By JENNIFER K. BAUERJerid Lisher admits he was nervous when he brought his first drag show to Lewiston more than a year ago.
The Potlatch native says he knew his girlfriends would support him, but would anyone else come? He was shocked when more than 300 people showed up.
“Our largest shows ever have been in Lewiston, Idaho, which is amazing and kind of odd,” says Lisher, the manager of Lipstick Divas, an Oregon-based performance act that aims to “bring glam and fierceness” to small Northwest towns where female impersonation shows are rare to nonexistent.
Saturday, Feb. 7, the Lipstick Divas will perform their seventh show in Lewiston. The show stars Lisher’s fiance, Matt Brown, 24, as hostess Ivanaha Fusionn. Fusionn is known for her striking costumes. Once she appeared in only peacock feathers and glue, another time it was duct tape and mirrors.
“Ivanaha has a really elegant, slutty personality,” Lisher says.
In all, nine drag queens will perform at The 3rd Wheel in a show that typically lasts more than three hours.
“We offer more younger, fresh female impersonations. You’ll see a lot of flips and splits, a lot of risque strip tease, and a lot of glam, because all my drag queens make their own costumes,” says Lisher, who graduated from Potlatch High School in 2008.
Lisher spoke in a phone interview from Salem, Ore., where he works the night shift as a mental health specialist at Oregon State Hospital. Brown works in patient billing and staffing at Salem Hospital. They met on Facebook while living in different cities and dated for awhile before Brown told Lisher that he was a drag queen.
“A lot of men in the gay scene don’t want to be with drag queens,” Lisher explains. “I had a suspicion. When somebody has more high heels than boy shoes you kind of think, maybe. Either he has a shoe obsession or he’s a drag queen. Since then I’ve been one of his biggest supports.”
Brown has performed across the nation as Ivanaha Fusionn for four years. Besides making his own costumes he does his own makeup, hair and jewelry. It takes him three hours to completely transform from a he to a she.
“As a woman he’s really beautiful. As a man … he has a lot of hair. He has to shave from head to toe,” Lisher says.
Brown also creates his own choreography and music mixes and recently released the song “Ivanaha Get Naked” on SoundCloud. Ivanaha’s drag daughter, Nadia Fusionn, will also perform at the Lewiston show. Drag mothers mentor so-called daughters in the art of female impersonation.
Brown and Lisher have taken their show to 15 cities in four states over the past year and a half. Often they donate a portion of the proceeds to community organizations or individuals in need. When asked why he wants to bring drag shows to small Northwest communities, Lisher answers, “This might sound cliche, but to basically spread the gay agenda that we’re not all freaks.”
Growing up in Potlatch, Lisher says he knew he was gay but kept it to himself. He saw another gay boy at school get harassed and picked on. After high school he moved to Lewiston where he attended Lewis-Clark State College and came out as gay when he was 20.
“Potlatch has a population of 800. Now when I go back nobody cares,” he says about his hometown where he and Brown plan to wed in August on his family’s land.
While some drag shows only target gay men as an audience, Lisher welcomes everyone. He recalls an 80-year-old woman who celebrated her birthday at one of their Lewiston shows — “she was all about it.” “Very” straight men are also included on that list.
“Granted some of them have not come back but some of them have become great fans,” Lisher says.
“Now there’s people in northern Idaho who can say they’ve been to a drag show.”
If You Go
What: Lipstick Divas Red Party
When: Saturday, Feb. 7, doors open at 7 p.m., show 8:30 p.m. to midnight
Where: The 3rd Wheel, 1634 Main St., Lewiston