Gidget goes to Camp Drag

by Scott Stiffler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 7, 2009

What does it take to drag a drag queen out of bed at the unholy hour of 11 AM on a Sunday for her career-defining Edge phone interview? For Gidget Galore, it was the glitzy, glamorous allure of show business - and the fact that she had to be up anyway, since she was in Kentucky helping a fellow drag queen compete in the National Entertainer of The Year Pageant.

Galore (who also walks the Earth as in the form of his male alter ego Richard Kuntz) wasn't born into the business. Years before she was hosting Orlando drag shows and promoting the ethic of "Love, Peace & Pantyhose," the seeds for Gidget Galore were being sown when sweet, young, innocent and not-yet-out little Richard Kutnz (son of a father in the military) moved from the chilly environs of upstate New York to the sultry, sexy sauna of Orlando, Florida. _ _That move, which happened when Kuntz was in the eleventh grade, proved both opportune and prophetic.

Kuntz: "My drag name used to be Bubbles Galore. That name came from a competition called 'Big Man on Campus.' It was held at my high school and involved all of the jocks in a drag competition." Kuntz won't say what year that was, but he points to this early exposure to entertainment, competition, drag and all things fabulous and gay as, in the words of President Obama, "a teachable moment."

Seems that progressive high school, where jocks dawned frocks, left a lasting impression on the young man who had "been a performer all through high school, in musical theater. I think I got bit by the bug one Halloween, as a lot of people do, when I dressed in drag."

Flash forward to the present day, and Mr., Kuntz, who used to be Bubbles Galore, is now Gidget Galore - whose campy, steamy, pithy and profane drag persona revolves around a series of fabulous wardrobe changes which come with descriptive titles such as "Gidget Goes Camping," "Gidget Goes Barbequing," "Gidget Goes to Space" and a variety of Disney-inspired getups. The collection, Kuntz/Galore gushes, "takes up a two-car garage, which I converted into a massive Gidget closet."

But like the creation of Gidget Galore, Kuntz's current closet-burstingly busy career didn't happen overnight. Sitting pretty on his 2009 perch, Kuntz recalls "having worked all the way from the bottom, learning and growing.

"In 2004, I started performing at the Anything Goes talent night at the Parliament House, hosted by two of my best friends (Miss Sammy and Carol Lee). One night, on a whim, I decided to compete." It was also 2004 when Galore won her first pageant. Then, in 2005, she was crowned Miss Central Florida Newcomer.

Currently the host of two nights at Orlando's famed Parliament House, Galore's advice to budding drag queens and sassy gay guy/gals of all ilk is to "put in hard work, pay your dues and show initiative. I've done lots of charities, benefits and free events to get where I am."

And where is she? Wednesdays, you'll find Galore at the Parliament House, hosting Camp Drag - which includes such fun activities as the "Do It Yourself" drag contest. Galore explains: "We provide the drag stuff; wigs, shoes, makeup and dresses. Contestants have five minutes to get themselves into drag." Once gussied up, they spin The Wheel of Drag and receive a lip synch performance assignment (Madonna, show tunes, country, whatever). Galore says the contest attracts professional drag wannabes as well as "hairy, burly" straights who don't seem to mind putting on a dress and camping it up for the crowd. A cash prize and a free stay at the Parliament House sweetens the deal.

Between sets from contestants, Galore entertains by taking well-known numbers and giving them their own drag makeover: "I take a song you know already and twist the meaning of the lyrics around." That includes a performance of the Mary Poppins number "A Spoonful of Sugar" with a slight drug reference which explains her next bit, a super-fast rendition of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

Creating the material comes from collaboration. Galore, ever the generous queen (or, as the case may be, Queen), notes "I have the best circle of friends. They're so creative. One of the most fun parts of my week is Sunday Tea in the courtyard at the Parliament House. We start rolling in at 4, and are on our way home by 9. We sit around, throw out ideas." And in the rare lull between ideas, one hopes they also dish, dish, dish as only drag queens can do.

Camp Drag with Gidget Galore happens every Wednesday night, 11 PM ($3 cover), at the Parliament House Resort, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando. For more information, call 407-425-7571.

Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His show, "Sammy's at The Palace. . .at Don't Tell Mama"---a spoof of Liza Minnelli's 2008 NYC performance at The Palace Theatre, recently had a NYC run. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.