In a tiny dressing room in the back of Metro nightclub in Downtown Jacksonville, three drag queens powder their faces, line their lids, and prepare for the crowd of club-goers gathering outside to cheer them on.
Metro hosts a drag show every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night where queens can express their own unique styles through choreography, costuming, and song.
One of these queens is Kesha Mann. Tonight, Kesha’s costume consists of a black and white swirled bodysuit adorned with tiny rhinestones. This glamour is exactly what got Kesha into the drag performing community in the first place.
“I truly started because I just loved the industry. I loved fashion. I loved makeup. I loved all of the things girly. I came from a Catholic school in general, which was very frowned upon in general, so I have always felt like the outcast. So for me, this was truly just another way to express myself and to show who I am as an entertainer, an artist, even a theatre kid growing up. That’s what drew me to drag.”
Kesha is not the only one who was drawn to drag because of the ability to express oneself. “There is something raw and genuine about what Jacksonville does, and it is something that attracts me to it and makes me want to be a part of it,” says Connie, another drag queen that regularly performs at Metro. “I feel like I can dress half-naked and go out on a stage full of like 50 people and just feel like I am on top of the world.”
While this glamour may seem like fun, it can sometimes take Kesha hours to get ready.
“Personally, it will take me about an hour and a half to put on my makeup, sometimes two hours. And then the costuming, that’s a little bit different. Sometimes it will take about 30 minutes. It all depends on how much detail I go into.”
At the end of the day, the message that Kesha wants everyone to understand is simple.
“As a community, we are so loving. And honestly? We are just regular people trying to fit in every day, and we just want to be accepted just like everyone else is,” Kesha says.