Start Your Engines
Tempest DuJour selected for RuPaul’s Drag Race new season
By Laura Latzko - Jan. 15, 2015
Photos by Ed Flores
When RuPaul’s Drag Race kicks off its new season this month, Arizonans will see a familiar face among the 14 female illusionist contestants hailing from all around the country.
Tucson’s Tempest DuJour’s selection for the competition – now it its seventh season – makes her the first drag performer to represent Arizona on the LOGO network’s popular TV show.
DuJour, also known as Patrick Holt, said she feels honored to represent Arizona and expose the show’s diverse audiences to her signature brand of “campy” drag.
“On a very personal level, making the show was a benchmark of ‘you’ve achieved a certain level of your craft.’ The other part of it was, I don’t know any other queen like me, and I think that’s cool,” DuJour said. “People, to me, have this idea in their mind of what drag should be. Hopefully I can help show … [them] an alternative.”
DuJour, 47, auditioned four times before making it onto the show and openly admits she is the oldest contestant in “Drag Race” history.
“It is something I wear proudly. I’m not ashamed of my age,” said DuJour, who started doing drag in 2007. “To me it’s a normal situation: As a professor I’m working with 18 to 21-year-olds everyday anyway, so to be in a cast of 20-year-olds feels like another day at work for me in a lot of ways.”
In recent years, the former Miss Gay Tucson America and Miss Gay Tucson USofA, has performed in shows with other queens from Drag Race, including two of her favorites: Latrice Royale and Chad Michaels. And, the best advice she said she’s received from the former contestants is to “be authentic.”
This season, a number of drag queens on the show hail from places outside of major cities, such as New York and Los Angeles.
“Anyone who knows drag really well and understands the drag world basically knows there are these pockets of amazing drag all over the country that aren’t in these metropolitan areas, Arizona included,” DuJour said. “Arizona has amazing drag, and is well respected nationally in the drag community, but it’s not where you’d expect to go looking for the best drag … until now.”
DuJour, known for her humor and flashy costumes, especially her self-made headdresses, admits that she’s always stood out among other drag queen because of her 6-foot-6 stature.
“I’m never going to be the pretty one. I’m never going to be the fishy one. No one’s ever going to ever mistake me for a girl,” she said. “My taste was always very campy and kitschy and comedy. That’s what I loved, and it worked really well with my size.”
And, although her signature style has evolved in some ways because of weight
loss in the last few years, DuJour continues to embrace and enjoy the more exaggerated style of drag.
“Now I think I have a little more leeway with what I can get away with because I’ve lost so much weight,” she said. “I think I’ll always see myself as a camp queen because that’s what feels the best to me, and that’s what I love.”
DuJour, who has hosted Southern Arizona’s Pride in the Desert for the past two years, said she continues to perform songs from different genres because she doesn’t want to get boxed into one category of drag. Adding that she regularly tries to surprise her audiences her eclectic selections that range from pop and country to classic rock and classic hits.
“Sometimes I will choose a song because it’s unexpected from me, just as a twist,” she said, adding that this variety could help her in the competition. “It keeps me interested, and I think it keeps the audience interested as well.”
Although DuJour’s audience and career have grown to include hosting the monthly Retro Game Show Night at Hotel Congress, in addition to her TV debut, she’s continued to help raise funds for the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network.
Tucson father shares his journey to RuPaul’s Drag Race
Patrick Holt began his resume for consideration as a contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race years ago.
Though Holt, 47, only started performing as his drag persona Tempest Dujour in 2007, it was his experience in theatre and as a costume designer helped him catapult him into Tucson’s drag scene.
While attending Brigham Young University DuJour took an interest in wardrobe design and went on to get his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from BYU and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
“I was raised a very conservative Mormon kid and never drank, never smoked and never did any of the vices you are supposed to do growing up,” Holt said. “Drag became my outlet for being fun and being me and escaping. It is my fun time. I always say, ‘drag is my drug.’”
After graduating, Holt worked in New York under famed Broadway costume designer Paul Tazewell, who is known for his work in such shows as Bring in Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, Memphis, On the Town and The Color Purple.
Not only does Holt come from a background in theatre, he has also done costume design for the Arizona Repertory Theatre and worked with regional theater companies across the United States.
Additionally, Holt has taught at the University of Arizona’s the School of Theatre, Film and Television and credits the theater for the inspiration behind his drag persona.
According to Holt, his first name was inspired by the William Shakespeare play The Tempest.
“Tempest is a noun and a verb, It insights mental imagery of something strong and powerful and a natural force,” Holt said. “I wanted something unique that evoked an emotion.”
And, originally from North Carolina, Holt incorporated his Southern roots and experienced into his surname with the French-sounding surname “DuJour.”
“I knew I wanted to go with a certain type of last name that was super campy and kitschy,” he said. “My family roots are super, super backwoods – like country with a ‘k.’ My dad’s side of the family comes from this place in the mountains of North Carolina where they filmed the movie Deliverance. So that’s my legacy. I thought of what a person from those areas would think is a super fancy last name … DuJour might be the only French world they really knew or have heard. When you put it with Tempest, it is literally the ‘Storm of the Day.’”
Holt describes Tempest DuJour as a “strange aunt at a cocktail party” with a crowd gathered around her.
“I sort of picture myself like that,” he said, “like the strange relative no one really fully understands or can figure out, but everyone wants to be around her.”
For Holt, drag creates an outlet of expression outside of his regular day job as a costume designer.
“Even though I work in a career that allows me to be very creative, the drag part of it is essential to keeping me mentally healthy,” he said.
Holt has worked on over 20 different Shakespeare productions, including Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew.
However, Holt said he doesn’t see making his drag costumes as additional work. As a result, Holt said he has a drag studio in his home filled with fabric, wigs, shoes and costumes.
“When I have time, I’ll take out my patterns and cut out a dress or make a skirt or make a headdress or style a wig,” he said. “To me, that’s fun, that’s relaxing, that’s me getting away from real life and being able to play dress up, where I get to be the beneficiary of the dress-up.”
Before getting into drag, Holt went to drag shows and pride events in North Carolina and Georgia, watching such performers as the late Tajma Hall, one of his biggest influences.
Holt’s drag style has influenced his costumes in productions, including Nine, for which he designed colorful headdresses, and vice versa, as he also brings such theatrical elements as period costumes into his drag.
For Holt, his drag life and regular life have always worked together and complemented each other.
Currently Holt and his husband, whom he married last year in Utah after eight years together, are raising their 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Holt said his children had the chance to see Tempest DuJour perform for the first time at this year’s Turnabout for TIHAN show and are the soon-to-be-reality-TV-star’s “biggest fans.”
- Laura Latzko