A CORK teenage may well be Ireland’s youngest drag queen after making his glittering stage debut at the age of 14.
Up until last Sunday Kevin Corr’s performances as alter ego Karma were exclusively for his mum in their sitting room. After taking home first prize at the Miss Mockie Ah pageant, the gifted artist feels he is destined for a career in drag.
The event at Crane Lane had been organised by the grand-nephew of late star Danny La Rue aka Candy Warhol as part of a family-friendly drag showcase.
The Maryborough teen said drag has helped him overcome his shyness. He was inspired by the Ru Paul Drag Race television show.
“Normally I’m very shy,” said Kevin. “When someone in the chipper asks me if I’d like salt or vinegar I’ll get nervous and stutter my words. However, when I’m on stage that shyness leaves me and I feel nothing but confidence. Before seeing Ru Paul’s Drag Race I never realised that queens could look that fabulous.”
The performer admits he has suffered with self-doubt in the past. “There was a time when I thought ‘why am I like this?’ I wished I could have been into soccer instead. Now, Ru Paul’s Drag Race has become such a big part of my life. Watching it has given me confidence and taught me that it’s OK to be different.“
For the last few months, Kevin has turned his home into a makeshift runway. “I’m always closely watching how they lip sync. You have to practise the attitude, a fierce strut, and constantly whipping your hair back and forth.
“After seeing Ru Paul’s Drag Race I started practising running in high heels to see how well I could do. The splits were something I practised a lot too.”
Kevin said while bullying can be an issue for the LGBTQ community, he has been mostly lucky to date. “I haven’t really been bullied by the other boys. The only bullying I’ve really got is from girls who tell me that my make-up isn’t blended right or that my dance moves aren’t up to scratch. Now, if they say that all I’ll need to do is show them my trophy.”
Kevin revealed he was gay to his mother back in summer 2017 when he was 12 years old.
His mother Claire recalled: “When he first told me that he was gay and wanted to be a drag queen I was horrified.
“I thought it might be a phase and wondered if he would want to be something else next week.”
Kevin said: “I was scared of telling mum at first because I thought it might affect the bond we had.
“When I told her, the first thing she said was that she didn’t believe me. I decided that I would tell her again in another few weeks.”
The Gaelscoil Charraig Ui Leighin student remained positive throughout that tumultuous period.
“Ru Paul’s Drag Race taught me that anything was possible so I knew that mum would eventually come round.“
It was a touching motherly gesture that set the pair back on track.
Claire explained. “The following Christmas I asked myself what Kevin would really want for Christmas.
“The choice was between a game for the Xbox or a pair of stilettos. I decided on the pair of stilettos. After that everything was OK between us. Looking back now, I realise that the way I reacted had been my problem. I wasn’t fully educated about what being a drag queen was all about.”
Claire says she is so proud of her son. “There’s a beautiful line in the film Forrest Gump where Forrest’s mum says ‘I was destined to be your mamma’. That’s exactly how I feel about Kevin.”
The first thing the pair did when he performed drag in public was call his 90-year-old grandmother.
“She was almost crying with pride and said this was something we both really needed. I had seen him performing in our sitting room so many times. But after seeing him with the professional lighting and the reaction he got, I could have disintegrated with pride,” said Claire
“I used to get annoyed about how the sitting room floor was pitted with stiletto marks from his routines, but now I realise it was all worth it.”
While Claire is very supportive of her son’s budding career, she always maintains that education comes first.
“He’s asked for a sewing machine for his birthday so he can make his own costumes,” she said.
“The one thing I’ll say about Kevin’s drag queen hobby is that it has improved his home economics.”
Claire has even used drag as an incentive for Kevin to do well in school.
“If he does well in a history test, I might leave a sequined dress for him hanging on the door for when he gets home. You can pick up the most beautiful dresses in charity shops. Kevin always tell me he would like to drag full time but I would like him to get a degree first.”
Kevin was recently given medical advice by a GP to curb some of his more strenuous moves.
“He has been warned about his knee drops,” Claire said. “He doesn’t feel it now but has been told that it could affect him as he gets older. Right now Kevin is just 14 and feels he will be young forever. It is something that I often worry about.”
Claire never imagined her son would pursue a career in drag. “When he was three years old, Kevin asked if he could put on his older sister’s princess dress.
“I said yes, thinking that I would one day be using the photograph to embarrass him at his 21st. Little did I realise he would one day want to do it as a career.”
“The dress he later wore for his first performance in public had belonged to me in the 80s. He used to love borrowing my shoes, but unfortunately, he has since grown out of them. Kevin has also outgrown the ones I gave him for Christmas, but he still likes to hold on to them as a souvenir.”
Kevin has also expressed an avid interest in Eurovision. “He knew all the songs from every year,” said Claire.
“It wasn’t just the winners but the lesser known ones too. Kevin also learned every flag from every European country involved. When he ran out of flags he started making up his own.”
Nonetheless, she emphasised that his greatest quality is his empathy. “If he sees someone is being left out or not involved in something he will gravitate towards them.
“Kevin is very quiet and empathetic in his everyday life, but he also has this sass and attitude that lends itself well to being a queen.”
Some of Kevin’s dreams include auditioning for Ireland’s Got Talent and one day appearing on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
“I don’t just want to perform,” he said. “I would also like to be an activist for the LGBTQ community. This is something that is very important to me.”
The mother and son extended gratitude to everyone who has helped them along the way.
“I want to say a big thank you to Mockie Ah, particularly the drag queen Liam Bee, for giving Kevin this opportunity,” said Claire.
Kevin also acknowledged his stepfather, actor Michael Twomey, for nurturing his talent and the charity LINC, which introduced him to other members of the LGBTQ community.