I am particularly proud at this moment in time to announce that I will be returning to Seattle in May to reprise the drag role of Eat Me in the annual burlesque of Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland, produced by Verlaine & McCann at The Triple Door just around the corner from the famous Pike Place Market in downtown!

In addition, I am incredibly excited to have been asked to direct this season’s production.  Of course, I’m not kidding myself! Both Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann have been doing just fine pleasing audiences for over thirteen years with this particular show. I’d like to think I’ll be the third eye and perhaps a performance/acting coach.

The part I’ll be recreating out in the Pacific Northwest was originally performed by BenDeLeCreme, the RuPaul’s Drag Race Artiste favorite of Season 6 and All-Star Season 3. I was thrilled to join the production last fall.

All this hullabaloo happening in Tennessee seems a bit ridiculous to me. I mean, what is drag anyway?

I feel like I’ve been doing it my whole career. The ancient Greeks performed in drag in amphitheaters those Tennesseans probably flock to see when they get off their cruise ships during summer vacation. I know I did when I went to Athens for the first time a few years ago. Then again, maybe they don’t. They’ve got that fake replica of the Parthenon in Nashville. Maybe they’re too nervous to get close to the real thing.

If it doesn’t feel like I’m doing a show in my backyard with my best friends — I don’t want to play. —Scott Willis

Pretty much all Shakespearean plays, which are now considered classic, utilized drag in comedic and non-comedic plays. I mean, it’s not like Shakespeare was creating the classics when he wrote them. It was popular entertainment.

Is the question here that children should not be in a bar where a drag show is being performed?! Of. Course. Not. Children are never supposed to be in a bar — at least in the United States. Are they going to ban children from the circus?! Whenever I’ve done drag, the feeling of freedom and empowerment is similar to the times I’ve dressed as a clown. Or Goofy at Disneyland. For me to see another person’s inhibitions melt away before my eyes while I am inhabiting a character, costume, or transformative makeup — then to see them standing before me in radiant innocence not realizing the “real” me is inside that which is somehow being adored, but silently observing, is something I will never forget.

I had never really done public drag before I was cast as Bernadette, the transsexual character, in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert — The Musical, back in 2013. But with great difficulty, I chose to leave the role of Santa Claus and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular family after twelve years. Heaven knows I wore more padding and hair being a “saint” than any drag role I’ve had to play!

Why did I leave?

That particular year the United States was embroiled in the debate over legalizing marriage equality. It was important for me to help heal and educate people about their perceptions of friendships and relationships, and the oneness of those two things.

We all think we “know” and have the answers for everyone else based on our own life experience. We never stop to wonder if our perspective might be somehow limited.  Or that we may have possibly bought into a lie somewhere along the way.

We hardly EVER question “the lie.” And little by little, we adjust to something that’s not “the truth,” but something we hope or want to be true that’s been fed by individual or collective fear.

I’m not here to add any more fear to anything. I’m here to reach down into the depths of the well of love God put in me and to put a bit of myself, seasoned with that love, into every role I create. Drag or not.

And that is doing God’s Will in my life. Bringing Joy. That is looking the lie straight in the eye and choosing not to believe in it anymore. And that is ministry — like my Grandfather, a Methodist pastor, did in his small congregations in West Tennessee.

I’ve also been asked by Rainbow RV to participate in the San Diego Pride Parade this summer as Bernadette, riding atop a gorgeous RV in a gigantic silver stiletto.

The whole world is waiting for the other person to say “Hello” first.  If I don’t get out of my comfort zone, I’ll never know that God put the perfect person on my path to share the day with. —Scott Willis

A few years ago, when I first rode in the giant silver stiletto as Bernadette in the Los Angeles Pride Parade with the guys from Rainbow RV in 2014, we pulled the rig up alongside a caged area filled with haters.  The people inside, some misled people of faith, were waving posters and placards telling me I was going to go to hell for who I was and what I was doing. I paid it no-never-mind. Because that day, there were thousands of people, straight and gay, celebrating their lives, expressing joy openly, and sharing love together.

I looked down at that cage around those few people’s hearts, picked out one guy, and blew him the biggest kiss I could pull out of my very Spirit and Soul.

The scowl on his face dissolved immediately into the most radiant expression of joy I’d ever seen. It was inspiring and life-affirming. The guy had totally forgotten that he had come there to spread hate and judgment.

Suddenly, he was at peace with the joy that surrounded him. And that is mirroring Heaven on Earth and knowing that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

My prayer is that my Granddaddy’s message is still at work in the lives of Tennesseans, generations after he sowed his seeds. Perhaps the scowl that has recently crept over the face of “the Volunteer State” might soon dissolve into a new kind of inspiration that leads to greater joy for us all.

Here are a few pics of my own “drag” roles. I would gladly step into any one of those shoes, boots, or heels again to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Life can sometimes be a drag. Why not adjust the definition, fully embrace it, and somehow bring more acceptance into our lives?

Scott Willis is a veteran of the Musical Theater and legitimate (and sometimes “not” so legitimate) stage, having trained at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Performance and Directing, with 101 domestic and international productions to his credit.

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