Trans­for­ma­tions

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

There’s one al­ley­way in down­town Athens, Ge­or­gia, that holds spe­cial mean­ing for drag king Diego Wolf. Tucked down just past the in­ter­sec­tion of Clay­ton and Hull streets, the aging brick wall serves as a re­minder of a piv­otal part of Wolf ’s life.

“I got to a point in my life when I was like, you know what? I could ei­ther let this close in on me and I could die in this al­ley, afraid of every­thing, or I could break through that crap, get out of the al­ley and see the world how I want to see it,” Wolf said. “So that’s what I did.”

The al­ley was the back­drop for Wolf ’s grad­u­ate school project at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, where he cre­ated a sto­ry­board in­spired by the Trapt song “Th­ese Walls.”

“[That song] re­ally in­spired me and helped me kind of get to the point to where I had the courage to tell peo­ple and be more open about be­ing trans­gen­der,” Wolf said.

A king is born

Wolf re­al­ized at a young age he wasn’t a les­bian, but he wasn’t a straight woman, ei­ther.

“I was such a tomboy grow­ing up,” he said. “It wasn’t un­til I was about 14 and, I did some self-guided re­search that I dis­cov­ered what it meant to be trans­gen­der. I had been pretty much rock­ing this drag thing most of my life be­cause I’ve al­ways worn boys’ clothes.”

Wolf grew up on a farm in “back­woods Arkansas” in a town of about 2,000. His part of the coun­try was so con­ser­va­tive that there was a stretch of road adopted by the Ku Klux Klan, and his great-grand­mother founded the South­ern Bap­tist Church he was raised in.

Au­gust 4, 2017

Race was a taboo sub­ject, so gen­der wasn’t even some­thing to be brought up, he said.

“The very, very first per­son I ever told was my lit­tle brother,” Wolf said. “It was my se­nior year in un­der­grad. … It was a heavy snow day in Arkansas. I was outta class, he was off work. We spent the en­tire day in our barn, horse sta­ble, smok­ing weed and talk­ing.”

Telling his brother gave him the strength to tell his par­ents, and so dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing 2003, back in Arkansas on break from school in Athens, Wolf gave a let­ter to his mom and dad. He said they both read it and their re­sponse was es­sen­tially to ask what he wanted for din­ner.

“I was blessed with an amaz­ing fam­ily. I re­ally do feel ter­ri­ble for any trans per­son or gay per­son or what­ever that gets dis­owned or ousted by their fam­ily for be­ing who they are,” he said. “Even though my par­ents don’t com­pletely un­der­stand ‘trans­gen­der’ … We just don’t talk about it. [They said] as long as you know that no mat­ter what, we love you un­con­di­tion­ally and that’s never go­ing to change.”

It was dur­ing that year that Wolf was in­tro­duced to the Athens drag scene. He went to an open mic night at the lo­cal gay club and fell into an au­di­tion night for a drag king troupe.

“I showed up and I kid you not, for the first 20 min­utes it was like, cul­ture shock. Like they had to pry me away from the bar. It wasn’t that I was scared, it was just like a daze of, ‘This is hap­pen­ing? This is real? Peo­ple do this?’ and I fi­nally got re­laxed and No mat­ter what style of drag he’s per­form­ing, or per­haps boy­lesque or even bear­lesque, Athens king Diego Wolf is un­mis­tak­able in his trade­mark black eye­liner. Wolf has been a fix­ture in the Athens drag scene since he moved there in 2003 for his master’s de­gree. (Photo by Dal­las Anne Dun­can) they asked me if I had a song,” he said. “I saw some­body per­form­ing and I was like, that’s what I want to do. I want to be this awe­some guy. This is the per­fect way for me to start de­vel­op­ing my ac­tual male per­sona.”

He nailed the lip-sync au­di­tion, his first time ever on stage, and made the troupe. But when it came to pick­ing out his stage name, Wolf was mo­men­tar­ily stumped.

“I was like, I want some­thing sexy, like ‘Diego.’ And I have lu­pus, which gets its name from the Latin name for wolf, so I was like, how about some­thing like Diego Wolf? Be­cause then it’s like, sexy but mean­ing­ful. And it was a joke, and it stuck,” he said. “And here I am, freak­ing al­most 14 years later, same name.”

He also still has his same trade­mark black eye makeup af­ter 14 years, though the styles of drag Wolf does now has changed some­what. He par­tic­i­pates in boy­lesque and bear­lesque shows, does more act­ing — he’s in an up­com­ing show with the Town & Gown Play­ers — and is a fa­vorite in the an­nual Boybu­tante Ball, an area fundraiser for the Boybu­tante AIDS Foun­da­tion.

But no mat­ter what he’s do­ing, drag will

By DAL­LAS ANNE DUN­CAN

al­ways have a deeper mean­ing to him than just putting on clothes and makeup.

“I lost my brother in 2006,” Wolf said. “The en­tire time, drag is what kept me grounded. That’s how I got my emo­tions out. That’s how I dealt with my grief. … That was also kind of the point where I was ready to move for­ward with my tran­si­tion as well.”

Some­times peo­ple tell Wolf “it’s not re­ally drag” for him.

“Every­thing I put on­stage is some­thing that peo­ple can not just be en­ter­tained by, but some­thing peo­ple can be emo­tion­ally con­nected to,” he said. “I have a num­ber that I did … to the song ‘Un­steady’ by X Am­bas­sadors, and I come out and I’m in this white morph suit and I’ve got this small, dark lady’s wig on and a black dress, and I’m sit­ting in a chair. Peo­ple are pass­ing by, bump­ing into me. As the song opens up and pro­gresses … I slowly start to re­move th­ese fe­male at­tributes and right at the big re­veal of the song, I have a pull-tab on the zip­per on the back and I lit­er­ally un­zip it from the back and down the front. As I peel out of this white morph suit — be­cause for a pe­riod of time I’m this face­less, gen­der­less fig­ure — un­der­neath it I’m all dude.”

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