Kameo Dupree: No Boxes

Photo by Theo Welling.

Mister Kameo Dupree is that suave, debonair gentleman who opens your doors and brings you flowers. You may have fallen under the classic male illusionist’s spell at the Grey Fox or other venues, sharply suited and slaying tunes by Jessie J, Brad Paisley or Jason Derulo. “I just don’t do that heavy metal,” the musically promiscuous performer explains.

The woman behind the illusion, in addition to being thoroughly dapper, is a thoughtful and introspective member of an evolving scene, watching appreciatively as gender’s binaries and little boxes are smashed.

“Drag has evolved into something that the older generation doesn’t fully understand, and the newer drag communities don’t understand [the older generation],” says Dupree, 35.

When Dupree was coming up, “drag” meant gay men impersonating women. Male illusion was strictly for cisgender women with bound breasts.

At any given drag show these days, you’ll still see the classic
visions of queens and kings, but now anything goes. You might see someone rocking a beat face with a full beard, or unbound breasts bouncing around under a three-piece suit. Racially diverse slates are slowly becoming the norm, too.

“The younger generation believes there are no boxes,” says Dupree. “That is a great concept to have. We have these wonderful nonbinaries now. Masculinity is in the mind.”

The child of a police officer mom and DJ dad, Dupree spent time in the military. That background and queer identity made her a born peacemaker.

“My mom didn’t raise us with the wool over our eyes,” Dupree says. “I knew that the world isn’t as black and white as the world wants us to make it. I was made to be that intercessor, to bring everyone together. I believe I started doing that when I started doing drag.”

Growing up, Dupree was always the odd kid out. Every ultrasound until the day of her birth indicated that a boy was coming, she says — surprise!

“I came out and I was a girl,” Dupree says. Yet, she adds, “I am my dad through and through. I walk like my dad, talk like my dad.”

Church, Dupree says, told her that her identity was wrong, so she tried to fit, marrying a man at a young age. After her military service — which she entered into out of a sincere desire to serve — she knew she loved women and her life wasn’t right.

“I considered transitioning before I started drag,” says Dupree. “But then drag came along. I was able to be the man I always thought I was meant to be, without altering the person I created. I’m content with who I am.”

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