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Wigs, makeup and the frantic inspiration that syncs Morley Pride

Already an hour behind schedule, a makeup-less Argintina Hailey finally found a moment to get into character.
A photo illustration shows the transformation of The Marvelous Mo B. Dick, above, into a drag king for Morley Pride on Aug. 19. The left picture shows a pre-makeup portrait,
A photo illustration shows the transformation of The Marvelous Mo B. Dick, above, into a drag king for Morley Pride on Aug. 19. The left picture shows a pre-makeup portrait, followed by getting into character on the right, and then, in the middle, Mo B. Dick makes his first appearance at the venue.

Already an hour behind schedule, a makeup-less Argintina Hailey finally found a moment to get into character.

The two-spirit drag queen seated herself in front of a brightly lit hotel room mirror at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino where the second annual Morley Pride and drag show occurred last weekend.

Having fulfilled most obligations with fans, co-organizers, performers and media, Hailey briefly exhaled in relief before snapping back into her reality.

“It's gonna be a crazy night,” she said as show time neared on Aug. 19.

Hailey, from Stoney Nakoda, is one of the original Morley Pride organizers desiring the celebration of two-spirit inclusiveness on Alberta First Nation reserves.

Last year, the dream became reality and since then two more two-spirit pride shows have been promoted on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

Pride event stories are all distinctive to each other, and two of those accounts shadow a 17-year royal drag queen veteran and an up-and-coming drag king with a zip in his step through their preparation and performances.

From the moment Hailey arrived at the casino on Saturday, a stubborn to-do checklist awaited the performer and promoter of Morley Pride.

First, an executive decision was made to lower ticket prices and ease financial burdens on some wanting to attend the Retro Drag Cabaret.

“It's an event they all look forward to,” said Hailey, a two-spirit individual, meaning an Indigenous person who understands both male and female aspects of life.

“I was running around meeting people and getting my stuff done for today and that alone is an excitement.”

The promoter's next priority was to check out the venue, which had to be set up just right, and then figure out whether all performers had checked in to the casino's attached hotel.

A promoter's work is always worrisome, but when Hailey could momentarily be a bit less stressed, she found time for herself.

At 6:22 p.m., with hair up in a bun, the performer began brushing on face makeup, a process that can take Hailey up to two hours when not rushed.

In this case, making a scheduled 7 p.m. appearance at the venue in drag seemed bleak.

The composed veteran kept cool, though, despite dual duties being “a pretty big job,” she said, looking at her reflection in the mirror where brush strokes blended the different shades of makeup.

“I've been running around, sculpting my face to make sure it looks even, and just getting it ready,” she said. “I was downstairs in the venue, on the side selling tickets – I've been all over the place.”

One floor below, a newcomer to Morley Pride walked unaccompanied to his hotel room.

The Marvelous Mo B. Dick just finished smoking a joint and, once in his room, turned up the volume to a drag music-playlist that helps give life to a quirky, flamboyant drag king.

“Once the face is on and the costume is on, it's Mo B. Dick, and it's kind of like my alter ego,” he said.

“Being on stage is like being home – and I don't mind the spotlight.”

Throwing off his ball cap to reveal short, wavy platinum blonde hair shaved on the sides, Mo B. Dick parked in front of a hotel room mirror, where the evening's makeup had already been laid out.

The marvelous former Canmore resident's on-stage theatrics came about a year earlier after encouragement to enter an amateur drag king competition from his “drag dad” DeVery Bess.

As it turns out, Mo B. is pretty damn good under the lights, and won the Fake Mustache Drag King's Amateur Show in Calgary.

“I have a background in musical theatre and dance and gymnastics, and performing was always a thing in my life. I had never done the impression aspect of it, but I've always been intrigued (by drag shows),” he said.

Mo B. Dick's drag dad gave him a crash course on the ins and outs of being a drag king with proper makeup application, costumes, and the like.

Sure enough, Mo B.'s heart grew for the art to where he's become Calgary's hottest upcoming king.

“I didn't know about the entire drag community until I started doing drag and it's actually way more in-depth than I ever thought it was … I‘ve been booked solid since June,” he said.

A little bit after 7:30 p.m., Mo B. Dick entered the Chill Room sporting a red buttoned down dress shirt and dark suit, complete with a dark moustache and hair in tight order.

Following closely was Hailey, in heels and a sparkly dress and directing traffic.

Aiding Argie with the overall operation of Morley Pride was Mount Royal University's Iniskim Centre, which lifted a lot of weight off her shoulders.

Under the bright lights, Hailey is of the old school regime with a regal presence influenced by Tina Turner, while Mo B. Dick, is an upbeat, eccentric performer with a story to tell onstage.

A lot of newer faces to the pride event had been expected to attend this year, said Hailey. Even though the inaugural Morley Pride was a huge success, some were still curious as to what was going on. It's easy for Hailey to explain it to them.

“It's nothing dangerous or in your face, it's just having a night out to celebrate the community and bring awareness to the general public that we are here and we exist,” said Hailey.


Following performances at Morley Pride with her Pumas, Banff Pride organizer Miss Ellen Q announced the event's fifth anniversary takes place Oct. 14 at Wild Bill's Legendary Saloon.


Rocky Mountain Outlook

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