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[whitespace] Kamell Toh, Jett Leer, Lisa Lixitt
Helping Hands: Kamell Toh (left) and Jett Leer pretty up Lisa Lixitt.

Learning Curves

Perfecting the art of drag means learning from experience

By Sarah Phelan

IN APRIL, four guys got together in an apartment behind Norman's Funeral Chapel--with an empty hearse in the garage, no less--and dressed up in drag in preparation for Sound!, another Leer Sisters production. As Jett and Kamell Toh reveal, this drag dress-up fest turned out to be a uniquely bitchy experience.

"The central refrain in the dressing room was 'Where's the Aquanet?'" says Jett.

"Jett was in a bitchy mood. But she was under a lot of stress," says Kamell Toh saucily.

'"I was okay until I realized my goddamn blue dress wasn't there. And you could have given me some mirror time!" complains Jett, giving Kamell Toh the look.

"Everyone needed help with makeup," says Kamell Toh, a tad defensively. "So I did mine first."

"When I finally did get the mirror," says Jett, "I was rushing to put on some foundation, when Michael [Kamell Toh] walks in, all made up, but with no wig and in a skirt, which he lifts up to take a leak."

Kamell Toh throws back her pretty little head and laughs. "And Richie [Lisa Lixitt] was so nervous. He's such a straight boy, and he wanted his face to be perfect. He didn't turn out as a beautiful woman, but each time you do drag, you perfect it."

Now, as the troop prepares for Proud!, another Leer Sisters production on May 26, Jett has four words for everyone involved:

"Learn your motherfucking words!"

"If you don't, it ain't pretty," concurs Kamel Toh.

"In our last show, drag queen Anna Mosity got every little word and action down! The bastard bitch, the little slut!" says Jett with a laugh. "We're not bitter!"

"My advice is be spontaneous" says Kamell Toh. "Half the stuff that goes on here you couldn't do on the East Coast. It's fabulous! But I have to practice my stance before a show."

"Actually, you looked like an action figure on crack," jokes Jett.

"Well, you were looking cheaper than free," retorts Kamell.

Speaking of which, how would the queens of drag dress if they were women?

"Like a total slut," says Kamell. "All the time. Short slinky skirts, big hair, long nails, ripped stockings, 9-inch heels. It's a whole persona you can take on, so surreal, so ridiculous. It gets you a ridiculous amount of attention, even if some of it is negative."

And Jett?

"When I'm in drag, I like playing the slut," she says, "but if I was a real woman, I'd wear men's suits, high heels, and great lingerie and pearls almost all the time. I'd take the masculine image to a point."

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From the May 15-22, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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