Drag fest: Big fun, good cause

Lu Read, better known as Fudgie Frottage, the gender-bending host extraordinaire of San Francisco’s annual Drag King Contest, has Great Danes on the brain.

Just about every year, the gender illusionist makes a point to incorporate a four-legged friend into the promotional mix for the renowned drag celebration, which serves as a benefit for PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support). Keeping with its long-standing tradition, the publicity shots for the 12th annual contest feature a long-haired pooch named Peanut; the 10th anniversary shined the spotlight on a Pomeranian named Princess Hoo Hah.

Read, a self-described animal lover and owner of two orange tabbies, is already busy thinking about promo material for future contests and fancies working with the breed of gentle giants at some point.

Since 1997, Read has been an integral force behind San Francisco’s annual Drag King Contest, which is reported to be the biggest and longest-running celebration of its kind in the world.

The event is described as a mash-up of sorts that integrates elements of the Miss America Pageant, “American Idol,” Halloween and a monster truck show into one extravaganza. On Saturday, SomArts becomes the party spot for a dozen contestants vying for their chance to be crowned king of The City.

Read, who’ll share master of ceremony duties with the Indra, the half man-half-woman burlesque star, advises folks to “expect the unexpected.”

“Even though I know who most of the people are and what songs they are doing, I don’t always know what exactly is going to happen. Once they are onstage, people really try to out do themselves.”

In addition to the slew of creatively named hopefuls — monikers range from Delicio del Toro to L. Ron Hubby — the event features the return of last year’s winners: Buck Naked (solo king category) and the Slickk Bois (troupe category), and a variety of musical acts like the ’70s, arena-rock-inspired outfit Wood and the hip-hop duo the Momma’s Boyz.

Of course, the main draw of the event is the contest itself. Judges will be scoring performers on a laundry list of criteria that ranges from studliness to sex appeal. While talent goes a long way, Read says that audience applause is crucial to who eventually gets crowned king.

The audience is expected to do more than just root for their favorite personality; attendees are asked to get into the spirit of the celebration and dress up in anything that’s formal, fetish, high femme or even just festive, because a dress code will be enforced.

“The fact that everyone dresses up for it makes it special, sort of like the Black and White Ball or Halloween,” Read says. “People who get dressed up for an occasion tend to have a lot more fun too.”

San Francisco Drag King Contest

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: SomArts, 934 Brannan St., San Francisco

Tickets: $15-$35

Contact: (415) 282-2363, www.sfdragkingcontest.com

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