My name is Blake Pruitt and I’m from Westminster, Maryland.
When I was younger driving home from school with my mom, we would stop at our favorite chinese restaurant on the way home. We’d go there regularly, it wasn’t a big deal, I’d go there with my mom and dad. But when I was there, I knew what I wanted. I either got vegetable lo mein or vegetable fried rice. But I couldn’t order with the waitress directly, I’d always have to go through my mom. And with any adult when I was little, I would have to be filtered through my mom, and I was really just comfortable almost having my mom translate what I wanted to say to other adults because for whatever reason it just intimidated me.
So fast forward to going to college in New York and going out in New York and still being an introvert. Not having my mom have to translate for me anymore but still being introverted, and going out and not really drinking but realizing that I really only enjoyed going out if it was to see a show, and that usually ended up being a drag show, and also spending entire nights at home watching drag performances on YouTube. And just really being fascinated watching drag queens lip sync.
So at a certain point, I had my two best girlfriends do my makeup on my 21st birthday. And we stayed in, we didn’t leave the house, I was back home in Maryland, we weren’t in New York, and they did full girl makeup, it wasn’t drag face, I didn’t shave my legs, it was a bad dress, it was a bad wig. We took photos and I put it on Facebook and everyone loved it. And that’s how Blake Deadly was born.
So after watching all these videos and practicing makeup a few times, but not that much and not as much as I should have, I decided to perform. So I had my good girlfriend come over and do my makeup for me. It was definitely more woman makeup than drag queen makeup but it looked good. And we took the train from my apartment in Manhattan to Metropolitan in Brooklyn, for Dragnet. And I still remember the photo I took and Instagram I posted of myself on the train ride to my first performance in drag.
So I got out–Metropolitan is right next to the L, so it wasn’t a very long walk so I didn’t get a lot of practice in heels walking from the train to the club. So a friend of mine walked into the bar, I saw him walk in, I was standing with a few other people. I saw him look at me and I waved at him, and he just kept looking at me like, “Who the fuck is this person?”
And I realized he didn’t realize it was me in drag. And that was a feeling I had never experienced before, obviously. But in that moment, I realized that I could be someone totally different in drag and I could meet people on totally new terms and they have no idea who I am outside of that or what my life has been for the past 21 years before that or any decisions I have made as a boy, and none of that is there. I can just meet people as Blake Deadly in a totally new way, and almost start over with how I interact with people and how I approach people.
I had one night at a bar where I was with a friend and I saw an actor who I had just seen in a show recently who I liked, sitting at the bar by himself. So I go up to him, kind of just proud of myself that I’m even walking up to this person and not even worrying about what I’m going to say at that point, because I’m just like “Yeah, you’re doing it!”
So I just walk up and I’m like, “Hey, are you here for the Shequida show?”
How many times has that been used as a pickup line?
“Are you here for the Shequida show?”
He’s like, “No.”
I’m like, “Okay. Have you seen her before? Do you like her?”
He’s like, “Yeah.”
And that was it. Like, okay, this is probably not the love of my life, but I am glad that I approached him and I walked away and went back to my friend and we laughed about it. But I was also super proud of myself for asking him two questions that got one word responses. But still for doing it, and for recognizing Blake Deadly’s influence in my attempted small talk with a boy.
Everyone has to find what it is for themselves that lets them be the most comfortable with who they are, and for me I guess it’s putting on makeup and a wig and dressing like a woman. And even though I’m becoming someone else in a way, I’m still myself and I’m still interacting with people as myself and I still meet people in drag who I become friends with outside of that and it all just allows me to kind of have this barrier that allows me to be more comfortable with myself and more comfortable meeting people and have more fun when I’m going out.