Tag: Designer

Here’s a list of projects where I was a designer. This could be props, costumes, or my small business making swimwear.

  • I am a Designer!

    I never really set out to be a designer, but once I started making costumes and props for shows, I just couldn’t stop. I use as much of my technical background as possible when it comes to being a designer. I love using technology to solve problems and create automated processes. Below are some pictures of the variety of things I have designed. Also, check out Amanda Playwythe to see the clothing I design making sure to be inclusive for plus sized men!

  • Wig Styling

    Over the course of my time as a drag queen as well as working in theatre, I learned how to style and maintain wigs. Here’s pics from a few different projects compiled here!

  • Amanda Playwythe

    Amanda Playwythe

    At an event called “Prom Trash” Amanda was born.

    I went to my first Dumpsta Players show in the spring of 2003. My friend was dating someone in the cast. He said it was Prom and to dress up, so I did. I wore a tail coat and a top hat, leftover from my goth days, and threw on a purple marabou boa as a finishing touch. I had no idea what I was about to experience. This was a show unlike anything else I’d seen. Drag Queens, Drag Kings, and a variety of other strange characters, in a semi-scripted show with lip synced musical numbers culminating in the crowning of the Prom Trash Queen. I had dressed up so when they asked who wanted to compete, I lined up to go on stage. I didn’t make it past the first round. My look was outrageous enough and showing up in full drag was a guaranteed pleaser.

    Over the next year, I went to every show as I hatched a plan to win. But, first I had to lose. Yup, my first time I lost. I chose to play a Dominatrix with a strap on, my nod to Gen, the lead singer of the Genitorturers, but somehow, I wasn’t trashy enough!

    The following year, Amanda Playwythe was born. This year, the look was blonde hair wearing all Pink except for a black pleather mini skirt. I hadn’t even settled on a name when I arrived at the show. I wanted something with a pun and I always appreciated the joke from the Simpsons where Bart calls Moe’s asking for Amanda Hugginkiss. Well, when it was time to actually go on stage at the beginning of the competition, I just blurted out Amanda Playwith, but when I wrote it on my name tag, I was determined to make it different somehow so I adopted the Olde English Spelling that I still use today, Playwythe!

    For the rest of the night, I gave way to the character and committed myself to the idea that Amanda would have absolutely no idea what was going on around her and her trashiness overwhelmed the audience. I won the following year as Amanda as well.

    When the Dumpsta Players put on “Prom Trash Under the Sea,” I adopted a whole new Character with another pun for a name, MC Urchin, get it Sea Urchin?? But she was a rapper, hence the MC. So, I wrote little rhyming phrases and tried to use them as much as possible. I totally had a folded up piece of paper in my bra cause I did them so last minute I never memorized them. But, I must have been memorable, because I won.

    The last time I won was when we did a musical inspired Prom Trash, I came as Drag Ursula from the Little Mermaid. Oh, those poor unfortunate contestants didn’t stand a chance, mwahahahaha!

    All in all, I spent 12 years performing with the Dumpsta Players. I learned a ton about queer culture, music, and artists from a time when those ideas were less than main stream. I also learned that there’s a lot to be said about commitment. Commitment to character and being in the moment and how sometimes that’s enough to propel you over the top. I maintained that level of commitment to my work and continue to embrace drag and perform as Amanda Playwythe when possible.

    The Dumpsta Players’ live performances sadly came to an end in 2016. However, in addition to performing as Amanda as much as I am able, I started a clothing label using her name. The ads write themselves; get yourself Amanda Playwythe today! I realized there was a serious lack of options for plus size men when it came to underwear and swimwear. I put the very same sewing skill that got me making fun outfits for Amanda, to the test and learned how to design ready to wear clothing.

    You can check out my shop here!

  • Designing Collapsible Vases!

    Several years ago, I helped the fabulous Sandy O from Creative Juice Group by designing and building these Collapsible Vases for an event! Click here to check out my other post about Creative Juice Group and Sandy’s amazing work!

    They were designed to have a person inside dressed as a living flower who would hand out hors d’oeuvres or champagne. This was all Sandy’s idea of course. However, she needed them to be collapsible to fit in her car. So, as you can see from the pictures, the vases were designed in parts that clamped together on the inside using hardware. Sandy, of course, provided the faux stone finish.

  • Hookman Student Performance

    While a student at Villanova University, I was asked to create and manage props for the student production of “Hookman” by Lauren Yee. This show required many props that could be borrowed from the Villanova Theatre props storage as well as many rather unique props that had to be made. Below are some of the interesting props I had to fabricate. To grab a copy of this amazing play, click here!

  • My Many Looks

    My Many Looks

    Here’s a video I made a few years ago with my many looks. I pride myself on being a character actor and being able to change my look with ease. Check out this video to see what I can do!

  • The Maids

    The Maids

    In April of 2023 I was thrilled to play the role of Madame in “The Maids” by Jean Genet presented by Automatic Arts and The Kammerspiel.

    This was very much a dream come true. I had the opportunity to do, what is often referred to as, “legit” theatre, in full drag. After many years of performing in drag in bars, very late at night, for often intoxicated patrons, with lines that I barely learned, I was finally able to perform in drag and get to bed at a reasonable hour! I suppose all those late nights at the bar have paid off.

    Seriously, though, this was a great play to feature a drag queen. There is a lot to bit off in terms of character development and the power dynamics between those characters and they get lost between fantasy and reality. In fact, this would have been a great grad school thesis, and during the process, I truly tried to give it as much attention and thought as I would a thesis. Below is a little something I wrote as part of the program notes. Here I take a brief, but deeper dive into the inner working of “The Maids.”

    Drag and Genet

    Jean Genet’s The Maids follows two maids, Solange and Claire, as they fantasize about murdering their employer, Madame. The play is celebrated for its searing critique of bourgeois society and its exploration of themes such as power dynamics, identity, and the intersection of fantasy and reality. The play’s exploration of power dynamics between oppressors and oppressed is mirrored in the world of drag performance, where drag queens and kings use clothing and performance to subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender identity.

    The maids take turns playing the role of Madame, trying on her power and status by wearing her dresses and makeup. It becomes apparent that Madame’s clothing and “finery” play a significant role in creating her power and formidability. Drag performers also do this by using clothing and makeup to create powerful and over the top personas. Indeed, the desire to stand out and find power through formidability is often the driving force behind many people’s decision to perform in drag. 

    Genet’s exploration of power and oppression also resonates with the art of drag because performers often face discrimination and marginalization similar to the maids. Drag performers use clothing and performance to challenge and subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender and class, which is risky business. On stage, a drag queen can become anybody through the power of makeup and costumes. Off stage, a drag queen must contend with a world that does not necessarily value their personhood outside of their performance. Just as the maids cannot easily escape their oppression, drag performers struggle to survive in a culture built on oppressing anyone who deviates from the current cultural norms.

    The Maids is also notable for its exploration of the interplay between fantasy and reality, as the maids’ murderous daydreams begin to seep into their interactions with Madame, leading to a sense of ambiguity and confusion. Similarly, the art of drag relies heavily on the idea of blurring boundaries, especially those related to gender. Drag performers often use their persona as a means of expressing aspects of themselves that they feel constrained to hide in their daily lives. In some cases, the drag persona is a wholly separate entity, existing apart from the performer’s off-stage identity, while other times, the drag persona is an extension of one’s identity.

    The Maids highlights the ways in which power can be used to dominate and oppress others, as Madame exploits her maids for her own gain. This critique of power structures is echoed in many drag performances, which challenge and subvert dominant cultural narratives about gender and class.

    For more information about “The Maids” click here to go to The Kammerspiel