For the first time in 30 years, the “Queen of Motown” Diana Ross will be performing live in Pittsburgh. The concert comes, coincidentally, at a significant time in the career of Pittsburgh Drag Queen Miss Kierra Darshell, who many may know is famous for her compelling character impersonation of Diana Ross. Not only is Kierra celebrating the 25th anniversary of performing the art of drag, but it’s also the 20th anniversary of the creation of the “Tri-State All-Star Pageant,” a pageant co-created with her Drag Mother, and which she is now the sole owner. In her extensive career, Kierra has gained a wealth of wisdom and has used the stage to share her knowledge. She now hosts monthly shows at Cruze Bar and There Ultra Lounge, where she opens the stage to showcase other local drag talents. She hosts many of the Pittsburgh pageants, as well as organizes the drag performances at Pittsburgh PrideFest. And she is expanding art even further outside of the LGBT community at local events including the annual South Side Works Street Fair.
I met up with Kierra, perhaps best known as the “First Lady of Pittsburgh Drag,” in her dressing room as she was getting ready for a recent performance. We chatted about her drag career and her character as Miss Ross.
EQ: When was Miss Kierra Darshell born into the world of drag? KD: Back in 1989, when I first started going out to the local bars, a queen by the name of Akasha Kai approached me and said she wanted me to perform at an upcoming AIDS Benefit Show at Travelers in Homewood. See, back then the AIDS epidemic had just hit Pittsburgh, and people weren’t living long after being diagnosed. It was severely affecting the gay population. People didn’t have money for funeral services and all of the associated medical expenses, so there were AIDS benefit shows happening all the time. There would be 4 or 5 a month.
EQ: So would you watch the shows at think “I want to do that?” KD:
No, not really. I didn’t really think of myself as being in drag. I was a young man, just coming out into the gay scene. But Akasha told me that I had amazing facial features for drag and that she could make me a beautiful woman.
EQ: It sounds like she talked you into it! KD: Yeah she really did. She said she’d
do my make-up and get me everything I needed. I was so nervous! But I performed “Home” by Stephanie Mills and the crowd really enjoyed it. People tipped me, at first I wasn’t sure why, but the girls explained it was because I did well. And from there, I caught the bug!
Equa lM a g a zine.org
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Published on Aug 5, 2013
August is here and we're making it HOT! The Supremely talented Kierra Darshell tells all about transforming into the one and only Diana Ross...