The Midnight Sons Drag Kings challenge gender norms one show at a time
The people you meet in a dimly lit corner of a bar next to a blaring jukebox are rarely what they seem. What better place to meet three strangers by the names of Dr. Feel Good, Random A. Danger and Silkk—the core members of the Midnight Sons Drag Kings, a group of three women who dress and take on the persona of men during live performances since 2012.
The Midnight Sons Drag Kings (MSDK) have become a staple of the Anchorage drag scene in the two years since the group first found each other. Their first brush with local fame was when they landed their quarterly gig at Chilkoot Charlie’s. The bar has since advertised MSDK’s shows on the radio, made life-size banners of the group and shellacked their posters into the bar.
MSDK came together after separating from Last Frontier Drag Kings and deciding to go another direction with their art.
“No one was doing anything wrong, but we wanted to do something different,” Dr. Feel Good said. “We love the seasoned performers that we work with.”
“We’re going to do it by ourselves and people are going to love it or they are going to hate it. And it’s actually worked out in our favor,” Silkk said.
The Danger Zone
Random A. Danger is the most seasoned drag king in the bunch, having performed since 2008. Back when he started, his shows with a former group were at the Kodiak beneath a leaky tarp that passed as a stage.
Back then Danger refused to wear any semblance of facial hair, protesting that not all men have it, until the manager of the group he was in forced him to, telling him that if he wanted to perform he had to be a drag king—not a drag prince.
After performing for two years without it, the day he first wore facial hair felt as though he had slammed through puberty and finally transformed into a man.
“I really enjoy being able to feel the power of the straight white man,” Danger said. “Just automatically being treated in a different way. Clearly a different way than just being a little girl with short hair, I’m now suddenly worthy of not cutting in front of in line.”
He’s had run-ins in bathrooms while in drag and even when trying to buy beer. Mostly, he notices it while out at the bars. He doesn’t get bumped into by packs of giant bro-dudes.
“It’s totally different. Totally different, I couldn’t probably walk in and rent an apartment if I could change my voice,” he said.
Smooth as Silkk
Danger was there for Silkk’s first performance in drag at the VFW.
Silkk didn’t even know what a drag king was prior to being asked by a member of Last Frontier Drag Kings while out dancing. He said the thought had never crossed his mind.
“Drag kings aren’t really out there like a drag queen is. Everybody knows what a drag queen is. [People] still think it’s a queen and I have to explain to them, it’s a woman dressing as a male playing a role as a male.”
Silkk said he grew up singing and dancing. While drag performances are lip-syncing, he thrives on the energy from the audience.
As he got older, he needed a hobby. For him, drag is an opportunity to do what he loves—dancing, performing and interacting with people which he can’t do as his normal self.
“I can be somebody that I know I am inside. I can bring it out when I’m in drag and not feel uncomfortable about it,” Silkk said.
Known as Sexy Silkk, the ever-performer, Silkk aims for audience participation. He tends to choose songs that people know or that will make them want to get up and dance.
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Dr. Feel Good got his start because he was dating Danger. He was in the audience at one of the final Last Frontier Drag Kings shows when they asked if anyone wanted to give it try. The good doctor was already a few sheets to the wind and agreed. Moments later, he had his first mustache and a microphone.
He’s become the joker in the bunch, but don’t let that fool you.
Dr. Feel Good is the rookie, but has played an integral part in the growth of the group. He used to host all of their events as well as perform in solo and group numbers.
“It makes the kid inside me that used to sing in the living room with my curling iron really, really happy,” he said. “I cannot sing. I play a little bit of piano. But I love doing drag and I like performing, it feels like theater to me.”
The Doctor said drag is a therapeutic process that allows him to let loose for the evening and be someone else.
In their other lives, Dr. Feel Good is a nurse practitioner named Tracey who is married to Kat —whom you know as Random A. Danger—a Jill-of-all-trades. The two have a dog, a daughter and many friends they care for, including their “adopted son” Silkk. Silkk leads a daytime life as a chef with a kid as well.
They all attest that these other characters they play are only a fraction of who they really are.
“It’s really amazing what throwing on a mustache and some boys’ clothes will allow you to be able to do,” Dr. Feel Good said.
MSDK try to tell a story with every show. Rather than a format like a Broadway review, the group selects themes and even creates storylines for their performances. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work. In a step away from typical drag culture, the kings rely on theatricality rather than raciness to please the crowds.
“It’s not a strip show. We want people off the street who wouldn’t necessarily experience gay culture to be able to come in and be comfortable and safe having a good time,” said Dr. Feel Good.
The three are regimented about meeting to plan and coordinate shows and guest performers, which they have likened to wrangling cats. They have had to learn to turn down offers, preferring not booking a show to giving the audience a subpar performace.
“We want people to feel like they are getting their money’s worth as far as entertainment goes, and we definitely put on a show worth coming to,” Dr. Feel Good said. “We want our art to mean something to people and to be a leader in the drag community.”
Each member of MSDK said they are trying to bridge the gap between the accepted, straight culture to the gay, counter-culture—one where you can be who you want to be no matter what your genitalia or sexual orientation is.
Just in time to shove your in-laws out the door, MSDK’s upcoming show is this Saturday, November 29 at Mad Myrna’s, and as always, there is a theme: A Black Tie Affair—A Trip Through the Decades.
“But in a non-linear fashion, because of course we can’t do anything straight!” Danger said.
Save some of that Black Friday cash for six hardworking drag kings, three drag queens, two comedians, and a few amateurs. Mad Myrna’s, tickets are $7, doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Find the Midnight Sons Drag Kings on Facebook for event updates and information.
Read all of Jessica's writing on Muck Rack