Blue Star puts gender fluidity in the spotlight with The Lady Boys of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando performer Blue Star is one person who embodies empowerment and being comfortable in your own skin. Blue came to Orlando in 2000 to attend Full Sail University after a successful dancing career in Atlanta and New York. She planned to stay for just 13 months; she never left. In 2012, Blue opened the theater The Venue.

“I just wanted a place to put on my shows,” Blue says. “But as I say now it’s not my Venue anymore, it’s Orlando’s Venue. It’s a safe place for performers to try out new things and new shows and take risks and really grow themselves.”

Taking risks and trying new shows brings us to Blue’s latest venture, The Lady Boys of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge—a takeoff from Blue’s burlesque show The Ladies of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge—which features an all-male cast of burlesque performers.

“I know what it’s like to be these boys who love to do burlesque,” Blue says. “I have always been the ‘real girl’ who does drag. I’m the only female to have performed at the Parliament House in a drag show. I was the first female to host a drag show. I have worked my ass off to be accepted by the drag community here.”

Blue saw a part of herself in these boys and knew if she gave them the stage that they could knock it out of the park.

“I had a couple of the boys come do the amateur night, and I watched them and thought there just is not a place for these guys,” Blue says. “They like to do burlesque, they like to wear pasties, but they don’t want to pad. I have these extremely talented boys so why not showcase that. Why not give them a home.”

The Lady Boys were born and, as Blue likes to describe it, another family was added to The Venue.

“They all call me Mama now. I have all these other families in my life and it’s nice to add on another one. I’m the person who never had children who now has 30 children,” Blue says, laughing.

Now that the Lady Boys had a home, they needed a show.

“I have a writing partner in Rob Ward,” Blue says. “Literally he was there at The Venue one night and I told him I want to work on this thing with the boys and I want you to do it with me. We have always wanted to collaborate on something that is different than what we normally see out there.”

Ward is no stranger to Central Florida’s theater scene. He has directed, written and acted in shows from Disney to Fringe, and is also known as the outrageous entertainer Pepe.

“Blue came to me and was talking about a show for lady boys, boys who don’t fit into one style and wanted me to help write it,” Ward says. “It became this show that is about performers who can’t be defined by gender; a boy who’s a little feminine, a girl who is on the masculine side. Somebody who has something to offer everyone.”

The show was built around the talents of the Lady Boy performers and is a blend of Blue’s two biggest troupes—The Ladies of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge and VarieTEASE.

“It’s the perfect marriage of The Ladies, who are all about the tease, and the story-driven shows of VarieTEASE,” she says. The boys all bring their costume concepts to the table. When you see their costumes, that is all them. They bring that look and Rob will write the story and then we share music ideas and then I pull it all together.”

The Lady Boys premiered at The Venue with their first show in the fall of 2017 called Fairy Tales and it was a huge success.

“It was beautiful and it was awe-inspiring,” Blue says. “To see the boys, who all got a standing ovation, together on stage really put a stamp on it. These boys are something and it is powerful.”

So just who are these Lady Boys?

“You will see an ever growing and rotating cast of Lady Boys,” Blue says. “I want to make sure that we don’t become too stagnant. But everyone of them are amazing and will make you question yourself no matter how you identify.”

Jose Navarro is the first of The Lady Boys that Blue met. Navarro is a violinist and cello player who has had his own Fringe shows, and his first solo show, at The Venue.

“He brings that sultriness to the table,” Blue says. “He will make you uncomfortable in the blink of an eye, and he has many ways of doing that whether it’s through his music, his storytelling or his dancing.”

Gadiel Vazquez, a Lady Boy who Blue knew from Pulse, has been a go-go dancer in Central Florida for several years.

“He is what I like to call gender-twisted,” she says. “He brings a dance element to the show that is so natural. For lack of a better term, he is kind of my dance captain. He will lead some of the rehearsals and has taken on the responsibility of learning the choreography from me and teaching it.”

Sorcha Mercy is the “couture drag” Lady Boy who is always looking at ways to re-invent herself according to Blue.

“Sorcha is very smart and really brings the twists and turns to the show,” Blue says. “You never really know what you’re going to get with Sorcha. I really applaud that.”

Natalie Nayles, who also performs at Southern Nights Orlando, really brings drag to The Lady Boys.

“He has this huge set of prosthetic boobs that are amazing,” Blue says. “His facial expressions, and courage to push himself, are really amazing. He is like a sponge, he really is trying to grow in the drag community so he clings to every correction, every word. He is just booming as a performer.”

Weego is the Lady Boy from the ‘90s club kid culture. “He brings that element of WTF. His costuming is outrageous and fantastic. His knowledge of when to be funny and when to be serious and when to direct attention and when not to direct attention is impeccable,” Blue says.

Then there is Milan D’Marco. “When I think of Milan I think of those beautiful eyes and that little booty,” Blue says with a laugh. “As far as all the boys go, Milan embodies the aspect of burlesque the most. He really gets the tease aspect of it all.”

D’Marco is a Pulse survivor who wasn’t performing as much after the shooting. Then Blue brought him to the Lady Boys.

“I’ve always fit the criteria of a Lady Boy,” D’Marco says. “I’m unconventionally apart of many conventional crafts, I think all of us are, and that’s why we find ourselves here. I love the people that I get to work with. I love that we play off of each other’s strengths to bring the audience something that they have not seen before.”

Blue recalls getting a text message from D’Marco shortly after bringing him into the Lady Boys troupe. It read, “Thanks Mama for guiding me to my family.”

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