Motor City Drag Kings Lets Performers Shine

By Crystal A. Proxmire

The 2012 Mr. Heart of Detroit, Drag King Teddy, is spreading the love of music and performance beyond his own ambitions. The 23-year-old drag star from Melvindale has teamed up with Mr. Grand Diva Michael Christian and the fabulous Spacee Kadette, who was National King Entertainer of the Year, to start the Motor City Drag Kings. The troupe is dedicated to connecting reliable drag artists to audiences throughout Michigan and beyond.

The Drag King Industry has begun to blossom after years in the shadow of Drag King Shows. "Usually Drag Kings would be one or two in a show full of Queens. I've worked with some of the bigger names for Queens, but it's hard to get clubs to book Kings," Teddy said. "Out of town clubs weren't booking Kings at all, usually because they've booked local Kings who aren't as experienced and they don't bring in much of a return."

He explained that for a successful show there must be quality in the performance and the costumes, plus support in promotions. Having a loyal fan base also helps.

Teddy and his friends made a name for themselves by convincing night club owners to do ladies nights, where fans came out in droves to see them dance. Now they perform an average of three nights a week, often at The Birdcage in Detroit.

"I've been performing for going on five years now," Teddy said. "I was dancing at GiGis and someone came and said 'I want you to dance at my bar,' which was Stillettos. I didn't know what I was doing. I started out doing Christian rock, like Creed. I knew how to dance, but I was nervous, but excited at the same time.

"One thing I learned is that they (the audience) love it when you interact with them. It's fun to see a big macho guy gettin' into it. I've had guys come up after the show and say 'Wow, I'm not trying to hit on you or anything, but that takes some real talent and I just wanted to tell you that.'"

Christian also was recruited, approximately 13 years ago.

"It was a Wednesday night and Trixie Deluxe saw me dancing and singing along. She grabbed me and said 'Come on stage with me. I know you know the words.' It was a huge adrenaline rush," Christian said.

Over a decade later Christian still gets the performance high. He also gets the pre-show jitters. "There's a lot of stress and pressure on ourselves. I stress and get nervous all day, so when I do get up there it really is a rush. All that pent up energy comes out on the stage."

Chistian lives in Chicago, where he works as a bartender and commutes to Michigan for shows. "It's exhausting, but I love it," he said. Often the tall thin King will move the crowd with country songs or rock. "My favorite song to perform is "Call Me," by Shine Down. It's a little dark so I don't always get to do it, but around Halloween I was able to bring it out again."

Christian's strength is in costume, theatrics and effects and he said he is grateful for Teddy - and for Teddy's family. "His dad helps me make the props. It's great to see the way his family gets involved and is so supportive. His mom is everybody's mom."

His favorite thing though is "dressing room time, all the chaos and the camaraderie. So much energy. And the crowds."

For Teddy, his passions helping others get along and building up the business for everyone. These days, when he dances it's usually to Chris Brown. "Every time you turn on the radio it's a Chris Brown song. It makes the ladies go wild."

Christian said they try to incorporate variety into their shows, so "there is something for everybody." He praised Spacee Kadette as well, boasting that the performer sings his own songs and "does an amazing Dean Martin illusion."

They also have a call list with dozens of Kings, and some Queens, who they can bring with them to do shows.

"In this business things can get competitive. I work with people who I know will show up on time, who won't steal, and who will give their all for a show," Teddy said. "I go about it in a professional way, and that makes it a better experience for everybody."

Being organized and understanding promotions has helped Motor City Drag Kings take their talent on the road. They've done shows in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, and of course throughout southeast Michigan. "I just got married in March. Now is the time to go out of state and travel, but I do plan on settling down and having kids. I'd like to keep the company going long term and finding more Kings who can come up. This is such a fun thing, and it helps bring more attention to the masculine side. Everyone loves the Queens, and I love the Queens but I want more Kings to get involved and make this bigger for everyone."

For those who are thinking about becoming a Drag King or Queen, Teddy advises "When you're on stage, nobody is judging you. They're there to have a good time and they want you to do good. And if you mess up, just keep going. Most people won't even notice it."

Christian's advice can help as well. "Be comfortable with it, but also do things you are scared to do. It's your turn to be whoever you want to be."

Some Upcoming Dates:

Teddy's Performances

New Years Eve at Club Liquid

Jan. 20: Motor City Drag King Show

Jan. 25: Club Station House- Springfield, Ill

April 11: Oakland University

Spacee kadett's Performances

New Years Eve - BirdCage

Jan 12: Malebox II, Warren MI

Jan. 20: Motor City Drag King Show

Jan. 25: Club Station House - Springfield, Ill

Michael Christian's Performances

Jan 12: Partners Bar, Battle Creek

Jan. 20: Motor City Drag King Show

Friday Jan. 25 Club Station House- Springfield, Ill

April 11 Oakland University

Dirty (DJ) Johnny Performances

Jan. 20: Motor City Drag King Show

Jan. 25: Club Station House - Springfield, Ill

April 11: Oakland University

To find out more about Motor City Drag Kings, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MotorCityDragKings.

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