Life of a drag queen
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For UA employee Josh Fenstermaker, a typical day only consists of two things: work and drag. Usually performing six to eight times per week, he spends eight hours serving food to UA students at the Union Market and then takes two hours to prepare for his drag queen performance. After intricately painting on his make-up and putting on his elaborate costumes he eventually transforms into his alternative identity: Malibu Peru.
The actual performance is two hours of fast-paced costume changes, lip-syncing that mimics the persona of pop stars, and scandalous dance moves on stage in front of large cheering crowds.
But, performing drag is not always easy.
“I’m not going to lie: I still get the nervous butterflies in my stomach,” Josh said. “But, after I make eye contact with people, I just zone into the performance and it finally fades away.”
Josh was originally from Myrtle Beach, SC, and moved to Pennsylvania after his parents divorced. He went to Edinboro University, then moved to Ohio and met Michael Fenstermaker, whom he married a year ago. Michael graduated from UA in 2015 after studying political science. The couple currently resides in Akron and they are “living happily ever after” according to Josh.
Tuesday, Josh performed in the Zips Programming Network’s annual Drag Show in honor of National Coming Out Day. The holiday is every year on Oct. 11, and celebrates the LGBT community and the power of coming out.
At the event, Josh shared his own story.
After 18 years of not seeing his father following the divorce, Josh decided to reveal his sexual orientation. Afterward, his father refused to speak to him, and he did not attend his son’s wedding.
“But I have a tremendous amount of support from my mother, my god-parents, friends, and the other drag queens,” said Josh. “That is my family. I chose my family over him.”
According to Josh, National Coming Out Day is especially powerful for the younger generation; “It means a lot to see them have the strength and courage and rely on others [who have come out already] to help them make their journey of telling their family and friends easier.”
After the legalization of gay marriage, Josh says society needs to focus on transgender rights.
“We’ve fought for equal rights for women and for gay people, I think it’s about time [transgender people] had their turn.”
Josh is part of the rapidly growing drag show scene in Akron. Local drag queens perform many nights of the week at a bar called the Interbelt downtown.