By Brennen Beckwith, with additional reporting by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano
Providenza, event organizer/producer/host extraordinaire, calls Them Fatale a “king, thing, and everything in between community performance drag event.” On August 19, 2023, TransLash Media digital producer Brennen attended a Them Fatale show in Los Angeles to get up close and personal with The Kings.
Once a month “kings, things, and everyone in betweens” flock to The Oracle Tavern in Downtown LA to join in the art of drag performance and queer and trans community building. August’s theme was “Dungeons and Drag Kings,” so everyone showed out in their fantasy best.
MEET THE KINGS
Vico Suavè is the drag persona of Vico Ortiz, a non-binary Caribbean actor and performer known for several famous roles in queer television. Vico performed for Them Fatale’s debut show five years ago and continues to appear in their shows as often as they can. Their dedication to this show demonstrates the powerful community ties built through drag performance.
Ryder Face is a new drag king in town and Them Fatale was Justyn Caze’s first ever drag performance. They both put all of themselves on stage, and if I didn’t know their backstories, I would have assumed they both had years of drag experience!
Twinka Masala is a Punjabi Drag King and self described “twink in the streets and existential crisis on the stage.” Their all purple and bedazzled look was a testament to the prismatic range of artistic expression that drag allows for.
ManRouge is an independent trans musician who literally dances to the beat of his own drum. He performed with his new song “Too Much” as a comical janitor persona. He began with sweeping the stage and ended with wrapping the whole audience with caution tape.
The Chainsmokers were performing across the street at the LA State Historic Park, so parking for this Them Fatale show was difficult; not to mention navigating through swarms of Chainsmokers fans to get to the Oracle Tavern. But thanks to all the chaos, I had the honor of watching Johnny Gentleman wading through the Them Fatale crowd with his entourage, arms full of huge props for his performance.
I felt this moment was a beautiful representation of how Drag Kings show up; hands full and fashionably late.
Provvidenza Catalano, known by their friends as Enza, is not only the producer, organizer, and face of Them Fatale, they host every show with unmatched energy and enthusiasm. They’re known for involving the audience in every aspect of the show, keeping them engaged and always on their toes.
Enza chose an audience member to check in on throughout the night. They would then affectionately nicknamed them “Drag Baby,” and had a conversation with them between every few performers. Enza even pulled audience members up to tell us about their DND characters. They also invited audience members to take the mic and promote their own queer events and businesses.
Another part of the night, known by Them Fatale regulars as “Date Mic,” had people coming up to pitch themselves to any potential suitors in the audience.
Beyond playing Cupid, Enza and their team created Them Fatale to showcase drag art while nurturing queer community and connections. Every aspect of their hosting style engages the audience to participate in the show, creating a welcoming and inclusive space for all.
GENDER JUSTICE LA
On top of offering fabulous drag performances, all proceeds from Them Fatale shows go towards a local queer organization! This month’s organization was Gender Justice, an LA-based trans mutual aid org.
Gender Justice LA is a grassroots organization dedicated to building the power of the transgender and gender non-conforming community here in LA. They use community organizing and leadership development to make concrete changes in the lives of all TGNC people, especially low-income trans people of color. They seek to build our community’s power to fight for racial, social, cultural, and economic justice.
DRAG IS ART
Julian K. Jarboe famously said “God blessed me by making me transsexual for the same reason God made wheat but not bread and fruit but not wine, so that humanity might share in the act of creation.”
I believe drag was created by trans people so that the queer and trans community could share in the act of gender expression and celebration. Never have I felt more affirmed in my identity than at a drag show, and all the kings I talked to have expressed that same sentiment in their own ways.
Drag is the art of gender expression, and drag shows are how we share that art with each other.
At the end of the night, as all the kings piled on stage for a group photo, fireworks from the Chainsmokers concert across the street lit up the night sky.
The colorful and glittering explosions weren’t meant for us, but we took ownership of them anyway—because Drag Kings deserve fireworks every time they perform.