By Edward Castro, July 2018 Issue.
In February, a new era of entertainment emerged in Phoenix’s drag scene with a new agenda.
This form of creative expression may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for nearly five months the drag monsters of The Queer Agenda have created a buzz that can’t be ignored.
The Queer Agenda is a local component of a broader movement that goes away from typical definitions of drag, beauty and talent and gets back to embracing art in all forms. The show, which takes place every Tuesday night at Stacy’s @ Melrose, is unlike any staged entertainment you’ll find elsewhere.
“The Queer Agenda is far from an agenda and more of place to escape, have fun and never feel judged or underappreciated for the person [performers] are and want to be,” said Carnita Asada, the show’s founder and director. “I have always said that the energy and mindset at the show is, ‘nobody is a stranger just friends we haven’t met yet.’”
The show’s cast includes Asada, Benaddiction, Rubye Moore and Dahli.
“The cast was the easiest part in creating The Queer Agenda,” Asada said. “I turned to Dahli last year and told him I was looking into creating a new show and I asked if he would be interested… Without skipping a beat, he said, yes. Benaddiction and I go way back to our club kid days at Forbidden, and Rubye is the glue that holds this show together.”
After, his experience filming “Queer of the Year,” in 2010 in Montreal, Asada returned to Phoenix inspired to create a platform that he observed the local drag scene was missing.
“When I first started drag, back in 2009, most drag queens wanted me to fit a mold, be a pageant queen, told me not to do a song sung by a boy, turned their back when I got too creative and wouldn’t book me for their own individual reasons. I got tired of asking to perform or trying to get booked,” he recalled. “ … I noticed the queer culture in Canada, Chicago and Las Vegas [and] how dark, crazy, strange, beautiful and stunning these artists were. As those people I came into contact with remained on the forefront of my mind, I thought to myself, ‘I [have] to find a way to turn the drag scene of Phoenix upside down for those type of artists to be supported, allowed and embraced.’”
And he has. In a city full drag shows, the vision for The Queer Agenda was to establish a platform for creative expression that does not currently exist.
“There are so many [shows] on any given night that the need for another show is not the most important factor in the decision to create The Queer Agenda, Asada asserted. “If there was any need, it was the need for someone to believe in such a radical concept.”
Asada approached Stacy Louis about his idea and the rest is queer history.
“We ended up talking for a long time, shared intimate stories about those who couldn’t be with us who would have loved this show and teared up just thinking about how proud they would be with how far we have come,” he recalled.
There was one other individual Asada felt strongly about gaining approval from.
“When we were going to start The Queer Agenda, I was nervous to ask Mike [Fornelli] if it was OK,” Asada said, adding that The Queer Agenda now takes place on the same night as BS West’s Stars Choice. “I was completely prepared for him to say no, and when he hugged me and he gave us… his blessing it really was a testament to his kind, loving character.”
This was significant to the cast, most of whom were created on the Star’s Choice stage.
“I want to acknowledge how Stars of Tomorrow gave me my start, and how amazing it [is at giving] a platform to new performers,” he said. “I have to give kudos to Mike and the gang at Stars for giving people that space … we are completely aware of how powerful that show is.”
In the Valley’s drag landscape, the element that makes The Queer Agenda unique, according to Asada, is that there’s no gimmick.
“We don’t need themes, we just feed off the energy of the audience and that’s what makes Tuesday the most unique,” he said. “We are a show that is very interactive with our audience. If we get boring or you are sick of us talking, you tip the DJ $5 and you can gong us and we have to move on to the next performer.”
In those cases, that money goes to charity. And that’s just one way The Queer Agenda is doing the most.
“Every week we are raising money and goods for things like [the] Pride Scholarship Fund, RipplePHX, Imperial Court’s school supply drive, one•n•ten, and I have a new performer fund that I have put my own money into,” Asada explained. “Also, we have lent our time, and voices to support individual causes like HIV awareness or helping families with medical bills.”
Asada describes the show as for the community and by the community.
“This show, just like any show, is only successful if you have people who come to, support and talk about the show,” he said. “I’m here to break barriers. I get to give other people a chance to see something on stage that they haven’t seen before and maybe insight some creativity for those people.”
Since their February debut The Queer Agenda has already welcomed such drag legends such as Pandora DeStrange, Evah Destruction, Abhora and Disasterina from Season 2 of “Dragula” as well as other local favorites. Additionally, The Queer Agenda is up for a 2018 Diamond Crystal Award in the category of Show of the Year.
Courtesy of arizonadrag.com.
The Queer Agenda
presents “The 4th of Ghouly” featuring “Dragula” Season 2 Winner Biqtch Puddin
9 p.m. July 3
Stacy’s @ Melrose
4343 N Seventh Ave, Phoenix