In this episode, Greggo covers Queer Camp Out in San Marcos, Magical Realness in Austin, the San Antonio/Austin Bernie Sanders Rallies, + the confusing nature of truth in the age of anxiety and information.
We also announce next week’s guest, review this week’s Meme of The Week, Netflix’s Next in Fashion and award a very 80’s melancholy pop-bop by Vestite the crown as our Song of The Week!
As always the full audio version of this episode is available below or on your favorite streaming apps. Be sure to check out Vestite’s latest EP Modern Phenomenon as well- it just came out and it BANGZ.
Queer Camp Out
Queer Camp Out hosted by Queer Theater Texas (brainchild of Derek Thomas Miller) was fucking awesome- it consisted of a very gay and very diverse queer variety show featuring stand-up comedy, storytelling via interpretative dance, a fashion show, drag performances and a fashion + dance competition mini-ball hosted by my drag sister Miss Stonewall Warehouse 2017-18, Tasha Fierse Kennedy, and yours truly.
Although the Ball was at a Yoga Studio, it felt more like an underground hipster basement party and it was a super fun time! I definitely brought the Camp with a look I wore to an Orville Peck Concert where Louisianna Purchase opened for him, because nothing says “Camp Vogue Ball” like a good ol’ fashion’d cowboy. By the way, Orville Peck’s latest music video, Queen of the Rodeo, just came out and our very first interview guest from is in it!
Another cool and slightly spiritual/superstitious thing was I finally got my camera back from getting it fixed like I mentioned a couple of episodes back and one of the first pictures I ever got to take was of Tasha looking baller as fuck.
Special mention goes out to my drag mother Chitah Daniels Kennedy and my sister Tequila Rose for both giving the children LIFE during their performances…you can hear Chitah’s endorsement of how fun the night was in the actual audio of this episode, so don’t sleep on that.
Literally the day after Queer Camp Out, The Ashwell Clinic hosted a performance-style tournament with Austin’s premier drag superstars and an open-to-all mini-ball, both of which together formed Magical Realness. The mini-ball took place just before the tournament, and once again I did my damn thang and showed out.
Although I didn’t win the cash prize for the voguing category, I did win a disqualification for touching despite the fact that my competitor literally squat and sat on me and had already lost her footing resulting in a fall offstage before I placed a hand on her.
More on that later… with that being said, I still had an amazing time during the mini-ball goofing off and showing my dancey ass.
The notable moments of the performance tournament started off with an explosive performance by Belladonna, which raised and set the bar for every performance thereafter. Watching her do her thing was like watching a firecracker pop the fuck off, reassemble itself in a barbie box, and disappear. Footage of her full performance is below:
Other notable moments include….
Local Queen of gigs Noodles embodying Easter Bunny Realness
Purple Matter being a literal fucking crawfish:
Y2K teleporting us to the land of the Flying purple People Eater:
and Andie Flores combining the world of Mickeys:
Ultimately, it was Belladonna’s explosive battle cry of a performance that swept up the cash and the crown of Miss Magical Realness 2020.
Bernie Sanders Rallies in Austin & San Antonio
A prime example of this crazy ass schedule was me going to a San Antonio Bernie Sanders Rally at 4pm until 8pm, stopping at home in San Marcos for a bit until heading off to CyberQueen at Coconut Club from 11:30pm until about 4am all in the same night…. followed by another Bernie Sanders Rally in Austin the very next day.
Why do I do it? Because I love Bernie Sanders and hate myself apparently.
In all actuality, I only planned on going to the San Antonio rally because Joca Marquez- a local San Marcos city councilwoman and professor at Texas State was set to introduce him to the rally in San Antonio- and that was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss.
The San Antonio Rally (which took place on the night of the Nevada caucus) was such a blast. Before the speakers arrived a Tejano band came out and played some HITS that I’m sure my parents would’ve loved to see.
The crowd in San Antonio was also pretty ecstatic and motivated by the results of the Nevada caucus that we were all watching in real time. In the middle of a speech by Kendrick Sampson (which was very moving btw) the projector displaying CNN finally showed the blowout that Bernie had accomplished, and the dance hall erupted in cheers.
Bernie’s speech called out the corrupt powers that be (as always) and the people around me in the rally actually had their own stories about their favorite pieces of Bernie’s platform (which you’ll hear in the audio version of the podcast). After the rally wrapped up, I narrowly missed the chance to shake Bernie’s hand (r.i.p. my will to live). Outside a group of Trump supporters were holding onto a giant “Come and Take it Sign” by the highway where attendees were exiting but…. their sign was facing the wrong way, which seemed appropriate given the circumstances. Ultimately I left the parking lot blaring “We Are The Champions”, with the eager excitement of picturing Bernie versus trump in an ideological battle of the decade.
