Biography By Eric Johnson
Dylan Kaercher is at home on the stage. It is the natural extension of the showman he is, and the canvas in which he displays his talent.
Or maybe "showman" isn't exactly the right word.
Kaercher is a Drag Queen.
performing shows featuring songs from the 1950's and 60's on stage around the state in a flamboyant and fierce stage performance that people rarely forget.
Meet Roxi Manacoochi, with her big hair, and dolled up face that harken back to the girl groups of the 60's; however, what he does now is simply an exspression of what he has always done.
"I was in my first show when i was 6," Kaercher said, "I guess ever since i could walk and talk my mom knew i was a performer."
Take in a show and that much becomes obvious. Kaercher relishes the stage, the show, and the pageantry of whatever he is doing. Each minute on the stage is a gift to Kaercher and, in turn, those minutes are gifted back to the audience.
However, being a drag queen wasnt necessarily in the cards. It was just something Kaercher did. To him, performing as a woman was just another aspect of being a performer.
In fact, it took a little research. "I didnt even know what a drag queen was." he said.
"I think it was about three years ago I even did my first "Drag show"', Kaercher remembered. "At the time i was performing in drag in the casinos for six years. Someone said, 'You should do a drag show."
Kaercher, however had questions if he fit into that specific world?
Turns out he did, and rather naturally.
"I did one show and i actually won my first night of competition" he said. "All right, I'll do another one. It wanst until early in 2018 is where i thought, 'I guess I'm in.'"
These days, Kaercher is the choreographer of the Prior Lake High School Theater Program, which falls in line with Kaercher's love of performance.
Performing for other has always been a part of him, from plays to singing. He had two strong platforms early on, which included the Ellis Middle School Drama Department. Kaercher credits Erin Schoen and Julie Walski as early influences. They directed the plays he performed in and they gave him oppertunity.
"It gave me the platform to be creative," he recalled.
But it was music that really set Kaercher in motion and to that end, enter Brian Johnson, stage left.
Its hard to even describe Johnsons impact on music in Austin. The beloved choir director, who only recently retired, is often named as a major influence to those voices passing through his choir program.
Kaercher was no less influenced by his time in choir.
"obviously, choir helped me most," Kaercher said, "Mr. Johnson was a huge driving force in my music career." Rather, drag was simply an extension of Kaercher's talent and his desire to perform.
It was just something he'd always done.
""It was never a goal, it just kind of happened," he said.
The Early Days
The Dressing Room
Kaercher admits there are some challenges in what he does, and not just what you might think. For some, the idea of being a drag queen is stage, perhaps more than a little out of the ordinary.
But performers like RuPaul and the show he hosts, "RuPaul's Drag Race," have brought the medium more to the forefront of society.
Still, Kaercher said he never encountered the push back that many have experienced when they take to the stage in Drag. Everybody simply knew it was Dylan doing what he loved. But more than that, he was confident he could change minds.
"I think because i knew the second they watched me perform, it would shit up any comments and thoughts they had," he said.
And he's not wrong. Kaercher's routines are polished, and rehearsed so that in the end, all the people see is the talent and the entertainment.
However, it was during his freshman year of high school while out performing singing telegrams....in a bar with mom in tow....that stands out as a watershed moment.
"I walked into the bar and i visibly remember them giving my the side eye when i walked in," Kaercher remembered. "At the end they were asking if i could be hired out. I had the biggest fan group right there in that bar. It's just been one of those things, ive never had a problem with."
Not that he hasnt heard the stories from others. "It;s funny, I've heard horror stories from my friends," Kaercher said. "The things people from small towns have said, but I've never dealt with anything like that."
Kaercher transitioned with determination into the world of drag, but not without cost. Being a drag queen is expensive and in some ways more than a little ironic.
"I always say, it costs a lot to look as cheap as I do," he explained. "When you are a six foot tall, plus-sized man, I cant go out to Target and buy my outfits." "Cost is the thing a lot of people don't realize," he added. "Every little tip helps."
Hit The Stage
Like anything, there are preconceptions of the world of drag queens. Larger-than-life shows, larger-than-life personalities, larger-than-life hair.
But there are differences, and maybe at this point it's worth considering that Kaercher is as much one thing as he is the other.
"There is always a big difference between a drag queen and a female impersonator," he said, "Watching a queen you can tell they are a drag queen all the time."
Kaercher also pushes back to the lavish, sometimes over-the-top extravaganzas that always seem to be portrayed in the movies. In this sense there's a little A and a little B. Certainly there are shows that get blown up, but then there are revues, much like the shows in which Kaercher performs.
"A regular drag show definitely has that pop culture feel to it," Kaercher explained. "There are different venues and different kinds of shows you can go to First Avenue and its a full dance show. I'm more of the theatrical side with back-up singers and dancers."
At the end of the day, at the end of the performance, drag is just another expression in Kaercher's world. You are just as likely to see him perform at events like The Relay For Life Mower County which he has done for the past 10 years.
His love of performing cyles back to when Kaercher was very young. a boy, his grandparents had a jukebox spinning those songs from the 60's that had so much emotion and energy.
"I knew how to run the jukebox before a tape cassette. It's just what i grew up with," He said. "There is something that pulls me to the girls groups of the 60s. I remember thinking, I want three back-up girls. Thats the music i listened to. Whoever thought that at the age of 27 i would have my own girl group!"