Drag queens get plenty of shine, but what about the kings? There is no drag king equivalent to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and they are often overlooked, even though they often perform alongside queens. Get to know a few of the Carolinas’ best drag kings.

E.M. Shaun
E.M. Shaun

Non-drag name: Stephanie Wood
Drag name: E.M. Shaun
How did you come up with your name?
When I started I was a paramedic so I used the initials EMS.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Washington, D.C. but I currently live in Greensboro. I came to North Carolina to go to college. I graduated from Elon University with a biology degree.
When did you start performing and what got you into it?
I have always loved musicals and the stage and it was a great memory I had with my Dad. When my Dad died of a brain tumor in September 2007, it put me into depression. I went to Raleigh Pride that year and at Legends I saw my first drag kings. It piqued my interest and so I tried it and it gave me confidence and helped me have good feelings of doing plays with my father.
Where are some of the places you have performed?
Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, Salisbury, Charlotte, Hickory, Rock Hill, Danville, Martinsville.
What do you get out of performing?
I love putting smiles on people’s faces. I make my own mixes of Old School and New School Music so it brings everyone together. I love to dance and have fun and to let the audience join in as well.
Accomplishments:
Mr. Tarheel Unlimited 2013 FMI
Mr North Carolina Unlimited 2014 FMI
Also I’m very proud of all nine of my drag kids and I love helping any newcomer that comes my way.

Dakota Rain
Dakota Rain

Non-drag name: Donna Colston
Drag name: Dakota Rain
How did you come up with your name?
I was living in Las Vegas and me and some of the guys were sitting around the pool one night and they found out I have Cherokee and Creek in me and they gave me the name Dakota James Rain.
Where are you from?
Winston-Salem
When did you start performing and what got you into it?
I started in 2008 in Las Vegas. The guys got me started in a talent show out there and I really enjoyed being onstage. I have always been a very shy person and being onstage has helped me be more open and way less shy. I love the alter ego, have been told several times a change comes in the attitude and presence once I start getting ready.
Where are some of the places you have performed?
Winston-Salem, Hickory, Lake Wylie, Rock Hill, Nags Head, Salisbury, Nashville.
What do you get out of performing?
I think what I get out of performing more than anything is that I love to make people smile. I enjoy doing fan requests and during Pride I love getting the kids onstage. I just love doing it. I perform because it lets me be me without judgment. I can be who I feel comfortable being. I love the support I get from people and the good and bad words of encouragement. It helps me be a better person in my personal life and my entertaining life.
Accomplishments:
First alternate to Mr. SC Unlimited FMI 2011
Second alternate to MR. SC Unlimited FMI 2012

Oliver Clothesoff
Oliver Clothesoff

Non-drag name: KD Safran
Drag name: Oliver Clothesoff
Where are you from?
Columbia, SC
When did you start performing and what got you into it?
I started performing in 2009. I had just come out, I didn’t know anybody, and it seemed that all of the people that knew everyone were doing drag. I had another friend who had also just come out and so we just said, why not? Let’s give it a try. So we did an amateur night…and I fell in love. I have a theater background, so I love being onstage.
Where are some of the places you have performed?
High Point, Charleston, Charlotte, Spartanburg.
What do you get out of performing?
My drag is different…When I go to someplace like Charlotte, you’re embraced for being different up there.
I started realizing that I could make mixes and that I could create these characters and tell a story, essentially. First I did Harry Potter, and saw how much everyone loved this character…[then] I did a “The Lord of The Rings,” Frodo number [telling] the whole story of “The Lord of the Rings” with Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” [“Put a Ring on It”]) and The Proclaimers…If it’s funny to me I’m going to find a way to make it funny to you.
Accomplishments:
I recently hosted a queer youth prom for gay and transgender high school students, the South Carolina Queer Youth Prom, who couldn’t be themselves at their own prom.

Watch Oliver Clothesoff performing 

Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet...

2 replies on “Make way for the kings”

  1. I love watching E.M Shaun perform. He’s very entertaining and makes everyone smile and dance. I met Dakota Rain a couple of years ago at Salisbury Pride. I love Dakota, he’s an awesome performer who you can tell loves what he does and takes a lot of pride in what he does on and off stage! Dakota is also a great friend and someone you can talk about anything to. If you want to be entertained and watch a drag king show that feels like you’re watching a professional musician then Dakota is the one to go see!! ☺

  2. I love watching my Drag Father E.M Shaun and Mr. Dakota Rain Preform. You know your getting a wild ride show when these two perform. You can expect an on your feet and get down with it show. I love watching these two and many others perform. It’s a blessing to know these two and many more.

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