Lipstick, Powder, and Paint #2

I thought this series was going to be in a particular order. I decided this morning that since it is about what is on my mind, plus showing you photos, I needed to just decide each day what photo to post and what story I want to tell.Today, I have Sara Andrews on my mind.

Sara is a woman who was born a male. I have only known her as a woman, as she transitioned genders at a young age. Sara is a very talented performer. She performs drag. The women she creates for the stage have very little to do with Sara in her everyday life. She is a polite, well-behaved, lovely woman in her everyday life. At least, that has been my impression. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Sara for a few days a summer ago, when we both visited West Hollywood to go to Sutan Amrull’s Big Birthday party. We ended up all staying with Arnold at the place he was sharing with his manager and friend, Diana Coney. So, I would hang out with the regular-girl-next-door Sara during the day and then I would see her transform into her drag persona and hit the stage. Or, the night of the big party, I saw her transform herself into a movie starlet, who behaved a bit like Audrey Hepburn. She was not in drag that night. She was Sara Andrews all dolled up and on her best behavior. People loved her. I felt very glamorous to be her sidekick.

There is some discussion right now, provoked by RuPaul not welcoming trans performers to Drag Race, as to whether or not a person who has changed their gender identity can actually be a drag queen, as we usually think of drag as men impersonating women. And, I admit, that’s how I basically define drag. But, I also realize, that drag is not about the person performing…drag is about the persona that person has created. (I got this idea from a young man who posted a comment on Sara’s FaceBook.) Sara Andrews creates amazing personas of females. She does this as an art form, and a means of creative self-expression. And, I believe she has a ball doing it. She does it for fun. The audiences at Hamburger Mary’s loved her. Especially the women. She gets on the stage and behaves like the bad girl all of us would like to be. But, she isn’t cheesy…she is funny and just provocative enough to make sure her audience has as much fun as she does.

I don’t get all this argument. I know that RuPaul is not really a contest as much as it is reality television. The whole beehive that has been created around that show might be good for the art of drag, or it could possibly also have some negative effects.┬áBut, drag is always and forever drag….creating the female persona. Sara Andrews chooses to live as a woman and perform as a drag queen. Even though this can be a little hard to understand, I finally get it. Trans women and drag queens aren’t the same thing at all. That is, unless the trans woman is performing great, great drag!! ┬áThere you have it.










Sutan—A Person of Two Spirits

DSCF3497xw Last week Fred and I had a very charming houseguest, Sutan Amrull, aka Raja Gemini. I was quite taken with Raja when she won RuPaul Drag Race, Season 3. (I’m sure that if you follow this blog you know I am a huge fan of drag.) Because Sutan is a good friend of Arnold Myint/Suzy Wong, I met him a couple of years ago when he visited Arnold in Nashville. Last year I went to Raja’s birthday party in West Hollywood with Suzy. So, this summer when he was visiting Nashville again to work with Arnold on a project I was quite pleased when Arnold asked if Sutan could stay at our house while he was in town. It was a pleasure to have him here and to spend a bit of one-to-one time with him. Every now and then I meet a person that totally fascinates me, and Sutan is one of those people. He is an artist in many senses of the word. The drag he does is a form of art and a form of expressing the feminine side of his personality. Sutan talks a lot about two spirit people. This is a term used by some indigenous people to describe gender-variant individuals. Sutan not only embodies a blend of genders, he also embodies a blend of cultures. He is Dutch Indonesian, and has lived both in Indonesia and in the USA. He is a very creative person who expresses his creativity in many ways. Of course, he is known for his drag performances, but he is also an artist, a designer, a fashion stylist, and a world-class makeup artist. He is funny—check him out on Toot or Boot YouTubes—he is very sensitive, and this side is seen quite touchingly in a YouTube video, “Subcultures.” He is an actor—to see an amazing Sutan/Raja presentation, check YouTube for “Raja Sublime,” a music video by Andreas Anastasis. This short video is quite beautifully shot, and a very provocative perspective of fluid gender. His fluidity is what makes Sutan/Raja so interesting to me. I have seen him perform, both in person and on video, and when he performs, even when it is outrageous, it seems quite natural and genuine. We had a very fun morning routine while he was here. I got up at my usual time, 6:30, and had my usual protein breakfast with Fred. Then around 9:30 Sutan got up and we had coffee and champagne. Fred was a complete doll and just smiled and let me pretend this was my usual morning routine. I found Sutan to be very easy to talk to. While I was most interested in learning more about him, I found that I actually told him a lot about me. He’s one of those rare people who knows how to make another person feel special. I know that it is quite possible that some people who read this blog might not know who Sutan/Raja is, but—be assured—in the world where he lives, he is a major celebrity. He is a rock star. Plus, he does have that charisma and incredible beauty…but, the point is—it is rare for anyone to be that easy to talk to, especially a person who is usually the center of attention. In short, Sutan is a great guy. He is also a woman who is powerful and intense. He was a wonderful house guest. Fred and I both were delighted with him. He has many talents and could succeed in many different ways. I have no doubt that he will be one of the great, great drag queens of our time. I can’t call him a “female impersonator” because I don’t think he’s impersonating anyone. I think he is just being his total, complete self. And, for some reason, when he does that it gives other people permission to do the same. Every now and then an artist has that effect on people. That is what makes an Sutan a great artist. He has an effect on people. I look forward to seeing the ways he finds to express himself as time goes on. And while I will always be a great, great fan of Raja, Sutan has now become a dear friend. This is the video, Raja Sublime.