Photo credit: Artist X Photography
This Saturday, October 26th, will mark three full years that I have been performing in drag. It has been a wild ride of self-discovery, art, and flare, and I owe much of my success to The Haunted Hydro Dark Attraction Park in Fremont, OH. The day after my drag-iversary, The Haunted Hydro is hosting its first-ever Pride Night, with drag performances from both Hydro monsters and artists from the Northwest Ohio area. I was honored to be asked to be on this billing, and to have one of my wildest dreams come true: to perform in drag at my home haunt.
So why, when I make the number one mistake on the Internet and read the comments, do I see people being ignorant, hateful, and closed-minded?
I will leave names out of the equation, but seeing comments downplaying the importance of such a night left a bitter taste in my mouth. People were surprised to see that the Turners would put an event like this on. Hell, given the area in which I live, I was absolutely shocked to see that the Hydro would spring for a Pride night. Outside of Toledo, the nearest Pride celebration is in Findlay, and even that was a first-time event this year. Not even Bowling Green, the most progressive city in the red state that is the Buckeye State, has a Pride celebration.
For those playing at home, friendly reminder that Bowling Green is where I got my start in drag and performance as a whole, before I brought my craft to the Hydro.
Breaking into the haunt industry as a drag performer, and a rookie one at that, was hell. I had people telling me that I wasn’t scary or gory enough. Saying that if I couldn’t work with blood or latex, I would never make it. For a minute, I almost believed them. And looking back at the photos from my first season of haunting, just two years ago, it was rough. The glow-up is real, y’all.
Photo credit: Russ Lytle
I can’t pinpoint what exactly clicked, but I just kept going. I was just getting started. I tasted blood and I wanted more (more, more, MORE). I kept modeling at the photo shoots at The Haunted Hydro, where I had cracked the door open just enough to get a haunt actor application from the co-owner, Vanna Fright herself, Beth Turner. I stuck it out, kept turning out new looks, and learning from my haunt and modeling friends.
And just in the scope of the last twelve months, it has all paid off. For the 2018 season of The Haunted Hydro, I was awarded Most Improved, and nominated for Hauntertainer of the Year. I have been published in Eerie Eclipse Magazine three different times as a model, something I never thought would happen for me, a plus-size drag performer. In the 2019 season, thus far, I have had the opportunity to evolve and work in our courtyard during the haunt, an honor and responsibility given only to the best of the best, those that have proven themselves.
And it’s all because of the Hydro. The family, the friends, the relationships I have made at that haunt will stay with me forever. They didn’t mind that I was queer. They didn’t mind that I didn’t identify as the gender I was assigned at birth. They cared that I would do my best, and to help others do their best, to put on the best show that we possibly could. My differences were acknowledged, but never the focal point, and that is still true, three seasons in.
I have a drag family that I started myself, the Coven of Curiosities. As much as I have grown and gained from them, it is my Haunted Hydro family that has taken me to heights I never would have dreamed of. That is why we have this Pride Night on Sunday, October 27, in the year of our Lord 2019. Because it is not about what makes us different that matters. It is about how we raise each other up, especially in the face of those differences. I’m more than just a novelty, more than the token drag artist.
I am family. And that is something I will never forget.
The Haunted Hydro Pride Night is this Sunday, October 27. The park is located at 1333 Tiffin Street in Fremont, OH. Tickets are available at the gate or through HauntPay. Performances from Hydro drag artists and performers from Georgjz419 in Toledo will take place throughout the night. Attendees will receive limited edition Hydro Pride bracelets while supplies last. For more information, check out hauntedhydro.com.