Olivia Beth Lycan and Ami Rhetto are two Stillwater-based drag performers who have performed at various clubs and bars across the state. Last weekend, they did shows at Stonewall Tavern and College Bar in front of Stillwater crowds. Lycan and Rhetto were available for a Q&A about their experiences with drag.
How did you get into drag? How long have you been doing drag?
Olivia Beth Lycan: I got into drag after I saw my first drag show at a 16+ club. Eventually, I decided to try my hand at it, and the rest is history. I’ve only been doing drag seriously and consistently for about 6 months. I dabbled in it for a while now, but that was me doing an open talent night or something once every 5 months or so.
Ami Rhetto: RuPaul’s Drag Race. As a pretty sheltered kid, I’d never been exposed to drag, or LGBTQIA culture until it was mainstreamed by the show … I knew at some point I’d have to try it. 2012 was Ami’s debut at the student pageant at OSU, Dragonfly.
What does drag mean to you?
Lycan: To me, drag is an expression. It's being able to finally do all the things I was never allowed to. It's also a tool. When we dress up the way we do, we garner a lot of attention, and using this platform and the attention that comes with it to promote and protect our community is of utmost importance to me. Drag to me is limitless.
Rhetto: For me, drag is a means of emotional release. It’s a way for me to connect with my community, and a way to reach out to those that need a safe space.
Favorite part of drag? Least favorite part of drag?
Lycan: My favorite part of drag has got to be the outfits and shoes. The feeling of glamour is just wonderful. The final product is definitely the best, but the worst part by far is having to get ready because it takes such a long time.
Rhetto: My favorite thing about drag is having a platform that reaches into and outside our community to educate as well as entertain. My least favorite thing is how long it takes for me to look this cheap.
Favorite song to perform?
Lycan: My favorite song of all time is "Neon Moon" so naturally its my favorite to perform. I don’t care which version, They’re both absolutely amazing.
Rhetto: “Toy” by Netta
Favorite performance you’ve ever done?
Lycan: My favorite performance is probably the first time I performed at my show "Boom Roasted." It was just a really surreal feeling to see all the hard work come together.
Rhetto: My favorite performance was “The Village” by Wrabel. The emotional response from the crowd really made me feel seen as a nonbinary performer.
What’s the best memory?
Lycan: A memory I hold really fondly was when I won dragonfly a while back. It's always nice for art to be validated, so It’s definitely a great memory from my drag journey.
Rhetto: One Halloween, I got my body and face just right enough to be taken for a woman, this would be back in 2014 or so. A guy came up and asked to buy me a shot. The look on his face when I said I loved one was priceless. It was actually sweet, and he offered to buy me one for anyone looking so gorgeous.
How did you come up with your drag persona?
Lycan: My drag persona is really just myself with a little extra confidence. A lot of people have a whole character that they embody, but for me, there’s not a huge personality change.
Rhetto: Ami is inspired by general exposure. Whether that’s new experiences, other queens, new music, or current events.
What do you say to those who are interested in drag but don’t know how to start?
Lycan: I always say everyone should try drag. It's a really fun hobby and is a wonderful way to explore self-expression. The easiest way to begin I’d say is to just jump in headfirst.
Rhetto: I’d say if you want to start drag, start with your motivations for wanting to do drag. Once you start with the why, you’ll find it easy to discover inspiration in your performer. Make-up can be taught, fashion can be studied and bought and you can always fake the rhythm. But your motivation will show in every performance, and you can’t hide that.
What do you say to those who don’t like drag?
Lycan: For those who dislike drag, my only concern is whether they’ve experienced it or not. From my experience, the most unlikely of people can wander into a club, and, by the end of the night, they become fans. I think drag can cross aisles. It's not simply a “queer” thing. I believe it’s thoroughly enjoyable for anyone who wants to have fun.
Rhetto: Drag isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s just not, and that’s perfectly alright. But, I would challenge you to get to know a performer on a personal level. Behind the glitz ... we’re just like everyone else, looking for a little bit of acceptance in our own little corner of the universe.