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Arts & Culture

‘People want drag’: Debut show at TACAW sells out

Pueden encontrar la versión en español aqui.

By the end of Saturday night, Ramona Chingona couldn’t walk 5 feet without being stopped by an adoring fan.

When she finally passed through the crowded lobby and exited The Arts Campus at Willits, a passing car stopped. Someone stuck their head through the sunroof, screaming, “¡Te amo Ramona!”

Ramona is the drag persona of Bryan Alvarez-Terrazas, a resident of Glenwood Springs. He spearheaded the first locally produced drag show in the Roaring Fork Valley outside of Aspen.

It sold out.

“We were not expecting the level of excitement — the level of people coming out, showing out,” he said. “Last week, we were told that we had sold 30 tickets, that we really needed to up the sales and advertising.”

It was a nervous moment for the organizers.

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Serenity Divine unfurls a U.S. flag while Ramona Chingona and Zaddy Adams dance through the audience.

But by the time Ramona Chingona, Serenity Divine and Zaddy Adams took the stage, the 192-seat auditorium was full, while dozens of people were packed into the standing-room area.

The performance was joyful. The drag queens and king — known as The Roaring Divas — kept the crowd cheering, tipping and tossing roses onto the stage throughout the night.

“People want drag,” Alvarez-Terrazas said. “People want queerness. People want gayness — like, all the stuff. And so I'm really happy that we could put this all together and that people love it. It's so needed.”

The Roaring Divas titled their debut show “This Valley’s a Drag” — a pointed pun about the lack of a highly visible LGBTQIA+ community in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Serenity Divine opens her solo performance in front of a full house.

Serenity Divine is the drag alter ego of Trinity Stebleton.

“Drag is inherently political,” she said. “It is kind of the boldest ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,’ if you will.”

Stebleton, originally from Los Angeles, is no stranger to the art form.

She seemed at home on the stage, especially when she drew roaring applause — and a flurry of tips — with a rendition of Selena’s “Como La Flor.”

“I've done drag for ages,” she said. “I just haven't done it in the valley because there hasn't been an opportunity to do it.”

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Serenity Divine’s performance wins a big-bill tip.

Joy is a common denominator in just about every drag show, but artists vary widely in how they express that joy.

First-time drag king Zaddy Adams is the alter ego of Jeanette Adams. For the Zaddy character, she tapped into her bass-playing skills and her love of classic rock.

“There is a level of authenticity, but I think that authenticity can be taken in a lot of different directions,” she said.

With bass in hand, beard on face and ‘80s mullet on head, Zaddy Adams performed a compilation of classic rock hits.

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Zaddy Adams plays along to a rock ‘n’ roll compilation.

His highlight came when he lip-synced Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody." He ditched the bass for the performance, allowing for wild gesticulation.

“I think I am a funny person in day-to-day life,” Adams said. “But if I'm on stage, doing this character, it kind of allows me to take it even to a more heightened level. ... It's kind of freeing.”

Ramona Chingona closed out the solo section of the show with a soaring performance — unfurling a set of wings crosscut by rainbow lights.

Ramona is a bold, graceful woman (a "chingona,” roughly translated, means “badass woman.”) The character was inspired by Bryan Alvarez-Terrazas’ mother.

“My mom is also very eccentric," he said. “She's somebody that really fights to get what she wants. She has a big personality, and she really likes to, you know, be in the spotlight.”

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
On a stage adorned with tips, Ramona Chingona unfurls her wings.

His family isn’t entirely supportive of the art form. Some relatives, he said, don’t really understand drag.

“There were family members that I invited that didn't come today,” he said. “And at the same time, we had a (expletive) line out the door.”

Even with their absence, the show sparked a lot of conversations between Alvarez-Terrazas and his family about sexuality and gender expression.

“Having this drag show is also, like, opening up that door to be forced to have these conversations that oftentimes are left in the back burner, that are often pushed away to the side,” he said. “And so it definitely has forced us to have these uncomfortable conversations that, frankly, we should have had awhile ago.”

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Ramona Chingona performs at The Roaring Divas’ debut drag show.

The show was a steppingstone, of sorts, for him and his family. It was also a major milestone for the valley community as a whole.

Audience member Andrew Lehmann is from Denver, but his boyfriend lives in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Lehmann said he has been coming to the valley his entire life and has noticed differences between the LGBTQIA+ scene here compared with the one in his hometown, where drag “is a huge thing.”

“I mean, you have 3.2 million people (in the Denver metro area) to draw from, compared to, you know, the 20,000 or 30,000 people that live in the valley,” he said.

But he has also noticed changes, especially in Glenwood Springs — one of his “favorite cities.”

“As I was walking through Glenwood this last weekend, I was kind of thinking, like, ‘Wow, there's a lot more, like, gay people,’” he said. “And I just think that the community itself has become more open. So, I'm hoping that it will grow.”

Audience member Chris Simmons moved to the valley from Los Angeles in December 2020.

“There's all these rainbow flags in Carbondale, which is nice. You know, I appreciate the support,” he said. “But it's like, I just see the flags. I don't see the people.”

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Zaddy Adams returns to the stage to a standing ovation.

Simmons was glad not just to see drag in the valley but also to see the community turnout.

“It's exciting,” he said. “Especially when I saw how many people they had in here, and that there was, like, people standing in the back.”

Lehmann agreed.

“For the population, I think it's an amazing turnout,” he said. “It's really cool that they ended up just selling tickets for standing-room only.”

On a stage littered with crumpled up $1 bills and roses, the drag queens and king reunited for a final performance. They danced and ran through the crowd, then bowed to a standing ovation.

Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Zaddy Adams, Serenity Divine and Ramona Chingona bask in the crowd’s love at the end of the drag show.

TACAW staff members cleared the 192 chairs, and the standing-room crowd joined in for a dance party with the show's three stars.

Executive director Ryan Honey asked the crowd a rhetorical question: “What do you guys think, should we do more drag in the future?”