FruityBiNature had the opportunity to sit down with Connecticut's premiere Drag King: the talented, cool, and suave Ray DeCorazón, and learn about another side of drag art… the drag king!
Jon: Ray, thank you for joining us. So what do you identify as? What are your pronouns?
Ray: They/them pronouns out of drag, but in drag he/him. Unless I’m a drag queen for the day, then she/her is fine. I identify as non-binary.
Jon: So what was the drag king scene like in Connecticut when you first started?
Ray: I started in Ithaca, NY in college, so I didn’t even know if there were any drag kings back home in Connecticut. In Ithaca there were a lot of kings. I found a competition here and asked if kings were allowed and I joined. I didn't even know that there were no other kings performing in Connecticut! I think there were a couple kings here and there, but none doing gigs regularly.
Jon: You've done a drag king workshop recently, tell us about that.
Ray: Yes, I did one workshop last summer with Ram Shackle and we plan to do it again next summer. I was inspired by my friend Jayden Jamison KA St. James, a drag king in Boston. He did a workshop a few times. I also saw Randy Andy had held a workshop in Rhode Island. I’m like, “Connecticut needs this, just to help people get on the stage.” Because I know I needed a lot of support when I was starting drag. I got support from other college kids doing drag that didn’t have too much experience. I figured, since I've gained a decent amount of experience, I would have things to share with beginners. We were very proud of how it turned out. It’s nice to see some of our kings continuing to perform and to know that we helped them take the first step.
Jon: So how has it grown here in Connecticut since you arrived?
Ray: There are drag kings now! (Laughs) The first king I saw here after I started doing drag was Ram Shackle, who is now my partner. They started at the same competition I started at. There was also Frankie M. Cyanide and Hal 6000 in Fairfield. They started doing shows at Troupe 429. They have been encouraging people on that side of the state, because there’s a bit of a disconnect distance-wise. Frankie, I know, has a few drag kids. I’ve started seeing new kings perform more often at Chez’s open stages as well.
The more kings there are out there, performing or just existing, the more others are encouraged to become drag kings. I know I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn't seen that my college drag show had plenty of kings. I was like, “Oh, I can do this, too.” Increasing exposure in popular media is a huge factor as well. In the past few years we’ve seen Hugo Grrrl win House of Drag, Boris Tudeth and Rhett Corvette competing in Camp Wanakiki, and of course Landon Cider winning Dragula. Now there's definitely more new kings showing up and more kings actually getting booked. It doesn't stick for everyone, but the more people we get to try it once, the more we will eventually see performing regularly.
Jon: What should people expect when they go to a Ray DeCorazón performance?
Ray: I used to do what I thought people expected of me: crowd pleasing, sexy boy numbers. That’s still fun sometimes, but I wanted more from my drag. I was performing too frequently to put my heart into creating numbers. Now I am performing less, but I am trying to make every performance something I'm proud of. So whatever’s inspiring me at that time is what you are going to see from me. When I did the workshop, I encouraged everyone, “Don't try to do what the audience wants, especially in this show.” If you're doing something that you are proud of, and something that is inspiring you in that moment, you're going to give a better and more authentic performance.
Jon: That’s great advice. So we ask everyone this: what's your favorite fruit?
Ray: I don’t do favorites! (Laughs) But I guess I’ll pick starfruit because when I go to Puerto Rico my abuelo has a tree there and I just eat all of the starfruit.
Jon: So you covered this a little bit, but just to ask the complete question: what advice would you give to up-and-coming drag performers?
Ray: Just go out and take all the opportunities you can at first. That's what I did. Some people will try to perfect their art before even getting on stage and that's just not possible. You have to try different things and figure yourself out on stage. You'll find what your drag means to you over time. And just be nice to people. (Laughs) The drama seems fun and stuff and that’s what they show you about drag on TV. But in reality, if you want to be viewed as a professional, don’t get involved in the drama.
Jon: So what clubs do you perform in the area? Do you have a regular place?
Ray: I have the Mx. Chez Est 2020 title, so I feel a connection to that venue and I perform there a lot. But I like performing at all different venues and traveling.
Jon: Tell us a little bit more about you. We got into the drag character a little bit, but tell us a little more about you, Ray. Tell us about the person behind the drag.
Ray: I am a quiet and anxious person out of drag, but I’ve gotten more confident in myself after transitioning. I enjoy doing random artsy things like painting and airbrushing. Recently I’ve been taking pole dancing and dog training classes, which have been so much fun and good for me. I’m a musician. I haven’t really done music in a while, but I still feel really connected to it. It feels like a big part of me that I just kind of let go of to do drag. As a neurodivergent person, it can take a lot of energy and focus to pursue any one interest, let alone two very involved arts. I’d like to get back into music and maybe incorporate it into my future drag.
.........Read the rest of the interview in FruityBiNature Magazine Edition 4 out now!