I lived in Rochester for three years, and one of the best things about it was Mrs. Kasha Davis. It didn’t matter if I saw her casually at a bar with friends or if I went to see her co-hosting a comedy show with other local Rochester drag talent. She would always be so friendly and genuinely warm whenever I gushed like a moron at her. Her heart radiates through. Angela Washko’s Workhorse Queen is a testament to the talent of drag queens who haven’t had a promo land them thousands of follows on Twitter (or Twatter, as Kasha says) or Instagram.
It’s troubling that so many fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race think that what they see on the show is the only form of drag. I’m sure many diehard devotees of Mama Ru’s empire haven’t gone to a dive bar and tipped a dollar to a queen who hasn’t made it on the show.
Ed Popil created Mrs. Kasha Davis as a way to honor his mother but it was also a risk. He had been working in the corporate world for nearly two decades before he decided to invent a woman who could turn a phrase almost as quickly as she could twist a lemon into her martini. Popil details how he bonded with other queens like Darienne Lake and Aggy Dune and how they assisted in the creation of this ultimate housewife. Kasha is sometimes dubbed an “old school queen” when people talk about former contestants on the show, but there really hasn’t been anyone like her in the RPDR canon. There have been other queens older than her, yes, but her style of drag isn’t represented on the show very often. Workhorse Queen quietly shows us what a shame it would be if people lost that history of what Kasha Davis brings to the table.
Washko brings a homegrown intimacy to her film and that’s thanks to talking to Popil and his husband, Steven Levins, in their home. There is a lot of love between Mr. and Mrs. Davis and they have built a beautiful life together (I’m a sucker for the drag husbands helping their partner out, and Mr. Davis is the ultimate drag husband). There is such a sadness to the film when we see Popil’s struggles with alcoholism and when we see an ill-attended gig. You can see the disappointment in Kasha’s face sometimes, and it’s quietly heartbreaking. What do you do when it feels like your dreams aren’t being fulfilled the way you expect them to? Rochester’s Aggy Dune is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen, and she needs to bask in that Drag Race glow. People need to see her!
There are thousands of queens out there, and more are being born every day. You can find so many makeup tutorials and recaps of the show on YouTube, but the history of drag didn’t start with RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s much more streamlined now, but the history of these dedicated performers should not and cannot be lost. Mrs. Kasha Davis has given so much to her community and she deserves every fresh opportunity that all the other queens get. Pull out your dollars, and let’s get her on All Stars!