Community support in Phoenix helps drag queens thrive

Blockbuster TV shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race has started a drag movement in many major cities, and downtown Phoenix is ​​no exception, being one of Arizona’s drag hotspots with weekly events happening all over the city.

Local bars and clubs, such as Charlie’s Phoenix, one of the city’s biggest gay bars, draw people from all walks of life with shows and special events hosted by drag queens every night.

“There is variety, there is a lot of diversity compared to what I’ve seen,” said Rana Hammerlein, a regular on Charlie’s shows. “I’m from New York, and it’s a little different there. From what I’ve seen here, there is a great sense of community.

Many local drag queens, such as Felicia “FeFe” Minor, a Phoenix-based artist with over 4,000 Instagram followers, discovered their love for art in Arizona, thanks to the industry’s strong presence in areas. like downtown Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale. .

“I grew up in California a bit sheltered and moved to Arizona to get away from California and get a change of scenery,” Minor said. “When I got here I met my husband and one of the first dates we had was at a drag bar and then I was hooked from the word ‘go’.”

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Minor began his career as “Halloqueen” and went on to host a weekly show, alongside three of his fellow performers, on Wednesday nights at bars and clubs like Forbidden, located in Scottsdale, and The Rock, a bar. neighborhood in Melrose. District. Minor now hosts his own live talk show, alongside drag king Freddy Prinze Charming, titled “Let’s Have a FeFe”. The duo began the show in 2012 and broadcast live on multiple platforms, including YouTube, Twitter and Twitch, on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

“I got into live streaming before it got cool, and I’ve got proof of it,” Minor said of his nine-season show. Minor and Prinze are approaching their tenth season of the show with new computers funded by fans of the show through fundraisers and donations.

Like many other artists of color, Minor rose to the challenge of having the opportunity to practice the art she loved when she entered the industry. Even after playing for over a decade, Minor still faces these challenges today.

“Everyone wants to be in the spotlight,” Minor said. “Phoenix has a huge drag market and for a while there, there wasn’t really a table seat for a lot of POC artists, and I still feel like it’s still a thing we’re working on, and I think that’s the entertainment industry in general.

While the entertainment industry is one of the most competitive areas to work in, the drag community in Phoenix works together to help aspiring kings and queens. Minor lists Barbra Seville, Mia Adams, Savanna Stevens and the late Chantelle Douglas of Phoenix as some of her mentors who have helped her get into the world of drag.

Huge show turnouts and positive audience feedback make artists feel supported by their communities, and Minor enjoys giving back to the communities that have helped her succeed.

“I love helping the people coming onto the scene who need my help while also raising money for community organizations,” Minor said. “Recently, I raised $ 5,000 for mostly black-run, nonprofit organizations. That was all during the pandemic while we were on lockdown. “

Like those who came before her and those to come after, Minor encourages people to venture into the world of drag with a positive and open mindset.

“If you look from the outside in, I would say open the door, come in, there’s a family waiting inside,” Minor said. “Be open to learning more about your community; we are all one community. As much as people mean “all lives matter,” you need to learn more about those other lives.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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