For Montrose 'Theme Queens,' all the world's a drag stage

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Thursday, September 1, 2022
For Montrose 'Theme Queens,' all the world's a drag stage
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Lexùs Chandeliér, a trans drag artist who channels illusions of Beyoncé, is just one of a fierce cast of drag queens who appear at BUDDY's.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you thought Sunday night was the time to wind down from the weekend, you might not have been in the heart of Montrose lately.

Unfolding at BUDDY'S, a diverse list of rotating drag artists have been shaking, singing and dancing along to runaway pop hits as Muffy Blake Vanderbilt III and her cast strut their stuff with their show "Theme Queens."

Houston's drag scene is home to mega legends like pageant queen and impersonator Tommie Ross, and Muffy and her team have been paving their way to the top and taking more along for the ride.

"Drag is self-expression," Muffy said. "You get to explore different sides of things that you wouldn't normally."

Drawing from her childhood inspiration of Disney-filled magic, Muffy said that drag is like a form of theater. Broadway shows may be great for a large audience, but with drag, the stage is brought right to the floor you stand on.

While Theme Queens is reserved for mature audiences ages 21-and-up, drag isn't just intended for adults. The cast said drag is an art form, and like any art form, it can be expressed in multiple ways.

But drag has also been long misunderstood, touted by opponents as an art solely dedicated to the raunchy and risqué.

State Rep. Bryan Slaton, who represents House District 2 in northeast Texas, proposed a bill last session banning drag shows in the presence of minors, claiming drag performers are "inappropriate."

Drag queen story hours have become a popular family-friendly drag event across the country, but those are facing scrutiny, too.

"Drag is not meant for those that are just entertained by drag. It's meant for everybody," said Lexus Chandeliér, a trans drag artist and illusionist that channels Beyoncé during her performances.

"We have drag queens that are family friendly, and we have drag spaces that are not family friendly," added bearded queen Jacklyn Dior. "(But) you're now telling me that my form of expression in a venue that's safe for me is going to be illegal, yet you won't even come into these spaces and edify the people and lift up the people that are in these spaces."

The art form of drag also holds a deep meaning to many LGBTQ+ people, as it isn't just about the show, but about the people it can reach.

"As a queer person doing drag, I feel like I've really found a sense of family within this community, and have been able to really truly express who I am and be myself through my art," said Preston Steamed, a drag king artist performing with Theme Queens.

Jacklyn said drag audiences don't just have to be consumers of their community, but they can also contribute to make the LGBTQ+ community better. She routinely raises money and awareness for underserved communities, and those living with HIV/AIDS as the Girl of Montrose, a charity title with PWA Holiday Charities.

Lexus is making strides across Houston and the state as a trans powerhouse, entertaining audiences while also bridging the gap for trans inclusion in the drag community.

Preston said he uses his drag as a chance to give a voice to those in need. Inspired from other drag artists such as Landon Cider and Carmina Vavra, he is taking his art form to be a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ and women's rights.

As for the host of the show, Muffy was named 2022's Miss Gay Houston and competed for the state title in Dallas in July.

At the heart of it all, Theme Queens is a show about having fun, and being social with friends and the community. The cast interacts with the audience, bringing them into the fold and showing them the show is truly for them

"Theme Queens" runs from 7-9 p.m. each Sunday night at BUDDY'S, 2409 Grant St., in Montrose.