by Zachary F. Volkert
It’s nearly one in the morning on a Friday night in Reno, Nevada. Raven has just gotten to her show, a bit late from her last one in Sacramento, to perform one song and banter a bit with the audience before going to the slim corridor to the side of the stage comprising her dressing room. The door is marked with a large purple paper heart: Raven written across it.
Raven is flawless in person: her lips look like melting pink candy and her electric blue eyes move with an all-knowing worldliness. She looks into the mirror while answering questions, focused on herself in this moment. A break in her makeup shows David Petruschin’s olive skin cracking out from beneath Raven’s pallid vestige. But otherwise David is indiscernible. Raven is thinking, moving, and talking in character.
“I’m still the same old queen,” she says as she blocks out the aberration in her makeup with powder. “It stems all the way back from my go-go days.”
David Petruschin was a go-go boy before he developed Raven, the two-time runner-up seductress on RuPaul’s Drag Race. His friends pressured him to enter a competition, and he tried it on a whim.
“Before I went out (on stage), I sucked a big, fat cock,” Raven says deadpan, making direct eye contact for the first time. “And I fucking won.”
But the big breaks that have propelled Raven to the stardom she works at today haven’t all been in the most sanguine of means. Drag Race may be rewriting perceptions about drag, but it is steeped in a reality TV format that isn’t always honest, and that sometimes cast Raven as an acerbic queen.
“It’s not real, but I signed a contract,” Raven says. “I saw myself exactly how I see myself now: gorgeous.”
But Raven stops for moment when asked about where drag is headed. She talks about how it’s been redefined and specialized in so many ways now that it’s hard to say what it is exactly. When pressed further, she pauses her maquillage for the first time and concentrates on her answer.
“You know, I can’t say that I’ve ever really thought about it before, but I could see it being like that, just spreading out until it’s no longer just ‘drag’ but a lot of things that used to be just drag.”
She continues putting on her makeup but is more invested this time. She continues answering the question without prodding, for the first time going into a monologue instead of churning out pithy retorts poised as much by her tongue as her sensual lips.
“You know when you see a drag queen in a mainstream movie, she never looks fierce. She always looks plastic. She never looks gorgeous. People are ready to laugh at drag, but they aren’t ready to be turned on by it.”
Which is a problem for Raven, who will burst on to the stage to perform another titillating striptease in a matter of moments. Whose voice, movements, and body all coalesce to form her essence: a tough sensuality that Raven says comes from an edge that’s been inside since she was still just David. Femininity so powerful it exudes androgyny, leaving the most masculine thing remaining about David “my 8-inch cock.”
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Vanity Entertainment presents The Reno Fashion Show Friday July, 26th. Hosted by Janice Dickinson, with after party at Tronix nightclub.
And don’t miss RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 winner
Jinx Monsoon on August 8th!
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