A Midsummer Slay — Fabulous Fun at the Palace
Jim didn’t know what he was getting into Friday night when we stepped into The Palace Theatre. Sure he’s a worldly guy, and he’s covered a lot of concerts. So you would think he would be prepared for a drag show.
But I knew he was in trouble when he didn’t recognize most of the songs played by the DJ’s pre-show. It was actually adorable when he did recognize the lyrics from one and began dancing (read: sway side to side). We watched the crowd dance into the theatre, many dressed in drag themselves and all ready to dance along with RuPaul’s Drag Race stars who were making a special stop in Albany.
The show was scheduled to be hosted by Lady Bunny, but when she became ill, Mrs. Kasha Davis gladly filled her stillettos, dancing across the stage with high energy footwork and literally fabulous costumes. The crowd cheered for her as she told her dad jokes, many at her own expense. Mrs. Davis nailed her timing and clearly had experience reading the crowd with whom she connected beautifully. Her compassion interacting with those dressed in lovely blouses as well as those who “talked with so many words!” made her an instant hit with the crowd.
Drag shows, for those who perhaps haven’t had the privilege, are sort of a combination of perfect make up, glittery sexy costumes, lip synching to highly popular music, and then also some pretty sexual dancing. Fans throw money at the dancers, so there’s a bit of a strip club vibe going on (except no one gets completely naked of course).
First up was Morgan McMichaels, a sexy punk rock energy performer who entered the stage dressed like Pink. Even her dance moves reminded me of Pink, and soon McMichaels had the crowd on its feet jumping along to the pounding beat of rock music.
Full confession: I might’ve been jumping too. So I lost sight of Jim during some of this but assumed he was doing okay. He was photographing somewhere along the stage among the dancing crowd. McMichaels left the stage to straddle a few folks in the crowd for a lap dance, and the crowd was going a bit wild.
So when Mrs. Davis came back and spoke with the crowd, people were pretty excited. Mrs. Davis introduced A’keria Davenport next who came out in a flowing multicolored outfit with an attitude to match it. She wore a sexy weave of multicolored hair that splashed around as she twerked on stage to a roaring crowd.
A’keria’s dancing was remarkable; her flexibility, strength and ability to hold her body with grace while moving quickly were hard to miss. The crowd was going a bit nuts during this as well as she disrobed from outer clothing, exposing more and more flesh as she danced. Her Nicki Minaj was a fan favorite; she nailed her every move, including the wrist and hand flicks with attitude.
Mrs. Davis again came out to settle the crowd between sets, but this time it was harder. Folks were having so much fun dancing and being authentic. Her chatter included questioning the crowd to make noise if they were gay or straight, and reflected, “Just be yourself however you identify.”
And then it happened. She noticed Nippertown’s Jim photographing from the front row and decided to engage with him. “Hi honey, what’s your name?” she asked him innocently enough.
“Jim”, in his deepest Jim Gilbert voice, answered.
“Oh, you’re straight, aren’t you honey? I know this because you are wearing a sports ball shirt, although – wait, what does it say? Nippertown? You’re a little kinky! You’re okay!” And then, folks, our own Jim Gilbert blushed.
It was a moment in Nippertown history that I personally will never forget. And then Mrs. Davis bent down with outreached hand and purred in a low voice, “Hi, I’m Ed.”
Performer Coco Montrese performed next on stage. On all fours in Jim’s direct lens, I wondered how our guy was holding up with the photography. He had promised interest, stating, “that will be interesting to shoot.” Little did he know how interesting! Coco was smoothly moving on and off the stage interacting with the crowd. She could twerk with the best of them and the crowd was responding with wild abandon, throwing money and reaching for her as she swung her tasseled costume in their faces.
The final performer of the first set was Plastique Tiara, an Asian performer with long hair, a sleek silhouette and “perfect skin” per Mrs. Davis. Plastique knew how to work her crowd, showing her one leg adorned with high heels and a silky drape prior to approaching the fans to blow her hair back like a playboy photoshoot.
The crowd was losing their minds at this point. I again lost track of Jim, but based on his photos, he was right in with the mix. Plastique didn’t have to dance much to generate a high response of screams, thrown money and outreached arms from the crowd. Her erotic vibe was clear in small movements and knowing glances.
Mrs. Davis then approached the crowd with jokes and directions for an intermission between sets. And while the other performers took a break, Mrs. Davis sat down on the edge of the stage and generously spoke with fans, touching their faces, offering encouragement with grace.
Jim returned to me back in our seats at this point smiling widely from ear to ear. He clearly understood it all, and while he complained of sore knees from the challenging angles required from him to get the best shots, he wanted to dance along with the dancers with more than a side-to-side sway.
The performers had an entire second set on top of their first. Drag shows at their best encourage individuality, and this one was no exception. Each performer celebrated her beauty in her own way, and when I say beauty, I mean jaw dropping beauty that elevates the feminine to the highest level.
A Midsummer Slay was a fabulous example of folks celebrating themselves with grace, beauty, and humor. Much love to Mrs. Davis for reminding Jim and all of us in the theatre to enjoy ourselves “just how we are”.