I've always been most inspired by females. Growing up, having a soft demeanour and an older sister inevitably meant I would be drawn to feminine energy. Wherever she went, I went. Whatever she liked, I liked. At least during my formative years in the 1990s.
Aside from my sister, my first idols were naturally the Spice Girls. Their colourful wardrobe, personalities, and music was like sensory candy to me. In fact, during that time, I definitely had my share of the rock-hard bubble gum that included a Spice Girls comic or sticker. It was more like a Jawbreaker than bubblegum. But my admiration of Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Baby, and Posh went deeper than the aesthetic surface. They were five young women who epitomized self-affirmation, camaraderie, and sticking it to the man. And they did it in the most mesmerizing platform sneakers.
As I moved into adolescence, and became a budding performer myself, I drew inspiration from the explosive energy those girls, and other pop icons of the time brought to the stage and screen. The dynamic choreography of Britney and all of her imitators; the sassy lyrics of Destiny's Child; the tenacity of Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You and Save The Last Dance -- they all made a lasting impression on me. At the time, I didn't know deep that influence went. They just made me happy. They made my eyes sparkle, and made my body move. Of course I still appreciated their male counterparts, but given the chance to dress up as any star for Halloween, I would choose pig tails and sequins every time. (I went as a 'hippie' multiple times, just so I could wear floral shirts, bell bottoms, and a long wig).
Teenage and young-adult-me extended that admiration to friends and fellow performers my local community. As my female peers became women, I envied the roles they got to play, but I had SO much fun sharing the stage with them. As I reminisce, I think of my honorary older sister Erica pouring her heart and impressive vocals out on stage in "I'm Still Hurting" from The Last Five Years (I still think of her every time I hear that song). I can picture my long-time friend Robyn flipping around her hair as Ariel in our high school production of Footloose. The same year, Robyn and I got to witness a female powerhouse on Broadway who would become a major inspiration for both of us: Sutton Foster.
Sutton is special to me because she can play a large variety of characters, but with every role, I draw references to comedy legends like Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball - who are two more of my biggest role models. Even if the role is more glamorous than humorous on paper (like 'Thoroughly Modern' Millie Dillmount, or Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes), Sutton ALWAYS adds nuance and a sprinkle of her signature quirk. Her portrayal of 'Princess Fiona' in Shrek The Musical took the character we knew from the movie and made her a bonafide tap-dancing, burping badass, who's as well-rounded as her reverse 360 kick.
With all this female inspiration, it is no shock I have turned to drag as a creative outlet!
TLDR: Women are many things. And I credit them for many of the things I am, and aspire to be. I pledge to continue championing their rightful. place in society. The future is female.