In 1997, Seattle's most adored—and feared—drag queen disappeared. Now he's back, and he's packing Tampax. Curt Doughty

Long ago, when Seattle was Seattle and not just Microsoft Annex B, Boy Mike roamed the night. Some say Boy Mike came from the sea, like Godzilla or Aphrodite or something fabulous in between—and some say that it was to the sea he returned, on that sad day many years ago when he vanished. Others claim that he came not from the sea but from Port Orchard, and when he went, he went only to SeaWorld in San Diego, where he wore the Shamu suit and clapped happy foam flippers at children. (Delightful!) There are even those who boast that he dry-humped their legs one time in a crowded and broken-down elevator, and that it really doesn't matter where the hell he went anyway, because he's back now, baby. Guard your pleats.

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Stories. Boy Mike is made of stories. And rumors. And glitter.

Boy Mike was born Mike Siler, and Mike Siler was born a boy. And he still is a boy. Occasionally.

But when his boobies are happening and his wig's all teased high, Mike adds "Boy" to his name, so there is no silly confusion, and retires the "Siler" altogether. Voilà! Boy Mike. He has done this since Boy George did it first—for Boy George is his hero, his obsession, his muse. Please make a note of it. (Madonna? Don't even mention the bitch. He'll gush till you puke.)

A history: Ages ago, in the '70s and '80s, boys who were girls sometimes wore lapel pins that explained "I Am a Boy" when they were out on the town, to ensure against the awkwardness and broken noses associated with clueless straight guys who were expecting clam taco, not sausage surprise. This inspired young George O'Dowd, a skinny English boy who was morphing into a fat white woman, to rechristen himself "Boy George" in an irony-rich celebration of his particular androgyny. Or maybe he was just too high to concoct a proper drag name. Whatever: Thusly did Boy George inspire little Mikey Siler.

Not that anyone with the sense God gave a goose could confuse Boy Mike with an actual woman, even if he called himself "Big-Real-Woman-with-a-Vagina-and-Everything Mike." Not unless that anyone had never met a woman—or was talking to Boy Mike on the phone. He has the voice of a hungover PTA mother, but the physique of two much-scarier men. And the soul of an ashtray in love.

Boy Mike was born unto Seattle at large in 1985, when he used that name for the first time in a lip-synch contest at Seattle Center. He attained his pinnacle of infamy in 1995 when he set Mark "Mom" Finley on fire. Or something like that.

It was an age when drag queens ruled the Hill: Chocha Fresca, Bitsy Bates, Kahlua Ice, Nebulina Novatron, Ginger Vitus, Jackie Hell—bewigged vagiants that lived, loved, lip-synched, and clashed mascara wands on the mean streets of Gay Clubland. They were the color, the quirk, the sparkle, and flash in this gray city so obsessed with drizzly grunge. Among them, Boy Mike was a sensation—and a scandal.

Boy Mike devised and hosted two of the most popular queer club nights that ever happened: Rock Lobster, on Thursdays, and Retrovenge, every Tuesday, at Neighbours: combination disco, drag shows, and Love Connection–esque contest nights that dragged in the gays by the hundreds. He was compelling, funny, obnoxious, and really rather perverted when the shots were flowing. He was a relentless promoter. He did a mean Roseanne. He was omnipresent, impossible to miss.

He was adored and feared beyond reason.

Witnesses swear they once saw Boy Mike carried Cleopatra-style on a throne to the Biltmore Apartments where he lived: "The entire throne was set down," one source told me, "while the lackeys figured out a way to carry it through the Biltmore door, while Boy slurred, 'You stupid fucking pathetic pieces of fucking...' Then he let out the loudest, sloppiest belch I ever heard...." Some claim he had something to do with the mysterious shadow that once lurked in the Neighbours parking lot late at night, searching for God only knows what. "The first time I saw Boy Mike," another source told me, "he grabbed my fucking tits."

The Boy denies it all. Maybe he just doesn't remember.

Anyway, when Neighbours refused to meet The Boy's demands for higher compensation, he packed his pantyhose and defected to the Brass Connection, the dance bar round the corner that played Hatfield to Neighbours' McCoy. (Maharaja Cuisine of India lives there today.) Mark Finley took over Boy Mike's Neighbours nights, but made the error of disparaging The Boy on his maiden voyage as host, and...

The Boy was in the house that night, spying, and was not to be dissed—in a rage, he grabbed a candle (Neighbours was dotted with them then, for ambience) and like a cross-dressing catapult, he heaved the burning thing at Mark from the balcony above, splattering molten wax onto his nylons and frock. Panic! Confusion! Fuss! Then he leaned over the balustrade and topped it off with, "Next time it'll be a table, you bitch!" A stunning moment.

Boy Mike does not deny any of that.

Neighbours retired the candles that night—and banned Boy Mike, who opened a competing Thursday night at the Brass, and called it Disco Inferno, Burn, Baby! BURN!—the clever bitch. He split Mark's audience in two. What chutzpah.

But the Brass eventually went tits-up, as bars do, and one day in 1997, without warning—POOF!—Boy Mike evaporated. He left not an eyelash behind. Nobody knew what happened to him. Some bitches said he died.

And now, just as suddenly—POOF!—he's back. Eyelashes and all. Just like that.

Where did he go? One story claims he did Cinderella's makeup at Disneyland, one says he worked in radio, and did La Cage in Vegas. Another says, well, Shamu. Does it really matter?

Why did he come back? He started hosting a new Wednesday night at Neighbours Underground—also known as the basement—called Roxy's House of Dolls. The Boy and the club have called a truce, for now, although a flying Tampax covered with fake blood and real hair that tends to thump people in the face has been reported. (The Boy was always fond of throwing things.) He's also doing the occasional cameo at Julia's on Broadway. (No word of flying Tampax there—yet.)

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In short, he came back to be Boy Mike. Insane shit is going to happen. Try not to waste it this time. recommended

adrian@thestranger.com