By Amelia Kimberling
Drag is typically associated with RuPaul or other forms of reality television, but the art spans much more than just a few reality shows and movies. In fact, Tulsa has its very own scene of performers. Jack Austin, 11, is part of Tulsa’s drag scene as Karma Eclectic, so the Torch talked with him about his experience as a drag queen in Oklahoma.
For those who do not know, drag is a performance where a man or a woman takes on an opposing gender role. While that’s just a general definition, it comes in many shapes and sizes, and drag performances can often focus more on dance or singing or acting or comedy or a combination of many categories.
Austin says, “[Drag is] art, beautiful but not always, unpredictable, all shapes and sizes. Something that makes you say DAMN! Shocking. Those are the words I use to define drag.”
One of the biggest parts of drag, of course, is the queen themselves and their personality. For instance, Austin takes on the role of Karma Eclectic.
“You can’t really describe Karma. Karma’s not really in one box. She’s a singer. She’s a dancer. She’s freaking funny. And she’s crazy. She’s not one of those mellow queens who sits there and is like ‘yeah, I’m just gonna lipsync for a living.’ No, I’m going to do absolutely everything to turn out a show for you guys… How would I describe Karma? I would describe Karma as everything. Because she is just a queen. The straight queen, actually,” he says.
Drag journeys start in different places for everyone, but Austin describes his first experience was when he was 11 and attending pride with his sister.
“I was in a Party City wig, no foundation, I look[ed] horrible, and nothing like the drag I do today. It was pride, and I was 11,” he says.
Since then, he has grown immensely. One of his main factors for growth was his drag mother Vicki Sno, who took him in and helped him hone his skills.
“She is deceased. I only had her for about six months, so I taught myself most of everything. I met her outside. She was just walking around, in full drag, I saw her and said ‘Wow you’re beautiful,’” he says. “She just took me in like nothing. I learned that anything was possible because she was 400 pounds and she could do a split. I felt like if she couldn’t break that stage anything is possible. She told me that people are always gonna assume stuff about you. They gonna think you gay, they gonna think you are a real women, they are gonna think you are trans. That’s not you. You gotta be real to yourself and that’s all that really matters.”
Jack has faced a lot of the discrimination she warned him about. Despite being a straight man, many people assume he is gay or transgender because he does drag.
“People think, like, I’m gesturing with my hands really dramatically. They think ‘that’s really gay or overly feminine and you shouldn’t do that,” he says.
He also struggles with finding a place in the drag community itself.
“So far people do not consider me LGBTQ because I am a straight man. I am a straight man that does drag. Sometimes, the drag community does not want me around, even though I am one of the top performers in Oklahoma. People may not take me in because they only want gay performers or bi performers,” he says.
While this may have made his own journey rocky, he is building a community of his own and also has his own house — meaning a group of drag performers led by him. It’s called the House of Eclectic.
“It is a place where you can be yourself. Other houses have categories, but my house is eclectic, it’s not one box. You can be a singer, you can be a dancer, you can be a comedian, you can be whatever you want,” he describes.
He currently has only one queen under his wing, but he hopes to have more as his social media grows.
Because of COVID, Jack does live performances on his instagram. Go show him some love at @karmathequeeneclectic.