People have been able to get a beer and tater tots in West Seattle, well, forever, but now they can do it while watching a drag queen lip-synch a Marilyn Manson song. Or lip-synch Panda Bear while dressed as a sea monster. Or smack a Chipotle burrito against her tuck. It's hard to say what will happen at West End Girls, a new drag show starting on Friday, March 31, at the Skylark, but that's a (very abridged) list of the performers' recent stunts. The show brings Capitol Hill bacchanalia to West Seattle, which is where its creators, Old Witch and Cookie Couture, are residents. So, in a way, West End Girls is just bringing West Seattle back to West Seattle.
Old Witch (Jared Mills) and Cookie Couture (Reese Umbaugh) have worked together as members of the Seattle band Noddy, which describes its genre as "sizzythatwalk." Oh, and they're also married. They live in West Seattle with their foster kids, dog, and three chickens named after contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race (Tammie Brown, Latrice Royale, and Shangela). There was a fourth chicken, Hen DeLaCreme, who could ride a skateboard, but she recently passed.
Despite being drag queens (who sometimes eat cans of beans while lip-synching), Witch and Cookie emphasized they're not that weird for West Seattle. "We've seen people walk a pig in the park a few blocks up," said Witch. (Walking a pig in the park, by the way, isn't a gay thing. They're referencing a literal pig.) "There are straight couples and bears and soccer moms here," says Cookie, "and plenty of gay couples with kids. People want to see drag, but they don't want to go all the way to Capitol Hill."
Even though Seattle's drag scene is centralized around the Hill, many of the queens have moved to other neighborhoods. Tired of taking $20 Lyfts to and from their performances, Witch and Cookie started planning a show in West Seattle.
"I tried to do a drag show at Full Tilt," said Witch, referencing the ice cream shop near their home. "Y'know, a kids show." Cookie laughed, "She'll take gigs where she can get 'em." Full Tilt didn't take Witch up on the offer, but the Skylark did.
The Skylark isn't a venue that seems like it would host a drag show. It's a place that posts bacon porn on its Facebook page. You can eat a hummus platter while Alanis Morissette plays over the speaker. It's a good dad bar, but it's also been home to a surprising amount of femmy queer stuff. The venue has hosted Jeffrey Roberts's West Side Glory: A Somewhat Queer Variety Show and Morning Glory, a drag brunch with Magnolia Crawford. (Crawford later went on to be a contestant on season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race. She was eliminated early and known for her thin nose contour.)
"This first show obviously isn't able to show every type of drag in Seattle, but it's all killer and no filler," said Witch. West End Girls has a hefty lineup featuring Cookie and Witch alongside seven other queens: Arson Nicki, Betty Wetter, Butylene O'Kipple, Chico Johnson, Fraya Love, Londyn Bradshaw, and Hellen Tragedy. (Bradshaw is the reigning Miss Gay Seattle, and Nicki was recently featured as one of The Stranger's persons of interest.)
At the West End Girls premiere, Cookie and Betty Wetter open with a live viewing of that night's episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, with performances starting a little after 9 p.m. And don't say West Seattle is too far—it's a quick 11-minute drive (or a 27-minute bus ride) from Capitol Hill. Take public transit and paint your face while you're waiting. Bring dollar bills for the queens. Or bring a chicken—Cookie and Witch are looking for a new one.