George Mechalke has been a dancer his whole life since he was three years old. And recently he’s found his new passion. 

HermAphrodite is George’s drag persona. She is both a drag queen and a drag king. She came up with that name during a car ride while visiting home, and is extremely proud of how well it represents her. 

“I think it’s one of the strongest parts of this character. I’m so proud of the name,” she said. “I know it lends me to not only being a drag queen, but also being a drag king, which I think works really well with my personality, and I get to be really versatile.”

Her first time publicly performing was at the Student Drag Show in iZone on March 21. She performed with Mrs. Kasha Davis and some student drag performers. HermAphrodite spent the week before preparing for the show, spending hours each day learning how to do drag makeup and practicing her choreography for the piece.

“Rehearsing and figuring it out and teaching myself how to do a pseudo death drop — that took a lot of time,” she said. 

She explained that the show was a fun experience and an exciting space. The crowd was encouraging and validating of the performers. 

“They were a great audience, gasping when gasping was the right thing and lots of cheering.”

On the way to her performance, HermAphrodite saw many people that she knew, and none of them recognized her.

“That’s incredibly satisfying for me, to kind of dress bigger and a lot more feminine than I would normally and have people not recognize me even though I’m calling more attention to myself in my opinion,” she explained. “Several people’s eyes just passed right over me, and I was like, ‘whoa, okay, cool.’”

The makeup and the outfits are the most challenging aspects of drag for HermAphrodite. She explained how she was never into makeup as a kid, even though she had to do stage makeup for dance. When doing drag makeup, the contour is the hardest part for her. But she made clear how the community is very helpful, wants new performers to grow, and are willing to share their tips and tricks. 

“Like, one queen, her name is Eden Alive, she’s amazing. And I was like, girl, how is your contour so good? Her makeup is absolutely stunning and she was so forthcoming with any information I might need to up my game in that way.” 

HermAphrodite has done multiple performances at ROAR, a nightclub and bar in Rochester, since the Student Drag Show. She has been performing during the So You Think You Can Drag nights, which are every Thursday night, for three weeks. She tries new things out and learns from other drag performers while growing into her character. 

Hermaphrodite’s favorite aspect of drag is the performance. Dance performances require hours and hours of rehearsing for only a few showings, and doing drag has allowed her to maximize that ratio of performance to rehearsal time.  

“I love performing, and I know that I get so much joy out of it,” HermAphrodite explained. “So this is a really exciting way to do that, and it’s also a really exciting way for me to work on improvisation and being more present in the moment when something doesn’t work when I was planning to do something on a certain cue and I don’t get there.”

Something different from performing as a dancer is the tipping and audience participation. During a drag show, audience members can show their appreciation by tipping the drag performers and interacting with them. This ability of improvisation is something HermAphrodite has been working on. 

“When that happens, that’s a really concrete way that that person is showing appreciation for you. And you also show appreciation back. It’s really nice to have a moment with them to do some drama, to lip sync to them,” she explained. 

Being a drag queen can be expensive, so HermAphrodite has gotten really good at being crafty. She spends time doing things that she said are really silly, like making hip pads from couch cushions from Michaels. These fun, weird skills that she’s picked up are something that she’s been enjoying. 

Since she’s so new to drag, HermAphrodite is just exploring things, learning what works for her, and having a good time. 

“I think that a lot of times I don’t give myself a specific goal because I just want to continue to improve myself and let open doors lead me where they will.”

HermAphrodite can be found performing at ROAR on Thursday nights and at her Instagram, @h3rmaphr0dite.

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