In the world of drag… “less is never more”


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Photo: Zoran Jelenic

Meet Chase Johnsey, another of the beautiful boys of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. He’s here this week to tell you all about how his personal life can aid his life a a Trock ballerina.

Take it away Chase…

“One of the most fascinating things about Ballets Trockadero is that we do all of our own wigs and makeup.  As a person who frequently helps the rookie ballerina’s, I often get questioned about how I learned my makeup skills. And the truth is, I learned them all from drag beauty pageants! That’s right, I am a full on pageant drag queen with tiara’s, sashes, and “elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist” wave to go with it. I have been competing in pageants since 2011. The first title I won was “Miss Glamorous Newcomer”, which is a local title in Orlando, FL. I have competed in numerous pageants since then, but alas I usually don’t win.  In May 2015, I finally won “Miss West Coast Continental”, which is a preliminary that feeds right into the famous “Miss Continental”. This is one of the most acclaimed circuits in drag pageantry in the United States. Just think of it as the equivalent to Miss America. It was always my dream to compete in Miss Continental, but with the Trocks’ busy touring schedule, I didn’t think that it would ever happen. Luckily, my Artistic Director allowed me to miss a few days of rehearsal in order to fulfill this dream.

Ta-dah! What do you think?

Now, you all probably wonder why I love doing pageants in the first place, especially after dancing with one of the most amazing drag ballet companies in the world.  The truth is that having an outside influence has really helped me evolve as an artist, specifically with my makeup and approach to how I look on stage.  In the world of drag the rule is “less is never more”.  The club drag queens have a million of these anecdotes like ‘Covergirl doesn’t cover boy” and “you gotta paint for the back row”.  Now, when I think I have enough makeup on, I always put a little more. (WARNING: This doesn’t apply to biological females, except maybe Cher). The pageant queens are also terribly paranoid about things falling off and stray hairs flying about, because in the pageant world that will get points taken off.  I have taken that with me to Trockadero. I am always double pinning my head pieces and wigs in, and I literally nail glue my earrings to my ears to avoid them coming off.  And actually, when I go watch other shows and I see things flying across the stage or ribbons out of toe shoes, it really bothers me.  Lastly, because you are being judged at these pageant, it can give you insight about things you can work on and improve.  For example, at one pageant, the judge recommended I become a red head, so I have, even in Trockadero.  That was a great change for me, because it warms my look up a lot, and gave me a more likable look.

Most people have no idea how much preparation goes into doing drag.  It is the work of at least 6-10 people all on one person.  You seriously have to do everything from your own makeup, wigs, costumes, music mixes, scheduling, etc etc etc.  It is enough to drive you mad.  (This has made me appreciate how very spoiled we are in Trockadero).

Going to the biggest national drag pageant in the country is even more stressful and I have learned that especially over this last month of August. The thing about pageants are that you have many categories.  You have interview, swimsuit, talent, evening gown, and question and answer.  And if you make it to the top 12, you have to have a second completely different package to bring.  All in all, I have to bring 10 completely different looks.  That is 10 wigs, 10 costumes, 10 sets of accessories, etc etc etc.

I am lucky enough to have a great fashion designer in the Trocks, Alberto Pretto, who designed many of my costumes for Continental.  However, I only had 2 months to get everything done, which is no time for people to fabricate everything I wanted.  I have had to stay on top of everything very closely in order to make sure that everything gets finished on time.  Some people call me a micromanager, I call myself an “excellent motivator”.  Luckily in the past few weeks everything has come together beautifully and I am very proud of what I am bringing.

My main struggle with preparing for this contest is how to showcase who I am as an artist.  I had so many different idea’s of things to do for my talent, and I was actually trying to get away from what I do with Trockadero.  However, my fiancé reminded me that Trockadero IS my talent.  That is what I do and love.  So I decided to do a sort of infusion of what Trockadero does with pop music!  I spoke with my director and he thought it was a great idea, and now I feel very sure about what I am going to do.

Chase Johnsey with husband Carlos Renedo at their home

A lot of people ask me, “Do you think you are going to win?” The answer… I already feel like a winner.  I am pushing myself as an artist in such different ways than I am used to.  I have never ever had to think about so many different details in my life, and it really is those details that make the difference between something good and something great.  I, also, know that from this experience I will walk away knowing that I took a good look at myself in order to show who I really am.  The experience of preparing for such a huge event is enough gain for me.  I hope that some of this filters into my ballet career with Trockadero, and that it will make me a better and more detailed artist in the future.

I hope to see you all in the UK!”