Porsha DeMarco-Douglas, The Dancing Diva of Colorado Springs
May 7, 2021 | NEWS | By Haley Strom | Photo courtesy of Porsha DeMarco-Douglas
Porsha, a performer of 14 years at Club Q in Colorado Springs, shares their story about gender, activism, and friendship as an African American drag queen. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“I use drag as an escape. I can be on stage and not be myself and make someone else smile and make them feel my conviction. Like, I’m known as the ‘Dancing Diva’ of Colorado Springs because I might be fat, and I’ve got a little extra fluff, but I’ll always give you one hell of a show. Kicks, flips, splits, I got you. I might hurt myself in the process, but that’s a part of the gig.
The original name was Midnight. When I started, I was always told that your drag name came from that first female animal that you had and the street you grew up on, and I was like ‘Midnight… Kelly… Creek… no. That’s really bad.’
So, I kept Midnight, then I was Midnight Morehead. Then I got adopted by a drag queen in Denver. She (DeMarco) was that queen that I looked up to, who, like, gave me advice. She was that motherly figure guiding me through the drag world, and I was like, I want to be a part of your house.
At first, she was like, ‘No, I’ll help you, but no.’ (laughs) Then we did a charity show and she announced me as ‘Portia DeMarco-Douglas.’ I heard that name and was like, WAIT WHAT! I was supposed to do this high energy number and I walked out crying, ‘Mom!’
You can buy costumes all day, you can look like a million bucks, but if you don’t have that presence and confidence, they’ll say, ‘I like your costume.’ But there has to be some substance behind it. People don’t realize that you can find a lot of good shit at the ARC and Rainbow.
I’ve done numbers where I legit walk to one spot and sell it for four minutes — standing ovations, fast. As long as you can give that confidence and emote and give that crowd what that song is supposed to give you, that is what makes entertainers.
Club Q was the first bar I ever went to, so Club Q is my home. When I was coming into myself, I didn’t like drag queens. Then I came here and met a friend, and we really hit it off. I didn’t know they were a drag queen, so I was sitting here bad mouthing drag queens all day and then he was like, ‘You realize I’m a drag queen,’ and I was like, ‘My bad, but this is how I feel.’
And so we just held out a while more watching football. Next thing I knew, she was like, ‘If this team wins, you have to do drag.’ My team is the Steelers — I am a Steelers fan. So I said, ‘My Steelers aren’t going to lose.’ And then they lost.
‘You weren’t serious, were you?’
And she was like, ‘No, no no, you’re getting a drag.’
I knew nothing about it. Didn’t know what it took, nothing.
I wear a size 14 shoe — where was I going to find shoes in my size? Somehow, we made it work, and I went on stage looking ugly as hell. I had no foundation, no contour, no highlight. I had gold eyeshadow, hooker red lipstick, and this really, really horrible blonde wig that said, ‘you need some help.’
Surprisingly I was really good at it. It was a lot of work. Getting on stage for the first time is scary shit, but like, I’m not me, I’m this character. The host of the show said, ‘You’re coming back next week,’ and I was like …‘Fuck yeah!’ (laughs)
Fourteen years later I’m still here, and it was the most awkward, amazing, stressful, empowering thing I think I’ve ever done in my life. Now I’m one of the show producers in this bar.
Drag helped me figure out who I am. The one misconception I think most people have about drag is ‘You’re a drag queen because you want to become a woman.’ No, that’s not how this works. I have grown so much from it because I do identify as a little more feminine, and there was a time I thought, maybe I am trans.
But now, I’m comfortable in my skin. I might look like a man, but I’m not, you know? One thing I will always say is ‘I’m me.’ Drag is entertainment. Being a trans person is life. Trans individuals still do drag, but drag encompasses everyone.
Being a drag performer in my eyes is also a form of activism because any given time, any performer can get on stage. Especially in the climates we’ve gone through in the last couple of years, I would be lying if I said I didn’t use my platform. Nothing without some political statements — because sometimes, things have to be said.
When the protests were happening, I did this show that speaks my truth. I didn’t know how people were going to take it because, you know, everyone is still divided when it comes to BLM and, you know, all lives matter and I’m just like, ‘I’m speaking for me’.
The one thing that I also love is that drag creates conversations. It creates conversations that sometimes people are not comfortable having. But it was like, we’re going to talk about this. And when I was out in the streets marching, I was out in the streets marching in full drag and full caboodle. Just, yes. Drag helps with voices.
I’ve made friends with some people that I would never talk to … yeah, I would never. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes we still have those heated debates when it comes to topics. But it’s like, for me, it’s like I would have never even tried to have a conversation if drag didn’t push me.
One of my best friends, he is a hard-core Republican. Like, he voted for Trump. He’s like ‘Trump can’t do no wrong.’ This man is a six foot, 225 pounds cowboy, raised in Texas. Like big boy, big Republican, even Republican from birth.
We legit sat down and were talking about BLM versus ALM — because when I went to go protest, he said, ‘I don’t think you understand what this is about.’ But I’m coming to you as an African American individual who deals with things, I can almost guarantee you have never experienced.
‘Well, why are y’all against cops?’
‘I never said I am against cops; I am against cops who do not do their jobs properly and abuse their power. At the end of the day, I have never had a positive experience with law enforcement. I have been in trouble once. I got a DUI. But I was like, I got pulled over, thrown out of my car, attacked (I didn’t say anything). These are the things that I’ve gone through, and this is why this means so much to me.’
And then he said, ‘Black Lives Matter says that all lives don’t matter.’
‘That’s not what I’m saying. Hey look, there’s been a rise in cases of African Americans being killed at a higher rate. And the only reason why it’s coming out now is people are pulling up cameras. We didn’t do that 10 years ago. I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine. How I see ALM, it was created as a counterprotest to BLM. And I will tell you: that’s like going to a breast cancer rally, and saying, all cancers matter. Now, we know that all of this matters, but right now, we are focusing on this one.’
I still talk to him like every other day. We go to his house and he cooks and we shoot the shit and have fun and even when politics come up, we talk about it, and then we move on. That would have never happened if ‘drag queen’ had not become a thing.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to let politics ruin my friendships. Not everybody is going through the rain, so sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. Even when I went to the protests, he said ‘Hey, if you need someone, I got you.’
He didn’t agree with why I was doing it, because, you know, of his political beliefs, but he was like, you know, ‘I’m still going to put my friendship above this because you’re my friend.’
In order for us to move forward as a group, as a people, we have to have these conversations. And I’m not saying that you’re going to change my mind or I’m going to change yours. I like drag because — like I said with those conversations — I know, like, we’re not creating an understanding, because I don’t care for you to change your mind; I don’t care if you try to change mine.
If we [queens] are really feeling something, we are not afraid to throw it. We’ve always had that one person in the audience who feels the same way. I did [a show] when I was going through a divorce: I signed my divorce papers on stage crying.
One lady came up to me after the show and said ‘I filed for a divorce this morning. Thank you.’ We can have a middle ground and have a conversation and create an understanding. That’s what I really want. Everyone has their opinion and it’s just like, do you.”