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Student by day, drag queen by night

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Photo Courtesy of Kursten Cutkelvin

Face contouring, stunning outfits and performing on multiple stages only begins describing one particular student’s out of school activities.

Jacob Immel is a theater sophomore who performs and competes locally as a drag queen named Mars.

After class on Wednesdays, Mars rushes home and uses the next four hours to get into her hair and makeup. When she finishes, she is on the road to Austin to compete in Drag Survivor.

Mars used to make weekly appearances at Stonewall Warehouse on Tuesday Nights. Tuesdays at Stonewall are for up and coming drag queens to perform. After performing there for a while, Mars moved over to Drag Survivor in Austin at Oilcan Harry’s.

Immel got into drag his sophomore year of high school after he found out what a drag race was.

“As a kid, I was always like, different from the boys,” Immel said. “I didn’t really want to play with sports. I was friends with all the girls. And then when I found out what drag was, I was like ‘oh, that’s what I want to do,’ It gives you a new found confidence once you start. It’s freeing.”

Immel started practicing privately in his bedroom shortly after he found out what drag race was. He would do this without his parents knowing, which is considered a bedroom queen. Thus, Mars was born.

After keeping it private for a while, Immel made the decision to start wearing makeup to school while he was still in high school as a way to come out to his mom.

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Immel

Immel said his mom talked to him wanting to know more about it and he made sure to specify that he was not transgender but instead a performer.

“Sometimes I want to wear makeup to school but I’m still a boy,” Immel said. “When you do drag you’re not actually living your life as like this person. You’re just putting them on for a few hours and taking them off and then you’re back to your normal self.”

When he came to San Marcos, he met his drag mother at Pride 2016. A drag mom is a mentor figure who has been doing drag longer than her apprentice.

“She called herself a bedroom queen,” Mars’ drag mom, Chitah Daniels Kennedy said. “In the teen queen scene, that’s what a lot of the kids do because they can’t go to the clubs, so they’re just getting painted up at home and taking pictures of themselves and that’s their show.”

Mars has been in the top three at Drag Survivor every week for the past four weeks since she started. With Mars only being 19 years old, that makes her the youngest contestant in the competition.

Mars’ performance comes to a close, and she waits to hear from the judges.
Photo Courtesy of Kursten Cutkelvin

Every week the performers are given a challenge for the next week and they compete against each other to be the best drag queen. The winner of all the queens qualifies for a money prize but the top three get named.

“She always tells a story during her performances and it’s very emotional,” Jakob Sevier, a fan of Drag Survivor, said.

Immel says he loves to perform which is why he chose to major in theater, although he said he would enjoy a drag major or class.

Here sits Mars out of costume and makeup as Jacob Immel.
Photo by Ashley Brown

“Drag is for everyone,” Immel said. “There’s always going to be someone who frowns upon something, but the spirit of drag culture is inclusiveness.”

Immel wants to continue with drag for the rest of his life. He said he hopes to make it into the spotlight with the big names in drag to be an inspiration to others. Mars can be found on an Austin stage every week.

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