Different queens talk about the drag experience
Nadine Armstrong | photo editor
Current Miss Gay Wichita Pride 2k17, Imani Kotoure, has only been part of the drag community for about two years after her best friend at the time got involved.
“I had known of drag, but had not really seen any of it off screen,” Kotoure says. “When my best friend at the time got into it, and I began helping him, and learning more about the art of drag along the way I fell in love with the art.”
Kotoure’s favorite part about being a drag is getting to prep for a gig.
“I add whatever songs I am performing that night to a playlist of other songs that tend to get me ready to slay, pour a glass of wine, and some munchies, and then sit down at my vanity,” Kotoure says.
When transforming Kotoure takes three hours to paint her face for something important, but can get ready in two when needed.
After arriving at the bar, Kotoure goes backstage to become a woman.
“I tuck, and layer on like 5 pairs of compression shorts,” Kotoure says. “Then grab my body from my body bag, … which is two hip pads made out of foam …, and then two butt pads, also of the same material. I put those on under two pairs of flesh tone tights, and then I layer on about eight caramel colored ones after that, along with a pair of fishnets and my undergarment.”
Next in Kotoure’s transformation she puts on her foam breasts, costume and starts getting ready for her first number.
“My last steps are putting on my wig, nails and jewels because I always feel like they pull my looks together,” Kotoure says.
Then she is ready to go on stage and perform.
“It’s an amazing feeling to put so much time and energy into a performance and then to take it a step further and to be able to see the people in the audience, friends and family alike, live for you and all of your hard work, it’s exhilarating,” Kotoure says. “I always say, If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel like you’re Queen of the Night.”
Terri S. Aqui
Nadine Armstrong | photo editor
Former Miss Gay Wichita Newcomer 2016 and first alternate to Miss Gay Kansas Newcomer 2017, Terri S. Aqui as been active in the drag community for the last five years. She entered the drag community through an ex-boyfriend who was a drag queen.
“In the middle of our conversation I told him I thought it would be easy; something I could mark off my bucket list of things to try,” says Aqui, “so I went to the Amateur show called ‘Boot Camp.’ After your performance, the judges tell you everything you did wrong and everything they hated. I kept coming back until they couldn’t judge me anymore and 5 years later I’m still at it.”
When Aqui is getting ready for a show, she takes a nap two to three hours before the show so she can reflect and relax. When Aqui wakes up, she finds a song to perform.
“Once I wake up, I just think of a song that reflects my current mood for the moment and perform that,” Aqui says.
To keep it quiet while putting on makeup, Aqui gets ready on Facebook live. When it comes to the glamorous outfits, she orders them, but she is learning how to sew her own.
Every Saturday, Aqui hosts a show with her drag grandmother Adina Ronee at Club Boomerang called “The Saturday Night Pre-Game.”
“Being on stage is the best feeling in the world,” says Auqi, “because you are taking on a completely different persona and living a new life all in that moment. All of your problems and worries go away.”
Performing does have its challenges. Aqui has to find new and creative ways to keep the audience engaged so they do not get bored watching the same set.
“Drag is an art form, drag is self-expression, drag is beautiful and you should never judge a queen,” Aqui says, “because it takes more courage to stand in front of a group of strangers and dance your heart out in a dress than you’ll ever know.”
Noah Merrell | design director
For Carmichael being a “Drag Queen” is not just dress up, it is a way for her to be her true self.
“It is a difficult thing to explain,” she says. “You know that feeling when you just get your haircut, or you know your makeup looks great? Put on those new shoes and feel untouchable? Being in drag is that feeling to me. It is nice to walk around and feel beautiful. It is even nicer when you have a crown on your head!”
Going into the show she plans everything out even days before.
“I always pack my bags the day before a show just in case I forget something I will have time to pack it before heading to the event,” she says.
She treats the packing like she is going on vacation and can plan up to a week worth of just clothing.
When it does come to show time she has to get into her persona and loosen up to help her get prepared.
“Typically on show days, I find myself jamming to the songs I will be performing that evening on repeat. I love to use my show prep as a time to become Harmony,” she says. “That being said I like to get into the mindset of what I will be doing for the evening.”
Not only is drag something she loves to do, but it has also come with some awards for her.
“I am proud to say that I am the current Miss Gay Wichita, Current Miss XY, Former Miss Boomerang, and Former Miss Wichita Pride. I am a recipient of the MImi VanHorn Evening-gown award, the Fritz Capone Talent Award, and Miss Wichita Pride – Audience Choice Award,” she says.
She also said that she strives to be the most awarded Queen in Kansas.
“I am known as a ‘pageant queen.’ I honestly just do drag to compete and win pageants. That is just me. Some queens would not be caught dead competing in a pageant,” she says.
It is safe to say that Harmony has made a name for herself in the drag world and is even recognized sometimes when she is not even in drag.
“Often times going by any of the clubs or bars I am called Harmony (in-or-out of drag) however, it is not common for me to be stopped out in public and greeted as Harmony,” she says.