He said, she said: A behind-the-scenes look at drag
Drag Queen Brett Young lets Hot Ink behind the scenes of his Oklahoma City club.
Brett Young leads a double life.
By day, he is a businessman, co-owning and managing a bar. By night. he is a she. Rather, he is a female impersonation artist, more commonly known as drag queen.
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Six nights a week, Young takes on the persona of Kitty Bob Aimes. On this Wednesday night, Young is greeted by fellow performer Roxie Hart.
“Oh, God, are you finally learning it?”
The question is a reference to the song “Firework,” the opening song for the Wednesday night show at the drag bar The Boom in northwest Oklahoma City.
Young is hosting the Wednesday variety show for the evening and has not memorized the lyrics she is supposed to lip sync. To calm his preshow nerves, he lights a cigarette and paces the small dressing room.
Young works double-duty managing the club and 12 performers, as well as doing his own performances.
His workday typically starts before noon, when the club opens. He takes care of the money and all deposits, pays all the bills and books all the shows. Young said he can spend more than six hours on the phone booking shows for an average week.
While he takes care of the behind-the-scenes aspects of owning a club, he also has to prepare for the shows he hosts. It is not uncommon for him to spend seven hours a week working on the popular Sunday Brunch show he hosts with Norma Jean Goldenstein.
“By Tuesday if I haven't started writing the show for that Sunday I'm starting to freak a little bit,” he said.
Young grew up in Alva and Guthrie in a family he describes as “extremely butch.”
“One of my brothers is a bull rider and was in the Air Force,” he said. “My other brother is a construction worker.”
His family owned a construction company, which helped his parents afford to send him and his siblings to college. Young graduated from Oklahoma City University as a musical theater major and performed for 15 years. The experience he had from the construction company also helped him when The Boom was built.
“When we built this club we did a lot of the work ourselves,” he said. “I'm pretty good with a hammer and nails.”
Young has been openly gay for 20 years, after a fellow chorus member outed him to his family. His relatives weren't supportive at first, but they have since come to support him and his career. His parents often attend his shows, including the 2010 gay pride festival.
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