As I mentioned before, I only had the intention of going to the San Antonio Rally so that I could get audio for this episode, but upon reviewing the footage afterwards, I realized that I had recorded everything EXCEPT Bernie’s speech. That pretty much cemented to me that I had to go to Austin’s rally the next day and while I initially wanted to scream because of my freshman-like mistake, I was immediately excited about the idea of going to another Bernie rally. Luckily for me, when I went out for Cyberbabes in Austin, I ran into a flight attendant buddy of mine who was leaving that same morning, and he let me borrow his hotel so that I wouldn’t have to drive back into town the next day from San Marcos. Kevin you rock.
What was really amazing about both rallies was that I got to huge moments in the campaign. In San Antonio, I got to witness Joca Marquez, a San Marcos city council member and member of Our Revolution (Bernie’s grassroots progressive network) introduce Bernie. Shortly after the rally, about a day later, Joca and the Bernie Sanders campaign announced that she had become the newest member as a campaign co-chair of Bernie’s campaign in Texas. I also got to witness Bernie give his Nevada victory speech almost immediately after the results came in, and in Austin I got to witness another huge moment when Bernie got his first endorsement by a past candidate of the very same 2020 race in which he’s competing, Marriane Williamson.
Williamson’s endorsement came as a total surprise to those of us in the crowd, and people can feel however they want about Marriane’s questionable science stances- but her speech about being a Texan who gets pissed off about injustice resonated with me more than most people could probably realize. Witnessing the homophobia of the Defense of Marriage Act in the 2000’s as a high school student and understanding its implications for my future self perverted my sense of pride for the flag and what it allegedly stood for- to the point that I would refuse to stand for the moment of silence. The hypocrisy and apathy of my peers was too much to succumb to, and I’d find myself getting oddly warned by teachers that my advocacy might have consequences. Marianne spoke directly to this indignation and brought it in the context of the reformists of the civil rights era, of labor workers, of women and more directly- in the recent focus on healthcare reformation. She spoke to what I’ve been telling people all along about Bernie’s policies and plans- that it’s not radical, and it’s most certainly not impossible, because we’re going to do it for ourselves and for future generations just like those activists of the past did for us.
So back to Magical Realness…
As I mentioned earlier, I was disqualified for touching my opponent even after they had sat on me and already fallen by their own mistake offstage. What I felt immediately on the stage as I was called out for touching was a feeling of animosity from the host and the crowd, as well as a bit of shame- as if I had been accused of pushing my competitor off the stage. I knew I didn’t…or at least I felt like I didn’t.
The sense of anxiety that came soon thereafter was only exacerbated by what I took as a “go fuck yourself” look by the person who I was competing against as I apologized, grabbed my things, and left the stage. What was even worse was that this bubbling sense of anxiety ended up turning into a repeating loop that was telling me “people are going to hate you, you fucking pushed a girl off the stage.” then it reversed into anger like “well I don’t think I pushed her, but even if I did the bitch SAT on me.” Ultimately I knew I had a recording of the incident, and that the facts would be facts.
So what does the video show exactly? We see my competitor squat over me and yes, sit (I literally felt her on me which is why I touched her in the first place) and as she’s already going down I touched her as in “Yeah, that’s what you get.” Her recovery from the stumble was iconic as fuck though, I ain’t mad at her.
Ultimately, I don’t care about the disqualification at all, I don’t care about there being a cash prize, I literally couldn’t even tell you how much money it was because the competitive aspect was just a chance for me to be a dork and get some excess energy out to a crowd that I don’t get to perform in front of very often. Afterwards I had a lot of strangers come up to me and tell me that I was their favorite character of the night and that I gave them life (which tends to happen at these kinds of things) but it was all super fucking sweet, and I was in a state of euphoria from all the love. A couple of my friends (and some strangers) came up and expressed that they thought it was rigged since my competitor was from the same drag house as the hostess, which honestly doesn’t matter to me. Magical Realness was the second ball I’ve ever competed in and again, it was JUST FOR FUN. Ballroom culture in general tends to have a little bit of haus politics here or there and even though I don’t throw “real” ballroom-style balls, I always go out of my way to make the show unbiased and entertaining. Yes, it might not be the most authentic “underground” experience, but it does provide a genuinely entertaining and unbiased experience for my audiences and competitors.
