Billy Vorgias prepared for another performance as Envy T. Debeauté in the dressing room at the Back Door, Bloomington's queer bar. During “Envy’s Open Stage,” Bloomington’s only gender-based performance open mic, anywhere from 15 to 20 drag queens and kings sign up to create a variety show featuring musical lip-syncs, dancing and comedy acts.
The performance began when Envy announced the queens from backstage, who brought the highest level of talent to the stage. When it was her turn to perform, the audience applauded as she made her entrance.
Vorgias grew up in Hobart, Indiana. He moved to Bloomington six years ago in search of support from people who understood his identity.
“My family didn’t have a great understanding of queer people,” Vorgias said.
His family discovered he was a drag performer around the same time that Caitlyn Jenner’s story had reached the media’s attention.
In April 2015, Caitlyn Jenner, an American television personality and retired Olympic gold medalist, came out as a transgender woman. Because of the media attention this story gained, Vorgias’s family confused his love of drag performance with a transgender identity.
To explain the difference to his family, he tried to put it in terms to which they could relate. He used the analogy of Johnny Depp and his character Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean.” He explained that Depp performed the role of Sparrow temporarily and did not identify himself as Captain Jack Sparrow outside of the role.
Although this helped his family understand his art a bit more, he never gained their full support.
Vorgias later found an accepting home with his drag family.
Vorgias’s drag name, Envy T. Debeauté, pays homage to his drag mother, Mocha T. Debeauté, and his drag grandmother, Britney Taylor. The two were role models for Envy and helped her create her stage persona.
The French word “Debeauté” means “beauty.” Vorgias explained that his drag name is a play on the word meaning “envy the beauty.”
It is because of the encouragement from Mocha that Vorgias began his drag career. Envy's first drag performance was a duet with Mocha, and she attributes her successful drag career to Mocha’s guidance.
“A drag family only helps your already existing talents and elevate what is already there,” Mocha said.
Mocha might have initially inspired Envy, but now the feeling is mutual. Mocha explained that Envy’s charismatic, creative spirit has inspired her to be a better performer.
“Envy has really given me that extra edge I needed as a performer,” Mocha said.
Near the time that Vorgias met Mocha, his birth mother had recently died. He was still grieving when Mocha invited him to perform with her.
“It pulled me out of my funk,” he said.
Vorgias finds support through Mocha and his drag brother, Vincent Debeauté. This family has been a support system for his professional career and his life outside of drag. Mocha is his roommate and constant supporter, and Vincent is the co-signer on his vehicle loan.
“Drag families are important because they can bring people, who may be outcasts, together," Vincent said. "A drag family is one that is most of the time chosen, unlike a traditional family you are born into.”
Vorgias said these shared experiences bring them closer together and make them a strong drag family on and off the stage.
“We all have different families and upbringings,” Vorgias said. “But we all find solidarity in our connection to our queer identities. We’ve all faced backlash for our identities and orientations.”
Vorgias explained that, in his opinion, the increasing popularity of drag in pop culture has diminished the original concept of a drag family. It’s taken much less seriously now that than it was in the past.
“I practically begged Mocha to be my drag mother because I really respected her,” Vorgias said.
For Vorgias, drag not only serves as an artistic outlet, but also an opportunity for him to educate the Bloomington community about the importance of acceptance and support for minority groups.
“There are marginalized people within our already marginalized community that need our support,” he said.
He performs for a vast number of charity events, and she is active in social matters.
“I love being in a position to give back while doing what I love,” he said.
Envy is one of 10 contestants participating in a fundraiser for INDYPROV, a nonprofit organization that donates to other organizations such as The Marry Rigg Center, IndyPride, Girls Inc. and Girls Rock. The contestant who raises the most money will win the crown for Miz INDYPROV 2019.
The finale for this event will be Dec. 5 in Indianapolis. Vorgias is accepting donations for INDYPROV. Anyone who donates will receive a chocolate bar from BluBoy Chocolate, a local, queer-owned business.
“One way to show solidarity is by giving marginalized people a voice through a person who is not a part of that marginalized group,” he said. “It’s important that these people feel acknowledged and accepted.”
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