In February, I’ll celebrate 22 years of being a drag queen, a term that my friend Bob the Drag Queen defines as “blurring gender lines through art.” This definition, in my opinion, breaks down the archaic defining walls of drag as simply a man in a dress. Instead, it creates an umbrella term that encompasses a vast array of participants and artistic mediums.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a Gemini – or perhaps it’s my interdisciplinary education as the first music-focused performing arts major at Clemson University – that allows me to see both sides of the coin of show business. 

Show. Business.

For decades, drag performers truly excelled in the area of show, by thrilling nightlife audiences with costumes, props, choreography, wigs, and stage makeup (sounding familiar?) with only one guiding principle: hide. Drag has since come out of the closet, creating a new world of entrepreneurs in the performing arts world. 

My transition from nightlife to footlight started when I got sober in 2014. In order to provide myself with a buffer from alcohol, I moved into the very small live singing drag world. 

Using my degree I started writing and producing my one-woman cabaret shows, working with arrangers, costume designers, and directors to create unique shows and tour them across the country. You might see this combination of a drag show and business in your town in the form of drag brunches: businesses and performance with a side of bottomless mimosas, but nevertheless a visible reminder that we are a legitimate and successful form of the performance industry.

This column is short, so I’ll cut to the chase: drag is more than lip-syncing and wigs. Drag is theater, be it served with a cocktail or hash browns. We are siblings in this world of show business. I hope you welcome us into the community and onto stages around the world. Maybe even consider booking a drag collaboration as part of your theatre season (wink, wink).

We are ready for the spotlight. I am grateful to say that drag is about more than doing splits – which is great because I can’t do one.

For more information visit www.imdelightedtobehere.com.

Clay Smith identifies as he/him and is also known as Delighted Tobehere, an internationally acclaimed drag artist based in Greenville, South Carolina. Delighted was featured in “America’s Got Talent,” season 10, has given TEDx talks, lectured at universities and tours her cabaret shows “Drag 101,” “Hello Daddy!” and “Simply Delighted.” This commentary originally appeared in Perspectives, an SETC News column where guest contributors are invited to share their diverse voices. It is reprinted with permission from the January-February 2023 issue of SETC News, a bimonthly publication of the Southeastern Theatre Conference (www.SETC.org)

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