I got accused once in a ball that I hosted of being unfair- in the Haus Battles themed ball that I threw at Stonewall about a year or two ago. The accusation came from a competitor who tried to say that I disqualified her unfairly from the semi-finals when in truth, a last minute submission that I forgot to introduce to the floor came in and got a higher score, excluding her qualification. When she tried later to find other vague ways of accusing me of bias in the scoring I had to remind her in the group chat that I sought out impartial judges from both Austin and San Antonio and a community figure from San Marcos who had no clue about the drag drama bubbling over at the time- it took a lot of work to do, but I did it specifically for situations like that.
Another incident that happened during that ball was that the runner up for the voguing category of the ball asked for the microphone after the results were announced and demanded that the winner and I call out the 5 elements of voguing. I didn’t name them and took the mic back because it was my show and I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. (hands, face, spins/dips, floorwork and duckwalk btw babes) That competitor was the hostess of this ball, and during her performance against the finalist, she most certainly touched her opponent, so again you could imagine the kind of anxiety that I’d feel about whether or not my disqualification was due to something more.
In all actuality-after the anxiety dust settles, I don’t think it was, and even if it was, I don’t care. Not touching your competitor is a rule in ballroom culture- I didn’t judge the ball that she competed in and that I hosted, but I do believe that her touching the winner is what ultimately costed her 1st place, even if the judges weren’t familiar with judging vogue battles, so me suffering the same consequence of not qualifying for the next round makes sense in a way. Even though my competitor “sat” on me, I ultimately don’t think she meant to. Ballroom culture is eccentric in its own ways. Don’t. Fucking. Touch.
It should also be said that upon reviewing the video myself, I think that my competitor was genuinely doing a better job than me. I was pretty winded from competing against someone in my round before and if I really did feel some type of way about my disqualification, I could’ve pulled a ballroom gag and apologized, while also politely asking for a re-do to prove that my slip-up was a misunderstanding & that I could do the damn thang. What’s a ball without some drama after all? Nah, the truth is she was doing better than me anyways and I’m such a newbie to the scene that I forgot no matter how bad someone shades you in a performance- you’ve gotta keep all hands off.
This whole debacle got me thinking though- in that hazy time between the competition wrapping up and me reviewing the video for myself, what was the truth? I kept thinking back to the immediate seconds following up to the disqualification and thinking “what is the truth, what is the truth?” The gasps brought on by my competitor falling were followed up with eyes looking at me after I had just touched her- did Cady Heron really push Regina George in front of that bus?
And in the clarity that usually reveals itself after anxiety-induced spirals, I came to the conclusion that the truth evolves. My perception in the anxiety following up to self-titling of the pusher in chief was my reality and truth for a split second. The details in between everything were also separate truths. Anxiety has a funny way of manifesting itself, and it usually takes the form of conspiracy theories about yourself. Ultimately after the haze, I came back to reality and recognized that the house battles incident was years ago, that it probably didn’t factor into my disqualification, and that even if it did, my main objective was to have fun- so mission accomplished. It should also be said that I talked with the hostess Ms.Girl6 a.k.a. Mother Lepore about these incidents, this episode, and how it dealt with anxiety & perceptions of truth. While she doesn’t believe that she touched her competitor in that ball a year or two ago, we both respectfully recognized that we have different perspectives of it, that it was years ago, and that it was irrelevant to the events of that night at Magical Realness.
How else does the truth evolve?
Right now we live in an age where digital information permeates at unfathomable speeds- just google fiber optic cable speeds and get your mind blown. In a lot of ways the methods and formats that we consume media impacts our perceptions, and through our experiences with our forms of media-our perceptions become our own individual truths. Ultimately in my experience, you can’t ever come to an agreement with someone until you both have an acknowledgement and understanding of truth in the form of an event happening. Once you can acknowledge that something happened, only then can you begin discussing your own perceptions, your emotional truth.
Where things begin to get tricky is how the digital age is so heavily built upon algorithms and once those algorithms are exploited, the other perceptions that challenge narratives get thrown into the void, and it gets harder to build a comprehensive range of perceptions. I’d like to say that most of the times the truth is in the middle ground, but another part of me knows that’s just journalism school programming that’s built upon the notion of always being unbiased, and I think that for a lot of topics unbiased is best, but this age of information and disinformation makes it so incredibly hard to tell the difference. I consider myself someone who looks at everything skeptically and most of the time I don’t feel comfortable sharing a “hot take” opinion on something unless I’m just joking around and ready to roast something for the sake of a laugh, or if I’m dead set on acknowledging my perceptions of truth based off of what I know or think I know. As you can imagine that lead to a lot of fights with my family when I was growing up and to this day my mom still kind of calls me a know-it-all, but a lot of this information skepticism comes from growing up in the infancy of a hyper-digital society and seeing how ethics hasn’t always kept up with technology.
