Justin Allen knew from a young age that the line between genders was blurry. Though plagued by social anxiety, he began spending time at Van Ella Studios, that well-known local workshop of burlesque, vaudeville and variety entertainment. While there, he transformed himself into a female-presenting character, Sugar Rush, who will be one of many artists to perform at the Silver Screen Spectaculaire at Casa Loma Ballroom on New Year’s Eve. Sugar Rush is a member of “The Bon Bons” (a troupe created by head mistress Lola Van Ella) and has hosted the studio’s monthly showcase. In Sugar’s signature dance act, the artist transforms in a “gender-bent” style: stripping away layers of drag to shift from male to female presenting. “Sugar Rush is the feeling I get when I am performing,” says Allen, “the spark of attitude when I’m feeling sassy, and the sweet self-confidence I have gained in myself.” –Charles Reagan
A Silver Screen Spectaculaire, tickets from $45, 9 pm., Sun. Dec. 31, Casa Loma Ballroom, 3354 Iowa Ave., 314-664-8000, www.eventbrite.com.