FARGO — If you like breakfast with an attitude and an extra side of sass, this weekend’s drag brunch at Sanctuary Events Center may be just what you ordered.
Hopefully, you already got your ticket because this local first-time foray into the national sensation sold out shortly after going on sale a few weeks ago.
“I was a little shocked how fast it sold out,” says Lisa Woessner, one of the show’s organizers. “To see this kind of support is more than we could ask for.”
Woesnner and her production partner, Garrett Degerness, had done drag shows before, but when Sanctuary came to them with the idea of doing a drag brunch, they jumped at the chance.
“It’s really heartwarming to see it accepted,” Degerness says.
The two add that it’s especially appreciated that Sanctuary, a downtown Fargo venue, chose to work with local performers rather than bring in bigger stars from the Twin Cities.
“They could get performers from wherever, but they decided to support the local scene and that’s amazing,” Woessner says.
In addition to Woessner and Degerness taking the stage, performers on Sunday, May 23, will include Mia Starr, Tequila Mockingbird, Cleo Rockelle, Miss Kitty, Alandra Mathews and Allota Shots.
More to come
Kayla Cash, director of sales and a partner in Sanctuary Events Center, says the success of the drag brunch makes them want to do more events like it when the schedule permits.
Woessner has been to drag brunches in bigger cities and says those are a little different from the drag shows in bars. Often the brunches are all ages, though the Sanctuary event is 21 and older. Still, she says her mom is coming to Sunday’s show and she doesn’t make it to bar shows later in the night.
“It’s the people who enjoy the art of drag but aren’t into the bar scene,” Degerness says.
He adds that he’s talked with other artists on the bill to make sure their performance is “appropriate” for a brunch crowd.
He started performing about two and a half years ago.
“I approach drag as a creative outlet,” he says. “I’m a shy person and this is a way to express myself. It’s exciting to be accepted for who you are. When I sing a song or make a joke and make people smile, that’s gratifying.”
His stage persona, Summer Fun, is colorful and energetic and more outgoing than Degerness is out of the spotlight.
Making a safe space
“Seeing Garrett have so much fun intrigued me,” Woessner says.
She started performing in drag about six months before COVID-19 prompted bars and stages to close down. The time off allowed her to practice makeup and costuming for her stage persona, Xavier Knight, the comically 1970s dad in the wrong time period.
“I’m still developing where Xavier is going,” she says.
While there are other drag kings in the area, she says they don’t get as much exposure as drag queens, making Sunday’s show special to her.
Shows like Sunday’s performance offer a safe space for all.
“When we put these shows on it brings the community together, besides one big (LGBTQ) Pride event a year,” she says, adding that drag shows are safe spaces.
Degerness adds that it’s important to have places where people can go and be themselves and not worry about being mocked.
The support from the audience feeds the performers and makes for a better show, they say.
“When the audience is having a good time, we’ll be having a good time onstage,” he says.
“People will have a few too many mimosas and enjoy the performers,” Woessner says.