Dolly Parton. If there's one divine diva drag queens would be justified in pulling wigs off to impersonate, it'd be her. But Reba McEntire? That's more of a head scratcher. But for Nicolette over at Lips, the only dinner and a drag venue in Fort Lauderdale, these are her two favorite country singers to imitate.
Lips is celebrating five years of entertainment with two days of performances, and tonight, Nicolette kicks it all off with a Salute to the Women of Country. All proceeds benefit Live Free Be Strong, an anti-bullying campaign. "As someone who was bullied as a kid," Nicolette relates, "I understand where people are coming from."
The Louisiana-raised Nicolette has been doing drag for 17 years and professionally for the past five. A theater major, her first visit to a drag show piqued her interest. "Performing was my passion," she says.
As a Southern gal and a country fan, she's looking forward to tonight's show. On the genre not played much in SoFla, she notes thoughtfully: Yeah, country is known for 'my woman left me, my dog is dead,' but there are songs whose expression you can relate to that's lacking in a lot of top 40 music. They tell a story to which you can identify. You can relate to it."
Nicolette shared a few notable tunes she performs by her two favorite women of country.
"I'm Checkin' Out"
She's a big fan of Reba, who experienced a terrible tragedy 21 years ago at the same time as Nicolette. "She used her music to heal, and it helped me heal too." Seven members of Reba's band and tour managers died in a plane crash and very soon after, she performed this song at the Academy Awards. "That's why I gravitated to Reba, and why she's been my favorite artist for 21 years now."
Of Reba's signature song, Nicolette admits, "frankly, I'm tired of performing it!" But, she says, you have to do it. Leaving it out would be like dressing as Loretta Lynn and not singing "Coal Miner's Daughter."
This is Nicolette's favorite Reba song. She recorded this holiday song in 1997 for the Salvation Army. "I love that song. It's got a great big choir, and it's got a great message to it."
"Turn on the Radio"
Nicolette says it's an "uptempo, fast, sassy song."
"I Will Always Love You"
Nicolette defines this as a classic, "heartbreaking song."
This gospel tune is one of her favorites as well.
John Lennon's "Imagine"
Of this cover, Nicolette says, "it's absolutely beautiful."
We asked the performer about her worst stage tale. She said that once, dressed as Dolly and walking out onstage, she hit a rough spot on the floor and fell flat on her face. "My knee was bleeding through my panty hose, my wig was falling off my head. There's no way to recover from that." And the worst part, someone she'd just stated seeing, came to see her perform for the first time. "Then for my entrance, I eat it," Nicolette laughs. "But the show must go on."
As for who she'll be dressed as tonight? Probably Dolly. But you won't know unless you go.
Salute to the Women of Country on November 14 and Dinner with the Divas on November 15 at Lips, 1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Shows start at 7:45 p.m. Visit lipsusa.com for tickets.