Downtown Abbey: Drag City, Ohio

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Short North was a sea of big hair, elaborate costumes and control-top pantyhose with Nina West and Co. and The Glamazons on a recent Saturday. Axis Night Club and Level Dining Lounge were a blur of whiskey, glitter, bachelorettes and birthday parties, dashing any hope of getting to bed at a decent hour. There is no such thing as an early night when the Columbus drag scene is involved.

It was the final weekend of Nina West’s 1978 performance at Axis, and the bevy of bachelorettes and birthday celebrants populating the bar were hell-bent on shooting doubles and playing single while they got their glamour fix.

“Leave it to me to have a drag show referencing Taylor Swift, and then only do one Taylor Swift song,” Nina said after lip-syncing through Swift’s “22.” The audience howled and squealed like rabid Beatles fans. Tips flew during a particularly raucous Sesame Street-inspired number (complete with a life-size Big Bird costume) that ended with Nina slaying “Alphabet Aerobics.” Nina breathlessly announced it was the first time she’d been able to finish the song the entire run of the show.

Halfway through the show, a woman celebrating her 40th birthday was all but dancing on a table, and a Romy and Michele-inspired number to “My Neck, My Back” was met with resounding applause.

When the show ended, we decided to beat the bar rush by heading to Level Dining Lounge to catch the tail-end of The Glamazons Traveling Cocktail Party. Channeling more Grace Jones than Taylor Swift, the Glamazons favored decadent avant-garde costumes and wild wigs.

“I’m doing a performance-art experiment,” Glamazons member Mr. Pottymouth said with a mischievous grin. He turned and bent over. The seat in the plaid onesie had been cut out—revealing a bare butt littered with red lipstick marks. “You want to participate?”

The night ended with a bunch more whiskey and mid-’90s hits. I had planned on being in bed before sun-up. Next time I’ll know better.

Downtown Abbey is a nightlife column that covers everything from drag shows to magic shows, the club scene to fetish parties. It runs every other week.