By David Cutting
VANCOUVER – Standing on stage above the Cobalt crowd, Ponyboy smiles down. Serving leather-daddy realness, this drag performer effortlessly whips the crowd into a frenzy; bending norms while creating community is all in a night’s work for this gender-tripping sweetheart.
“My name was given to me by my drag dad Sammy Samosa (formerly Sammy Tomato),” says Ponyboy. “It’s inspired by The Outsiders. I have always had a thing for the pretty-boy protagonist type, outwardly a bit badass but inwardly just a hopeless lover. Holden Caulfield was my second choice, but I couldn’t find a good pun that wasn’t gross.”
Ponyboy is one of the founding members of Man Up, a monthly drag show at the Cobalt that runs the last Friday of the month. The show came to be because of a need for drag kings to have a stage. Now it is home to a widely diverse family of drag performers. “I’m inspired by the amazing influx of young artistic motivated queer people who want to get on stage and show their ideas of what drag and gender performance is. Vancouver drag has its own unique flavour,” says Ponyboy.
Man Up also inspired a show, charmingly and aptly called Man Up Amateur Hour, where new drag performers can come and try their hand at performing. It’s an amazing first start because it provides the performer with much the same experience as the main production. Ponyboy fosters these welcoming spaces because they know the importance and need for queer entertainment in this world. “I’ve been very fortunate to be supported for as long as I have in the community. At this point I really want to share the experience I’ve gained with those who want to learn more or try something new, be that performing, hosting, or organizing. The community has taught me so much; I just want to support folks the way I’ve been supported,” shares Ponyboy.
Drag in and of itself is a form of rebellion. Its origins are that of a social device that could change the world through politically charged performances, safe spaces, and relevant social commentary. “When Man Up started I was a literal baby and a brand-new queer. It took me a while to begin to understand, for example, how misogyny and racism can show up in drag performances and queer spaces. My mentors had planted these seeds early on, but I only began to recognize this starting maybe four years ago, through many conversations and feedback from people in the community. And of course, it’s an ongoing process of learning and adapting to an ever-growing community in a really troubling world.”
You can catch Ponyboy the last Friday of every month at the Cobalt for Man UpMan Up, Ponyboy, The Cobalt