Heels, thrills and business as usual at Mable Peabody’s

Heels, thrills and business as usual at Mable Peabody’s

Heels, thrills and business as usual at Mable Peabody’s
June 22
09:06 2016

Austin Jackson | Staff Writer

@a_jack17

The speaker returns to life, killing conversation and dragging eyes toward a towering blonde royal named Ivory Dior. Her bold black eyelids shrink into a glare as her six-inch heels click purposefully across the stage. She stops, lets the crowd squirm, then strikes a pose to give them what they want.

Dior, “Denton’s Resident Bourbon Blonde” flexibly blurs art, gender and sex with a nuanced subtraction of clothing. After dropping it shockingly low, “Candy Man” by Christina Aguilera fades out and the crowd roars in, echoing their wallets as Dior cleans the cash-littered stage.

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A performer struts their stuff for a crowd June 11 at Mable Peabody’s on University Dr. Hannah Breland | Staff Photographer

Most of the time, the platinum-blonde empress dons new clothes, shorter hair and an older name. Off the stage, Dior is known by her coworkers at Sprouts Farmers Market as Cody McGuire, a 23-year-old vitamin specialist from Denton.

At Mable Peabody’s, Denton’s only gay bar, McGuire is elevated. But it’s not just the stage and high heels that leave him towering over the crowd.

“Ivory has become so much more,” McGuire said. “She is a walking piece of art for me.”

Cody said his alter-ego Ivory Dior first manifested when he was just 5 years old. He didn’t find her after a romp in his mom’s closet, but instead through crayons and pure imagination.

“When I was younger I used to draw all these characters until I got bored and decided to paint them on me,” McGuire said.

Over the years the canvas has changed, but the need to articulate the blonde girl he sees in his mind’s eye remains the same.

On Saturday, The Whiskey Tongue Burlesque Show features men as women, women as men and even women as women. The show, like Mable Peabody’s, is open to everyone.

Hollie Biemeret, a performer who said they’re gender-fluid, explores both sides of the spectrum. On one night, they’ll perform as a “Drag King” named Ike Onyk, and on others, they’ll flip the script and become Lana Del Gay, a “Bio-Queen” who they described as a female performing as male who’s performing as a female. On Saturday, Biemeret put on the hat of Ike, thrusting and snarling energetically to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”

Biemeret drives from Dallas twice a week to access the accepting atmosphere provided by Mable Peabody’s and said they make the drive to explore their gender and soul in a place where they’re not just tolerated, but where they’re celebrated.

Words of freedom, "I am whole again!", sit above a toilet seat at Mable Peabody's on University Dr. Hannah Breland | Staff Photographer

Words of freedom, “I am whole again!,” sit above a toilet seat at Mable Peabody’s on University Dr. Hannah Breland | Staff Photographer

In Denton, like Orlando, the bar is home to acceptance and tolerance. Early the morning of June 12, just hours after the Saturday show, the world woke up the news of the deadliest shooting in United States history, a massacre that took place in a gay sanctuary not unlike Mable Peabody’s.

Mable Peabody’s transformed into a place of healing the following Thursday, hosting a packed house where people shared their grief over drinks and poetry.

Caitlin Pryor coordinated the poetry readings, she said she put together the event to help process the emotions of the past week as well help publicize gay spaces. Pryor said that places like Mable Peabody’s are special.

Words of freedom, "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?!", sit above a toilet seat at Mable Peabody's on University Dr. Hannah Breland | Staff Photographer

Words of freedom, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?!,” sit above a toilet seat at Mable Peabody’s on University Dr. Hannah Breland | Staff Photographer

“Mable’s is an institution—it’s a sanctuary,” she said. “It’s a place where we can all be okay together.”

One poem was a collaborative piece that brought 18 people to the stage. They each read a phrase that had a theme, you are loved and you are not alone.

Kat Ralph, who runs Keep Denton Queer as well as Outreach Denton, has been a regular at Mable Peabody’s since she came out eight years ago. She said this week has been hard and she was nervous about being at a gay bar so soon, but the idea of being with her community made it all worth it.

“This whole week I’ve been thinking I want my people, I want my community around me,” Ralph said.

She said Mable’s was the one place in Denton she could go and know she’s safe.

“My girlfriend actually said this is the first time she’s seen me smile in four days,” she said. “Although I am a little hypersensitive, for the first time since this happened I feel like I can breathe.”

Featured Image: Ivory Dior, or Cody McGuire, poses for a crowd at Mable Peabody’s. McGuire, now 23 years old, has been imagining and drawing his alter-ego since he was five-years-old. 

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