N.B. This was written about two months after the actual event, so I am working from notes and (dim) memories. It was all so much better than I could ever hope to convey to you.
At most drag shows, the best you could hope to go home with is some glitter. At Miss Ellaneous, I got a potato. Plus, it wasn’t just any potato, it was a potato with a fucking affirmation on it. It was also great in a mash, with some cream, butter, and fresh thyme, but this is explicitly not (yet) a cooking blog. I’m not going to try to expand this as a metaphor for the entire show, but I will mention in passing that potatoes were a pretty revolutionary food. Their nutritional density significantly increased the carrying capacity of farmland, and allowed for significant population growth. 1
I went to Miss Ellaneous because I will go to anything that Charlie Wood does. I was blown away by their qualifying performance at NADC, and they only got better over the course of the contest. I was a little apprehensive at the start of the show; it began fairly late (doors were at 20:00, on a Wednesday night), and looking at the other audience members, I had the sinking realization that I was old enough to be most people’s father. (And this wouldn’t even be a teen pregnancy thing!)
Despite those issues, the show lived up to its name from the very beginning. On stage as we all walked in was a human-sized traffic cone, lying there with legs sticking out. I am still not sure of the purpose or symbolism of it, but it was definitely random.
I’m 99% sure the next part was not part of the show, but to me, it’s now intextricably linked. A girl, LN, came up to me, and started talking to me. I was in a bit of a introverted mood, so this was exactly what I didn’t want to do. Nevertheless, I tried to put on my game face, and treated it like a user interview, and just kept on asking about her life.
Another girl sitting next to me, LO 2 joined in the conversation, and it clearly took her to the break before she figured out that Lena and I were not a couple. Again, this was almost certainly not part of the show, but together with the potatoes, it very much helped frame the overall experience.
Once the traffic cone had been taken care of, Charlie came up and opened the show. They were stunning in a white dress topped with a floral head.
Following Charlie’s introduction, the next act was Francesca Lutini 3. I only have a “+” by my notes, which usually means it was a good act.
Next up was a brief film, “The Pub Chair,” by Em Tanner. I remember it being interesting, but also feeling like there were cultural moments that I did not share with the majority of the crowd. It’s hard to tell if this was a factor of age or nationality.
After Liv went off stage, we were treated to a performance by the co-founder of Miss Ellaneous, Frankie
Charlie returned to stage and took us into the break. Her song, “Stop the Violence,” was performed against a backdrop of a car navigating through an American suburb. It was chilling, more because it was so utterly familiar to me. What had struck me about the last trip to the US was how legible the landscape was: I understood what each building was for and what social forces had shaped both the overall landscape and the buildings. Watching the backdrop, I remembered visiting friends who lived in these exact neighborhoods, and it felt like home.
But, in turn, this meant that if the potato crop failed, it was an utter disaster for the population. ↩
If I gave the details of her life, it would be easy to identify LN, and I found LO on Instagram. This is my blog, and this is their privacy. ↩
I’m working on minimal notes several weeks later. If I get details wrong (or, more importantly, have not linked to your socials), well, try mark @ markjhandel.net ↩