With the economic downturn and its cascade of depressing, anxiety-inducing experiences like job loss, foreclosures, tuition fee hikes and more, we all need a break. It’s time to have some laughs. “Drag Queens of Comedy” is a stand-up comedy show featuring the A-list Drag Queen comedians in the nation and it will give you the laugh that fiscal doctors are prescribing everywhere. The show will be held at the Castro Theater on Oct. 9 at 10:30 p.m. and stars Miss Coco Peru, Jackie Beat, Heklina, Lady Bunny, Shangela and Sasha Soprano, the Paris Hilton of drag.
I had a chance to meet and talk with John Thomas a.k.a Sasha Soprano one afternoon over coffee at Starbucks on 24th and Noe. While drinking my green tea frappuccino waiting for Sasha, my mind wondered if I was going to meet the celebrated Paris Hilton of drag or John Thomas. After 10 minutes, a 6’2” Caucasian male, wearing a simple gray T-shirt, jeans and a pair of sneakers approached me and introduced himself as John Thomas-Sasha Soprano. The total opposite of Sasha Soprano, Thomas is without a doubt a very reserved, sensitive, soft spoken gentleman. He started his career in drag at age 18 and first performed at the Tranny Shack. Although he enjoys performing in drag shows, Tranny Shack culture proved too small a scene for him. Thomas wanted bigger, better and louder exposure.
It only takes forty minutes for John Thomas to transform into Sasha Soprano. Her costume includes real hair pieces, make-up, dressing and the secret art of cleavage/breast illusion which Thomas prefers not to disclose. His, or rather her, eight inch heels are another wonder in the ensemble. Why does he need to wear extra high heels even though he is 6’2”? John said laughing, “You want people to see you coming from two blocks away, to be as tall as possible and to be loud in a classy way.”
Strategically placed tape isn’t the only trick Thomas has got up his sleeve. “I personally write my own script with a little help from my mother who happens to be a Jewish Republican, which makes me a Republican drag queen,” Thomas said. Sasha Soprano is a rich Republican drag queen who makes fun of other Republicans and is obsessed with money, hence the nickname “The Paris Hilton of Drag.” Thomas believes that the most effective way to make people laugh is to make them laugh with you and not laugh at you. Offending people is key though. “If my audience leaves without being offended, then I am not doing my job,” he joked.
As a child, Thomas’ father dreamed he would become either a fireman, a doctor or a lawyer, but in the back of his mind, John was already a Drag Queen most especially after seeing “Too Wong Foo” starring John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes and the late Patrick Swayze. “Too Wong Foo” is a 1995 motion picture about three drag queens who travel cross-country to compete in the Drag Queen of America Beauty Pageant in Hollywood, California. Thomas’ fascination with beauty also inspired him to become a drag queen and an entertainer.
One important angle John mentions is the importance of doing a drag show to showcase positive perceptions of drag queens. “Doing drag shows is one way of showing artistry, and to be a role model to young adults,” Thomas said. “I’m a professional stand-up comedian. Although I dress in drag, I do not see myself as a drag queen but a beautiful person.”
But a drag show is not for everyone, and not just for the content of the humor. Without batting an eyelash, Thomas said the show is for “those who can afford.” Tickets for seeing the top six drag queen comedians in the U.S. are $35 each. If this sounds like the event for you, Thomas assures you that you’ll get you’re money’s worth because each of the six drag queens have their own fortes and repertoires.
So who is Sasha Soprano after the hair pieces, make-up, stilettos and elaborate dresses are gone? John answered, “It’s the same person, a simple, normal person without the exaggeration, loudness and opulence. I am private, independent, enjoy staying at home and hanging out with my friends I knew before Sasha Soprano, because I know they are real.”
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