Over the last few years we’ve been bombarded with plastic chests, tucked tackle and gravity defying wigs. Drag Queens are taking over popular culture, and We’re Here for it. But have you heard of drag Kings? Well, get its time to get familiar via the medium of a timely consent-busting comedy special. Meet, Nate.
Nate’s a proper bloke – a rug of chest hair, a handlebar stash and an open plaid shirt, riding in on a slightly-too-small motorcycle, chugging protein powder then setting it on fire – and he’s played by a woman. That woman is Natalie Palamides, an American comedian who first got laughs with Nate at Edingburgh Fringe in 2018. Nate was at home on the Fringe stage where no gag is too gross, but now he’s made the big time and he and his clownery are moving to the silver screen.
But they haven’t toned down the raunchiness for their online audience. Nate’s machismo musings on dates, groping, grooming and male emotional wellbeing are offset by stretchy plastic penises, intermittent nudity and crude calls on the audience, who look pretty terrified. But this uncomfortableness is reflective of the content – the show explores masculinity, relationships and love with admirable emotional intelligence, allowing us to sit in the uncomfortable grey areas, and laugh whilst doing so.
Through this, Palamides has created a timely – and hilarious – portrait of the 21st century. It considers consent, unpacks masculinity, muses on mental health, and belly laughs at itself.
In Vulture, Kathryn VanArendonk thinks “there’s a lot of pleasure in riding the shocks and twists as they arrive,” on this “weird, remarkable journey.” Brian Logan in The Guardian agrees, commenting that “the production does a great job of capturing the unease, and the thrill, of being in the room with Palamides,” calling the special “a raucous drag king floorshow that, without stinting on the funny, opens up space to consider the grey areas around sexual consent.” After seeing the original show at the Fringe, The Independent’s David Pollock said it was “right-on but transgressive, thoughtful but bad taste, and never less than snortingly funny.”
First shown December 2020. You can watch a clip by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.