By Shanna Katz
I was lucky enough to meet up with one of my favorite Drag performers, none other than Mr. Phoenix Pride 2011, Freddy Prinze Charming. Freddy is a nationally known drag king, and as I think that gender identity is incredibly interesting, I wanted to hear from someone who exists in at least two different presentations of gender. As you’ll read below, both Freddy and his real-world alter ego have some interesting thoughts about gender, assumptions, drag, and gender play in the bedroom.
This interview is about your Drag king identity…What are some other identities of yours:
Lesbian, partner, Ginger, top, switch, artist, entertainer, soft butch, genderqueer, step-parent, philanthropist
Define your Drag King identity – what does it mean to you, how long have you had this identity, how was the process of getting there?
I’ve been a professional drag king/male illusionist for almost 6 years, but I’d been dabbling in drag for decades before that. There are dozens of pictures of me from the age of 5 all the way through high school dressed as cowboys and pirates at Halloween, on stage as the Lion in The Wiz or a Jet in West Side Story. I was still pretty femme in appearance during all of this, but I was always more comfortable in masculine clothes. In college I embraced by more butch side, shaved my waist-length hair and started shopping in the men’s department. It took several years of the performing itch to realize I could combine the two and turn it into a way to perform AND do something good in and for the LGBTQ community.
Talk about some of the language surrounding this identity – what terms do you like/dislike?
I dislike the assumptions that surround all drag. That anyone who does drag lives as the gender they represent on the stage. That drag kings just “want to be boys” (which I see as different than being trans). Mind you, there is nothing wrong with being trans. I know a lot of performers who ARE trans. It’s the assumption that bothers me. It means that people don’t really understand the trans community or the LGBTQ community as a whole. Not every feminine man wants to be a woman and not every masculine woman wants to be a man. Depending on the context it can be offensive. There is also the assumption that everyone who does drag identifies as “gay” in one way or another. This also isn’t true. It bothers me that those who identify as trans-men and perform are even less understood, even in the LGBTQ community. Queens will wig out (pun intended) if you refer to them as a “he” when they’re in face. But queens and other hosts will continuously refer to kings in the feminine, even the trans performers, which is just insulting. I do love, however, that when I’m in drag I get called a fag by queens and gay boys. I love that I get referred to in the masculine and am referred to as a boy. It’s just fun. Being a drag king gives me a certain amount of gender neutrality, as now, regardless of whether I’m in drag or out of drag, 90% of the people I know call me Freddy and refer to me in the masculine.
What are some common questions you get about this identity?
How do you answer them and how do they make you feel? One of the biggest questions I, and my partner, hear is “Does she live as a boy?” Depending on who is doing the asking and the motives behind it determines how I feel about it. If it’s someone who is genuinely curious, I’ll educate them. But if it’s someone who’s just being an ass about it, I’ll be less accommodating. To have some jerk at a bar say “It’s a fucking dude!” just proves ignorance and intolerance, and it’s hard to change a mind like that. I also get asked if I bring Freddy out to play in the bedroom. I think the idea of gender play in the bedroom is a closeted fetish/curiosity for a lot of people, so I’m usually happy to answer that one.
What are some of the positives of having this identity?
It brings a whole new dynamic to our relationship in the bedroom. It’s a rush to let Freddy play. At shows, I’ve found I can appeal to anyone of any identity, and it makes the performing that much more interesting. It also provides an outlet for my creative side, and a chance for me to express the more masculine pieces of my identity. It gives me a way to give back to the community, travel and meet people I may not have met otherwise.
What are some of the struggles that have come along with this identity?
Keeping a balance. Freddy is very different from my non-king identity. During rough times, I have a tendency to retreat more into Freddy so as to not have to deal with the reality of “me.” If Freddy gets busy, it becomes a struggle to make sure my home life gets as much attention as my drag life. I do my best not to make my relationship suffer because of drag, because in the end drag is not my priority. I just get caught up with things like costuming at times and other things tend to fall by the wayside.
How does this identity fit or not fit with your other identities?
In general, Freddy fits in well with my other identities. He’s not something that needs to be hidden from the kids or from family members. I tried to make sure that when I created Freddy that he would be someone I would never be ashamed of or would have to censor.
How do you feel this identity is received in the sexuality and/or sex positive communities?
It’s been my experience that it’s very well received. At the fetish events I’ve been to people tend to look at Freddy as a package that has a surprise under the wrappings. People love to know that my partner is the only one who has ever gotten to play with Freddy in the bedroom, and always try to fish for details. Drag, gender play and gender fucking are fetishes in themselves, but people tend to see more of the male-identified cross-dressers, drag queens, sissies, etc so a female-identified person dressed in male drag is more of an anomaly.
What else do you want people to know about this identity?
Drag is a great outlet for gender identity, self-expression and entertainment. It can be fun in and out of the bedroom. Just be wary of any assumptions you may make, even subconsciously. If you are someone that practices the art of gender illusion keep in mind that not everyone understands it, so do your best to educate your partners, your friends and your community so that they might better understand you and where you’re coming from.