Thursday nights at Durango’s Starlight Lounge, Aria PettyOne is boldly going where no drag queen has gone before. Okay ... that might be a bit of hyperbole. But she IS bringing out-of-this-world entertainment to the bar in the form of her “Beam Me Up Starlight” drag/trivia nights.
Alien in origin, Aria PettyOne says her name is derived from Area 51, the highly-classified government facility she escaped from last year. The Storm Area 51 raid of Sept. 20, 2019, provided enough of a distraction for her to sneak out and make her way into the world. She figured Durango would be a good spot for her to hide, she said, because she fits in pretty well here.
“I think what Durango represents is kind of that freedom to express yourself how you want, and that’s what I’m doing with my drag,” she said. “It’s not really the kind of drag that you would typically see. ... I think people realizing that drag doesn’t have to be so serious and, you know, taken so highly — you can go out there and just have some fun with it — that’s what I want people to realize with Aria. It’s just about letting your guard down and having some fun.”
The drag/trivia events take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Starlight’s back patio area. There are three rounds of trivia with a winner after each round, and then a grand prize for the cumulative winner. PettyOne does a few performances each night, and if she has a co-host, she has them perform as well.
As of yet, drag performers have been very cautious about getting back out there during the pandemic, she said. However, PettyOne is looking forward to bringing in local favorites such as DDylilah, Charlize Darrwyn, and drag king Chad. She said she is also interested in giving people who are curious about drag the chance to give it a shot.
“I’m ... really opening it up to amateur queens and kings who are just trying to get their foot in the door and perform somewhere and try drag out for the first time,” she said. “I would love it if people would come in costume, come in drag, dressed up a little bit. I want it to be really fun and like a free space for people to feel like they can express themselves.”
As for the trivia, PettyOne said it was general Trivial Pursuit-style questions when the nights began in late June. Since then, though, she has begun to group them into categories. At a recent night, the three rounds were broken up into pop culture, music, and film. Future nights may feature trivia about Earth itself, with categories such as geography.
PettyOne’s tips — collected in buckets and digitally; everything about the nights is still socially-distanced (wear a mask!) — are being donated to a different local nonprofit every month. In July, they went to the 4 Corners Rainbow Youth Center.