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She-Raw LeCain challenges gender norms through drag

She-Raw LeCain challenges gender norms through drag

She-Raw LeCain challenges gender norms through drag
October 31
11:12 2019

Gazing upon the audience with one milky eye and one red, assigned female at birth (AFAB) drag queen Rachel Wharton, known by her stage-name She-Raw LeCain, takes the stage. Wharton, a dance major at UNT, said that she started doing drag in June of this year after “RuPaul’s Drag Race” introduced her to drag. She said that despite her problems with the lack of representation in the show, it led her into the local drag scene.

“My first show witnessing local drag was actually ‘Night of the Living Queer’ last year,” Wharton said, referring to the annual LGBTQ+ alternative-drag pageant hosted at UNT. “I instantly fell in love with alternative drag and I started to follow local drag performers. I was really lucky to be introduced to quite a few people before I started, so that definitely helped me find some friends once I started.”

Wharton said it was that same night that she met her drag mother and DFW drag queen, Judas Cain Graves. Graves said that after Wharton expressed an interest into the chaotic side of drag, they started to offer her tips, tricks and advice which lead to accidentally mothering her.

“I am extremely proud of who she’s growing into with her drag and how expressive and entertaining she is in her craft,” Graves said. “I can only see her improving exponentially moving forward.”

Wharton said that she was able to have a more personal experience with the local scene when DFW drag queen and creator of ‘Night of the Living Queer,’ Triston Slate, known by their stage name Nyla, asked her to choreograph a dance for their UPC performance while they served as Wharton’s Residence Assistant.

“I saw the passion in her voice about [drag] so we started creating a character for her to become, and that character soon became She-Raw,” Slate said. “I informed her that as a cis-woman performing in gem-drag, she would have to fight the stereotype that only men could do the female illusion of drag and that we needed to crush that stigma.”

Slate said that Wharton needed a name that exuded femininity and power, therefore they went with “She-Ra” from the “He-Man” franchise. Because she was going to go into a more alternative side of drag, Slate said “She-Raw” was the spin they took on it.
It was after all this, Wharton said, that she decided to make her debut.

Wharton described She-Raw as a satanic riot grrrl with a K-Pop obsession. She also said that term edge-lord drag demon is a good way to encapsulate her essence as well.

“Because I always try to take any opportunity to go out and perform, I’ve gotten to practice and observe drag a lot,” Wharton said. “Getting close with people on all sides of drag has really helped me grow as an entertainer because I am able to tap into all of these different perspectives when I perform.”

In order to get ready for a show, Wharton said she typically likes to get to the show early, allowing herself a window of around three hours to get ready for a gig. Her process includes putting on makeup, padding, costume, listening to the song she will be lip-syncing to and stretching if she has a particularly big number that night.

“I would not necessarily say that my dancing is the thing I highlight in my drag, [but] it definitely is an important part of my performances,” Wharton said. “Even if it is just how I move my arms or noting the different parts of the music to add emphasis, being a dancer makes you a lot more aware of how to perform a song to its potential.”

Wharton said that she will perform her numbers, and after that, she will enjoy being around her friends for the rest of the night.

“I really have made so many amazing friends who have been there for me through so much and they have pushed me to become a more versatile and creative drag performer,” Wharton said.

For her, drag is a creative expression of the spectrum of gender, one that she said cannot be put into a gender binary as not everyone identifies within that binary. Being able to safely express yourself is what Wharton said drag is all about.

“A lot of people get very confused when they find out that I am a woman who is also a drag queen,” Wharton said. “I never get offended when people are confused at first glance because there really is not a representation of AFAB queens in the mainstream. It’s not just the lack of AFAB queens, but also the lack of drag kings, transgender and gender non-conforming performers, people of color, etc.”

Wharton said that though “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has brought drag into mainstream culture, the lack of representation for the different types of drag and the different performers that encapsulates it can be very frustrating.

“All drag is valid,” Wharton said. “The problem is that in the mainstream eye, not all forms of drag are treated as valid.”

What Wharton said she hopes people just enjoy her performances, whether they are fun numbers or make the audience think, and that they realize that drag is valid in any form.

“We live in a really scary world, and if seeing my performance helps you escape something or just enjoy the moment, then I consider my mission complete,” Wharton said.

Wharton can be found on Instagram @thesherawlecain along with Nyla @nyladtx and Judas Cain Graves @saintjudascain.

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Jordan Kidd

Jordan Kidd

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