One of my favorite video game series Metal Gear Solid continues to play a role in how I interpret the potential consequences of technological dominance. In this game, an artificial intelligence has seized military, economic, political and biological power against society. In this world military technologies have become easily integrated into everyday society and your main character is a clone who has to fight other versions of himself that are threatening to launch a nuclear strike against the center of the dominating artificial intelligence network. In Metal Gear Solid Two, there’s a part where the character you’re playing inserts a virus into the network and it’s revealed that the team who was supporting him through his biocommunication device is actually part of the system of artificial intelligences that used his memories of people he knows in real life as a manifestation tool to manipulate him and carry out their orders. As your father (one of the anarchistic figures hell bent on destroying the system) reveals his intent, the virus continues to work its way through the network, and the A.I. goes off on an existential rant about its origins and the futility of mankind’s judgement in controlling popular narratives in the digital age:
Just the other day I went to an award ceremony for a past university professor of mine and she gave a lecture about her roots in the tech world and the ways she’s seen technology manifest itself into curriculum and culture. At the end we were able to ask questions and I asked her about what platform or innovation in technology excites her the most right now. Interestingly enough, without even being prompted about anxieties she spoke about her weariness of the potential for artificial intelligence and ethics. She specifically pointed to Facebook’s acknowledgement of being exploited by Russia for political purposes and said she thought that an ethics officer would’ve probably seen something like this coming sooner, had one been on the Facebook board in its infancy. She also talked about how positions like that should possibly have an influence on whether or not these companies grow beyond their initial scopes as their potential consequences become more impactful.
For the most part I believe truth is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to tech it may actually lie in the circuitry of the algorithm, or the code of society’s collective anxieties. Just like the bots that spread misinformation, it’s up to us to upload our own positivity and level-headed thinking to ourselves, even if it’s in the midst of a self-hacking anxiety attack. Which is much easier said than done.
Meme of The Week | W-W-Walmart
Speaking of sharing things and algorithms- this week’s Meme of the Week is a series brought to you from Twitter by user l0rd.adrean who posted this fuckery on instagram. I call these couple of posts W-W-Walmart, it’s like WWE but even MORE dangerous…because who knows how clean those floors are after you’re done wiping your face off it.
TV Review- Next in Fashion
I didn’t really think that I would ever watch this show, let alone review it- but something about my mini-obsession with designs and designers right now told me “you have a lot of spare time on your hands, why not?”
Next in Fashion is basically Netflix’s answer to Project Runway, and the things PR does Next in Fashion attempts to do better. It’s hosted by Alexa Chung ( a contributing editor to British Vogue) and Tan France from Queer Eye-and while we’re used to seeing Tan in a happy TLC/HGTV kind of vibe, the show does a disappointing job of making him come off as the nice guy that we know and love from Queer Eye. My biggest gripe comes from an obsession by Tan and Alexa on focusing on a team of two black female contestants- Farai and Kiki who continue to “miss the mark” on their challenges. While I disagree with some of the critiques not lining up with the challenge’s aim, it becomes apparent that the guest judge of the episode, Kerby Jean Raymond of PyerMoss , seems to be more perturbed by how these contestants were harshly critiqued than Tan was, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from queuing in the dramatic reality tv waterworks and being redeemed as the sympathetic host and hero of the episode. That episode and the one immediately following it was a huge disappointment.
The biggest hesitation that I had in watching Next In Fashion, or any type of design competition show again was that I really disliked the bully-like atmosphere that the judges of of Project Runway habitually inflicted on contestants. This type of caustic criticism usually coupled with my own inherent disagreements about style or elimination choices were enough to make me wonder why I was watching rich sociopaths verbally abuse creative people who were just trying their best. While Next in Fashion maintains the questionable critiques, elimination choices, and personality/style favoritism that Project Runway had, it ditches the council of sociopaths that dominated Project Runway and seems to replace them with the bubbly, slightly snobbish gay boyfriend meets girlfriend vibe that Tan and Alexa exude as a pair. All in all, it’s a fun show with minor setbacks in presentation- a lot of the editing choices that show off Tan’s tone-deafness are….choices…the pre-runway show introductions and banter add nothing but frustration to what should be suspense and the consistent ending clips begging you to stream the rest in a binge-watch session get old from the very first episode. The airy and trite criticisms from Tan,“it doesn’t look expensive”, France makes me wonder how the producers weren’t aware of how off-putting some of these moments could be for the very same audience that’s used to seeing him be more cerebral, constructive, and “authentically nice” in Queer Eye. That lack of awareness combined with its lack of ambition in crafting a more self-aware narrative comes off as a bit amateurish for a brand that showcases such world-class talent.
