Dragging it out

Posted on 13 May 2009 at 6:11pm
By Lawrence Ferber Contributing Writer


BEBE,BABY: Benet serves us female illusion imported from West Africa.

FIERCE THURSDAY
BeBe Zahara Benet promises lip-synching and laughter as the Absolut Pride Tour stops at
Woody’s Sports & Video Bar,
4011 Cedar Springs Rd.
May 21 at 10 pm.
Also featured: DJ Mark Picchiotti,
Miss Wanda, Asia O’Hara (Miss Gay USofA 2007) and Tara Dion (Miss Gay Texas 2001).
214-520 -6629.

America’s newest superstar sashays into Big D
BeBe Zahara Benet doesn’t have to lip-synch for her life anymore — she’s the winner of "RuPaul’s Drag Race" season one (a second has already been green-lit, and plenty of North Texan illusionists are vying for a spot).

Hailing from West Africa’s Republic of Cameroon — "Camerrrooooooooon," as RuPual frequently bellowed during BeBe’s runway struts — and currently based in Minneapolis, BeBe (a.k.a. Nea Marshall Kudi) is doing a victory lap around the U.S. on the Absolut Pride Tour, which stops in Big D on Thursday. We recently caught up with her about being "America’s Newest Drag Superstar."

Congrats. Aside from the Absolut Pride Tour, what’s next? So many things. One is to create a show for Bebe to share her own experiences — where she comes from. That’s where my mind is right now. And I’m hoping other opportunities come along. I’ve done everything I can do in Minneapolis, and it’s time to go different places.

Did they shoot the show through a layer of gauze? What’s with the soft filter effect? It looked like a Liz Taylor perfume commercial. I didn’t get that at all. I wish I could answer that question for you. Ask the producers. Were they trying to hide our faces or something? Were we not attractive enough?

What was the show’s most ridiculous challenge? The Absolut Drag Ball challenge. I had to work with raspberries. It’s a beautiful fruit but so delicate to work with. That was a challenge for me but when you get in a situation you do what you have to do to pull through. And it worked.

Everyone was surprised and moved when Ongina came out as HIV-positive during the show. Can you discuss your own reaction when it happened? It was very, oh my God, very emotional for me because a lot of people where I come from go through that same experience. Here in America you can go to the hospital and be diagnosed, you can go through treatment and stay healthy and live life. In some other countries it’s another thing. Some people, they don’t even know [they're positive] or have opportunities to find out. It brought so much emotion. But I’m happy she’s OK and getting treatment and taking care of herself.

Are there any drag queens in Cameroon? It’s unheard of. I don’t know of anyone but myself. I was hoping this would be a real awakening [so they could] see there are people out there like us who think outside the norm, and encourage anyone who wants to think differently. I want to do something for Cameroon. It took me [going] all the way to the U.S.A. to explore who I am. It’s a chain reaction. So I need to go back to where I came from and create opportunities for other people.

Any final words on being the first winner of this title? I’m just hoping I can be a good role model and represent what drag is all about and can be and inspire other people who have the passion for the craft.



MISS USofA PRELIMS START
Starting Sunday, The Round-Up Saloon will be replete with curves only seen on Jessica Rabbit and wigs so teased they’re tormented. Preliminary nights for the Miss Gay USofA Pageant begin Sunday and run through Thursday. So except to see Cedar Springs swarmed with backup dancers, drag dignitaries and Dallasites who know that the pageant is Big D’s hottest springtime show. The Round-Up dance floor and dance lessons will be closed for the week.

— Daniel A. Kusner

The Round-Up, 3912 Cedar Springs, 214-522-9611. Miss USofA Final Night is held May 22 at the Dallas Sheraton Convention Center. Tickets, $40-$75. Usofacomputers.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2009.

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