The Mr. Philadelphia Drag King competition is going back to its roots for its 20th anniversary.
The May 16 event has been produced by numerous groups over its two-decade tenure, including Liberty City Drag Kings & Burlesque since 2007, but this year original organizer Philly Dyke March is taking the producing reins.
PDK co-chair and PDM planning-committee member Tiffany Thompson said march organizers were eager to organize this year in part to honor the late Gloria Casarez, a PDM founder and longtime PDK supporter.
“In the planning process, we were talking about how one of Gloria’s favorite parts of the Dyke March was the competition and we wanted to make sure this is a real amateur event, taking it back to its roots and beginnings,” Thompson said.
While the contest, a PDM fundraiser, has grown and changed over the years, event co-chair and LiCK artistic director Lascivious Jane said it has long served as a platform for budding drag performers.
“It’s a great way for people who want to do drag to step into that community,” she said. “Many have never performed drag before, and some have performed in smaller circles, like college drag shows. Many of our former competitors go on to continue to perform, which is really nice to see.”
The winner of the competition will perform at the June 13 march and will also be crowned Mr. Philadelphia Gay Pride, performing at next month’s Pride festivities.
The competition is expected to feature five contestants, who are judged on their musical number, fantasy or formal wear and a question-and-answer session, which Lascivious Jane said is often a highlight.
“The judges have asked serious questions, like, ‘What do you expect to do with this title to benefit the dyke community in terms of activism?’ and then silly questions like, ‘If we went out on a date, what would you make me for breakfast?’” she said. “And they’re supposed to answer in character so it’s always fun watching them maintain that with the funny questions.”
In addition to the contestants, the event features performances by a number of entertainers, including audience members, who are encouraged to dress in drag and compete for the audience prize. Lascivious Jane, Mr. Philadelphia Drag Prince 2010, will emcee for the first time, with Rough Rydeher, Mr. Philadelphia Drag King 2011.
Judges are state Rep. Brian Sims, drag king LUSTER Dela Virgion, Philly Pride Presents senior advisor Chuck Volz, LiCK’s The Notorious OMG and Mr. Philadelphia Drag King 2014 Jimmy Two Fingas.
Thompson said organizers will acknowledge Casarez’s longtime involvement in the march and competition from the stage, and supporters will be encouraged to purchase Dyke March T-shirts, which this year include an illustrative tribute to Casarez.
The event is PDM’s largest fundraiser.
“The Dyke March is just a group of folks who get together to put this on and raise all the money ourselves,” Thompson said. “The drag-king competition is our primary fundraiser that allows us to put on the march each year, so you can come out and support the Dyke March and see a great show at the same time.”
The competition starts at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) May 16 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. Advanced reserved seats are $20 or advanced non-reserved seats are $10. Tickets will be sold on a sliding scale of $5-$15 at the door. For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1460915.
For more information on Philly Dyke March, visit phillydykemarch.com.