Darren Wendt, aka Sidonia Dudval, hadn't picked out his outfits for Saturday's 19th annual Dragagonza when 507 Magazine caught up with him last week.
But the self-described “glam queen” could see them in his mind. Sometimes puffy and colorful, other times dramatic and theatrical. Always over-the-top and badass.
"Drag is all about having fun," Wendt said.
This year's Dragagonza will take place at The Rochester Civic Theatre Company, 20 Civic Center Dr. SE, Rochester. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
We asked Wendt five questions about the show, its origins and its near-20-year run.
How did you get started in drag?
I got double-dared to do Miss Gay Rochester. That was in '98. I thought, "Heck, I'm not going to win." Lo and behold, I win. It just kind of stuck. I'm a graphic artist at Mayo Clinic. I love art. So the artform of drag is just really interesting to me where you can transform into anything.
You started these drag shows at the Unitarian church. That's an interesting place to start them. How did that happen?
I don't know who reached out to who, but the GLCS (Gay and Lesbian Community Services of Southeast Minnesota) wanted to have dances, and so the Unitarian church opened up the basement for us to hold these gay and lesbian dances. So then we kind of expanded.
Are you surprised that Dragagonza has been going on for nearly two decades?
Yes. To give you an idea: I was older when I started drag. I'm 46 now. And I'm not one of those young people out there - you know, they look fabulous. It takes a lot more spackle for me to let go.
What do you attribute the show's longevity to?
I've never been asked that question. I think it's the fans, the audience. I don't want to put Rochester down. I love Rochester, but I also think entertainment is kind of suffering a little bit. And we've been going on for so long, and we're still here. I get messages from people I don't even know. They're like, “The show was great! I got my picture taken.” It's the fans, the audience that's kept us rolling.
How is drag an expression of who you are?
It's going to sound cliche. I grew up on a dairy farm. I was never, like, physical. I mean, I could bail hay if I had to. I would milk cows if I had to, but I wasn't, like, out in the tractors or anything like that. I was actually at home with my mom, and my mom was probably my muse and my inspiration, because she was a classy lady.
And I had my girl cousins who would say, "Let's play Barbie!" I loved Barbie. That's where my persona goes. I try to be the Barbie of the group. I try to be glamorous, classic, very Jane Russell.