Indeed drag has changed our world and the lives of many. Recently, I had a moment to sit down with Tia Douglas for my first column in qnotes. Tia is a local veteran of drag for over 20 years now. She started at the age of 18 or 19. You would never guess her age (from stage). We met at my favorite restaurant, Dish, of course. Thus the name of my monthly column!
I chose to feature Tia because she is the epitome of drag entertainment — beauty, experience, creativity, a love for the art. As a trans woman, her life journey is authentic. So, as we ate our crispy potato poppers, we began chatting.
Tia describes herself as a “transsexual” woman, the term she prefers. Her first drag show was at Oleen’s on South Blvd. She says the lights went out that night, so they “pulled out a flash light and a jam box” for the show. It was a different time she recalls. Before electricity, I joked, and she smiled.
“Well, there was a definite interest in drag back then. Local girls got a lot more respect and drag shows were appreciated more. Today, there is a saturation of drag which can be good or bad…it is more accessible via ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ social media and elsewhere,” she says. I have heard the same from other drag queens. Tia continued: “I don’t want to sound bitchy, but sometimes if drag is not as good or special, then you are not going to pay to see it at a club anymore.” Definitely some food for thought.
Growing up as a young boy, Tia knew little about drag, much less trans people. “The first drag queen I met, I thought she was a hooker. And, a few days later she was putting me in drag for my first time as a performer. I never knew that it was possible to do drag…but, it made me happy and I loved it,” she said.
I found myself enthralled with her story — her evolution as a drag entertainer and her life as a trans woman are naturally intertwined. “I knew from a young age, I was most comfortable as a female. Drag became a way for me to express myself creatively…it is who I am.”
Tia can be found every Thursday at Chasers and she is on the house cast of Scorpios. During the day, you can find her at the Red Door on South Blvd. (she wanted me to plug that!). Tia has won several titles dating back to 2004. She currently is the reigning 2014 Miss North Carolina Entertainer of Year and 2014 Miss All Hallow’s Eve. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Tia will be giving up her Miss All Hallow’s Eve title at Chasers.
Drag is fun, but Tia admits it’s not easy. Today, “everyone thinks they can do it.” She remarks: “It is more than putting on a dress and I take a lot of time and [put] money into costumes and you have to be able to express an emotion on stage.” Actually, she quit drag for about four years, not knowing if she would return. “I quit doing drag and changed my life around. I got too absorbed into the party environment and my life was going nowhere. I was just getting fucked up and doing shows. It was not good,” she said.
So, I asked Tia one last question: If you had a microphone to every drag queen out there, what would you tell them today? “Do not put your personal business on Facebook,” Tia said. “Nobody wants to know. It is unprofessional. Don’t put voice to your craziness. It makes you look stupid. How many posts do you have to see about a pageant being rigged, just don’t go back.”
End scene. Thank you Tia. : :
From Tia: “If you don’t have a feminine figure, wear hip pads.”
Listen up! Check out the Miss All Hallow’s Eve Pageant where Tia gives up her crown; Oct. 28, Chasers. For more Halloween festive horrors attend: Sunday Funday at Cathode Azure on Oct. 26; Snug Harbor’s Lip Gloss, Oct. 30; “RuPaul’s Drag Race”BenDeLaCreme at The Bar at 316 and The Scorpio, Nov. 1-2. Take your favorite straight person!