Meet the Queen Bringing Epic Drag Shows to a Small Town in Maine
Lady D founded the Delicious Drag Divas out of sheer necessity for creating safe, entertaining spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Loud, proud, and unabashed in boundary-pushing pageantry, drag has long been at the forefront of social progress. Even in 2022, with homophobia and transphobia still running rampant across the US, safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community are more important than ever—havens that drag shows, and pioneering drag performers, provide. This is particularly true since drag is still largely regarded as a big-city pastime, confined to the blue-bubble comforts of famously queer-friendly metropolises, like San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago, leaving small towns overlooked and in need of a gender-bending sanctuary that allows guests and performers alike to proudly be themselves.
But from Anchorage to Arkansas, drag continues to pave the way forward, even in the unlikeliest of places. A prime example is Bangor, Maine, a small city in one of the least populated states in the nation, with a grand total of one gay bar in Portland. About three hours northeast of Portland, the much smaller and quieter community of Bangor is getting loud thanks to Delicious Drag Divas, a community of queens—led by Lady D—putting on shows that defy stereotypes, draw attendees from all over New England, and ultimately create an oasis of comfort, fun, and solidarity in a drag-deprived desert.
Delicious Drag Divas originated six years ago out of sheer necessity—and a void that needed filling. “I and my other half went to see a drag show. My other half wanted to do drag and since there was no space to do it, I created a space,” says Lady D, who started Delicious Drag Divas as a small production company putting on intimate drag shows in rotating spaces in and around Bangor. It quickly evolved through popularity, word of mouth, and a clear demand for drag, proving the need for safe LGBTQIA-friendly spaces beyond those confined to gay bars in larger cities.
The shows have gotten much bigger, and the demand is a lot higher. Originally, we were fighting for spaces to do it—now, I get phone calls daily from places that want to do drag shows.
— Lady D
Nowadays, folks come from all over Maine and nearby states like New Hampshire and Massachusetts—a testament to Delicious Drag Divas’ singularity, considering Boston isn’t lacking in LGBTQIA+ spaces. Through both word of mouth and promotion on Facebook and Instagram, along with the fact that Lady D keeps ticket prices as accessible as possible, the shows have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time, ballooning to an attendance of 250 to 300 people per monthly show.
Since Delicious Drag Divas doesn’t have its own permanent space, it frees up Lady D and co. to rove around and bring inclusive entertainment to the masses, including in untraditional settings for drag. “We try to include as many safe spaces as possible,” says Lady D, as long as said venue can accommodate upwards of 300 guests. In the past, they’ve hosted events in Maine towns like Ogunquit and Skowhegan, but Bangor remains the home base, with a restaurant, sports bar, and event center called Seasons being a recent mainstay.
The main caveat, besides basic capacity needs, is that each venue feels safe first and foremost. Places where, as Lady D says, “people aren’t gonna get overly drunk and forget that they’re watching men in dresses.” She describes the shows as 100 % inclusive, saying that they do everything possible to make the space safe for everybody. “I don’t tolerate any kind of BS from people,” she says. “I have a Taser and I’m not afraid to use it. I’m also trained in armed security, so I can take somebody down.”
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Fortunately, it hasn’t come to that, thanks to the inclusive atmosphere in Maine and the general need for places like those that Delicious Drag Divas provides. “It’s very spread out and sporadic,” Lady D says of Maine’s LGBTQIA+ scene, or lack thereof. It’s why shows like these are not just a fun night out, but a necessity for many. “We’re just a safe place to have fun. We don’t have that in Bangor, we don’t even have that in Maine,” she says. “In the entire state of Maine, there’s one gay bar, almost three hours south of Bangor, and it’s such a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that only seats 50 people. So other than our drag shows, we don’t have anything.”
Filling a much-needed void, Delicious Drag Divas provides spaces that are at once safe, sexy, and fun, with each show consisting of an hour-long meet-and-mingle, followed by up to two hours of performances split between five to six queens, like Shaunna Rai, Izzy, Ivanna Soul, and Tiffany Tucker. With Lady D doing double duty as hostess and DJ, the cast rotates with queens from all over Maine, each free to perform however they’d like. “I don’t censor whatever they want to do,” she says. “If they want to do something theatrical, I let them do it. A couple of them want to do live singing, which is cool.” Venues that they use always provide a cash bar, and there’s often food available, like at Seasons, where attendees can order from the restaurant and bring it to their seat.
A majority of the audience is straight people looking to go out and have fun (“We provide a safe space for everybody,” Lady D echoes), along with members of the LGBTQIA+ community from all across Maine, and many have become regulars who purchase annual passes to the monthly shows. At the end of the day, whether for LGBTQIA+ people or allies, shows like Delicious Drag Divas and performers like Lady D are providing a refuge in a corner of small-town America where it’s needed most. As fun, danceable, and salacious as they may be, it’s about security and solidarity at the front and center of the pomp and circumstance.
“As much as people don’t realize that it’s in the small towns, it really is,” says Lady D. “They need to know that the LGBTQIA+ community is in the small towns, and by doing drag shows and providing the space for people to come to have fun, it’s showing people that ‘Okay, my neighbor is gay and I didn’t know that before.’ It’s more prevalent, and you didn’t know it.”
Out of the closet and onto the stage, Delicious Drag Divas is as enlightening as it is fun. “We always felt like we had to hide it, then someone like me comes along—who is authentically themselves and doesn’t give a crap what people think—and puts on a drag show and the community comes out. I’ve lived in the big cities. I’ve done it. I don’t need to hide who I am. And if you don’t like who I am, there’s an exit to my left—'cause I ain’t going anywhere.”