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Jared Norman starts by putting on layers of makeup. He applies a combination of creams, shades and lotions to his face. After two hours, Norman is gone. In his place sits a woman of similar height, and similar build, but she is wearing oversized earrings, a necklace and a brown wig.
Peering out from the behind the makeup is Ruby Red Bouche, Norman’s drag-queen alter ego.
Norman, a 21-year-old film major at CU, has been doing drag since his junior year of high school. In his few years of performing, Norman has watched himself transform inside as much as out.
In his early days, he was “busted” — the colloquialism used for inexperienced, unconvincing drag queens. He told the CU Independent Oct. 2 that he is confident enough to really enjoy what he is doing.
Norman will be hosting CU’s annual drag show at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 in the UMC’s Glenn Miller Ballroom, an opportunity that came to him after his hit performance at a drag show in Denver.
For Norman, a show entails dressing up and performing for a crowd. He either sings, dances or lip-synchs. His multi-faceted performance style — different personas each transformation — has led to his aplomb. Drag lets him be another person, which lets him explore his own identity on stage and off.
“A lot of drag queens feel empowered,” Norman said. “When you do [drag] you have courage, and that courage can translate to real life. A lot of my self-confidence I gained from drag. I like that, because I always find something new about myself when I am out of drag.”
Doing drag is more than a performance for Norman. It’s a way to express his creativity. He said he is able to express his theatre and film roots within drag. His paint and his sculptures, he says, are expressed on the stage as makeup and costume.
“I have three different parts of my artistic expression: one is drag, and the other two are theatre and film,” Norman said. “Drag is an extension of my creativity. It’s a different way to express my creative outlook.”
Through the years Norman has had multiple stage names. This month, he is Ruby Red Bouche.
He adopted “Red” from his drag mother, Scarlet Red.
Within drag culture, he explained, younger drag queens receive experienced drag-queen mentors. Veteran queens teach newcomers how to prepare, including makeup application and sewing outfit. Eventually, the younger drag queen adopts their name. Norman, however, was uncomfortable taking the entire name and instead adopted only “Red,” which led to Ruby Red Bouche.
After he’s done his makeup, Norman pulls his wig onto his head, zips up his costume and finds the persona of Ruby. But at the end of the day, when he transforms once again into Jared Norman, Ruby doesn’t leave him.
“Taking on this persona has strengthened my own character,” Norman said. “I’ve learned not to close that door when I leave the theater and include it into my everyday life. I see drag as being that powerful — it has caused me to become a better person from it.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alexandra Myers at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.