Tag Archives: Drag’

Austin drag performer returns to stage 6 months after nearly losing life to COVID-19

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A renowned drag performer in Austin will make her comeback to the stage six months after nearly losing her life to COVID-19.

Nadine Hughes, known as The Brows of Texas for her beautifully exaggerated makeup, will delight fans again this weekend for her first performances since she survived a dangerously severe case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Her infection led her to spend more than two months in a local hospital — half of that time in a medically-induced coma.

“I never thought I’d get back to this moment,” Hughes said. “I was very scared that I wouldn’t be able to [perform], and the fact that it’s happening already is just so overwhelming.”

(Photo/Nadine Hughes)

Hughes’ hospitalization initially happened in December last year. At that time, Austin-Travis County entered into its highest risk level, and hospitals grew concerned they’d run out of space to treat all the COVID-19 patients. She wouldn’t leave the hospital until Feb. 26, and then finally returned home after spending eight days in a rehabilitation facility.

During her time in the coma, she noted she missed celebrating Christmas, ringing in the new year and seeing the inauguration of a new president. However, her mother as well as her roommate made sure she still experienced some of the holiday joy.

“They left everything up for Christmas, so that way we could celebrate Christmas when I got home,” Hughes explained. “Everything was as if I had just left it, and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. Something so small helped so much.”

Hughes will perform Friday night at Doc’s Drive In Theatre, located at 1540 Satterwhite Road in Buda. The event, which starts at about 9 p.m., has been billed “The Return of Queen Nadine.”

In a Facebook post, Hughes wrote she’ll also appear Sunday for a drag brunch at TRACE Austin, which is in The W hotel.

“I still have a road ahead of me to get back to 100%,” the social media post stated, “but I’m so ready to be doing what I Love!!!”

The show she’s looking forward to most, though, will happen June 16 at Rain on Fourth, her home bar. What she’s struggling with most about that performance is choosing the right song to match this big moment.

“My brain has been going crazy, because I don’t know what song will be the appropriate song. I’ve been searching and searching,” Hughes said. “I want to thank my community, and I want to show them I did this and show them that all the prayers and everything they’ve done was worth it. I’m just very grateful, so I just want to make sure it’s the right choice.”

(Photo/Nadine Hughes)

Hughes’ fans are clamoring to see her back on the stage, especially after many of them donated money to help cover the mounting medical expenses. Hughes’ mother, Melody Cass, started an online fundraiser not long after her initial hospitalization. To date, it’s brought in more than $ 23,000.

Hughes said that money helped her afford rehabilitation, physical therapy and medication.

“It’s just so wonderful that I didn’t have to have that stress, or my mom to have that stress,” she said.

Hughes is still striving to fully recover from the complications caused by her COVID-19 diagnosis. She is currently working with a physical therapist to regain mobility in her left shoulder, and she’s seeking additional help since her tongue remains partially numb.

Through all the setbacks, Hughes told KXAN she’s grateful to feel well enough now to return to the spotlight, which has sorely missed her basking in its glow.

When asked what she’s looking forward to most about performing again, Hughes got emotional when she explained it would be “seeing the faces of the people that I love and hearing my favorite sound in the entire world: a live applause.”

Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Halal Bros on UT Drag burns Friday, no injuries reported

Author: Billy Gates
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The fire is now out at a popular restaurant on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas at Austin campus, the Austin Fire Department said Friday afternoon. No one was hurt, and firefighters say the cause was accidental.

The fire at Halal Bros eatery just north of West 27th Street sparked around 10:30 a.m. Friday.

“Fire started in wall and extended to into the attic,” the Austin Fire Department tweeted. “The building was built in 1920 and the construction features made it difficult to access the fire.”

The fire continued to burn for about an hour before firefighters were able to put it out.

At least four fire trucks and dozens of firefighters quickly responded to the fire.

Halal Bros is a family-owned business with three brick-and-mortar locations in Austin, plus a food truck. Their business started in 2010, serving Halal and Middle Eastern food.

