[1/5] Egon Maurice LaSand poses with a crown after winning the King of Kings contest, a drag king competition that reunites 15 artists from all over the country, in Sao Paulo, Brazil February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Carla Carniel

Roses, sentimental cards, heart-shaped candy, and boxes of chocolate; dinner in a nice restaurant or delivered via DoorDash from said nice restaurant; a romcom probably featuring Sandra Bullock — these could pass as an acceptable ode to Valentine’s Day and conveyance of love.

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But if these social norms induce a yawn or roll of the eyes, there’s another, potentially more enticing means to celebrate the holiday this year: the gender-expressive and much inclusive all-BIPOC drag king show, “Royales.” Making its debut on Feb. 9 at the Mission District’s El Rio, the first-of-its-kind show is set to be a historic occasion for performers and attendees.

As “Royales” creator and host Hennessy Williams explains, “This is a new thing I wanted to start because we have a lot of BIPOC king performers in the Bay Area. There tends to be an overrepresentation of white drag kings, so I wanted to make sure that this representation was here and that we could do lots of really amazing and inspiring numbers for the show.”

While there have been all-BIPOC shows and all-king shows, “Royales” enters uncharted drag territory with its all-BIPOC king cast.

Says “Royales” performer Lotus Boy, “King representation and specifically BIPOC king representation is something that we’re always talking about with each other and on social media. So I was really excited for them to finally be able to make this happen–it’s been a long time coming.”

Collectively, the drag kings in “Royales” have won pageants and awards; served as board members and panelists for Bay Area LGBTQIA+, drag and gender-expansive events like Oaklash and the Theyfriend Nonbinary Performance Festival; and have made appearances at drag shows such as Rebel Kings of Oakland, a twice-a-month event at White Horse Bar.

While Williams has hosted their share of Valentine’s Day drag brunches, “Royales” is their first go at hosting a nighttime event to celebrate the mid-February holiday. They’re also first in the Royales lineup on Thursday. Other performers are Helixir Jynder Byntwell, Madd-Dogg 20/20, Papi Churro, Tyson Check-In, Major Hammy and Lotus Boy.

The show’s theme of “red for royalty” ties to the performers (as kings) and Valentine’s Day; the aim is for them to swoon their audience with winning theatrics, dancing personalities and eye-catching costumes.

San Francisco’s 2022 Drag King of the Year Helixir Jynder Byntwell’s plan is to incorporate his tagline, “Your local sad boy emo daddy of your dreams,” with the holiday focus.

He says, “It’s sexy-comedy at its finest, because I’m super silly. That’s what my personality is like: super goofy. But then when you’re onstage, you gotta tease them a little bit.”

Importantly, the show gives drag kings like Helixir the opportunity to be themselves — to express themselves openly and present their own versions of drag kings.

Source: SFgate, J.L. Odom

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WATCH: Sodomite-homosexual Brazilians compete in the country’s first drag king contest

At a downtown Sao Paulo tattoo studio, drag performer Hinacio King has a six-pack contoured onto their abdomen and their breasts tightly tapped down to transform into their alter ego.

King is taking part in Brazil’s King of Kings competition, the first of its kind where 15 drag kings from around the country compete to win the title.

“I just want to cause a bit of a shock. I want to make white cis heterosexual boys feel uncomfortable, that’s my goal”, said King, 33, who out of drag goes by Sarah Franchine, an occupational therapist who works with children.

Drag kings are mostly female or transgender performers playing exaggerated male characters, but the contest is open to anyone.

“It’s historic, because we don’t have a contest or an event dedicated to drag kings in Brazil,” said 43-year-old drag king Lorde Lazzarus, who organized the event.

“For me, drag came as a gender expression at first because I am transgender, but I didn’t realize that when I was a kid. I established myself as a drag king and that was a way I found to express myself as a performer and also as a step in my discovery that I was transgender,” Lazzarus said.

Source: Reuters, Steven Grattan

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