When I call drag queen Roxy C. Moorecox, she's taking a break from washing her wigs. She has 15 piled in a bathtub and is spending the night scrubbing out old hairspray, sweat and glitter. After she is finished, she will then blow-dry and style each one. During this lengthy process, she plays a DVD of Adele Live at The Royal Albert Hall on loop to keep her company.
Moorecox, 30, is preparing for a new chapter in her 10-year-plus drag career. She will star in Bang! A One-Woman Show! on Feb. 1 and 2 at The Actor's Theatre of Charlotte. Although she has made a name for herself in local gay clubs and touring the country with national drag performers, this is the first time she will have her own show that's not in a bar. She will sing live vocals and mix campy humor with stories of her life growing up as a closeted Southern Baptist in South Carolina.
"I am not going to be funny all the time," said Moorecox. "That's why this show is difficult, because it's not about one thing. Well, actually it is. It's about me. And I'm a lot of things."
In 2001, Moorecox fell in love with drag after seeing camp drag entertainers The Armorettes perform in Atlanta. Eventually, drag performance became her full-time career. She built her brand by performing at gay bars across the U.S. and even London. Four months ago, she felt well-established enough to take her act into a theatrical setting, so she began writing the script for Bang! The title, incidentally, is a play on the line from the song "Roxie" in the musical Chicago, when Roxie Hart says, "Just in case she doesn't hang, she can say she started with a bang." Similarly, this one-woman show is the gunshot start for Moorecox to reveal new sides of herself to audiences.
"It's going to be a really good way to encapsulate all of her talents, from character impersonation to live singing to comedic numbers," said Gigi Monroe, a Los Angeles-based drag queen who has performed in cabaret shows and bars for eight years. She has appeared with Moorecox at The Rainbow In in Lake Wylie and Marigny in Charlotte. "It will give people an ability to see the entire spectrum of her talents, which I don't think people always get to see in a bar. I think this is going to give them a chance to really see how far that talent ranges."
Performing in a theater as opposed to a bar has its challenges. Drag queens are free to ad-lib and accept tips from bar audiences, but they cannot do those things in a theatrical production. Theater audiences have pre-paid for their tickets and show their appreciation for the performer with applause instead of cash. Monroe notes that Moorecox will also have to follow predetermined lighting and song cues, and straying from that light choreography might literally leave her in the dark.
Despite the new challenges, Moorecox plans to keep the show moving with spontaneous bits in her pre-set song list — a mix of Broadway and country — with piano accompanist Scott Whitesell. She will have an Ask Roxy segment, where audience members can write down their questions for her to answer in the second half of the show. Plus, the audience will get to see her as a real person at a more reasonable hour — 8 p.m. — and not just as a larger-than-life character in a nightclub at midnight.
"I can't think of a better way to introduce new folks to drag, especially if they're uncomfortable with the concept," said Moorecox. "You have the fourth wall protecting you, but at the same time, you're seeing the queen and the heart at the same time. There's that mask that is taken off."
The show will hopefully open doors for Moorecox on the national drag scene. She plans to tour even more cities this year and beyond. But for now, she's anxious to give audiences a peek into the mind of the man behind the makeup.
"It's a sign of your status if you can pull off a one-person show," said Moorecox. "You go and see Bette Midler, you go and see Cher, you go and see these folks. You don't go and see Cher and Bette Midler and Carol Burnett. You don't see them all together. They are their own distinct, individual entities. And that is sort of what I'm excited about becoming."
BANG! A ONE-WOMAN SHOW
Feb. 1 & 2 at 8 p.m., Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E. Stonewall St. $20. Details: 704-342-2251 or http://actorstheatrecharlotte.org.