Local performer hopes to bring ‘drag-lesque’ to Harrisonburg

Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 3, 2023 at 10:02 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A performer hopes to bring the art of drag-lesque, a combination of drag and burlesque, to the Friendly City.

Ryatt Flair’s career started in the Shenandoah Valley in 2018, and her success has given her the title of the “Synth-Pop Maiden of Burlesque.” Although burlesque brings her joy, it has not come without struggle.

“Being a bigger-bodied performer and a brown-skin performer, we always have spaces that say that they are inclusive of BIPOC or POC individuals, but it’s very hard to break into that scene,” Flair said.

The Harrisonburg local encourages people to ask questions and do research on the art forms, instead of making assumptions. She feels the hate for drag and burlesque stems from misunderstanding, and believes that many may be unaware of how the art forms benefit people.

“Burlesque is embracing you know a different side of yourself a lot of people use burlesque and drag to come back back to themselves. They use it as a healing process for any past trauma they’ve gone through — so that’s the biggest part we need to focus on,” Flair said.

From Richmond to Knoxville, Flair said other areas allowed space to be herself to the fullest. She hopes to make a complete drag-lesque hub in her hometown.

“They want to come back here and so that’s why I really want to get that started back up in the area and I know a lot of the performers that I used to perform with the Harrisonburg Harlots would love it,” Flair said.

The performer is planning to join forces with production companies in the area.

“I’ve started talking to Rhinestone Productions, trying to do a burlesque drag show. I know they perform predominantly at Mashita and JMU’s campus, so that’s something that is in the works.”

Through her efforts, Flair hopes to create a sense of community for both drag and burlesque.

“Instead of creating that division between burlesque and drag, we want to make sure that we’re all working together because that’s the biggest part of it,” she said.