When I was in high school, my friends and I would routinely sneak out of the house on the weekends to go dancing all night at the all-ages Escape night club in downtown Portland, where there was usually an amateur lip-sync drag show at midnight. Except you didn’t have to be dressed in drag to perform: Some just performed as they came, as their out-and-proud selves. I specifically remember a character named Jinkx performing Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” in one of the most feminine, sexy, and charismatic displays I’d ever seen. She had so much pep in her step, such a gorgeous wide grin, and she moved with the confidence of a veteran Pussycat Doll.
My friends and I were absolutely stunned, and became borderline obsessed with this persona. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later someone pointed out that our new fave was actually not a cisgender woman, but the “genderless” Jerick Hoffer; Jinkx was their hyper-feminine alter ego—and a very convincing one at that. At the awkward age of 16, I would’ve given anything for the girlish confidence and room-altering presence that this drag queen had mastered.