Juneau’s LGBTQ+ community celebrated Pride last week with a series of events focused on advocacy and support for each other.
But the celebration wasn’t complete without the annual Glitz drag show. And this year, the show was held outdoors for the first time to maintain social distancing.
Juneau’s drag mother GiGi Monroe is getting ready for her first in-person show in about six months.
Since the pandemic began, she’s been hosting digital drag shows with plenty of support from the community, but says it’s just not the same as getting on stage.
“It’s really hard when you’re trying to imagine a room of 100 people when you’re performing and all that you see is your phone or your laptop and that’s definitely the biggest challenge,” said Monroe.
Monroe, who goes by James Hoagland when not performing, and husband Jeff Rogers partner with Juneau-based LGBTQ+ social group SEAGLA to host the annual Glitz drag show to celebrate Pride.
Now in its sixth year, the show was postponed until organizers found a way to host an outdoor show in person. It got so much community support, they added a second performance.
“With this being our first time attempting an outdoor live show, there were so many variables in play,” Monroe said. “We didn’t want to take on something that was like way more than we could handle.”
The stage for the show is set up in the parking lot of a dorm at The University of Alaska Southeast.
At 10 minutes to showtime, Monroe is in a trailer wearing her Vegas showgirl opening number outfit — a rhinestone dress with a rainbow feathered headpiece and black opera length gloves. She’s also wearing a protective face shield.
“It feels awesome,” Monroe said. “We’ve missed each other so much and just to be here, live with the other performers is really, really a treat.”
Ricky Tagaban, whose stage name is Lituya Hart, is one of the eight performers at this year’s Glitz. Tagaban says the fun in drag is the visual storytelling.
“I really like feeling pretty, selfishly, that’s probably like, one of the biggest reasons,” said Tagaban.
Tagaban dressed as Cyndi Lauper and performed a remix version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
“I love her aesthetic,” Tagaban said. “I just think she’s very fun and very artistic and she seems very free. And I’ve always been really drawn to that sort of freedom.”
The Juneau drag scene is also known for having its fair share of drag kings. Brita J. Fagerstrom who’s known onstage as Roman Wilde is one of the kings who performed at Glitz.
“Kings bring a lot of different energies to, you know, shows,” said Fagerstrom. “Not that it’s competitive, but you kind of feel the pressure to like, make yourself better and more exciting for every show. You know, that’s kind of the way the family feels.”
Fagerstrom did two numbers: one as an 80s rocker performing ACDC’s “Highway to Hell” and the second as Waldo from the “Where’s Waldo” books, performing Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.”
And Fagerstrom says after several months without performing on a stage, the Glitz show was a “5 million dollar ticket.”
“Especially something like drive-in drag, that’s like completely foreign to me even as like a bar king,” said Fagerstrom. “I normally perform at bars in front of people but the added caliber of like the cars and the lights, it was just phenomenal.”
As for the audience — whose cars filled the lot of both shows — the cheerful honking said it all.