Getting GLAMorous at The Pub

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Johnny Nuriel specializes in “andro-drag," a “fusion of performance art, belly dance, and burlesque." Nuriel and Isaiah Esquire, another member of the Caravan troupe, are married and performed a few skits together. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

Audience members expecting a drag show at the Pub on Saturday night got exactly what they showed up for, including being greeted at the door by Pub Manager Donald Crocker in a wig and skirt.

Caravan of GLAM, a touring performance troupe based in Portland,
Oregon, certainly delivered the type of genderbent song and dance
performances typical of a show labeled “drag”—but with some twists.

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Johnny Nuriel wowed the crowd on Saturday night with breathtaking, intricate costumes and layered performances involving fans, hula hoops and LED spinners. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

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Johnny Nuriel wowed the crowd on Saturday night with breathtaking, intricate costumes and layered performances involving fans, hula hoops and LED spinners. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

“We’re so much more than that,” Ecstacy Inferno, co-producer of Caravan events, said. “There is a drag aspect, but there’s also circus, there’s burlesque, there’s live singing.”

The group bills themselves as a “new age cabaret.” Inferno, also the emcee of Caravan’s shows, says that the group was founded to fill a need for LGBT-friendly events and spaces in more rural communities.

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Johnny Nuriel wowed the crowd on Saturday night with breathtaking, intricate costumes and layered performances involving fans, hula hoops and LED spinners. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

“We want to go where people don’t have an outlet, where they need something to bring the community together,” Inferno said. “We want to let them know that there’s people out there that care, and that we’re here for you.”

Inferno says that the idea came to business partner Justin Buckles after an LGBTQ event that Buckles had attended in central Oregon. The attendees at the event had expressed that there wasn’t anything else in the area for the queer community, just one or two shows or events a year when they could really feel like a part of something. Buckles called Inferno at three in the morning on his way back to Portland, with a business plan already forming.

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Ecstasy Inferno hosted the Caravan of GLAM show at the Pub on Saturday, Feb. 4. The show drew a standing-room-only crowd and many attendees dressed for the occasion. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

“Our first real show was in about five hours outside of Portland, in a
town called Medford, Oregon. It’s a town that’s known for being close-minded… and not very gay-friendly,” Inferno said. “It was one of the most amazing experiences. It really solidified what we were doing. There’s something really special about going into a community that doesn’t have a lot, and letting their voices be heard.”

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Nae Nae Dominatrix, a recent addition to the Caravan of GLAM troupe, was also a Top 36 contestant on Season 8 of American Idol. Dominatrix won Caravan’s fourth Dragathon, a RuPaul’s-Drag-Race-style competition in Portland. The chance to tour with the Caravan was one of the prizes. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

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Art student Carson Frank was singled out by performer Nae Nae Dominatrix for a “super sexy” serenade on stage. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

Caravan has been to Fairbanks twice before, in February of 2016 and then again the following May. On this trip, they also performed at the Roundup Steakhouse on Friday night and a Drag Brunch at Lavelle’s Bistro on Saturday afternoon. Their show at the Pub was standing-room-only, and featured performances by Caravan members Ecstasy Inferno, Isaiah Esquire, Johnny Nuriel and their newest addition Nae Nae Dominatrix.

Dominatrix recently won Caravan’s answer to RuPaul’s Drag Race, an event called Dragathon that the troupe has hosted in Portland for the last four years. Part of winning Dragathon includes top billing on Caravan of Glam tours. Dominatrix’s performances on Saturday included two serenade-slash-lap dances with different audience members on stage. Local performers Bianca Fusion, Black Annis and Kat Asstrophe also participated.

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Nae Nae Dominatrix, a recent addition to the Caravan of GLAM troupe, was also a Top 36 contestant on Season 8 of American Idol. Dominatrix won Caravan’s fourth Dragathon, a RuPaul’s-Drag-Race-style competition in Portland. The chance to tour with the Caravan was one of the prizes. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

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Performer Black Annis was one of the local performers invited to participate in the Caravan show. Black Annis, a recent transplant from Atlanta, Georgia, is a first-year graduate student at UAF. – Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

Between performances, members of the troupe got a little political, and a little personal. Isaiah Esquire, well over 6’5” in heels, ended one of his performances in little more than a g-string, then returned to the stage to talk to the audience about the problems he’s had in the past with his body and his self-esteem.

“This is a big deal for me,” Esquire said. “I used to choose my performance outfits based on how much I could cover up. Within my lifetime, I’ll probably be bigger or smaller—but this is me right now, and I’m not hiding it.”

The audience cheered.

“I just wanted to tell you that wherever you are at on that journey, you are so beautiful. And you are worth so much more than your body,” Esquire said.

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Nae Nae Dominatrix, a recent addition to the Caravan of GLAM troupe, was also a Top 36 contestant on Season 8 of American Idol. Dominatrix won Caravan’s fourth Dragathon, a RuPaul’s-Drag-Race-style competition in Portland. The chance to tour with the Caravan was one of the prizes. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

In between two performances, Inferno spoke about how much the troupe enjoys visiting Fairbanks and how great their crowds have been in the past.

“The thing about a community is, you’re only as strong together as your weakest member. So we have to join together and hold that person up. Love will always trump hate,” Inferno said.

The crowd cheered and applauded, and burst into a chant of “No hate! No fear! Everyone is welcome here,” a slogan popularized by both the local and national Women’s March.

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Performer Johnny Nuriel hopped off the stage and strolled through the audience during the show’s opening group number, collecting tips and giving lap dances as he went. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

Both the performances and the crowd got louder, sexier and more in-your-face as the night went on. Many of the performers ventured out into the audience to collect tips and interact with attendees, either with hugs and handshakes or lap dances. Carson Frank, a fourth year student, got called up on stage by Nae Nae Dominatrix for a sultry serenade.

“It was lit,” Frank said.

Ecstasy performed a song off of her EP that got the crowd up and dancing in front of the stage, cheering and singing along while Ecstasy pulled a crowd member on stage for a dance. Many of the attendees dressed up for the show in their own drag queen and king outfits or just used the event as an excuse to wear whatever they felt best in.

The group expressed hopes to return again this semester, before graduation.

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Johnny Nuriel wowed the crowd on Saturday night with breathtaking, intricate costumes and layered performances involving fans, hula hoops and LED spinners. Ellamarie Quimby/ Sun Star Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

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