Raven Snook - Female Drag Queen

My name is Raven Snook and I am a New York drag diva! Actually, I'm not what you think. As the title implies I am, in fact, a biological female. I have been called a female female impersonator, a real life Victor/Victoria, and the ultimate gender bender, but none of those labels adequately describes why I think of myself as a drag queen trapped in a woman's body. So let me try to explain. In 1996, after having called myself a female drag queen for about 8 years, I wrote an autobigoraphical show based on my experiences called Designated Diva: How I Became a Drag Queen Trapped in a Woman's Body. It is a musical version of the saga that is my life, detailing exactly how my Queendom came to pass. Now doing it in print means that you will miss all the music cues, but that's OK! Just sit back, relax, wrap your boa tightly around you, read my lyrics and sing along!

I have always tried desperately to be glamourous. While my adolescent friends were most comfortable in jeans and T-shirts, I wore a floor-length strapless prom dress to school. At 12, most girls lusted after Tom Cruise in Risky Business. My first sexual fantasy? Tim Curry dressed in drag in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I even had a drag queen entertain at my Batmitzvah, and let me assure you, it was the most glamourous celebration of my entire Hebrew School. Even as a pre-teen I realised that every queen I saw looked better than I did: they were prettier, funnier, and ultimately more feminine than I thought I could ever be. So I set out to be as fierce, as glamourous, as female as they were!

At 12, I met my first love: Andy Grondahl. We met at arts camp where he was studying musical theatre.... does that give you a clue as to how that relationship turned out? Put it this way: his name is now Andy Freeze and he performs as a self dubbed "drag terrorist" all over the world! We became best friends, and I am thrilled to report that, 16 years later, we still are. Andy and I grew up together and have shared absolutely everything. He introduced me to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he took me to my first vintage clothing store, and we even lost our virginity to the same man. I'm not kidding. Andy likes to say that I got slppy seconds but, as I always love to remind him, Bryon left him for me! But to this day I am pissed that, when Andy finally did decide to try sleeping with a woman, he did not even consider screwing me!!!

As fate would have it, Andy and I ended up in the same school: New York City's High School for the Performing Arts. In addition to Andy, my other best friend was a 6 foot 5 inch tall black skinhead chick named Elizabeth Taylor. The three of us were quite a threesome! She introduced me to my second home: New York's infamous punk rock club CBGB's. Isaw the punk goddess Wendy O Williams there. Williams was best known for blowing things up and sticking chopped liver in her bodilyorifices. Now I'm a nice Jewish girl .... ever since that concert, Passover has been rough!!

I was working my own special drag look even then: I had dyed blue black hair cascading down my back, a blue bra under a translucent chiffon cape, and a floor length velvet skirt slit up to my hip. I was a punk-rock-hardcore-gothic-glam-Siouxsie-Sioux- rebel kind of chick. But, inspite of my new look and persona, there was still something missing.

By my sophomore year, Elizabeth got carted off to jail. Andy got carted off to the Loony Bin (in full drag I might add!!) and I got carted off to Paris, France! OK, so I fared better than they did! What can I say about Paris, the food, the wine, the men, not one of whom ever looked at me (unless of course, he was interested in borrowing my outfit!). It was France that I finished up high school with straight A's (the only thing even remotely straight about my life!) and ended up at the institute with my name on it: Sarah Lawrence College. Put it this way: Sarah Lawrence has a ratio of four women to every man, but more importantly, a ratio of 69 women to every straight man!

Within the first month of school I saw six of my outfits on stage, on queens I had yet to meet! My new best friend at college, Christian Women, a Marlene type drag queen, had borrowed a bunch of my outfits and distributed them to the needy queens on campus. One of my favourite dresses, a floor length black chiffon number with rhinestones all over it, was last seen twirling on the frame of some drag gqqen lip synching to Stevie Nicks Gypsy! Not a fate I would wish on any dress (or audience member!)

At college I met the second great love of my life: Michael Haynes. He was a theatre major and the first time I saw him he was dressed as Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show .... do you see the pattern here? I have never had so much fun dressing up my boyfriend in my entire life!!! It ended, as all intense love affairs do, and it really broke my heart. I refused to date for, oh, five or six days! But I did get all the best dresses in the divorce! So it was with this new wardrobe that I set out to conquer the New York Stage....