Toledo Pride: ‘Drag Race’ star Mystique Summers to appear at festivalWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the story of two people — both of whom live to entertain. He is a kind, thoughtful young man named Donte Sims. She is a brassy, bold singer named Mystique Summers, known to fans for her performances on numerous television shows and regular role on the second season of Logo TV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
If you meet one of them, you’re kind of meeting them both. They are the same person — except that they aren’t.
“Yes — the only way to not get caught up in the professional lifestyle is to have them separate. I have a guy life and a girl life, and I try not to have them overlap so I guess I’m bipolar,” Sims said.
Donte and Mystique are coming to Toledo on Aug. 11 for Toledo Pride 2012. Mystique, in her first trip to the Glass City, will be appearing as a special guest at the Fabulous Drag Finale.
So where does Donte end and Mystique begin? “Well, I don’t know when the ‘click’ happens, but you can tell when you meet me and when I start putting on makeup,” Sims said. “I think it happens when I can see the guy features fade away when the makeup hits the face.”
“Donte is a calm, quiet homebody and a bear/cub chaser,” he said. “I’m more reserved and laid back while in guy mode. Mystique is wild, crazy, live-life-to-the-fullest with no regrets.”
Mystique’s career has taken off in recent years. She was born on a dare with Donte’s friends in Texas a few years back. “The crew of friends I was hanging with, about 75 percent of them was performers so it was easy to get into places to perform,” Donte said.
Mystique has continued to establish a reputation as one of the most entertaining and distinctive drag performers ever since, which Donte attributes to a few factors.
“The unique [thing] about me is that I can separate the performer from the guy and can perform all types of music,” he said.
Mystique’s performances are known for their remarkable variety of music and performance style — which Donte ascribes to her origins.
“When I started in Texas, you had to learn all styles to keep the crowd interested with your skills. Like, I can rock a ballad, give you pure emotions with a gospel song, rock out with a dance song or give you fluent Spanish.”
So, what does it feel like to be onstage — to be Mystique? When it’s really going well, Sims isn’t sure he can answer that question. “Performing on stage, if I’m really into my show and the crowd loves it, I won’t remember what I did,” Donte said. “I click or zone out and let Mystique loose and give a great performance.
“Performing to me means if the crowd is enjoying what I am doing, then I’m doing my job.”
There have been many more opportunities for Mystique to let loose recently, ever since her appearances on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where she was the stand-out personality on the show’s second season.
“I was going to go on the casting call for season one, ’cause it was in my local area, but I decided not to ’cause I wanted to see what the show was about,” Donte said. “And then when they had the casting call for season two, I sent in my tape and I guess I was crazy enough to make it on the show.”
Despite the fun portrayed onscreen, Donte said that the filming process was grueling.
“It was crazy for us; it was like 12 hour days. Soooo long. And when we wasn’t taping, it was boring. Stuck in a hotel with a janky TV with no cartoons or Animal Planet! I was going crazy!”
Ever since Mystique’s run on “Drag Race,” she has made appearances all over the country on talk shows and at live events. But it’s always difficult for a drag performer to make in-roads into the mainstream, Donte said.
“Well, it’s hard to cross over ’cause people only see who you are on TV … and are not trying to get to know you. That’s why I upload all my YouTube videos and give people more insight of my life, and I talk to everyone via email, Twitter or Facebook,” he said. “I don’t have anyone chatting for me. I’m the only one with access to my accounts so I can give people what they want and that is Mystique Summers.”
Sims has also spent a lot of time performing for charity in benefits, which he did for years before his national notoriety ever began.
“All the charities I raised money for was before ‘Drag Race,’ and I still raise money for them because it’s all about giving back. What most queens — new and old — don’t do is give back. Yes, they paid their dues, but what can make you or destroy you is your audience, and I’m all about helping that needs the help. Because you never know, you may need their help one day in your life. And I don’t take pride in helping others. I feel that it’s everyone’s duty and job to help people in this world.
“I can’t wait to come out and visit and party with y’all for Pride and at Bretz, but all I can say is hide yo’ cubs, hide yo’ bears, ’cause Mystique is in town! Woof!”