The Camp 10 – Moltyn Decadence

Oh, the dog days of summer heat are upon us! This month, I feel the need to heat things up even more by interviewing Miss Gay Kansas City, Moltyn Decadence (also known as Ryan Webster). I have had the honor and privilege of seeing this beautiful performer at the University of Kansas Gaypril Brown Bag Drag on numerous occasions. My favorite performance involved a Beyoncé song and the biggest, most fabulous wig — I was absolutely floored!
1. How long have you been performing drag?
I have been performing for over 10 fabulous years. Well, the last seven years have been fabulous. The first three were more formative than fabulous, and luckily there aren’t many photos from those years.
2. What do you find most exciting about performing?
As a young lady boy, I was always fascinated by the captivating way that noble blacktresses (black actresses) like Dorothy Dandridge and Josephine Baker used a combination of feathers, furs, beautiful hair, revealing hemlines and music to bring an audience to the brink of overstimulation. Once the curtain rises, for a brief moment the audience and I are whisked away from the mundane details of our lives and thrust into a four-minute fantasy world that has no comparison. Drag is such a beautiful fusion of art forms, but having the opportunity to create a stunning visual and audio experience is definitely the most exciting part of performing! Glitter comes in a close second.
3. What is currently your favorite number to perform and why?
“It’s Your World” by Jennifer Hudson. If my drag personality could sound like anyone, it would definitely be Miss JHUD, and this would be my theme song! The music has a delicious throwback feel, with lyrics that are delightfully sexual without being too vulgar. I can’t listen to this song without my mood instantly improving, and it hopefully reads that way when I perform it!
4. Have you faced any adversity as an African American drag queen?
Honey, you have no idea! With all of the advances that we’ve made as a people in the last 10 years toward a more inclusive and accepting world, you’d think that some of the challenges of the past would finally be over. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Considering the dramatic increase in visibility of drag entertainers in social media, television and film, a lack of understanding of my chosen art form still persists. As an African American drag queen, I consistently face discrimination from all sides. There’s the traditional racial discrimination that people of color still face. There’s the discrimination that comes from LGBT folks who feel challenged by my lack of concern for masculinity.
Unfortunately, there’s also the discrimination I face that comes from confused members of the African American community who view my ability to entertain a diverse audience at multiple venues as being “whitewashed” (a ridiculous term for being culturally assimilated to more mainstream white culture). Then there’s the splash of body-image discrimination that comes from being a plus-sized queen. I’ve had to grow thick skin to take it all in stride and pour myself into a costume again and again over these years. It’s not always been easy, but each time I overcome a challenge, I become a stronger person for it. I’ve learned to love the people who stand in my way. They give me the motivation to reach for new heights, and in return I continue to give them something to watch.
5. You are finishing up your term as Miss Gay Kansas City. What has this experience been like for you?
It was such a beautiful year. I met so many wonderful people. I was able to entertain on stages both familiar and new. I found strength of will that I never possessed before. My reign was filled with challenges, injured dancers, friendships lost and gained, more rhinestones than I can count, and a list of lessons learned a mile long. Most important, I gained a deeper understanding of what community really means. Until my reign as Miss Gay Kansas City, I would have told you that common interests and location make a community. I now know more concretely than ever before that it’s the way we support each other, the way we show compassion to one another and our support of the less fortunate in our own backyards that make a community.
6. You have some pageants coming up this fall. How has your experience as Miss Gay Kansas City prepared you for these (whether competing as a contestant or not)?
I’ve learned more about the meaning of competition than ever before. Competition can bring out the worst in people. It shines a light on people’s insecurities and flaws and can make them lash out hurtfully. Competition can also bring out the best in people. It can show you the vulnerability it takes to rely on a team. It can allow you to develop relationships with people who share a common goal and vision. It can allow you to grow and understand the hard work and dedication it takes to become a winner. In life, we’re always striving to make it to the top of some ladder, and usually the focus is only on reaching the top. This year, I learned to appreciate each step and I learned how beautiful the view can be if you share it with loved ones. A queen is only as good as her queendom, and my experiences as Miss Gay Kansas City definitely taught the meaning of being Royal.
7. You have performed in KU’s Gaypril Brown Bag Drag several times, and you’re one of my favorite performers of the show! How does this show differ from others?
The Brown Bag is such a unique show because it removes so many barriers that may keep people from seeing a fabulous show! An admission-free, university-funded, lunchtime drag show being thrown on campus allows for so many people to have easy access to seeing what I love to do, without any of the stigma attached to being at a “gay bar.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love performing in queer spaces, but I remember a little closeted kid who stumbled his way into a college drag show in 2004 much like Brown Bag who was given a glimpse of a life that could be filled with something other than heartache. I like to think that we serve as really tall, fabulous symbols of life getting better.
8. Not only do you perform, but you also cut and style hair, as well as make beautiful wigs and hairpieces through Decadent Things Hair Creations. What do you find most rewarding about this work?
We’re so attached to our hair that it can have a huge impact on our sense of self. Hair might not seem like a big deal to most people, but let me tell you, at 23, when mine started to fall out, I felt broken and unattractive. When I decided to start styling hair, it wasn’t only to create beauty, but to give the people who entrust me with their locks a new way to look at themselves. Our hair, whether wig or real, doesn’t define us, but if I can create a look for someone that even for a moment makes them feel more decadent and beautiful than they did before, there’s nothing more rewarding.
9. You appear to perform all over the place, bringing your fabulous self to so many different audiences. What do you like to do on your down time?
I try and support as many local organizations through volunteerism as I can. It sounds silly, but I’d rather spend my free time bettering my community than watching the newest show on Netflix. When I’m not trying to save the world or something, you can catch me at a live music venue with a gin and tonic in my hand or in some quiet nook with my nose in a book and a cup of coffee.
10. If you could take a vacation to any destination, where would you go?
I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt! There’s so much mystery, beauty and human accomplishment tied to one place that I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else if given the opportunity!
Photo: Vixen Pinup Photography
SEE A PERFORMANCE
Moltyn Decadence — along with Widow Von’Du, Regina La-rae and more — will be performing in Late Night Theater’s
Black Bewitched, a satire of the TV show from the 1960s and ‘70s. The show runs Aug. 28-Sept. 28 on the stage at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets are available at Black Bewitched Tickets

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