Well what a day yesterday was. This past week was Gay Pride Week in New York City. The capper, as it is in Toronto and elsewhere, is the Pride Parade on the final Sunday. Yesterday was the Pride parade which I hear is only topped by the parade in Sydney, Australia. We were told about 3 or 4 weeks ago that we (Priscilla) would have our own float in the Parade. More specifically, our own double-decker bus. The idea was that Aussie Bum was going to be one of our sponsors so whoever wanted to be on the float were encouraged to wear an Aussie Bum bathing suit – board short style or speedo – on the float. I knew I wanted to be on the float because . . . what the hell???? Why not??? But appear publicly in a bathing suit for all of . . . well, a chunk of New York to see? . . . I’D RATHER BE DIPPED!!! (Did you just ask “in what”? Stop reading my blog!!! In whatever horrible thing you can think of.)
So I thought, “Is anyone going to be in drag? This IS a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert float”. It immediately became clear that I was going to have to carry that torch. But, always thinking strategically when it comes to business, I knew it shouldn’t be some generic drag – 1) because I don’t do generic drag. I only do drag when it is something specific for a show and 2) we have such specific drag in the show, I figured it should represent something about our show. So I narrowed it down to two ideas – interpretations of a Pink Bus or a Mirrorball. Well, I realized that it would be impossible to do the bus without something being built, otherwise, in some pink dress and a red wig, I’m just a mixed-race, fat version of Nick Adams. Mmm . . . fun.
It became clear that with a silver sequined dress, lots of glittering jewelry, and a blond wig, a walking mirrorball was my best bet. The jewelry was easy. Our head of wigs had the wig. But do you think I could find a little silver sequined dress????? OOOOOHOHOHOHOHO NOOOO!! It took me 3 days of 3 – 4 hours a day to find it. Finally, in Macy’s, I found the greatest dress.
So I did the last bits of organizing, I found a great little belt for the dress at H&M. I asked our main make-up artist on the show to do my make-up. Unfortunately (damn her) she was going on vacation starting on the Friday. (Selfish, selfish, selfish) But she was a doll and designed my make-up and loaned me all the stuff I didn’t have, but needed, to recreate it. Here is the finished shot of her version that she did as a test on me. It was a little rushed but it was enough for me to make it work.
Bless her and thanks. Our head of wigs, Jack, did an incredible job on the wig. Very Drag Marilyn Monroe. And I did my make-up. Because I knew I would be high up on the bus, I made the decision to expand the design a bit (eyes, lips) to make it a little bigger than life. I’m really happy with how it turned out. This is a shot of my face at the end of the parade. It didn’t move at all. 4 hours and face totally in tact.
And here we are, a full body shot. This was just before we left for the parade. I had just gotten dressed. The lighting is a fluke. Terribly glamorous. And I had to have a name so here she is: MIRA BALL.
I’ve gotten several shots from different people from the day. Here is one I love because it looks like it’s been shot through gauze. It’s all old Hollywood. Shot by our amazing Tony Sheldon.
I couldn’t get onto the bus for a while as random strangers kept wanting to take shots with me. It was very sweet and so loving.
Here’s a shot with my great show pal, Mike, while we were waiting on the bus for the parade to start.
And here is another shot with Mark, the darling husband of one of our stage manager’s.
The parade was a hoot. So many people cheering, waving. There was a lot of love coming at us. People were thrilled to be there and especially with the gay marriage law being passed on Friday. There was a truly euphoric feeling to the day. Being from Canada, I took the idea of gay marriage for granted but you could feel how empowered and truly happy people where. Gay people, straight people, all people who had heart and soul. (Okay that sounds a bit gooey but it really was touching).
I have to say, I seemed to be a really big hit with the black and latino (latina?) lesbians. Several of them were beckoning me to come down off the bus. I would have but several of them looked like when they realized I didn’t have a vagina, they would have beaten the shit out of me. The grow ’em sassy and tough down here.
Oh, so after the parade, the bus dropped us off at 42 and 8th. Now our theatre (where all of my stuff is) is at 47 and 7. So I walked back, in full beat, to our theatre. What was hilarious and fascinating was 70% of the people didn’t even flinch at this 6′ 3″ drag queen sauntering up 8th avenue. 25% barely looked and then smiled or giggled. And only about 5% looked on in confusion, verging on horror. And to that 5%, I say, “Bless your sheltered hearts” and “Suck it”.
Anyway it was a very special afternoon. I loved sharing it with my castmates, a few of whom have become very dear friends. I loved sharing it with New York, a few of whom have become very dear friends. I have felt extremely welcomed by this city.
Okay so at this point let’s just talk about the fact that I have been here in New York for about 4 months. In which time, I’ve been in a hit show on Broadway, been personally photographed with Joan Rivers, performed on the Tony Awards, and have now been a shining part of the second largest gay pride parade in the world. It’s been a busy time and a wonderful time. I will work hard to make it continue.