Making sure you have your props, your makeup brushes, all your costume components. It’s what Alexandre Valentino Skye calls the pre-show “drag panic.”

You’ll find Skye, a Denver-based drag king, at Bar-K on Mondays, hosting a weekly Drag & Variety show. Artistry, which runs through November, is presented by St. Charles Studios and Joshua Coates. This follows Coates’ series of drag performances at Lucky Dumpling for Arts Month.

Historically, the drag scene has been a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. But there’s also some more subversive messaging, notes Coates — it’s “talking a little crap about gender and how it’s really a societal construct.” The drag entertainers in Artistry include queens, kings and nonbinary performers. It’s a nice variety, says Coates, and “exciting seeing the diversity that lives in drag.” While all shows have a drag focus, some incorporate other performance types, like belly dancing and burlesque.

Drag certainly comes with its stereotypes. Most people tend to associate drag culture with drag queens and gay men — but drag is so much more than that, says Coates. It’s an exaggerated performance of gender, and women and nonbinary folks will dress as  hyper-feminine characters just like men do.

“And then, on top of that,” says Skye, “I think that people expect Top 40 music and pop music and glitzy looks, and that’s also something that you’re not always going to get with drag. There is a whole world of alternative performers.”

Drag performers wear many hats: actor, singer, dancer, comedian, hairstylist, costume designer, makeup artist; it is truly an all-encompassing art form. “I certainly didn’t really appreciate [drag] when I was younger,” says Coates. “Now, I realize how amazing it is.”

And for many performers, Coates says, their drag character is like their spirit animal: “... it’s really transformative for the person doing it. But it’s also super entertaining for people watching it. And it’s always kind of pushing society to think about and talk about gender and sexuality differently.”

Producing drag shows in the Springs has been rewarding, says Coates. Not only is it a fun opportunity to watch performances and get to know performers, but he’s able to create local experiences for the community. (Because who says you have to go all the way to Denver to enjoy a good drag show?)

“A lot of people are like, ‘Well, drag isn’t really for me, that’s like a “gay thing,”’ or ‘I’m not really into drag queens’ or whatever,” says Coates, “but I don’t think anyone goes to a drag show and doesn’t have a blast. It’s really just entertainers doing what they do really well, getting dressed up and making the crowd have fun.”

Full Moon Hike

It only makes sense to celebrate November’s full moon, known as the “Beaver Moon,” with a hike at Bear Creek. Prepaid registration required ($4 for members, $5 for nonmembers). Friday, Nov. 19, at 4:30 p.m. at Bear Creek Nature Center, 245 Bear Creek Road. For more info, see communityservices.elpasoco.com/nature-centers/nature-center-programs

Pikes Peak Community College Faculty Exhibition

Your last chance to check out the exhibition of original artwork by PPCC faculty and instructors before it closes. Through Thursday, Nov. 18, at Pikes Peak Community College, Studio West Art Gallery, 22 N. Sierra Madre St. More at tinyurl.com/PPCC-faculty-exhibition.

ballet, dancer, nutcracker, art, performance, theater

The Nutcracker: Short & Sweet

A 60-minute performance by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Ballet and Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. Tickets range from $29 to $64. Friday, Nov. 26, through Sunday, Nov. 28, at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, 190 S. Cascade Ave. For tickets and more info, see csphilharmonic.org/event/the-nutcracker. 

Anna Fiorino is a graduate from San Diego State University. She is a journalist with (more than three but less than twenty) years of experience. In her free time, she edits novels.

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