Asheville is a very interesting city with many things to do and many different types of people. Today, I’m writing a story on some drag performers in this city. I interviewed the drag queen Calcutta, who is based here in Asheville. Here are Calcutta’s answers:
When did you first become interested in drag?
I first became interested in drag when I was 14. I started doing drag professionally at 16 and have been pretty booked up since then. I got into the art because it combined all my passions of fashion, makeup, and performing. But ever since I was a child I always knew I was queer and loved dressing up, so why not make a career out of it.
What are the different styles of drag that you see in Asheville?
Asheville’s drag scene is surprisingly really big and diverse. Priscilla Chambers (my drag mom) does punk shows at the Odditorium and our style of drag is very new, edgy, and rock and roll. But across the pond at Scandals and O'Henrys they’re very pretty and basic but despite our differences, we often share venues and shows. There are performers who do androgyny, pageant drag, punk drag, and cookie-cutter drag but the Asheville scene is very supportive of all.
What’s your favorite part about drag?
My favorite part of drag is the smiles and joy I see in people when I’m performing or walk into the club. I feel proud to be who I am and show people, old and young, it's ok to be who you are and to be fabulous while doing it. Also, I'm a Leo and I honestly love attention, so that aspect is nice, being a big name in Asheville is like being a B-list celebrity.
What trends do you see in the Asheville drag scene currently?
Drag does go through trends, one I see currently is because drag is so mainstream with Rupaul's DragRace and Dragula, everyone and their brothers want to start doing drag. I believe in everyone doing what they feel called to do, but it also is creating an oversaturation of drag in our small town and causes queens and shows to not be as respected as they were. Another trend is newer queens feeling the need to copy other queens. They see a famous RuGirl wearing a bodysuit so they go on Amazon and buy the same one when they should actually take more time to find out their style and realize that being themselves is the way to make it big
What do your family and friends think of your profession?
I’m not going to say I had a terribly hard life, but I did move out of my parents when I was 17. Not because I was gay or they didn’t love me just situationally I saw it as the best option. From being on my own I’ve done drag 2-3 times a week while trying to maintain a day job. My parents are supportive somewhat, but they still feel I should have gone to school and focused on a real career. But, if I’m doing what I love and making money from it, then it feels like a career to me. Being an artist is hard and I literally put “starving” in “starving artist” but I don’t change because it’s my passion and brings me the most happiness in my life. My friends have always been supportive and think it’s amazing the things I’ve achieved and do. Like I said it feels like being a mini Asheville celebrity
As we can see from Calcutta’s answers, the drag scene in Asheville is very diverse. Other drag queens based in Asheville are drag queen Reptilian Anderson, Ginger von Snap, and Queen Priscilla Chambers, who is currently competing on the drag show, Dragula, which you can view on Out TV or Amazon Prime. As drag is becoming more mainstream, people want to focus on the more famous queens like Manila Luzon, Trixie Mattel, or Alyssa Edwards and might be overlooking great local queens. The pure art and performance of drag could slowly be lost if local drag scenes are ignored. We need to appreciate the heart and soul of drag, especially the people putting in the most work: the local girls. Appreciating drag on the local level can also lead to giving lesser-known queens more opportunities.
Story by William Euler