Alaska 5000 Shares How She Took Comedy & ‘Put It In Drag’ For New Special

Author Jason Brow
This post originally appeared on Hollywood Life

Instead of just telling a few jokes in front of a brick wall, “Drag Race All Stars’ Winner Alaska 5000 tells HL how her new OUTtv special sees her do comedy in her own ‘sickening’ way.

While watching The Alaska Thunderfuck Extra Special Comedy Special, one question pops up constantly throughout the hour-long program: why? Why is Alaska Thunderfuck (aka Alaska 5000), a drag performer of international renown, telling jokes – and why are they so…the way that they are? Why did she need a “comedy jacket,” comedy glasses, and brick wall backdrop straight from An Evening At The Improv? Why did she enlist Margaret Cho, Jackie Beat, and Sherry Vine to offer their honest opinions – “I’ve never seen a comedy special that wasn’t funny,” says Jackie near the beginning – a year after the special was recorded?

“Well, I mean, ‘why’ is definitely the question I keep asking myself, just in general about life,” Alaska says during her EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife, “but they asked me if I wanted to do a comedy special, and I said, ‘okay, but we have to be really extra about it.’ I can’t just stand there and tell jokes. I have to do musical numbers, and we have to have a drag contest. And my friend Jeremy has to do a crystal ball reading. And so I just had to do a comedy special, but put it in drag.”

At first, the Extra Special Comedy Special — part of the initial slate of content available on OUTtv, the first LBGTQ+ channel on Apple TV — almost comes across as “anti-humor,” the alternative comedy style pioneered by Andy Kaufman and Steve Martin and found within the comedic stylings of Maria Bamford, Neil Hamburg, and Eric Andre. After donning a Paula Poundstone-esque yellow blazer, a pair of glasses, and a “new-wave Joan Rivers” blonde wig, Alaska tells jokes that almost seem intentionally bad.

“I went to Australia recently. It’s true what they say. The toilets do go in the opposite direction. They poop into you,” says Alaska in one of the more PG-rated yuk-yuks. Her routine is predominantly puns and clever wordplay, with jokes that venture from the innocent (“ Have you ever heard of this store that coats specifically designed for dinosaurs? Jurassic Parkas”) to the ribald. She punctuates every punchline with a grimace or a look of disdain, a move that often elicits more laughs than the joke she just told.  (“We even kept in the clunkers because there is something really gratifying about when the joke goes out there and just sits there and nothing happens,” she says, adding that nothing was left on the cutting room floor.)

Alaska, the new queen of comedy (Magnus Hastings)

Add in the frequent breaks in the fourth wall, the commentary from Jackie, Margaret, and Sherry, and Alaska’s “comedy jacket,” and it seems that something is going on here. Its like Alaska is deconstructing the concept of “stand-up” while drawing parallels to the drag artform, how comedians have their own accouterment (the coats, the backdrop, the facial gestures) to convey the idea of “comedian” the way drag performers don clothes, makeup, tights, and tape to simultaneous subvert and convey the concepts of “male” and “female.”

“I’m glad that’s what you took away from it,” says Alaska when presented with this theory that standup has its form of drag. “I guess the reason behind it was — I’m not a comedian. I have so much respect for people who are truly comedians, who go out there, and they play these tiny comedy clubs, and all they have is their voice and a microphone, and they’re just out there, and they can tell jokes for an hour. There’s no way I can do that. So I need to do all these other things that I know how to do, and then tell some jokes in the middle. So, if it was, a commentary or, a comparison between drag and comedy — God bless, I was just trying to do drag.”

And drag, she did. It kicks off with a musical number and features three performers – Kerrii Colby, the bearded Grant Vanderbilt, and AFAB queen Sabbyiana – who represented styles of drag that viewers might not be familiar with if they only watched Drag Race.

“The thing about drag is anyone who’s done drag really understands that there’s every type of drag performer that you can imagine,” says Alaska. “I’ve always shared a dressing room with, you know, there’s a drag king over there, and there is a bearded queen over here. So it is important to show that, and also just to share the stage and share the spotlight with some amazing drag Queens who are out there, killing it and being sickening.”

