|A packed house of fans turned out at Lookout to watch the finale of RuPaul‚Äôs Drag Race, Season 2, with columnist Pollo Del Mar. The crowd booed when audience favorite JuJu Bee was eliminated early on and seemed split when Tyra Sanchez walked away the wi
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
Pollo Del Mar was born, if you will, on April 27, 2006. It‚Äôs a date I remember, obviously, because it quite literally changed my life.
Of course, there were previous occasions when I threw on a dress, some hair and a pair of heels to strut my stuff, but for some reason it never really struck my fancy. On that fateful night four years ago, though, something I can‚Äôt quite describe and completely unforeseen happened. It was like all the stars and a lifetime of childhood dreams aligned to make everything come together in some plan well beyond any I might ever have imagined myself.
It goes without saying, though, that there have been plenty of hints along the way! From an early age, I remember prancing around the house with a towel wrapped around my head, lip-syncing to my childhood idol Madonna. I recall throwing a fit when playing Charlie‚Äôs Angels with my sister and cousins if they didn‚Äôt allow me to be Farrah Fawcett. And, if we were pretending to be superheroes, there was always a fight if I didn‚Äôt get to be Wonder Woman.
That said, my first official time in drag was Halloween of my 5th grade year. While ‚Äútreasure hunting‚ÄĚ at my great-aunt Eva‚Äôs rural Ohio home, a packrat‚Äôs heaven and never-ending source of amusement for me as a child, I found an oversized purple sweater and some fluorescent shoe-strings I stapled onto a piece of cardboard, adhered inside the rim of a boulder-style hat and frayed at the ends, fashioning a make-shift ‚Äúwig.‚ÄĚ
Since it was the height of popularity for Culture Club, I somehow persuaded my grandmother to let me use her make-up to transform myself into Boy George. More shocking, in retrospect, is how I convinced my family there was nothing gay at all about a 10-year-old trick-or-treating as a chart-topping British transvestite. (That‚Äôs what you call denial, people!) While I would admittedly have much rather sported Like a Virgin-era couture, that Halloween proved to be my very first brush with true fabulousness!
Many years later, in my early 20s, I begged a friend who worked at Merle Norman Cosmetics to paint my face. Dolled up, I hit the town in Cleveland, OH, where I remember causing quite the stir. During my very first public outing, I caught the eye of my friend Tim Nekuza, who promoted local parties. Though he offered me a paid gig hosting his events, I was so afraid of the social stigma which goes hand-in-hand with being a drag queen, I declined. Looking back, of course, it provided even more foreshadowing of what was to come!
Ten years later, sitting with my friend Dotson Webster at Squat & Gobble restaurant on 16th Street at Market, I remember seeing a sign for the ill-fated tapas restaurant located in what was then the Metro Bar (now Lookout). The lunch special read ‚ÄúDelicia Del Mar.‚ÄĚ Something about it struck me as quite funny. ‚ÄúIf I ever do drag,‚ÄĚ I told Dotson, ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs going to be my name!‚ÄĚ
At the time, of course, that was the furthest thing from my mind. It‚Äôs funny how quickly things can change, though, isn‚Äôt it?
About a year or so later, while watching an undeniably painful number at a mid-November 2005 fundraising event which provides new or inexperienced queens opportunities to take the stage, I was judging one performer particularly harshly. While I viciously criticized the entertainer, I clearly remember a voice in my head saying, ‚ÄúEither get up there and do better, or shut your fucking mouth! At least she has the guts to try!‚ÄĚ
And that voice was absolutely right!
From the time I was in middle school, perhaps even before, I‚Äôd wanted to be on that stage, to try my hand at drag, to see how well I might do at this art form I had so long enjoyed watching and fantasized about even longer. It was simple fear of failure ‚Äď and, quite possibly, even greater fear of what it would say about me as a man if I succeeded ‚ÄĒ that prevented me from attempting.
When the event returned the following April, though, I was on the line-up. My friend Brian Sanderson ‚Äď who now performs under the name ‚ÄúFruitbomb‚ÄĚ ‚Äď painted my face for the very first time in the style which has since been refined into the Pollo you and I know. (In early pictures, you can see a much greater influence from Brian‚Äôs original muse, the legendary Divine.)
As we drove to the theatre that night for the show, I decided that ‚ÄúDelicia Del Mar‚ÄĚ just didn‚Äôt fit me. Instead, I wanted a drag name that sounded less traditional, something a little campier, and for my own reasons, one which starts with the letter ‚ÄúP.‚ÄĚ As it was not long after the Jessica Simpson ‚ÄúIs it chicken or fish?‚ÄĚ debacle, I chose ‚ÄúPollo‚ÄĚ in something of a snap decision.
To be honest, when I stepped onstage that night, I had no way of ever realizing just how closely associated I would become with that name over the next several years ‚Äď and, in all likelihood, for the rest of my life. All I knew is that I was finally living a dream‚Ä¶and it was amazing!
I have no idea what my actual performance looked like to the audience, which erupted in what felt like thunderous ovation at the end of my number, but that very first experience was like magic to me. The only fear I had left, to be honest, was how those close to me might react to my becoming ‚Äď shudder ‚Äď a drag queen!
Afterward, I quite timidly approached my friend James Moore, who was in the crowd. As something of a father figure to me, I was most concerned about his response. A lifetime of daddy issues and rejection from my own father welled up in me as I asked his thoughts. What he said still brings tears to my eyes.
‚ÄúI believe we‚Äôre all put on this earth for many different reasons,‚ÄĚ James philosophized, ‚ÄúAnd I think you might very well have been put here to be a fabulous drag queen!‚ÄĚ
So with my ‚Äúgay dad‚Äôs‚ÄĚ approval, a group of us hit Harvey‚Äôs that night to celebrate the momentous occasion at Cookie Dough‚Äôs Monster Show. Somehow in the sea of queens, Cookie spotted me, asking me from the stage where I perform. When I told her that I didn‚Äôt, she booked me on the spot for her next show. It was seriously that simple. Even now, it seems like an almost fairytale beginning to what has, in many ways, remained almost equally magical since.
The last four years have changed me, forced me to grow, opened to me a world of adventure, accomplishment and community service I‚Äôve never known before and brought some of the most amazing people I have ever met into my life. Needless to say, these are elements of drag I could never have imagined 25 years ago, as I danced with that towel on my head.
There are other aspects of drag, of course, that I did imagine ‚Äď and they‚Äôve all come true too. I have the pictures of me as Madonna, Farrah and Wonder Woman to prove it!
Follow PolloDelMar on Facebook or TheGlamazonPDM on Twitter.. Email her at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.