Yesterday was quite the busy night for the Jerusalem Open House. At 7, English and Hebrew speakers alike gathered to make signs from Pride. It was quite the diverse group – America, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain and, of course, Israel were all represented. The posters produced were just as varied. Some chose paint, others markers, some slogans, and others just drew pictures. By the end of the night we nearly filled our Youth Room with signs in English, Hebrew, Arabic, and even Spanish. It was great to have the community come together in anticipation of our yearly celebration – Jerusalem Pride – which is just over a week away.
Right after sign making, the English Speakers Group had a real treat – a drag workshop led by Hakatze’s Galina Port de Bras. The group of about 8 women and 2 men first learned about the history of drag (who knew the roots of drag can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt and Greece?) and say some classic drag queen and king performances, including excerpts from “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar”. You may also want to check out Ms. Port de Bras’ favorite drag king, Mr. Buck Naked, and one of the great celebrity impersonators, Canadian Christopher Peterson.
During the two and a half hour workshop we covered a lot of material, including the difference between female impersonators and drag queens, various styles of drag, gender-bending and faux drag. Galina was also very clear in emphasizing that drag takes both charisma and brains – you can be the best performer in the world, but if there isn’t a deeper message behind that performance, if it doesn’t make people think, then the drag has yet to reach its full potential. The night culminated with a mini drag session where we all learned how to deal with sticky-out bits and how to stand and walk like the opposite sex. Transforming your body and behavior to is much more difficult than it might seem. Often you’re not even aware that the way you act is indicative of gender at all. There are tons of tricks used to imitate a different sex and we learned about makeup, prosthetics, and clothing that can help. Most of the clothing options sounded more than a little painful to me, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s gotta do. Trying to talk like a man was perhaps most difficult for me since I couldn’t help but crack up as the ladies used their hands to limit their facial muscle movement, and ended up looking like Munch’s famous painting “The Scream”. The boys had a hard time walking in an appropriately feminine way. It takes time and practice to sashay down the floor properly. At the end of the night we put on music and had a walk off. Just remember future drag kings: pretend you’re an angry underwear model and lead with your phallus.
Thank you to all the baby drag queens and kings for participating, and especially to our fearless leader Galina for bestowing a small portion of her seemingly endless knowledge of drag upon us. As summer interns, Kati and I we only have one more week at the Open House (time does fly when you’re having fun in drag). It’s been a great run and both Kati and I are sincerely going to miss this community when we go back to school, but at least we’re going out with a bang – Pride is our last day of work. There will be one more English Speakers Group with us next Monday at 8. We’re belting *out* some tunes, doing karaoke to kickoff Pride week. All are welcome, so please come!
Since Kati and I are going back to the States, the JOH is looking for a new coordinator for the English Speakers Group. We have had a blast all summer organizing events and hanging out with this wonderful community and we’re sure you would too! All are welcome to apply – Israelis or temporary residents alike – as long as you speak English fluently. To learn more, check out the facebook group looking for recruits. You can also email us at email@example.com.