They were completely unapologetic. They were outrageous and gracious and terrifyingly confident all at once. Most noticeably, they weren’t sorry about any of it. "How are my tits?" the host asked rhetorically. Huge, was the answer.
The stage at Wall Street Nightclub was set for Illusions Cabaret. Diana DeVore and the Showstoppers were up to bat, with the help of Toledo-based Amber Stone and former “RuPaul's Drag Race” contestant India Ferrah.
I couldn’t find anybody to go with. It was a cold Sunday night and the words “drag show” made the outing a tough sell. I paid the cover ($10) and found a chair along a drink rail to set up shop. Tables filled what was normally the dance floor, and cocktail servers scurried around with drink orders.
After a short introduction from club owner Scot Hafler, the performers filed onto the stage with their better-than-stripper stage names, and prosthesis-enhanced Nicki Minaj measurements. The lights dimmed and smoke from a machine overhead filled the room. Dressed as a lavish space cadet, DeVore led an opening number with the entire cast.
Costumes ran the gamut from rhinestone tap shoes to a baby doll that harpooned political correctness. The smart mix of crowd-pleasing "diva" numbers and more experimental acts kept the sizable crowd happy. Not even my severe ADHD could withstand DeVore’s well-curated line-up.
Two men at the table directly in front of me saw I was alone and asked me to join them. Their friendliness and enthusiasm was contagious, so I moved into the empty stool.
Nikki Stone performed to an industrial track by Mindless Self Indulgence, while Britney Blaire fashioned a doll into an unborn conjoined twin for her "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" number from “The Book of Mormon.” For conservative types, DeVore’s “Showstoppers” could have easily become “heart-stoppers.”
After making plans to reconvene for our upcoming birthdays, I left my new friends and went looking for my favorite entertainer of the night.
Amber Stone was clad in black feathers when I approached her. She was like a terrifyingly glamorous crow.
“How do you get the courage to put it all out there like that?” I asked. She looked at me and smirked. She had been asked this question before.
"I decided long ago that I was going to do me,” she said. “I adopted the motto, 'If you don't love me, I'm going to make you hate me,’ and I have lived that way ever since. I never let ’em see me sweat."
File last Sunday under: Too glam to give a damn.
Downtown Abbey is a twice-monthly documentation of a random night out and all the meanderings and shenanigans that might entail.