HIBBING — Are you ready for a night of flashy fashion and total fabulousness? If so, grab your best costume and get ready to party with the divine divas of the Female Impersonations for a Halloween-themed show this Friday and Saturday.
Back for its 19th year, this weekend’s drag show will feature a handful of area favorites: Dramatica, Loring Mitchell, Tiffany Hunter, Nikki Vixxen, Jol D. Principle and Anita Rivera are all scheduled to light up the stage with their larger than life dance renditions, lip-syncing skills and interactive entertainment. Tickets are $20 each, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The shows are slated to begin 8 p.m. each night at the Moose Event Center, located next to Mike’s Pub at 421 Howard Street. There will be two full bars, plus pudding shots for sale.
Amber Angove, event organizer, told the Hibbing Daily Tribune that they’re most excited for the open layout of the new venue.
“Our performers don’t stay up on the stage, though,” Angove said. “They come right out into the crowd.”
The Female Impersonations show began back in the early 2000s and were organized by Angove’s uncle, Cory Mayer, of Hibbing. The first drag show was such a success, Mayer turned it into a bi-annual event.
In 2010, Mayer passed away in a tragic accident. But Angove decided to carry on her uncle’s legacy, and twice a year she invites back the performers for what are typically sold-out, standing room only events.
“This year we’re doing a Halloween show, which is something new,” Angove said. There will also be a costume contest with prizes given away to the top three audience costumes.
In describing the performances, Angove laughed, saying, “You have to have a sense of humor. If you don’t have a good sense of humor, it’s going to be a little rough. We’re all about having fun. It’s really honestly about getting together with your friends and experiencing something new.”
Rick Olson, of Minneapolis, performs as his drag personality Dramatica throughout Minnesota. He’s also one of the regular headliners who has been coming to Hibbing since the show’s inception. Olson told the HDT in a recent phone interview that when he was first approached about performing on the Iron Range, he was unfamiliar with the area and unsure what to expect. “I got up there and I found out it was just this party,” he said. “It was this rural town that loved to have a good time, and everyone was so open and accepting of things. It was such a great time.”
Olson works at several bars in the Twin Cities. He explained that drag shows are not part of their everyday “jobs,” but everyone involved makes sure they clear their schedules twice a year to go to Hibbing because of the unique atmosphere. There is always a diverse audience of people from all walks of life who are there to kick back and have a good time.
While there are many reasons people “do drag,” Olson said that for him it’s an outlet that allows him to tap into his theatrical side. He was heavily involved in theater in high school and as an adult, it’s one way he gets to be an actor without anyone limiting his creativity to a defined role.
“Some people do drag because somewhere in their head they believe they were born the wrong gender, so they’re using drag as an outlet to try and figure themselves out,” Olson said. “There are also different types of drag. There’s transformation style that a lot people know as drag: they live as men and turn into women on stage, or they live as women and turn into men. Then there are those RuPauls who sing live and perform.”
He credits television shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” for introducing drag to other markets not previously exposed to the culture. The show has transformed the careers of more than 100 “queens” who were once working for free, or scraping by from gig to gig. And as more and more drag queens step into national and worldwide spotlights, they inch the collective forward on the path of not only acceptance but celebration.
Olson expects this weekend to be nothing but fun for all performers and attendees in downtown Hibbing.
“We don’t put on a preachy show,” Olson said. “We have fun music, and there are quite a few different styles of performers: dancers, ‘look queens’ and we have a gentleman (Jol D. Principle) in the show who is beautiful and rarely has a lot of clothes on.”
As for Olson’s setlist, well, he hasn’t quite narrowed it down yet. He tends to stick with tracks that are crowd favorites, like those by Whitney Houston and Pat Benatar. Essentially any song that is easy for audiences to sing along with is fair game. And according to Angove, the music selection can switch from “country to rap real fast” depending on their moods. Angove added, “Our performers work mostly for tips, so that’s how they make their money.”
The show is geared toward people age 18 and older. Angove noted that they often sell out, so it’s a good idea to get tickets in advance and arrive early. Tickets can be purchased online at http://hibbing.bpt.me or by calling 218-969-8517.
“This drag show is like no other drag show that people do in the country,” Olson said. “Come with an open mind. We're here to have a good time. We just love coming to do this show. It’s wonderful.”