By BRIANNA SCHUTZ/Montana State News
At first glance, Daniel Meharry seems like any typical 20-something. He has a job, he goes out with his friends, and he loves his family.
Meharry, however, is something that not many people can say they are: a drag queen by the name of Isis Vavoom.
Meharry is proud and confident in his own skin with no apologies to anyone for the things that he does, although it has been a long road to get Meharry Meharry to where he is today.
Meharry was born in Texas, the youngest of three kids. Meharry and his family moved a lot while he was growing up. First when he was five to Glendive. Four years later they moved to Hamilton and then another four years later they moved to Bozeman. Along with these geographical transitions Meharry was dealing with some life decisions along the way.
When Meharry was 5 he first approached his mother about the fact that he believed he was gay. Coming from a very Christian family, Meharry’s parents did not know how to approach this. They did what they best believed they could and placed Meharry in “ex-gay” ministry.
Meharry explains that “ex-gay” ministry is essentially reparative therapy used to “repair” people out of their non-religious ways. However, years later, Meharry he says that this type of therapy is proved to be very damaging to people who have to go through it and it is not proven to work.
During his days in counseling, they tried to figure out what could be making Meharry believe he was gay. One of his counselors reasoned that a cause could be a male child growing up with an overbearing mother and an absent father. Meharry admits that this was indeed true for his childhood, but does not believe that is why he is homosexual.
This aside, Meharry has a very strong family life and gets along well with his entire family with minimal family problems. Though Meharry did not officially come out until he graduated high school, his family and friends always knew and accepted him for who he was. It was hard for his family, but they never quit loving him. After he graduated, and the weight of masking who he is was off of his shoulders, Meharry decided to spread his wings and head off to Michigan.
However, his adventure in Michigan was short lived, landing him in Missoula the following year. And Missoula is the home where Meharry became Isis as well.
When Meharry was 20, he saw his first drag show during the Gay Pride in Missoula. There was one particular performer who captured his attention and really drew him in.
“He was performing to Lady Gaga’s, ’Teeth.’ He was wearing a long, black, trench coat with a negligee underneath. At the beginning of the performance he poked his out from behind the curtains. To this day it is the best performance I have ever seen,” Meharry reminisced.
After this life-changing moment Meharry enlisted the help of his friend Josh, drag name Kiara, the only other drag queen in Missoula.
“Josh went over how to do make-up with me one time. After that it was just trial and error on my own,” he remembers.
During Halloween that year, Meharry performed in his first ever Drag Show at Dino’s Casino in Missoula. Under the name Isis Vavoom, he performed to Miley Cyrus’s, “Can’t Be Tamed.” Since then, he has not looked back.
“My parents have never attended a show but sometimes my mom will talk make-up with me and stuff. She likes that part of it. My brother doesn’t like it but my sister-in-law is pretty fascinated by it. My sister has been to a few shows. I don’t know, it would be kind of uncomfortable for my parents to be watching. I’m practically naked,” Meharry explained.
The concept of being practically naked in front of a room full of friends and strangers however doesn’t bother him at all.
“People are mesmerized by drag, there’s a sense of fantasy to it.” Meharry tries to perform as a hot girl going out to the clubs, with a sneak peek of what can happen when she gets home. He describeshis performances as “scandalous, really fast and really sexy.”
Before a show, Meharry’s routine is pretty strenuous. He starts by shaving his entire body from the eyebrows down, a process that typically takes an hour and a half to two hours. After that he showers. Lastly, he applies his make-up, another hour and a half to two-hour process.
In Montana, Isis is usually pretty well taken. There have been a few comments meant to hurt him but they typically don’t work.
“People will say things like ‘You’re a man,’ trying to be insulting, but it’s not. I know that I am a man,” Meharry said. Meharry is not one to hold his tongue. After hearing a girl in Bozeman say, “I’m so sick of seeing all these gay people around,” he quickly responded to her with an, “I’m so sick of seeing all of these fat, ugly people around.”
Meharry explains the hardest part of doing drag that he can imagine is potentially telling a future boyfriend who may not understand. However, for the time being he is just enjoying his life and embracing it for all he can.
Edited by Meghan O’Neal.