When drag queen Sassalina Blue Childe was eight, she went to her first drag show and got into the TV series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“Then I started stealing my siblings' and mom’s makeup,” she said. “And, like, putting together little looks.”
CPR is only using Sassalina's drag name for privacy reasons, as well as not using her father's name. As Sassalina's dad explains, there’s a certain degree of risk that comes with letting your child do drag.
“We have some friends we’ve made online who have had to move, or have to have security when they perform, because they’ve been followed,” her dad said. “(They) are controversial only by being children who like to perform.”
The “Drag For All Ages” show was started in March by local drag queen Jessica L’Whor and the owner of Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski. It’s been the consistent target for protests from white supremacists and other conservative groups. Before the August show, the situation escalated when a fight broke out between protesters and counter-protesters.
But L’Whor (who goes by Miss Jessica during the all ages event) said the push back is worth it to have a safe space where LGBTQ kids can ask questions and be themselves.
“So many parents will come up to me after the show and be like, ‘I didn’t know how to connect with my child to support them,’” L'Whor said.
In the show's first year she's already seen the impact the show has on LGBTQ youth.
“If you’re exposed only to straight people when you’re growing up, and you don’t know that’s an option, you’re wasting so much time with your self discovery because you’re taught that it’s not ok, or it’s taboo, or you have to come out," she said. "In this space you don’t have to come out.”
Sassalina’s dad, who uses they/them pronouns, said she has always been gender diverse — showing interest in girl and boy stuff. They echoed Miss Jessica when talking about the importance of an all ages drag show.
“When you have a kid who is not fitting into those binaries, or who’s moving from one to another, your options really are to nurture it and cherish it and listen, or to crush your kid and hurt them," they said. "So if those are the choices, it’s pretty easy to choose between those.”
Every month Sassalina, with the help of her family, comes up with a new look for the show. Last time the show was Halloween-themed, so she went as Maleficent.
“I basically take the song, think about maybe what other drag queens might do, see if my mom can maybe make it,” she said.
For the Maleficent look, she and her family customized a black robe and made horns out of duct tape, a headband and pool noodles. While coming up with the looks is fun, Sassalina said her favorite part is the performance.
“I’ve been an extrovert almost my whole life,” she said. “So I feel better, if you know what I’m talking about.”
As Maleficent, Sassalina performed Demi Lovato's "Confident" as she twirled on stage and strutted through the audience.
Sassalina's dad is adamant that allowing their child to do drag is a good thing.
“It’s not like Sass is reluctant, it’s not like we’re making Sass put on dresses or anything. It’s not like this is a money-making venture, right?” they said. “The joy that it brings her is pure.”
Watching Sassalina on stage brings some of the happiest moments for her dad, too.
“When she comes out, and the music is on and the character arrives and both my reaction and the rest of the crowd’s reaction to her is just so awesome," they said with a big smile. "That, that is awesome."
The next “Drag For All Ages” show is Sunday, Nov. 24 at Mile High Comics in Denver.