Poison Waters started coming to Bend with her big-wigged, sequin-abundant, witty, high-healed drag performances before Central Oregon had a local pride festival. For 12 years, the Portland drag queen and a crew of other performers have visited annually putting on a show that also serves as a fundraiser for the Human Dignity Coalition, a Bend organization that works to promote LGBTQ equality. The Source chatted with Poison Waters by email before her upcoming appearance about her history in drag, her jewelry and her long-term involvement with HDC.
Source Weekly: How did you get into drag performance originally?
Poison Waters: I first started in 1988 as a young queen at the underage club The City Nightclub. Everyone was in sort of an androgynous state back then, and the drag shows began to pique my interest. One night Rosey Waters, a popular queen in town, asked from stage if anyone wanted to become a queen and learn from her, so I raised my hand and here I am 26 years later!
I've certainly matured over the years, fine tuning my wit and timing, and have become less "mean" with my humor and more "smart." I've always had a quick wit and stage presence, from a young child. And with age comes far better costumes, jewelry and wigs, ha ha!
I've continued because I love it so much. The demand and appreciation for me and the service I provide has only grown with each passing year. There is no reason for me to stop, I couldn't imagine.
SW: Tell me about Poison Waters, and who she is?
PW: Poison Waters is all at once an actor, comedienne, super hero, community leader and friend. She is smart and funny and a chameleon in the fact that she is as comfortable and at home at a large LGBTQ function as well as an intimate political gathering.
SW: What can folks expect?
PW: For 11 years we have brought the finest from Portland and Eugene, always a mix of modern and classic drag, always fun and funny! We don't do dramatic drag or out of the box concept drag; we do our individual stylized drag that we each were brought up on. There are all types of drag and I've always said there is an audience for each type. The trick is matching the right drag with the right audience! We've always had such a great time and received a great response in Bend; we are super thrilled to return!
Maria is our bio queen and Meesha is our Peruvian queen Diva. Karess and Daphne hail from Eugene... All [are] different and complement each other nicely.
Leave your inhibitions and expectations at the door, and bring your fun, flirty, wild side to the party!
SW: You started coming to Bend before there was a Pride festival here. How have you seen the LGBTQ community change in the 11 years you've been doing the show?
PW: The thing about Bend is the community has always been a fabulous blend of EVERYONE! We've enjoyed as many straight audience members as we have LGBTQ! Our shows empower people to be who they are and come out and be proud.
SW: Why is the work HDC does important in Central Oregon?
PW: As I've stated at our shows before, we guest performers often take for granted the protection living in larger cities provides. The HDC brings so much awareness and positive information to the mainstream of your community and is a valuable resource to identifying members of the Central Oregon LGBTQ Community.
HDC Drag Show with Poison Waters and Friends
7 pm. Sat., Oct. 18
Bend's Community Center, 1036 NE 5th St.
$10 adv., $15 door tickets available at bendticket.com