By Karynn Brown
Nov. 17, 2017
Local drag kings, C Styles, TJ Romance, and Rex take the stage once again this Saturday at The Alley. The “Boyz Are Back” event will give longtime drag performers one last chance to perform together. Headliners C Styles, TJ Romance and Rex will be joined by five other local drag performers to put on a show that’s determined to be a whole lot of fun.
“We want to get people there to have a good time, make it a really party vibe,” says C Balta, aka drag king C Styles.
After a life in Lincoln and an integral part of the Lincoln LGBTQA community, C Balta and his partner have made plans to move to Minneapolis in December. Saturday’s event will be the last performance as C Styles. The show has since taken the tone of a final farewell to C Styles and a chapter of drag performers. Balta is hoping the reunion-turned-farewell show brings out lots of old friends, and everyone has a good time.
“I hope that some people that haven’t ever been to the Alley or a drag show, or who haven’t seen me perform, go outside of their main centers of comfort to come check out a fun drag show, and come hang out for one last drag show before I takes off.” says Balta
The headliners used to perform together fairly regularly at The Q -later known as Karma- Lincoln’s gay bar until 2015. As life got in the way their performances became fewer and further between. While Balta has continued to perform occasionally at Prides and at UNK, TJ Romance and Rex’s performances were a bit more seldom. That was part of the inspiration for getting this event, as a chance to get former performers together for a reunion.
“We wanted to wait until it was the right time, if we were going to do it, we wanted to do it well,” says Balta about preparing for the event. “It’s nostalgic, putting together a lineup, promoting yourself, saying ‘Hey come to my drag show!’.” A natural born performer, Balta has been singing and dancing his whole life. From performing in front of bedroom mirrors, to the stage with local band Once a Pawn, to his extensive work as C Styles. Balta’s passion for drag, performance and music all go hand in hand.
In the musical aspect of it all, Balta is a longtime drummer and singer, especially as he fills those roles in Once a Pawn. As a drummer Balta misses out on the opportunity to interact with the crowd the way a front person can. In many ways, drag is an outlet for that energy as a performer. The C Styles persona has been with Balta throughout his drag career, and fit perfectly into the drag king boy band Crush.
Crush was the 3-piece drag king heart-throb group that performed in Lincoln and around the midwest in the early 2000’s. The band included C Styles, TJ Romance and Dr. Gay, who doesn’t perform in drag anymore. Part of the fun of performing as a group is that it allows each member to highlight their own take on the boy band style. Balta compared TJ Romance to Justin Timberlake or Brian from the Backstreet Boys as a classic image of smooth and romantic. This persona works alongside Rex who is described as more of the “knock you off your feet” kind of guy.
The fun, unique group dynamic that Crush represented was something that the performers wanted to rekindle at this event, which will feature both individual and group performances of several drag stars. The main set is sure to include some pop favorites, which are always fun for the performers and the crowd. Performing to songs that everyone knows and loves helps keep the energy high and the party going strong.
The rest of the night’s lineup includes a mix of other drag kings and queens from the local community. The lineup was chosen by Balta and the other headliners to curate a fun and celebratory atmosphere. While some of the performers are old friends and others are new faces, the lineup comes mostly from like minded folx that perform for a good time. For Vanity, Saturday will be the first show performing with Balta and his group. When creating the event, Balta looked for performers with a unique style and that are doing positive work in the community. Although curating a show is not an easy task,“It’s hard to limit it down, to fit everyone in…” says Balta.
Each year the community grows, progresses, and opens itself up to new performers. While a lot of the community is familiar to Balta, there are lots of new performers who are getting acquainted with the scene and willing to try something new. In March of this year the community hosted a reunion show for many performers from The Q, which offered some closure to that aspect of the community. This event started the conversation about the Boyz Are Back reunion show.
Saturday’s “Boyz Are Back” promises to be a celebratory round of favorite songs and favorite performers. As a final chance for Lincoln to see the performance of C Styles and other Crush-era drag kings, the event plans to be a long lasting night of fun for everyone.
Karynn Brown is a multimedia inter with KZUM.