Who will get crowned Ms. Durango Pride? What about Mr. Durango Pride? Get your ass to DRAGrango to find out. Held at the Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave., DRAGrango will be part variety show, part competition where contestants perform twice and judges select who slayed their way to the crown. Interludes between drag acts will be filled by the SE School of Movement from Pagosa Springs, the local comedy of Stephen Harman and Allie Wolfe, and a surprise act by a surprise guest.
The wild night of striking delights will be a fundraiser for the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity and will feature artists from all over the region.
Ms. Fontoya Vendetta is this year’s DRAGrango host. DGO asked her how she got in the biz and what tips she has for audiences.
What are your shows like?One of the things I am known for in Denver are my flips, splits, and the fact that I like to add something different than you would see elsewhere. For me, drag isn’t so much an impersonation as an entertaining performance. I want to make sure people see things they’ve never seen before.
The easiest way for me to describe it is a Cirque du Soleil performance.
What got you into drag?I had met Chi Chi LaRue and she was like, “I wanna put you in makeup. I wanna see you perform.” I was like, “I’ve never done that before,” and she was like, “Well, you’re going to do it now.”
Do you find yourself doing that to other people? Dragging them into drag? All the time. One of the things I really like to do, my roommate has a show called “Play It Forward” and basically you work with a baby drag king or queen for about a month and then after the month, all of the knowledge that you passed on, they get to display at a show.
What’s the hardest part of your job that an audience wouldn’t know about?Staying current and relevant, is the hardest thing. Drag has been around for so many years and almost everything I can think of has been done one way or another. So, the hardest thing for me is to always come up with new ideas, the things that people haven’t seen.
What’s a hidden joy of your job?At every show, I always have pictures and a meet and greet with the cast, that way if anyone wants to talk to us or get to know us, they have that opportunity. My thing is to meet the audience after. They’re the reason why I do drag.
What makes a show successful?Usually based on the number of people that show up. I’ve performed for bartenders before. My idea of a successful show is having an audience and keeping an audience.
What bad behavior can an audience leave at home?One thing that I really dislike is when people grab me, hold me, or pick me up. I usually have a whole routine planned. Being taken off my routine for any amount of time can throw off my whole performance. Then it is just winging it.
Don’t touch the drag queens. A good drag queen will interact with you when she has the opportunity to.
And, one of the things that I make a joke about, but is true, is that if you don’t have money to tip the queens, come and enjoy the show, but know that it costs a lot of money to do drag.
In other words, tip you bastards?[Laughs] The way I say it is that you’re not going to go to a strip club without singles, why would you go to a drag show without ones?
Do you have a motto?Live and let live.
Bringing down someone else’s happiness isn’t going to do anything but make everyone negative.
You have a time machine. You can go back and witness any drag moment in history, what would you go see? I would go back to witness Stonewall. It was the birth of drag. I’ve done a lot of research into the history of drag, but to go back and witness it would be so powerful.
After the interview, you walk out your door and find a $10 million winning lotto ticket. What happens next?First, I would pay off all of my debt. Then, I would invest half of that. Then, I would tour the world for a while, come back, and buy a house. I like to travel and I like to make memories more than have stuff. But … I would use a large portion to grow my drag closet.
You’d still be performing?Oh yeah. [laughs]
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer