E! The Dragnificent, Age 12, Headlining at Austin International Drag Festival 2017

Over the past few years, I’ve had a chance to get to know a local queer family with two sets of adults, co-parenting a genderfluid child who is a frequent performer in the local scene. Esai is a sweet kid with amazing stage presence and so much love. And a really cool family that is both typical and atypical in all the best ways.
Esai’s mama and dad agreed to let me interview E by email about an exciting opportunity – Esai will be headlinging at the Austin International Drag Festival in November. This festival features more than 400 performers, so it is pretty damn impressive for a 12 year old kid from Pittsburgh to headline.

Your Name: My name is Esai, but my Drag name is E! The Dragnificient!

Age: I am 12 years old.

Your Pronouns: I answer to any pronoun.

How do you describe your identity? I am just Esai, I am creative, intelligent, funny, loving.

Tell us about your performance art. How did you get started? Where have you performed?   I went to an all ages drag show when I was just a four year old, and just by seeing all those queens up on the stage performing, I thought it was pretty interesting and that I wanted to do that. I got started by being in a drag show when I just turned eight. I wasn’t really in drag, but I started being in those kinds of shows when I was eight. The drag show was called ”Come play with me”. I was the only kid in that show with all drag queens.

You have been chosen as a headliner for the Austin International Drag Festival in November. Please tell our readers about the festival and what it means to be a headliner.  The Austin International Drag Festival is the first drag festival of its kind in the USA. It is a festival where, a bunch of drag queens from all over the world, come to perform in front of hundreds of people who love drag. It means a lot to be a headliner, because I am just a kid who is still learning about drag. I didn’t even know that kids could be headliners in shows or festivals of the performing arts! It also shows that kids can do drag also.

Most people do think of drag as an adult activity. Do you know other children and youth who perform?  I do know other kids who perform. I went to a drag camp in Philadelphia,PA, and know two kids there who do drag. There names are Max and Aidan.

The Dragnificent E!

What advice would you give to another kid who is interested in drag or any performance art? Advice I would give to another kid who is interested in drag or any other performance art is, always believe in yourself because that makes you better at drag or the other performance art, and be yourself. Another piece of advice is focus on your own esthetic, and talent.

Your family made tee shirts to help raise funds for this trip. Tell us what you mean by the quote “Let’s tell the world to Unlearn Gender!”What I mean by “Lets tell the world to unlearn gender” is boys and girls should be able to express themselves the way they want to. Also more people focus on their gender than their quality life and I don’t think that that is necessary.

You have four parents going on this trip with you which I’m sure will be awesome. Your parents respect and support your own journey to unlearn gender. What advice would you give to parents who aren’t sure how to be supportive?Advice I would give to parents is, let your kid think it and talk to them to see what your kid thinks you should do to be support it, and also respect what they think. Dragnificent E

You and your mom are organizing a variety show for kids in October (on my birthday!) What do you love about Twinkle!?  What I love about twinkle is there are so many kids who perform there, and show that kids can perform and have a voice. Another thing is, I get to perform and have fun, with the other kids and getting to know them.
What’s your personal theme song? My personal theme song is “Vogue” by Madonna

>Finally, is there anything else you want to tell us about you or your trip to Austin? I would like to say, I am very honored to be a headliner, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity that they have given me.

Thank you, Esai! We hope all the best for your trip to Austin and look forward to you bringing home accolades for the City of Champions!

To follow the journey of E! as they pursue drag and other interests, you can follow their (parental operated) Facebook page.
Twinkle! is a children and youth variety show and dance party, scheduled for October 22 at James Street Gastropub on the Northside. Tickets are $5, there’s an optional brunch menu and all proceeds are being donated to the Pittsburgh Center for Equality youth programming.  Your child is welcome and its totally fine if they want to dance, perform or be part of the audience!


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