Wanda Screw, Chicago

Wanda Screw was born in the small rural industrial town of Kankakee, Illinois, a town just south of the suburbs of Chicago. Raised by two incredibly involved parents, Wanda grew up in the theatre circuit in the outlying districts of Chicago. It was a dichotomous environment in the sense that it was a conservative Catholic place, but it also offered the non conservative elements of theatre and the arts.

“I used to do Britney Spears shows in my garage when I was young. I had a total Britney Spears phase in 2nd grade. “Oops I did it again” came out when I was 8 or 10 years old… and my parents would watch these shows I did, and yet they were surprised when I came out as gay. I mean, if you don’t have to think about that stuff in Kankakee then it doesn’t exist. But I would put on all sorts of shows.. and I was always putting something together, whether it was about some movie or based off of a book. I would lip sync and dance around my garage for my parents with the neighborhood kids. At that time, it was more about theatre.. even I didn’t know it was drag at the time.. I didn’t know that drag was a possibility then.”

A strong connection to Chicago was forged early, through frequent trips to the city, with their parents. There were also long stays with theatre troops in Chicago at summer camp in their early years. It was no wonder the burgeoning talent would end up at the prestigious college of Northwestern University for their craft. During the end of their time at Northwestern, Wanda ended up hanging out with a fellow student, Lucky Stiff. They went to drag bars around Boystown and Andersonville in Chicago. At first, Wanda resisted drag, stating “I’m not sure this is what I want to do, because I’m not sure I’m gonna go that far with my theatre”.

Sure enough, Wanda started experimenting with their knowledge of theatre make-up in drag with Samantha Piscine and Lucky Stiff, and the world opened up for them. They created the drag theatre troupe “SADHAUS”, which was born out of Samantha’s comment “I think my gender pronoun is sad”.

Wanda and SADHAUS has flourished in the realms of eccentric drag in a relatively short time. Beyond the scope of the bar scene, SADHAUS has created conceptual forms of drag on stage throughout Chicago focusing on the realms of lost love, dementia, art, villainous behavior, and teenage angst.

Wanda and SADHAUS has created a playground of drag beyond the stage.

In regards to drag, Wanda states, “Wanda is me. She isn’t a character. She’s the person that i’ve always wanted to be for a very long time. Wanda allows me to transcend limitations. Wanda helps me see more clearly. Drag has this beautiful way to connect to people. In drag, we have this ability to heal people, and I’m glad that I can be a part of that. For the future, my dream is to be able to tour and see different cities, and be in theaters and museums. I want to be a part of the artistic conversation in a wider scope that goes beyond drag and theater.”

Drag is ever evolving and ever changing. Wanda’s part in Chicago is the key element to unlocking the future of gender performance in the midwest… if not beyond globally.

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