When we think of drag queens, we think of fantastic, flamboyant, bombastic characters. But behind the stage, and off set, the men whose alter-egos entertain so many, are often decidedly modest.
Rob Keetch, one of Cardiff’s most well-known drag queens, divides his time between retail management and performing at Pulse in Cardiff. Rob told the Wessex Scene that he first got involved in drag artistry in the 90s, whilst volunteering at Body Positive in Cardiff, an HIV and AIDS charity. Once a year they held a week of fundraising activities at The Kings Cross, the oldest gay bar in Cardiff, which sadly closed down earlier this year. The drag queen who was going to perform was taken ill, and so Rob took his place. He admits that he’d never thought about it before, but having trained as a drama teacher, donning a wig and putting on an accent was second nature.
Thus came into being Rob’s alter-ego, Doctor Beverly Ballcrusher. Doctor Bev was asked to host events on a regular basis, and her confidence in putting shows together grew. Rob said that performing as Doctor Bev really opened doors for him, allowing him to meet celebrities such as Danni Minogue, Gina G, Samantha Fox, and Linda Lucady.
behind the stage, the men whose alter-egos entertain so many are often decidedly modest.
career really took off after performing at Cardiff Mardi Gras in front of thirty thousand people. Having to follow Iris Williams’ rendition of Amazing Grace is what Rob describes as one of Beverly’s greatest ”moments of fear”. Based in Cardiff, Rob has also performed in Copenhagen, Gran Canaria and Ireland, as well as on British national television. He is currently performing shows at Pulse with X-Factor finalists such as Sami Brookes.
When asked if it was hard to keep Doctor Bev separate from his day-to-day identity, Rob replied that to keep them divided he has to refer to Bev in the third person, like many drag queens, and that he needed to keep her very separate from his daily life. He does admit that aspects of the Star Trek-inspired Doctor Bev’s character creep into his daylight identity, and likewise, he can “twist and embroider the great characters” he meets as Rob Keetch into personalities for his shows.
The Wessex Scene asked Rob whether he thought that drag queens encourage negative stereotypes of women. He replied that he thought it could in certain circumstances, but he said that often they are a cartoon version of a character, and that they are celebratory of womanhood. “People can fuse transvestism, female impersonators and drag queens – three very different things,” said Rob.