Bourbon Street Beauty dazzles in drag

Cadence Neenan, Staff Reporter

Every Sunday, in a dressing room above the Bourbon Pub and Parade, illusion meets art.

John Tiley starts with foundation, follows with contouring and highlighting, and considers eyelashes a key and a must. More makeup, a wig (preferably blonde), hip pads, a waist cincher, breast padding, heels and a full-glam black dress speckled with shimmering rhinestones add to the outfit.

A few minutes later, Aubrey Synclaire takes the stage as the host of the female impersonator extravaganza, “Lipstixx,” a weekly show at the Pub.

“I don’t really get nervous or stressed out about preparing for a show,” Tiley said. “For me it’s just fun and letting loose, and entertaining my audience and giving something new and fresh.”

The Bourbon Pub and Parade has been open for about 40 years, and the Sunday shows have occurred for at least 20. While Tiley has only been performing in drag for seven or so years since his start in an amateurs’ show at a club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he has definitely found his passion.

“I really love getting to meet different people,” Tiley said. “I love entertaining. I like being unpredictable. I love feeling pretty, and glamorous and beautiful, so I enjoy all aspects of it.”

While the shows at the Bourbon Pub are Tiley’s main focus, another huge aspect of his art form is competing in drag pageants.

The specific categories depend on the pageant, but most of the contests have talent sections where entertainers can show off their individual skill set, evening gown, performance in an interview and for some, swimsuit categories.

“Pageants, for me, are … work,” Tiley said. “You invest a lot money in it. It’s a lot of stress, but I enjoy doing it, too. But I’m just competitive by nature.”

Pageants, and even television shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” have allowed drag and female impersonation to become more acceptable in the mainstream, according to Tiley. Former “RuPaul” contestants were even dancing with Miley Cyrus at her Video Music Awards closer. As it has gotten more publicity, the topic has become less taboo and more approachable.

“I think people are somewhat more comfortable who have never been to a drag show before; people are more intrigued to know what we do,” Tiley said.

And of course, if you’re intrigued to see more of Aubrey Synclaire, just head on over to Bourbon Street.

“You know, I always tagline myself as the Bourbon Street beauty,” Tiley said. “I like to think I’m the full package: beauty, brains and talent.”

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