Growing up in Dickson, Tenn., and being involved in school, church and the Fellowship of Christian athletes, Lindsey Clark did not find it feasible to be openly gay. She lived only 45 minutes from Nashville but, as a closeted teen, could not have felt farther away. She had no idea how one visit to the city would change her life.

“I started coming to Nashville with friends as a weekend escape,” she said, “and sometimes we would stay over. Once when we visited, PLAY Dance Bar was having an amateur drag event called ‘Dragaroo.’ I decided to do it for fun. My friend’s boyfriend lent me some clothes, and I wrapped myself in an Ace bandage and went. There I met the great drag king Jordan Allen, and he encouraged me to come back for an audition PLAY was holding the next week.”

Adopting the name Lucas, Lindsay pulled together a costume, memorized an Eminem song and headed to his first audition.

“I had no idea what I was walking into, but I loved the feeling performing gave me,” he said. “I loved putting my heart into that song, going all out and putting all the emotion I could into it. I was incredibly nervous. All the other kings were talking to me, telling me to calm down and that it would all be fine.

“I bonded with Gemini Knight, Avanti, Breezy, and Jay Love that night,” he continued. “We were all auditioning and were all relatively new. There were other kings there that did have experience, so we just kind of clustered together and gave each other support. It was different for us because we just sort of came the way were. The kings who had been doing it for a while had costumes and facial hair. We just didn’t know about all that.”

Watching experienced drag kings Richard Cranium, Sebastian Kennedy Armani, and Trey Alize audition, Lucas realized how much more preparation performing would require. Armed with advice from his new friend Jordan Allen, Lucas continued to work on his art. When he met legendary local promoter Mac of Mac Productions, a new world of performance opportunities opened for the young drag king.

“Lucas is an example of a drag performer with great potential because he has heart and soul and is dedicated to improving his art form,” said Mac, coordinator of the Nashville Pride Pageant and owner of drag pageants including Mr. Esquire. “He strives to be a good entertainer and is also humble, which is what makes a performer great.”

Mac Productions has also been involved in numerous charities and organizations throughout the greater Nashville area, and those who have attended a meeting with her are familiar with Mac’s battle cry, “Don’t forget the Drag Kings!”

While queens have often enjoyed more of the spotlight, Mac has always been an active advocate in promoting the performance art of drag kings. Beginning as a fan of the performances at the Cabaret, she stepped in when the club closed and began creating drag king shows and promoting pageants for kings, queens and divas all over the Mid-South.

“When Mac Productions first started, we were unique in that our performers really looked and acted like men,” Mac said. “That was not always the case in every drag king scene. We have always been about the male illusion in addition to the performance.”

After meeting Mac, Lucas began sharing the importance of the illusion in his personal expression through the art of drag. “Most people don’t understand that finding drag saved my life,” he said. “It was not only an outlet for me to express how I feel or an art form that I love, but it was an escape from the weird looks and the snide remarks and the question ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’ It’s okay to be me here.”

Now that they have been working together, Mac and Lucas share a sense of gratitude for the community and the opportunities the drag king world provides for young performers.

“There have been so many kings and so many promoters like Mac Productions who have paved the way for us to be able to do what we do,” Lucas says. “Mac does so much and invests a lot of her own money. Drag is not cheap. She is a great promoter, and she’s a great pageant owner. She’s a great person all around. She does so much and I appreciate all of it.”

“What is exciting about the drag king community is that entertainers are able to feel free and meet others just like them,” says Mac. “So many young gay people come from a place of struggle, and it is hard to learn how to be open. It’s hard to learn how to be gay, but here there are people they can go to who love and support them and want them to succeed. It is not uncommon to hear a performer say that drag saved his life.”

Lucas is full of optimism about where his drag king career is going and loves entertaining in his new hometown.

“My career is just getting started really,” he says. “That’s why I feel blessed being in Nashville. Believe it or not, Nashville has some of the best kings in the country, and there are performers all over who would love to come to Nashville to perform.

“Drag is not just what we see in Nashville,” he continues, “and I want to get out there and experience more styles. I am constantly learning and constantly working to build a foundation and mold myself into the king I want to be. I want to not only make my drag family and my drag brothers proud, but I want to make myself proud. I’ve received a gift in this beautiful art form. Now I have to do something with it, and I want to do something that people have never seen before. Because for all that drag has done for me, it deserves that much out of me. I want to take it as far as God will let me.” 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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