Lipstick and a padded bra may make Edward Ploughman look more like a woman, but what really transforms him from the average male USF student to a lip-synching diva is a pair of knee-high, spike-heeled boots.
“It doesn’t matter if I have a wig and a dress and makeup on, if I don’t have the boots on, then I don’t change personalities,” Ploughman said. “For some drag queens, they have to put contacts in to change their eye color. For others, they have to put their wig on. There’s just something that makes them click into their other self.”
Ploughman is one of the 10 to 11 performers who will take the stage tonight as part of PRIDE Alliance’s inaugural Drag Show. While PRIDE hosted a similar event three years ago, this will be the first year the show incorporates five professional female impersonators from local nightclubs, such as Valentine’s Desiree Demornay.
“There should be a parental advisory for the professional shows, because I’ve seen some of their acts already and – it’s entertaining, let’s put it that way,” Ploughman said.
After hearing about similar shows being performed at colleges across the country, PRIDE, along with Safe Zone Advocacy group, decided to bring the event to USF. The drag show required about four months of preparation, and it serves as both a source of entertainment and a way to promote tolerance toward various lifestyles.
“We’re always trying to bring about acceptance and tolerance toward the GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) community and this is a fun way to do that,” said Tyler Smith, vice president of PRIDE. “We wanted to have an event on campus where we could bring together all sorts of people on campus and just have a good time. We usually focus on doing activist work, and we’ve been involved in the political sphere, so we just wanted to have a fun, social atmosphere.”
Ploughman estimates that 75 percent of the cost of each $3 ticket will offset the costs of the show itself. The remainder will benefit the Florida Area Gay Games, an event that PRIDE is creating. The Games, which will be held about a year from now, will include a statewide drag invitational. The response from tonight’s show will ultimately determine the scale of the invitational.
“All of the colleges and universities in Florida will be invited to send over their best drag queens to compete in one big pageant. The response from this year’s show will determine how big it becomes next year,” Smith said.Though Ploughman has performed in drag before, it still took him a while to determine which song he was going to lip-sync to and exactly how he’d choreograph his performance.
“First I had to pick music. Obviously, for us guys, we had to spend a lot of time shaving,” he said. “Once you pick out the song you want to perform to, you have to come up with a costume that will fit your body type. I’m quite tall, so obviously I can’t do any petite, little-girl-sounding songs.”
Ploughman managed to narrow down his artist selection to two: Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton. Though he hasn’t revealed which artist’s music he’ll perform, he already has his costume planned out. Unlike the Grammy-award-winning stars he’ll be emulating, he doesn’t plan to take the stage wearing Versace or Vera Wang.
“Most drag queens make their own (costumes), but I have no ability to sew whatsoever, so I went to the local place and found a dress for $12.99 and said, ‘you know what? This is going to work,'” he said. “We kind of went the cheap route. If there’s going to be a bigger show, then I’m sure we’re going to take a little bit more care in what we choose to wear.”
For first-timers attending the event, Ploughman offers one piece of advice: “Prepare to be shocked. Remember that only men have Adam’s apples. If you look at a girl and think, ‘whoa, that’s a big girl,’ then check for that because it could be a guy. The Adam’s apple is the key giveaway.”
The PRIDE Alliance and Safe Zone Advocacy Drag Show will take place at 7 p.m. in the Marshall Center Basement.