Five questions with Loretta Stone, real dragwife of Des Moines

Loretta Stone — photo by Christopher Maharry

If you’re familiar with the Des Moines drag scene, you’ve probably run into Loretta Stone. The Perry native lived in New York City for 10 years before moving to Des Moines to become a Midwestern drag icon. Whether you’re catching her emceeing at The Blazing Saddle or hosting her variety show at The Garden, get to know Loretta before you see her out on the town.

How did you get into drag?

Well, I was living in New York and I was just going out all the time. And I remember just going to a show and I saw this queen doing something I had never seen before. They’re called mixes. It’s music, but then all the audio is cut with clips from anything. It could be clips from movies, TV shows, the internet, whatever. But it’s all kind of put together to tell a new story. And I had went to acting school and was just not really finding my way in that industry. So I was just kind of like, “Oh my god, I didn’t know that’s what this could be.” Then I talked about doing it for two years, and my friends were like, “Can you just shut up and do it already?” So yeah, that’s how I finally did it. I think it was my 26th birthday that I made my debut. It was a pretty good night.

You emcee Showcast at The Blazing Saddle every Saturday night. What is Showcast?

So there are your main Saddle girls who you will see. A lot of them are there and will do things during the week as well, and then Fridays and Saturdays is like Saddle Girls and guests. So you’ll see a lot of the same faces every Friday and Saturday with a few guests mixed in there.

For folks who have never been to a drag show, what should they expect?

Well, that’s kind of the funny thing about doing drag, especially in a smaller place like Iowa, where maybe a lot of people who have never been to a drag show really don’t know what it is. And I think there’s this kind of misconception that, for some reason, drag is just like a sexually charged art form. Which, I mean, there is that component to it, but that’s not — I don’t know, it’s just so bizarre to me. But, it’s comedy, it’s dancing, there can be live singing. I mean, it can really be anything a drag performer wants it to be.

What can they expect? They can expect me to be funny if I’m on that night. (Laughs) They can expect to be entertained, they can expect gorgeous outfits, beautiful people, they can — I mean, it’s just a fun time! And I think what I would say the most is leave your misconceptions at the door.

Do you have advice for folks who might want to do drag but just don’t know where to start?

Yeah, if you’re wanting to try it and you’ve never done it before, both bars [The Garden and The Blazing Saddle] have open stages which are perfect opportunities to do that. I believe the Garden’s [open stage night] is every Wednesday and the Saddle’s is every second and fourth Sunday. You do have to sign up beforehand on Facebook. But I think those are the perfect places to start. It’s low pressure, obviously, you’re not getting paid to be there. But I’d say if you’re wanting to do it, just do it. Your first time is never going to be what you expect it to be. It’s never going to be perfect. You just have to get up and do it. Because otherwise you’re going to be like I was for two years just talking about doing it. Just go buy your shake-n-go wig, you know, put on some outfit, pick a song and just live your fantasy. That’s what it’s about. It’s about living your fantasy. Stop waiting and just do it.

OK, last question; this one’s for me. How much fun was it to film The Real Dragwives of Des Moines? Can we expect any more episodes?

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Yeah, I hope so! It was so fun. Frisbee Jenkins, who is a queen from Iowa City, did The Real Dragwives of Iowa City, and then I think there might have been one of Chicago as well, but I’m not sure. Frisbee, who also used to go by Sasha Belle, was on season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race. So yeah, it was just kind of long-form improv. There was no script, there were just ideas here and there. And then we figured out ways to link characters to each other. And we’d just improv scenes based on ideas we came up with five minutes prior. It was all shot in one weekend. All of my stuff was actually shot in one night. I mean, it was fun. I don’t get to do a lot of those kinds of things. I’ve been really wanting to do more film and video stuff with my drag. So it was kind of a fun way to dip my toe into that.

Find Loretta emceeing Showcast at The Blazing Saddle on Saturday nights at 11pm. Also catch her monthly variety show, Evergreen, every third Sunday at The Garden.