Diamonds in the rough
Last month at PLAY Dance Bar two interesting new cast members were named. Jamison St. James, former Ms. Tennessee Diamond Diva, and Q-Tip Channel, current Miss Gay United States Femme Fatale, are not your typical Nashville drag queens. In fact, they aren’t drag queens at all.
In a trend that is spreading the country in various forms from region to region, faux queens, bio queens, and our own local Divas bring biological women performing as women to the performance art stage. Much of the history of Nashville’s Diva scene can be traced to local drag icon and community activist Mac Productions. “Often Divas are young women who are girlfriends of drag kings or part of their support system who are inspired by watching kings and queens perform, and are called to the stage themselves,” Mac describes. “Their talents range the same spectrum as other drag artists, and it’s not unusual to find them doing production numbers or even live singing as part of their act.”
Some began as backup performers or in duets with drag kings, and though the local scene rose largely out of a focus on beauty and pageantry, Divas are now mastering the same skills as artists found in a more traditional drag show. “Hair, makeup and costuming are as important to Divas as they are to kings and queens,” says Mac. “And the fact PLAY Dance Bar has expanded their cast to include real girls is a great reflection on the talent professionalism and talent these girls display in their work.”
Pageants are still big in the Diva world, and Sunday, August 11 marks the 8th Ms. Tennessee Diamond Diva Pageant sponsored by Mac Productions at PLAY. Jamison St. James will relinquish her crown in an evening filled with glamour and featuring a superhero theme. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the pageant starts at 8 p.m.. PLAY’s regular show schedule will follow.