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Kings for a day

> Aspiring New England drag kings have their night at Hollywood KTV, Saturday, Jan. 17

Aliza Shapiro, a.k.a. Heywood Wakefield, the, um, woman behind Glitter Switch: king for a day. (Photo: Dean Burchell)

BOSTON — It wasn’t easy tracking down Heywood Wakefield this week to ask him about a workshop scheduled for Jan. 17 that is poised to separate the men from the boys.

OK. Let’s get a couple things, ur, straight. First, Wakefield is not the reincarnation of the famed post modern designer and the event is not a rough and tumble sports event or tractor pull even though, by the looks of things, you’d be hard pressed to deny that some of the contestants at the Glitter Switch Drag King Workshop could whoop your ass.

“ Berlin is so great. Germany is, in general, too. All the men look like fags since they all dress nicely and all the women are tough and have short hair, so you can't tell who’s a dyke or not. It is really nice. And since everyone hangs out in the same bars and are accepting of queers, you really have to work at figuring out who is what and what they want!” gushes Aliza Shapiro, the infamous alter ego of one of Boston’s greatest drag kings, Wakefield. “But that is about me, Aliza, not Heywood.”

Scene Photos

It sounds as though Berlin has given Shapiro a big wilkommen and it’s unlikely that she’ll be using the vaca to rest up for the Glitter Switch Drag King Workshop that will be held at Hollywood KTV. Nonetheless, she is excited for the workshop which is hosted by her project, Glitter Switch: Drag/Karoke, Boston's only monthly drag king show. She says that Glitter Switch wants to swell its ranks by making some brave contestants kings for a night.

“ Learn from Boston's most accomplished professional kings: Heywood Wakefield, Manuel Hung, Frankie Cocktail, Jack Snatch, and Mal. We will teach you the art of binding, packing and passing! We will help you strap 'em down, find your character and swagger like the big boys,” says Shapiro. “Bring a song to lip sync to, chose one of our karaoke tunes, or just hang out with the guys and have a drink!”

Shapiro says that the workshop will take place before Glitter Switch: Drag / Karaoke, so “you can get ready early, work on your chops, and then impress your friends when they come for the show.”

The workshop is billed as an opportunity for anyone interested in investigating masculine performance. Whether you’re a sissy boy who wants to learn a butcher walk, a MTF (male to female) interested in playing with a different kind of masculinity, a butch just looking for a little fun, a FTM (female to male) looking for realistic facial hair tips, or a femme wanting to walk on the other side, Shapiro says that Glitter Switch will make you a king for a day.

Now, Shapiro admits that it’s Wakefield who wears the pants in their relationship and, from the split personality’s New Year’s retreat, she yielded the floor to her royal side.

“ I started performing at karaoke bars when my wife, a Chanel wearing bitch realtor in the South End, left me for a younger guy. I was trying to heal my broken heart by singing her favorite love songs. Somehow I thought this would help,” recalls Wakefield.

“ She left me an itemized list of my faults that she said were the cause of her leaving me and somehow I thought the love songs might help me figure out where I went wrong. Well, it'll be five years in February, and I am still working on it.”

Wakefield says that while singing his ex’s favorite love songs, he realized that he was entertaining people in the process.

“ It felt great, and I have stuck with it. Starting Glitter Switch just meant that I didn't have to drive to other venues to perform!”

Today, everyone is welcome at Glitter Switch, in drag or not, to sing or lip synch.

“ Sometimes when audience members get on stage to sing, I will ask them if they want me to draw on a mustache for them or give them some lipstick — something, anything, to create a little gender-bending fun. The girls really like the mustaches,” says Wakefield. “Glitter Switch treats the audience to professional performers as well. We've even had Andrew Rapp from that other paper come and sing with us.”

And that’s where Shapiro, not to be outdone, began to add her two cents.

“ I have been producing Glitter Switch for a year and a half now and it has been amazing. We have had some of the best kings from around the world guest star, as well as local professional kings too. Some of the most fun we have is when we have non-drag personalities come and perform, like when Maura and Hilken from Punk Rock Aerobics came in drag as Him and Jim, and we got to help them get into drag before the show,” says Shapiro. “They dressed up as head bangers with beers, and they did aerobic moves while singing karaoke. They had sweat sock dicks that kept falling out of their ‘70s style sweat shorts! It was so dirty and so fun!”

And just when everyone was convinced that gay guys have a corner on the dirty market. No, the drag king phenom has raised the bar in recent years when it comes to sisters doing it for themselves, and Shapiro reports that the drag king scene is holding strong in Boston.

“ I do a lot of work with Boston's independent kings, having them guest star at Glitter Switch or inviting them to perform with me at other shows that I produce, or at other shows that I get invited to perform at. In fact, I have so many engagements in January that it is nice to have other guys along to help out,” says Shapiro adding that she is often deluged with e-mails asking questions about her craft.

“ Sometimes it is about costuming, sometimes it is just about confidence and wanting others to work with. Sometimes it is about needing a stage to perform on. Glitter Switch is great for this because we are all there to have fun and help each other out. It is very low pressure and high fun. So, Heywood and I decided to run this workshop to help build the drag king scene in Boston, to give these kids a little help if they need it, and maybe create some new kings.

Among the things you can learn at the Jan. 17 workshop are the walk, the talk, the facial hair, the costuming, and the stage presence.

“ We will even help people develop the concept for their performance if they want. But if someone only wants to learn how to apply facial hair and sit back and have a beer, that is fine too.”

To learn more about Shapiro, Wakefiled of drag kinging in Boston, connect to Shapiro’s web site www.truthserum.org. To register for the workshop, e-mail drag@truthserum.org. The Glitter Switch Drag King Workshop will be held on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at Hollywood KTV located at 41 Essex Street in Boston. A $10 cover charge includes some supplies and $5 covers dancing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. 21+.


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