My Date With Natasha
“I know, my boobs are in your face. Get over it. They’re fabulous.”
We had been on our date for a total of five minutes before I wondered what her boobs looked like. The common sense portion of my brain knew good and well that they were nothing more than well-shaped pillows or even an unthinkable number of cotton balls intricately sewn together. The much larger portion of my brain that controls my level of attraction to any set of perky D-cup breasts was winning the internal battle taking place at the finest booth that TGI Friday’s had to offer.
“They’re a thing. You can take them home later.”
It was a Thursday night and I had just made myself comfortable in a plush booth, which I specifically requested with respect to my date’s figure. I wouldn’t even call her big boned. She just has some features, such as her extravagant hair, that require a little bit of extra room and in my opinion, warranted such a specific seating request.
I had no intention of doing so, but I glanced her once over anyway. Despite strict commands from my penis that I was to find nothing about the woman sitting across the booth from me attractive in any way, shape or form, I couldn’t help but eye her up and down and start to wonder what was sort of fun lay hidden beneath her ravishing red blouse.
“Snap out of it,” I thought to myself. “Get a hold of yourself. It’s a mirage. A damn masterpiece of a mirage.”
In this case, she was one of Richmond’s most recognizable drag queens, Natasha Carrington. And the mirage at the source of this internal conflict was everything from her perfectly shaped red lips all the way down to the high heels that would make most women cry.
It became clear quite quickly that while Natasha was many things, “most women” was not one of them.
“I have the nickname ‘sex kitten’ because I carry a very sexy persona. That’s what I do. It’s very glamorous. It’s very sensual,” she exclaimed, grinning. “One of my rules is ‘If you meet Natasha in a bar, you don’t go home with Natasha.’”
While most civilians would be allowed to ‘experience’ Natasha and most of what she has to offer only after leaving a sizable tip, I received all the attention and conversation I could handle for free. I had her alone for two full hours, in character and full garb. While the unlucky ones were forced to gawk at her features from afar, I was given an all access pass to get close enough to pluck one of her lavishly long eyelashes like a fresh daffodil if I suddenly felt so inclined. During these two hours, I had the privilege of picking the brain of not just a drag queen, but a drag queen that knows precisely when and where to draw the line between fantasy and real life.
“The great part about putting all this on is that it serves as a mask of sorts. It’s like your big crazy hat; people are looking at your big crazy hat and not you. This is my big crazy hat,” she said, pointing to the imaginary fascinator sitting atop her perfectly curled hair. “When I’m done, I’m done. The wig comes off and I become John again.”
In her humble beginnings, Natasha Carrington began as most great things usually do — a simple idea. After he was instructed to take part in a fashion show during his theatre education classes at VCU, John created Natasha out of the desire to “be someone different.” Since then, that simple creation has evolved into what she describes as a “monstrous kitty.”
“All through high school, all through college, I’ve always been involved in theatre,” she explains. “So the makeup, the costumes — that part of it was natural. It was the becoming a woman part. You can’t run before you walk.”
Once you’ve reached a steady jog as a drag queen, however, there is no time to let your guard down. Just like with any other high profile character that inevitably captures the heart of the audience being pandered to, the work of a true drag queen is never quite finished.
“What Natasha is today isn’t what she was, even three years ago. She changes constantly, evolving as a character.”
Before our date began, I warned Natasha that I was not an expert on any of the topics we were about to discuss. I had no clue about the terminology and was extremely unfamiliar with how to walk the line of political correctness. I worried that the wrong sexual term or the slightest unintentional comment would cause her to scoop up her extra large purse and storm out of the building quicker than you can say, “Hate to see you go, but love to watch you leave.”
Feeling out of my element, I attempted to convey this at the beginning of the night so that problems would not arise when both she and I had both — inevitably — consumed too much of the whiskey that we mutually enjoyed. Before I could even finish my fear-induced prologue, her index finger rose from the ashes and shook violently from side to side as she dropped a golden egg of wisdom:
“I always hope there’s one person in a room who doesn’t understand it but is willing to talk about it.”
Tonight, I was that person. The straight guy who had been to Godfrey’s famous Drag Brunch with an open mind and left wondering what happens when the lights come on and the room clears out.
“That type of situation gives me an opportunity to be a really good role model for our community.”
If drag queens were superheroes, John and Natasha may be the perfect blend of Batman’s relentless attitude and Bruce Wayne’s charitable heart. This is especially true when it comes to Fun For A Cause, the biggest drag show of the year now hosted by Miss Carrington. In 2011, the show, saw over 30 entertainers donate their time and tips to help raise over $15,000 for Fan Free Clinic.
“We get the opportunities to do some good things for some really deserving organizations,” she exclaims, getting visibly excited. “People don’t realize what it’s like to hand somebody a bag of money and say ‘Here, we raised this for you.’ Those moments solidify why I do this.”
And while the common stereotypes that involve petty men acting even more petty dressed as a woman certainly exist, Natasha makes a point to stay as far away from the “prom dress” drama as possible.
“All of this teaches you that there are other things in life and you don’t need to sweat the small shit. As many times as you hear that, it’s totally true when you put on all this,” she adds, pointing to the blouse that had captivated my attention earlier in the evening. “The great thing about Natasha is that she has taught John to be an outspoken person and to just feel comfortable with who he is no matter what.”
Just like any other element of life, there is a lot more to these drag queens than the larger than life persona that meets the eye. On paper, these may just be sexually explorative men who make a living or find hobby in doing their best Madonna or Cher impression. But, do some digging, and you’ll discover that these impersonators are a rare breed; an exclusive group of entertainers that are simply doing what they love.
“I could care less what people think about me as long as I can do good things while I’m here. You are never granted another show. You’ve gotta do everything you can while you can do it,” she adds. “So I put on a wig and I put on a dress and I put on these ridiculous nails and I try to give back to my community every time I’m on stage and be a face that people can look up to.”
And in an unusual turn of events, I sat on a dinner date with a woman and did just that — looked up. Because while what was going on below the neckline was probably mesmerizing, the intelligent words coming out of her mouth were far more interesting.
“I think in every little boy’s heart, you know, they wanna be a superhero of some sort. This is my Wonder Woman. You get to put on a costume whenever you want and people have no idea who the hell you are. Whatever, bitches!”
Fun For A Cause is Tuesday, March 27, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. at the Renaissance Conference Center, 107 W. Broad St. Tickets are $10 in advance. This year’s event benefits Fan Free Clinic, the Gay Community Center of Richmond, and ROSMY. For tickets and more information, visit http://funforacause.com.
Chad Brown is a straight male living in Richmond. He enjoys bourbon on the rocks and appreciates a firm ass. Male or female.
Godfrey’s drag brunch has been a hot spot for years – for people just looking for a good time, bachelorette parties, and everything in between – you haven’t experienced real Richmond brunch until you’ve been lambasted by a drag queen over your pitcher of bloody mary. Natasha Carrington (AkA John Jessie) is set to be [...]July 9, 2013
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