Geri A. Trix, the namesake of this painting, is the drag character of a cisgender woman in Austin, TX named Gloria Aviles. While Geri is a lady’s man, a gold digger, and “kind of gangster,” Gloria is a theater major from Puerto Rico who recently got engaged to her girlfriend. Performing as a drag king is something that she fell in to, unplanned, but now is an important part of her life. “[My] favorite part is just being on stage, and having the audience enjoy [my] work….The persona takes over itself, so the whole time I'm in my role, I'm Geri, and I walk around with my head held high as Geri.”
Gloria spent a lot of time around drag queens. She works as the manager of a costume boutique in Austin called The Bazaar, and many of her customers are drag performers buying wigs, makeup, and costumes. Two years ago, her friend, a drag performer named Kelly Kline, asked Gloria to try doing a show with her. The gig was a Christmas charity benefit, and she expected it to be be a one time thing. But later, she was asked to open for Jinkx Monsoon, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race season five. The prospect was exciting, and Gloria says, “It just kind of snowballed after that.”
She describes her character, Geri, as, “fun, a little ghetto sometimes, can be campy but can be suited up too. Likes to be a little bit of both.” She puts elements from her own life into the Geri, as well. “I was born in Puerto Rico; I'm bilingual. So sometimes I'll do reggaeton songs, kind of Spanish mixed into it. And I can dance all that salsa, merengue, reggaeton, anything like that…And when I dress up, I look like my brother, as Geri. So I put him into my character. The way he dresses, the way he perceives himself…He's a DJ, he wears his hat to the side, he wears T-shirts and flannel often times. Just dresses to the tee all the time.”
Because of her theater background, she, “push[es] the envelope sometimes, and make[s] it into a performance….I've done Sean Paul a couple times, and I have people that will come out with me. I'll do the whole video, and have people look almost exactly like the video. I try to make it a whole show.” And because she’s always loved to dance, she’s, “known as the booty shaker of drag kings. I get out there and I work it. I've jumped over queens. I try to get the audience involved as much as I can, I'll pull somebody out and just start grinding on them.”
She says that audiences receive her very well. So well, that sometimes they get familiar. “Guys and girls come up to me and just grope me. I get fondled so much as Geri, it's hilarious.” Gloria says that while her partner loves watching her perform, she is, “going to buy Geri a ring so he's taken, too.”
The duality of the personas can play it’s toll. As Geri, Gloria might make friends and fans that won’t recognize her if she is at a club as herself. “They don't even recognize me when dressed [as a] normal everyday girl.” She also isn’t a big fan of managing two Facebook accounts. But having an alternate persona is a big part of the appeal, as a form of expression. “I get to be somebody different.” And Geri definitely has a life all his own. “Geri's going to be Geri. Geri's crazy.”
Both the character and act are always evolving. “I try to do something different each time. I think I've only repeated a set, once. And it was just because it had been a year.” Geri’s character will even evolve occasionally because of Gloria’s mother. “She watches all my videos that I post up. She's like, 'Uhm, you're touching your chest too much, so put your hands down. Boys won't do that.' She critiques me, and I think it's hilarious…She reads me more than anybody else.”
The world of drag is definitely dominated by queens. While there is the occasional drag king performing in Austin, Gloria says that as far as she knows, she’s the only one who performs regularly. But she doesn't see that as a bad thing. She gets a lot of bookings, and stands out in the crowd. Plus, she’s found the community to be extremely welcoming and generous.
In fact, her best support, and critiques, comes from her drag family. “They are there to keep me grounded. And help me with anything I need help with…and to help me go a step further sometimes.” In the drag community, a drag family helps with a performer’s look, performance, music, and even name. Often, a drag performer will chose a name that credits their drag mother. Gloria’s drag mother, Althea Trix, helped chose her drag name, Geri A. Trix. It was a comical jab that Gloria is older than many of the performers, and for Geri's character as a gold digger, he could probably be found in a geriatrics ward looking for a sugar mama.
Above all else, the most important part of the experience, to her, is getting to help people. “I've done benefits, several benefits, to either help other queens, or help someone in need.” And she says that her drag mother taught her, “to always stay humble and thank everybody for all the gifts that come with the drag persona. It's really nice. I appreciate everything that's come my way through drag.”
As a Catholic, these virtues are important to her. When talking about God she said, “I may not be his pictorial of everyday, a sense of what I should be, but He is glad that I am giving back with my performance, a gift that he's given me.”