Dragapalooza is Back!
Jason Cozmo has been bringing some of our favorite divas to life for years. He’s impersonated everyone from Lucy and Liza to Dolly and Marilyn. Most recently, he also joins the gals of Dragapalooza (May 21) at Voyeur (9 p.m.) to celebrate Broadway – something he knows plenty about after spending many years as an actor and musical theatre performer.
He sat down with G Philly to discuss the show and his favorite divas. He also gives up some great makeup tips.
Drag name: Jason Cozmo
Drag inspiration: I have always been a performer, it comes very natural to me. I cannot say I have one inspiration – for me – performing is just part of life. I am, however, inspired by each individual that I have impersonated.
Identifying makeup trick or accessory: Everyone needs to remember makeup is either to cover up or enhance. Whether you are a queen, a real girl or a gay boy, make sure you are enhancing the right things and not just wearing gobs of make up. Also for drag queens, please remember “Cover Girl” does not “cover boy!” I am a man portraying female characters, a little foundation and gloss is not going to cut it! Also remember you are under bright stage lights that will wash you out. Let the stage and lights compliment you – not fight you. I glue my eyebrows down with a glue stick and use baby powder because it’s so dry. All my makeup is stage makeup: Kraylon or Ben Nye. With that being said, do not paint too much or it doesn’t look real at all. You can paint and look like a very “theatrical character” or just look weird with too much – and that makes no sense. And remember blend, blend blend! No one has straight lines for check bones!
My talents: I am a character actor. My background is in musical theatre and comedy. I have worked in many styles of performing arts, but the past few years have made my living doing impersonations. I have never thought of myself as just playing the opposite sex. I do not look at it like male or female – it’s just a character that happens to be a woman. “Drag” is different for everyone, it’s hard to put everyone that does it in one box. Coffee, vodka, and orange juice are all drinks – but all very different. Some people have created a drag personality with a fun name and specific style, they tend to socialize and work in the gay community. Where a cross-dresser is just someone who enjoys wearing clothes of the opposite sex. And the clothes are usually not flashy, and most of the time the men cross-dressing are straight. A transgender or transsexual is someone who lives their life as the opposite sex. Sometimes they also perform and work within the gay community, but there is a huge number of them who disassociate themselves from the gay community. And female impersonators usually treat the craft as acting and may not have drag names.
Best advice for a would-be queen: My advice for people wanting to start doing drag is do it! Explore it, have fun with it. Maybe in the process you will discover you love performing, or maybe it will bring out a whole different side of your personality. Maybe you will be happier. But also find your niche. Not everyone is funny, not everyone is an edgy club kid, or does impersonations. And please, please do not think you have to be bitchy to be a queen. This community would be so much better as a whole, and much more understanding of each other, if everyone laid off the attitude and hate so much. Being a drag queen does not mean reading everyone and finding all the wrong in the room. To me, it is being proud, showing it and standing up for what’s right. There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. Do drag if it makes you happy and you are enhancing a positive part of your personality. Do not do drag if you are just trying to fit in, or you are hiding from yourself. Anything in life done with the intention of love is a good thing.
Secret to working with so many divas: Always be true to yourself. Show biz is very tough. Most performers (myself included) usually have there fair share of hang ups and insecurities and now you are working with other big personalities and their baggage. Always be true to yourself. Kill people with kindness. Not everyone will like you. In fact, if you are the least bit good at something, they may hate you for that alone. Not everyone has to be your friend, but that doesn’t mean they have to be your enemy. Don’t ever lose your self worth and reason for doing drag. If someone doesn’t like you, so be it. But they don’t have to like you to respect you.
Favorite Broadway show: My favorite current B-way show is Mary Poppins. My favorite show that I was a part of is Hello Dolly!
Where I shop for costumes: There are some great sites with sequin dresses. And, of course, eBay. But a fun way to go about it is to find a college student or someone just starting out in fashion and work together. You are then getting things made for you on your budget, and the other person is trying new things, gaining experience and making some cash!
Biggest guilty pleasure: Hmmmmm. A few come to mind, but I don’t know how much can be printed.
Celebrity diva I look up to the most and why: I adore all of the woman I impersonate: Dolly, Liza, Julie Andrews, Marilyn, but if I had to pick one I relate to the most it would be Lucy. Lucy had such a wonderful balance of humor and beauty. No matter what she did she had an electric energy that would reach out grab an audience and take them along. She was so simple yet extremely versatile. She never took herself too serious and always played her strengths.
Dragapalooza, May 21, 9 p.m., Voyeur.