Thankfully, the saving grace of the show is its platform of introducing a huge diversity of talented designers and a sweeping sensation of aesthetic power. As I concluded Next in Fashion, I began re-watching older episodes of Project Runway and the differences between the two were pretty stark stylistically- with Next in Fashion leaving a much better feeling in my stomach after watching….but just barely. Ultimately I’d say skip the ending scenes and binge it without being prompted, but also follow up with tweeting the show after you’re done (or while you’re watching) and tell them to make better choices. With shows like The Big Family Cooking Showdown, we’ve realized that not every single competition show has to be fueled by shady plot points, blatant favoritism, and bitterness. Although Next in Fashion is nowhere near as caustic as other reality competition shows, we can always strive for better- in tone and presentation.
Stand out designers (my opinion) from the show include
Charles, Lu (who is a whole ass snack btw)
Marco Morante (Creator of the Marco Marco men’s underwear line)
Song of the Week
The crown has been passed down for the song of the week this week. In Episode 2 we crowned Divine’s Love Reaction, and it’s only fitting that this week it’s been moved from one source of personal and artistic inspiration to another. This week we put on red lipstick, grab our pom poms and saddle shoes, and pay homage to a vision so queer brought to you by Cheer Captain ! This synthy bop is brought to you by one of my drag siblings, Vestite (a.k.a. Hentaii) who I shouted out in Episode 1, and it’s part of a four-track EP called Modern Phenomenon (which is totally out now on a ton of platforms btw)
Cheer Captain – 2020 has never felt SO 80’s
Cheer Captain resonates on a new wave synth frequency that up until now I thought was damn near impossible to replicate, but Vestite captures such a unique experience in just four minutes. You can dance around to it, you can sing it obnoxiously at someone, you can even mentally soliloquize your own existential battles with perfection while you’re going to work! What’s not to love about that?
Between the haunting melodies and the impressive usage of voice modulation- the entirety of Modern Phenomenon is definitely worth a listen. I’d recommend throwing it on to any type of 80’s playlist that you’ve got, and giving the whole project a chance to grow on you. So far my favorites are; the extraterrestrial hippy dance party crossover vibe conjured by Modern Phenomenon, the facetious social critiques of Cheer Captain, and the sexy sensitive seance conjured by Spirit Board.
No shade to Cull me from the Litter…it’s just hella sad and I’m a sensitive soul, lol.
Peep the most repeated on my repeat playlist….the stan is real.
As I’ve mentioned before, the song of the week segment is one of my favorite things about this podcast. The songs that I choose always have a hella special place in my heart, which is why it’s SO FUCKING FIRE that this week’s song of the week is by one of my drag siblings and favorite sources of inspiration- Hentaii/Vestite!
Sick and Tired….Literally
Unfortunately for me, prior to Queer camp out, I hadn’t been getting much sleep from working out and wilding out after editing episode #2 DNWDITW- that combined with the fact that I was at another ball the very next day doing the absolute most resulted in a total body shut-down. I was physically sore and my body gave up from exhaustion.
I got sick with a fever, my acne resurfaced and everything felt like hell. it didn’t wear off until an entire week, which eventually lead to episode #3 coming out later than originally expected… and then on top of that, while I was editing this episode my cat knocked my laptop over when I had ten minutes of editing left….and didn’t save. After I eventually got over from the depression that that triggered, I started working on it again and got sick AGAIN. The show as a whole is running about a week and a half/two weeks behind its intended schedule, and even as I’m typing this I know my sickness is resurfacing. UGH.
It’s okay though! I love this show too much to let things get in my way, there’s just so many awesome experiences and thoughts that I want to share with you, and the more I think about how happy it makes me to finally push “upload” on these projects, the more secure I feel in pursuing this project with all my heart, and knowing that it’s the right choice. As I’ve mentioned before, if you wanna help support the show, Venmo/Patreon me some dolla$ with a cute note of something that made you laugh, smile or think- or just share the podcast and the memes with your friends- it’s FREE!
Love you guys so much,
Hope you’re washing your hands.