Differences between a drag show and a bluegrass fest? There are a few. A drag show smells like cigarettes and glitter; a bluegrass fest smells like weed and nag champa. People at drag shows wear evening gowns and three-piece suits; people at bluegrass festivals wear tie-dye and tattoos. At drag shows, gay men show me pictures of their ex-boyfriend’s sculpted abs; at bluegrass fests, people show you bare skin that’s never seen a gym. See? Differences.
On Friday night, I was honored to attend the Elements drag show at BS West as a VIP (thanks to Ms. Tiffany Brown and dear dancer Dallas). The Elements cast of characters are known nationwide. They’re pageant winners and local celebrities, and I had a front row seat. BS West, however, is impossible to locate. The gay bar is in downtown Scottsdale, where I already get lost. Throw in a back alley entrance (no pun intended), and I was a lost lamb among Scottsdale popped-collar wolves. Anyway, I finally found the place, and I was pleased to find our seats in the very, very front row.
The Elements cast didn’t hit the stage until about 10:30 (way past my bedtime), but I was hopped up on Diet Coke and ready to roll. Opening with a trio rendition of “Stop, in the Name of Love” never hurts, followed by several amazing artists who lip-synched to icons like Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. More than lip-synching, these bitches could dance! I mean, we’re talking Rockette-style kick lines, side splits, back handsprings, and gyrations that would make Shakira jealous. The drag queens were spectacular, gorgeous, meant to be worshipped—and they were, openly, by the adoring crowd, who waved dollar bills like white flags of surrender.
Then, there was Dallas—the one male dancer of the night not in drag. Dallas is an Usher lookalike who, let’s face it, moves even better than Usher. Plus, I’m pretty sure Usher doesn’t have the guts to wear nothing but an American flag string thong on stage. He gave a bachelorette party one hell of a show, and I admit, by the end of the evening, my throat was coarse from screams of animal ferocity.
That night, I dragged my tired butt to bed at 2 AM, but I’ll be back to BS West, because they put on one heck of a good show. The bar features several special events (including the Prima Donna pageant tomorrow), and every Thursday, there’s an all-male dance review. How awesome is that?
From Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix … Sunday, Jake and I attended the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. We attended last year, as well, but I was excited to discover this year’s fest would take place at the Margaret T. Hance Park downtown. The Hance Park is that mysterious span of green above the I-10 tunnel between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street. Although I knew the space would be sweet, the lineup is what caught my eye, most notably … Les Claypool.
I first saw Les Claypool at All Good Festival years ago. I adored him then, back in those innocent days of pot-smoking and the occasional magic brownie. He is the astoundingly creative, eccentric bass player of bands like Oysterhead, Primus, and my favorite, the Frog Brigade. When I saw his name on the lineup, I had to be there to see him perform with his new project, Duo de Twang, an acoustic outfit, featuring Claypool and guitarist Marc “Mirv” Haggard.
Not only do these boys have talent, but together, they have charisma. I was blown away by finger-picking, slide guitar, and of course, Claypool’s vocal oddity. Watching the Duo de Twang, my head felt light; it might have been the kids toking up next to us, but I think my happiness was due to the deep, chest-shaking bass of the super-talented Les Claypool.
McDowell Mountain Music Festival has been around for ten years, and it continues to grow. Jake and I don’t quite fit there, because we don’t own tie-dye; Jake doesn’t have long hair; and I don’t have a flowing hippie skirt. However, none of that mattered. The music mattered. The beautiful weather mattered. The weird eight-foot-tall puppets? They mattered.
Yeah, drag shows and bluegrass festivals are different, but there’s one thing they have in common: both venues bring people together. The differences don’t really matter when the commonality is so freakin’ cool.