A bit of an unlikely queen, Michaels first performed several years ago at “Ms. Hotlanta Softball,” a fundraiser for one of Atlanta’s largest organized gay and lesbian sports leagues. Just last year, she competed in the Armorettes’ “Ms. Barfly” contest and won. She eventually joined the camp drag troupe, who’s mission is to raise money for local HIV/AIDS service organizations.
Michaels, who recently left the Armorettes, says Jungle owner Brad Williams caught her “Ms. Barfly” performance and asked if she’d host a weekly ’80s night. After a month-long run, Williams asked Michaels to brainstorm other ideas for his Friday night line-up.
She teamed up with friend Michael Lopez, also known as Armorette Bumble Bee Toonahead, and drafted the plans for Dragnique: weekly challenges, celebrity judges, video production and editing by Lopez, and a fundraising element that would give her the chance to continue giving back to the community. Bumble Bee just retired from the Armorettes this weekend but Lopez is continuing his work with Michaels.
“I knew I want to make it different than other competition in the city,” she said. “I knew that bringing in celebrity judges would be different, as well as having only new and upcoming entertainers.”
“The video editing set us apart. We had the availability of the screens at Jungle, and I wanted the audience to get to know the girls off the stage so they weren’t just voting for their friends but for who deserved to win. It made quite an impression,” Michaels added.
A second season of “Dragnique” is in the works and Michaels promises a brand new set and stage setup with bigger celebrity judges and tougher challenges.
“Dragnique 2” begins March 25 with celebrity judge Hedda Lettuce (who will perform with Michaels, Bubba D. Licious, Fajita Marinara and Gunza Blazin at Jungle on March 26), but in the mean time, Michael’s has plenty on her to-do list, the most exciting being a production of “Cabaret” with a camp drag element: she’ll be the lead Kit Kat Girl, flanked by Armorettes and the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
“I think Atlanta is going to be impressed because the Armorettes and the Sisters are both known for helping out in the community and the Armorettes always put on a comedic show. They’ll really be getting into it,” said Michaels, who has a theater background. “This is a test run to see if it’s something people will like. We’d love to put on ‘Sordid Lives’ or ‘Hairspray,’ but this time we want to see how this goes so that next time if it goes well, like with ‘Dragnique,’ we’ll put more money into it.”
“Cabaret” opens at Jungle on March 11, but a preview will be performed March 4, which is also the night Michaels helms the first “Dragateria,” a three-week drag show starting featuring Pandora Pussybox, Nicole Paige Brooks, Summer Knight, Janelle Brooks, Alissah Brooks and others. The first week will feature celebrity guest Chad Michaels, a renowned Cher illusionist.
Michaels, who worked as a licensed esthetician before pursuing drag full-time, is relishing in her busy new drag persona, but is quick to thank those who’ve helped her along the way.
“Jungle is really expanding their wings with me and I can never thank them enough ,” she said, noting that drag fame is often fleeting.
“Thank you to Atlanta for embracing me and my style of hybrid drag. In the long run, it’s letting me use my skills and putting my ideas on stage… it’s a gift to let someone do that. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Check out the 20 best shots from Dragnique here.
Top photo: Eve Michaels at Dragnique (file photo)