Where are the jokes? WHERE ARE THE JOKES? Alaska knows. It’s in her Extra Special Comedy Special. (Sean Vadella)

Sickening as these and the rest of the Extra Special Comedy Special performances are, there appeared to be a question of taste in releasing the show. Or, if not ‘taste,’ then timing. Recorded in November 2019, the show seemed primed for a 2020 release. “By and then, the world really changed,” says Alaska. With the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, going on, Alaska says she wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to release and promote a comedy special during, she out it, “during this radically shifting time.”

“Also, does it fit in the context of the world, which had changed so much within the last year?” she asks. “So I was unsure, and then we were like,’ why don’t we make this conversation part of the special as well?’ Just to put it in context of the pandemic, the shutdown. Everything’s over zoom, all of that. And so I got to tie in some of my comedy super mentors.”

“In having [these] conversations over zoom with Jackie and Sherry and Margaret, I think we got to a place where now I feel really comfortable with it,” she adds, “because the overall thinking is like, we’re always going to benefit from having a moment to, laugh and feel a little bit lighter about the world.”

Humor has been one of the few saving graces during the pandemic. So has music. While some acts have held off on releasing new music until a more commercially viable release window becomes available, Alaska gifted fans last year a handful of new songs. She released “Leopard Print” as the latest single from her 2019 album Vagina, as well as featured on Katya’s “Come In Brazil” and Ivan & Peter (ft. DJ Flula)’s “Pool Party.” Alaska also teamed with fellow drag performer Kandy Muse to transform Kandy’s viral 2018 tweet into a new song.

Fast forward three years since Kandy bemoaned “sitting her in VIP all alone,” and Kandy is one of the top-four finalists on season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (the winner will be crowned Friday, Apr. 23.) The prescience of the song and how it took on a whole new post-COVID subtext isn’t lost on Alaska. “It is really, really weird to think of the fact that we did that song just based on Kandy Muse’s viral tweet, where she was longing for human connection while in a VIP area in a club. But by the time even we did the music video, oh, we’re all kind of, we’re all kind of sitting alone. We’re all isolated.”

“It’s weird that song took on such a meaning and that Kandy Muse went on to do Drag Race and to make it to the final four,” she adds. “It is a strange, strangely psychic moment with that song. Maybe it caused the pandemic, who knows?”

This is not Alaska’s only musical prophecy that has come true. Before we spoke, Lady Gaga’s 2013 album ARTPOP returned to the top of the iTunes Pop Album chart after a viral Charnge.org petition asked fans to “band together to show our support for ARTPOP and the unreleased [volume II].” The petition, which has over 50,000 signatures at the time of publication, got a response from Mother Monster herself, but two years before this rally of support, Alaska hosted Justice For ARTPOP at Brooklyn’s 3 Dollar Bill.

On the one hand, this is another example of the mainstream taking years to realize what the LGBT+ community already knew. On the other hand, this is validation for Alaska’s championing an album many critics wrote off as a misstep. “I do feel vindicated,” says Alaska. “We did that show, and it was one of our biggest shows that we’ve done at 3 Dollar Bill.  I think it was the biggest show that we did at 3 Dollar Bill because we knew that we weren’t alone in thinking that ARTPOP was deeply underappreciated at the time that it came out. And so yeah, now it really makes sense that I’m glad that Lady Gaga is having a moment of people really fully celebrating it the way it deserves to be celebrated.”

Similarly, we should celebrate Alaska Thunderfuck Extra Special Comedy Special. It shows the value in the act of laughter, of putting yourself out there to try and make people smile, and of the validity of humor in the darkest times. Take it as an unintentional subversion of a comedy trope or a fun hour full of  X-rated puns you can share with your friends the next time you see them. As Alaska said, she “was just trying to do drag,” and as we all know, drag is the best.

Alaska Thunderfuck Extra Special Comedy Special is now available on OUTtv.

Customers can sign up for a seven-day free trial and subscribe directly to OUTtv on the Apple TV app for $ 2.99 per month. Click HERE on iPhone, iPad, and Mac to directly open up OUTtv on the Apple TV app. OUTtv is expected to launch across other marquee SVOD platforms later this year.