The Rebel Kings were established in 2010 in Oakland, California and are a group of drag kings. They are women and gender-expansive folks who lip sync dressed as men, though they often bring other gender explorations into their performances too.
The Rebel Kings began performing in 2010. They have a regular performance at the White Horse Inn, which has been open since at least 1933 and is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. The Rebel Kings are one of very few drag king shows in the East Bay and in general — though drag has been a performance tradition for more than a century, performing drag as men has historically had less appeal as a performance art than queendom. Vegas Jake and Dante Demoan have both been performing with the Rebel Kings since their start a decade ago.
The Kings came into drag through various paths, and many of them occupy roles as mentors or mentees to one another, helping each other navigate the drag scene. Having been with the Rebel Kings since their start in 2010, Vegas Jake thus is a “drag dad” to many of the newer performers.
One of the original Rebel Kings, Vegas Jake, a.k.a. Jen Shockey, has been doing drag for around two decades since a friend gave her a gold lamé costume that led to the creation of the Vegas Jake drag character. Shockey explains that there was an influential drag king who supported her in her entrée into drag, and she now tries to fulfill a similar role for new kings. Some of the kings start performing as a way to express their transness, and some are just looking to play with gender, while others perform as a way to manage mental or emotional health.
- For the last decade, the Rebel Kings have had a standing show at the White Horse Inn (6551 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609) every first and third Wednesday. There had previously been a drag king show at the White Horse, and when that ended, some of its members regrouped to form the Rebel Kings.
- Recently the Rebel Kings led a drag king workshop at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center (3207 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610). The workshop was open to people of all ages and experience levels, and no one was turned away for lack of funds. The Rebel Kings strive to make their events, and this workshop, accessible to all kinds of folks.
- Several years ago, the Rebel Kings performed a show at Oakland Pride (2111 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612). Drag is often dominated by drag queens and feminine drag, and the Rebel Kings are one of very few drag king groups in the East Bay, so their performance at Pride brought their show further into the mainstream of Bay Area drag culture.
~ by Christine Iyer ~