You’ve seen him on stages all over the US, Elle Magazine’s About Face, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Rebel Circus, Transfashionable, Curve and more! But do you know who he is, what he represents, and where to find him? OUTCOAST sat down with Jaime Kalman (AKA Spikey Van Dykey) to better understand the world of Drags Kings, what sets Drag Kings apart from Drag Queens, and how to support a entertainment community often overlooked.
First, tell me about you! Where are you from, what brought you to Florida, and how did you get into the world of drag?
I grew up in Birmingham, AL and moved to FL to pursue my career as a performance artist. I went to my first drag show when I was 18 years old in 2001. I had no idea that this world even existed! A beautiful soul named Chivonne Street (Drag Queen) took the stage and had me in absolute awe. She was beautiful, she was enigmatic, and she was a Drag Queen. I thought to myself, this is it! I ached for that stage and a loophole around transitioning, and that’s when I created Spikey.
Can you clarify a few terms and the differences between them? (Ex: Drag King, Stud, Butch, and Transgender Entertainers)
Being a Drag King, to me, is being fierce in a character that represents the male persona and exaggerating its strongest accents through performance, makeup, and costuming no matter the pronouns.
A stud is an androgynous Lesbian sometimes mistaken for a Gay Man.
Butch is an extremely masculine Lesbian that is sometimes mistaken for a man.
Transgender entertainers are performance artists who have transitioned and still perform.
Which of these do you consider yourself?
I would definitely say as Jamie, I am somewhere between stud and butch. More stud to be honest. Spikey, however, is a Drag King.
For what type of events have you performed?
I’ve performed for Pride events, benefit shows, colleges, GIW, Gay Days, bachelorette parties, burlesque shows, drag shows, and fetish shows.
What’s involved in preparing for a show?
Costume design, makeup, airbrushing, song mixing, and pre show. Pre show is generally two hour prep time for a six minute performance.
You mention that there isn’t nearly the recognition for Kings as there are for Queens. Why do you think that is?
I think that people are more responsive to drag queens because it has become more mainstream. With outlets like RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) and whatnot, it’s become easily accessible and popular overnight. Unfortunately, misogyny is also still very present even in the drag and LGBT+ communities. We are still walking into venues prepared to “prove” ourselves due to this lack of growth and acceptance in the performance world, even though our character as a King is displaying our perception of what a male is, represents, or how they carry themselves. It’s easy to believe in an art that has people publicly backing it and making it look glamorous.
What does a Drag King show offer that others don’t?
Diversity. The people in charge of booking events sometimes forget that variety is so important for the community in order to reach a wider audience. Why not have a King, a Queen, and a Burlesque performer? I believe that we represent the art on a whole different spectrum that allows others to have a new taste for it. We are shedding light on our perspective and interpretation of the male persona that sometimes others can relate to. From people with gender identity curiosity to people who just want to have a play with gender bending.
For some, it even makes them question their sexuality. Whether its politics or the male ego, we are calling it out, making it sexy, or showing others that we just wear it on a whole new level which can be so intriguing. It makes a lot of men uneasy when their wife or girlfriend are at a show, and they want to take the Drag King home. We pull off a powerful look and sexuality in character and it’s absolutely beautiful and has the potential to inspire so many if given the chance.
What does a typical King show consist of?
Boylesque, Lip Sync, acrobatics, group acts, comedic acts, fire acts, strip tease and more!
How can our LGBTQ community help promote the hiring of King performers?
As someone once said, empowering women empower women. We need promoters, show directors, and venue owners to give Kings a chance to shine and treat the art like it is valid. We need Queens to let us in, and to be treated as equals.
Where should interested organizations/companies/individuals seek out King performers?
We currently have a group called The Drag King Project. I came up with the idea in hopes that it would open doors and possibilities for Kings internationally. It is a networking outlet for Kings all over the world! You can make connections with new venues, fans, new kings, mentors, king supporters, sponsors, share upcoming events and shows, discover well known AND new performers, share ideas, teach, and enlighten those who want to discover more about the art of being a Drag King. It isn’t RuPaul’s Drag Race, a pageant, or a competition of any kind.
The Drag King Project exists to magnify the work of the Drag King community worldwide. Through exposure, empowerment and inclusion, the king project hopes to ensure that the definition of drag includes all identities, all races, all ages, all bodies, and all artistic expressions. The Drag King Project believes that increasing opportunities for Drag Kings will expand awareness of the Drag King art form worldwide. Bullying, transphobia, sexism, and racism of any kind will absolutely not be tolerated. This Project was created to break the divide within the drag community and for performers to come together as a non-ego based collective.
Founded in November 2017 by Drag Kings: Spikey Van Dykey, Tucker Noir, Mad Max Morrison and Papi Churro. We believe that the time for drag equality is now. This project can be a platform for this social change with educational workshops, networking events and performance art.
WE ARE VALID!
If I want to hang out on a Saturday night and see a Drag King show, where should I go?
NYC, CA, or Austin TX! There are a few things in the works for FL, but nothing as of yet. Stay tuned!
What’s next up for you?
The Drag King Project launch tour on the West Coast! Check out The Drag King Project on Facebook for the Tour schedule!
You mention wanting to start a south Florida event series to support kings and other butch performers. How can people help to get involved?
Request more Drag Kings at your local LGBTQ+ spots, venues, and at Pride events!
To learn more about Spikey Van Dykey, or to book him for your upcoming event, click here.