In Diva Watch, we'll profile the passionate, diverse and fascinating performers who light up Denver's drag community, expanding on our Diva Dozen list from 2015 and our new Fresh Faces list for 2016 by asking different queens — from established to ingénue — questions that take a peek beneath the wigs, heels and makeup.
They say “the higher the hair, the closer to God” — and if that old adage holds up, 27-year-old drag star Alexis Savage (aka Aaron Fox) has the most divine hair around. Teased and lifted to the heavens, her ‘do actually plays a supporting role to the main attractions: her bygone Hollywood-era face and a barrage
of handmade costumes, with an accent on stones, color and all-around sparkle. Shining a megawatt smile, Alexis takes over every stage she hits with the aplomb that comes with winning a pageant title: Miss Gay Pride of Colorado 2015 - 2016, the crowning glory on top of that high, high hair. Westword: Tell us about the first time that you ever performed in drag.
Alexis Savage: The first time I performed in drag was a hot mess! I was so nervous and barely moved on stage. The first song I ever did was “Best of My Love,” by the Emotions. I just stood there and swayed back and forth.
How long have you been honing your craft in the world of drag?
I started performing in drag when I was nineteen, so eight years ago. I started in a little town in Mankato, Minnesota, at the college’s annual Gender Bender Drag Show. There were no gay bars in town, and the show was only two times a year. Before I came to Denver, I was only performing two to three times a year. I had never made any of my costumes and wore plain old hair all the time. Things have definitely changed in my short time here.
When you’re not working it out on stage every week, what’s your occupation?
I’m a customer service agent for Southwest Airlines.
What is the origin of your drag name?
There really isn't a huge story for the origin of my name. I picked Alexis just because I liked it, and my last name came from my friend who did drag as well. I never really had a drag mother or a drag family.
What cultural icon do you admire the most and why?
I would have to say Prada Diamond, a fellow queen in Minneapolis. She is everything I want to be as an entertainer. She is a self-made businesswoman, and so creative. Explain what it feels like to get into all of your drag and hit a stage.
Getting into drag is exciting. I get to create a new/different character every time, and it’s a totally different feeling. Hitting the stage is a crazy feeling. Everybody is there looking at you and wondering what you're going to do next. Sometimes it’s a nervous feeling if you're doing something new and outside of your box, and a lot of the time it’s just amazing to see the look on people's faces. Seeing everyone have a good time and get into what you are doing is a feeling like no other.
Who/what inspires you to keep pulling out the makeup brushes every day?
I would have to say the people who come to the shows to see me and the cast. They look forward to what we're going to bring to the stage every time, and it’s our job to continue to surprise them. Without the people in the community, no entertainer would be anything.
Favorite brand/item of makeup?
I would have to say Ben Nye. Mostly because it’s what I've used for many years (maybe I should try something new!). It's just what I'm used to, and has worked so far! Name three very important items in your purse/drag bag you can’t leave home without.
Bobby pins, for sure. I have a lot of hair, and it would totally fall off without their help. Next, I would have to say my Crocs. Every queen needs a break from those shoes, and they are so comfortable; they also are good for keeping my tights clean backstage. An extra of everything: You never know what you might need, or what you forgot. It is also nice to have something extra for my sisters backstage.
When you’re out in drag, what one thing does everyone want to talk to you about? What do you wish they would actually talk to you about?
I would have to say my look and costumes. I always get compliments on my look and what I'm wearing. I would like to hear more feedback on how they enjoyed my performances, because I'm no dancing queen, so I need new ideas sometimes about how to keep people interested.
If your drag persona had a theme song, what would it be?
I would have to say “I Am What I Am,” by Shirley Bassey. It’s all about being proud of who you are and not caring what other people think. I am proud of what I have created as Alexis. I am definitely not even close to where I want to be, but I think that goes for every entertainer. There is always something new to learn. They’re casting the movie of your life; what actor and actress would be perfect to play both sides of your coin?
I honestly have no idea. I don't really pay attention to actors and actresses and probably could only name two?
Which is harder, given your drag profession: tucking (the act of hiding your “man candy”) or having a relationship?
I would have to say tucking. I have been with my partner for six years, and definitely could not do drag without his support. Tucking and getting into drag is a lot of work. We always joke while taking off the makeup and duct tape why we do what we do. There definitely has to be a balance between the two worlds of drag and relationships. Drag takes up a lot of time and energy, and creating new costumes and ideas can take over your house! What does the word “family” mean to you?
Family means love and support. Family does not have to be a mother, father, sister, brother. Family is what you make it, and the people you choose to be close to. Not every person has a loving and supporting biological family, but we all have the ability to create our own and surround ourselves with people who mean the most to us.
Drag allows you to change or alter physical parts of yourself. Do you use that power to always change any one thing in particular?
Ha ha, yes! Big boobs, hips and butt make me look thin!! I am not completely comfortable with the way I look as a boy. I need a little toning, but drag definitely makes me feel skinnier. Of course, I'm cinched in and have body shapers on!
There’s a bank error in your favor, giving you $15,000. What’s the first thing that you buy?
I would have to say jewelry. It’s hard to find quality jewelry, and it can be expensive. I also really just like sparkly things.
When we check back on you in three years (2019). What do you think you will be up to in your drag career?
I truly have no idea. I'm really hoping to be traveling to different cities to perform, though. My job gives me the ability to go all over the country and perform. I just hope I can grow and get better to get booked while I’m away.
You can catch Alexis performing at Kai Lee’s Kiki Sundays at Charlie’s Denver when she’s in town (there's a show at 9:30 p.m. on February 21), and at any other stage in need of a little sparkle.
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Keith Garcia is a filmmaker, writer and secret agent looking for love and the perfect slice of pizza. If he looks familiar, it's probably because he introduced a film you watched in Denver sometime between 1996 and 2014.