the fall of 2004, Naomi Bennett was cast in a cabaret musical. During a
photo shoot, for which she was wearing more make-up than normal and a
form-fitting Hooters T-shirt, a bystander asked the director if Bennett
was, in fact, a man playing the role in drag. Though the show's
director wasn't amused, Bennett wondered if she could pull it off -
playing a man in drag that is. Aliza Shapiro gave her a shot which led
to Bennett, as Nomi Sparks, inclusion with TraniWreck, an all-gender,
all-genre, performance/cabaret/variety/show taking place on the first
Monday of the month at Jacques. The bisexual Bennett spoke with In
Newsweekly recently about breast-binding, the performance art of a good
drag show, and about why she'd never make a good drag king.
In Newsweekly (IN): How do you prepare for a performance?
Naomi Bennett (NB):
It depends on what I'm doing that night. I try to do things that will
make me appear more masculine so it could be that I'm a drag queen.
Just putting a mole on my face makes me look more masculine. Sometimes
I won't bind my breasts. Sometimes I will. Sometimes I'll use fake
boobs and a fake penis. Using fake boobs allows me to take them out.
Even when I'm rehearsing, just binding my breasts beforehand changes
how I physically feel about myself. And I wear wigs. Even if you have
amazing hair, [doing drag] is not the same without the wig.
IN: What are some of your favorite things to do during a performance?
I like "Wig in a Box" from Hedwig because it's a drag queen singing
about how she puts on and takes off her drag. I tend to pick songs by
men who have voices that sound like they could be females. I haven't
done a David Bowie song yet, but I'm planning on it.
IN: There are plenty of wonderful drag queens already. Why not perform as a drag king?
I tried doing that a couple of times, but there was just something not
right about it. I can't change my big hips, so it makes performing as a
drag king difficult. When I'm performing as a drag queen though, it can
appear that I've just stuffed my hip area to create the illusion of a
more female-looking body.
IN: You mentioned rehearsing. How do you prepare for a performance?
I wouldn't be able to do this without practicing. I practice a lot
every week, but I also watch a lot of men. Men move differently than
women, but then drag queens move differently than men. So I have
watched a lot of drag queens and talked to them. But also, what people
assume about gender is different for everyone. A lot of people when
they first see me assume I'm a man in drag. And I like that. I enjoy
playing around with gender roles and the difference between biological
and psychological gender. •
For more information about Nomi Sparks, including a schedule of her performances, connect to www.myspace.com/nomisparks.