist. She competed in a Voyeur-based serial drag competition called Drag Wars (not wholly unlike RuPaul’s Drag Race) and finished in the Top Three. Last night I saw why.
In her tribute to the second amendment, she made a dress out of an American flag (he’s studying fashion design now; following his bliss) and held a plastic gun, a semi-automatic machine gun, that he’d found at Walmart. As she lay on the ground, all 6+ feet of her, a clip of an ABC newscast describing Adam Lanza preceded actual music. She touched herself and fondled her machine gun suggestively. She finally got to her feet and performed Regina Spektor’s “Uhmerica,” a gun-focused song that doesn’t seek to romanticize America’s love of guns. It was going there – Ann is strongly against the second amendment. The Spektor song turned into tUnE-yArDs’ “Gangsta.” The connection was made clear afterwards when I cornered her in the alley to ask her what was going on in her head to make this performance come to light: “Gangsta” is a song that puts fronting young fans of violence in their face, calling them a pussy for talking game but really being weak and scared. Adam Lanza is a pussy – he decided to take his own life after taking over 25 lives because he didn’t know how to handle himself (or something like that).
At a couple points during the performance, Ann fellated her Walmart gun and subsequently destroyed it, slamming the gun into the back wall facing 12th Street. What would’ve been even greater was that her children’s toy gun purchase even came with bullets. She forgot them at home, but she wanted to be able to shoot them into her mouth and spit them out. And really, when you think about it, isn’t it sick and twisted that that’s the kind of purchasable toy, a toy that many young boys (and girls, I’m sure) desperately want for Christmas. Our news media slathers itself in the details and creepy facts of a massacre shooter and turns him into a posthumous celebrity for a few weeks. Out in the cold at 2am, she criticized the second amendment as bullshit and outdated. Hadn’t really thought of it that way, Ann.
And on that note, it doesn’t go without saying that her performance was captivating. She ripped her blond wig off halfway through her patriotic moment and mean-mugged, scowled and pretty much frightened everyone with her dramatic long-limbed gestured freakout to Merrill Garbus’ treatise on faux-gangsterism. It’s not that it’s rare to be shocked, pleasantly surprised and intellectually challenged by a queer, let alone a queer in gender-bending drag; it’s that she’s 21, brand new to drag, whipped up this sequence of audio and a dress in a matter of days, and pulled of topical, political and inspiring activist drag. So Merry Fucking Christmas, readers. Try to refrain from gunplay this holiday season and in 2013, maybe we can all do something that’ll make meaningful gun control change happen in Pennsylvania and America.