Lipstick & high heels: The Caravan of Glam pulls into Nevada City
KNOW & GO
WHAT: The Caravan of GLAM
WHERE: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City
WHEN: 2 shows: 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16
TICKETS: $20/$25 — Available at the door or online at www.minersfoundry.org/event/the-caravan-of-glam/
INFO: Visit www.caravanofglam.com for more information
We’re lucky here in Nevada County. Although our location could be described as “rural” and we are miles from any big box store, there are few things we really do without, especially when it pertains to the arts.
Every weekend, calendars are packed with various concerts and gallery shows, films and festivals.
One thing, however, that has been in short supply in our area is a proper drag show. You know: a joyous celebration of life and love, starring a group of individuals who proudly and expertly perform in an array of fabulous frocks and glamorous gowns.
That’s why it’s such a big deal that the Caravan of GLAM — a new age cabaret featuring burlesque/drag/Cirque/comedy/dance produced by Justin Buckles — is coming to the Miners Foundry for two performances on Feb. 16.
Bringing new art to small towns
Buckles — who hails from Portland, Ore., itself a city saturated with drag performances — decided quickly after forming the Caravan of GLAM that there was more of a demand for his unique brand of entertainment in smaller, more rural areas.
“[Small towns] don’t have the saturation,” Buckles said, “but everybody wants to see it. We tried Seattle, Portland, and Boise, but they have all of that.”
In other words, Buckles and crew decided to take their show to people who have no other outlet for a drag show or anything even closely related.
The Caravan of GLAM is currently touring through 14 Western states, and by the end of 2018 that number will grow to 18.
“We sell out every show,” Buckles said. “There’s a need for outside-the-box entertainment.”
The touring company is comprised of some of the most talented drag performers to be found anywhere. Johnny Nuriel and Isaiah Esquire — some of the core members of the troupe — are respected names in the business and lend Caravan some of its trademark sassiness. The group has become very popular, with help from their numerous acclaimed appearances on the hit show “America’s Got Talent.”
Buckles explained that each performer has her own “bit.” Their performances vary from one another, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats and musing, “What comes next?”
“Life is full of stresses and anxiety; more so than anything, you can come and be yourself,” said Buckles. “Some people show up in drag. We celebrate all shapes and sizes, body positivity, sex positive but not dirty or graphic. We welcome everybody.”
As for some of the preconceived notions some may have when it comes to drag performances, “Lots of people are hesitant because they’re like ‘What? Is burlesque a stripper?’ They’re curious and then they come [to the show] and they’re like ‘Oh, I get it! This isn’t a filthy show!’ It’s talented individuals. It’s performance art. There’s a great message of positivity and acceptance. We won’t point you out or embarrass you,” said Buckles.
Changing minds through entertainment
Having been in the entertainment business for most of his adult life — much of that time spent as a production manager on shows like “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance?,” and “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” — Buckles never ceases to be amazed by the impact Caravan of GLAM has on its audiences.
“We’ve had people who have burst into tears after the show; it just makes them they feel some type of connection,” he said. “The most common feedback is, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this ever.’ In the most positive way I can put that. They’re like, ‘What is this?’ People are intimidated … [but] don’t be scared!”
“The main question we get is,” Buckles said, “‘When are you coming back?’ We haven’t even left and they’re asking when we’re coming back!”
Buckles is happy to see that — overall — drag is becoming more accepted as a viable form of entertainment and artistry.
“Drag and burlesque are becoming more mainstream. You’re seeing it on the “Lip Sync Challenge,” and drag performances on primetime TV like on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.””
He contends that, “the people who benefit the most [from Caravan of GLAM] are the ones who go into it with an open mind. Some people have a closed mind in regards to burlesque and drag and think it’s a dirty thing; they don’t support it.”
To them he would say, “Come to the show ‘cause we will change your outlook on all of it.”
Buckles also encourages those who attend to not be afraid to approach the performers after the show.
“A lot of people assume that they can’t approach us, and they can’t ask for pictures, but we encourage that!” he said. “We accept everybody.”
But the most important thing to Buckles is, “I hope people show up and have fun.”
Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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