The making of a king at Pride

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Who hasn’t stood before a mirror with an index finger curled over the lip?

Possibly you thought, “I’d look good with a moustache.”

Or a soul patch.

Or a package.

The Miltown Kings, Milwaukee’s premier drag king troupe, can help draw that inner king out of the bathroom and onto the stage.

PrideFest turns over the Stonewall Stage to the kings at 2 p.m. June 12 for a session on creating a drag persona – expect a “drag-matic performance,” suggests PrideFest publicity. The “gang of gender benders consists of kings, queenz, femmes and everything in between,” the publicity adds.

The Milwaukee group dates to 2003. The troupe caught on so quickly with an audience that it performed 24 shows in its first year.

The kings have a reputation for racy and raucous, silly and sexy, profound and political, and more naughty than nice.

The Miltown Kings, which evolves with members coming and going, came together at a time when such troupes were gaining some fame in cities large and small across the country – from Albuquerque, N.M., to Washington, D.C. They were also connecting in regional and national events, the oldest being the San Francisco Drag King Contest.

“Going to San Francisco for the contest, for a drag king, is like going to Memphis’ Death Week for an Elvis impersonator,” said Tampa king Black Beard, who has attended both major events and performs at various venues on the Florida Gulf Coast.

On summer break from college, Black Beard plans on attending multiple Pride events to catch drag king performers around the country.

“A couple of us are driving up north this week,” Beard said. “And we might get to Milwaukee.”

Beard offered some suggestions, with thanks to others who taught him, to those thinking about outing their kings:

There are no rules. Some kings pack. Some kings don’t. But if packing, try a sock – it is cheap and the size is right, contrary to what some guys claim. Don’t use plastic wrap for breast binding, because it is uncomfortably hot and becomes hard to breathe. Wear a baggy shirt, or try an Ace bandage. Play around with words to come up with a king name. Think about porn stars. Using an eyebrow pencil is easier than mascara to thicken the eyebrows. But mascara, using Kleenex to dab, is best for creating stubble. An eyebrow pencil can be used to draw facial hair, or, with some planning, save hair clippings and use spirit gum to attach small pieces to the face. Layer up the dress. That hides curves. Have fun. If you’re having trouble finding your guy, think Elvis. There’s a little bit of Elvis in all of us.