Kings and Queens come out for show benefitting Crohn's Disease

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Laura Turner doesn't want presents for her birthday. She wants tips.

Turner performs as drag king Jaxom Summers at Independence Place in Cape Girardeau. She's hosting a birthday drag show Friday with all tips and performer pay being donated to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Turner was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 14. She will be 28 the day after the show.

"It marks half of my life that I've had this," she said. "I wanted to make this year about rising awareness and helping people."

The show has two drag kings -- women who dress, sing and dance as men -- two male performers and several drag queens -- men who dress, sing and dance as women.

"There's so many people that have stepped up when they found out what I was doing that we're trying to fit them all in," Turner said.

Crohn's disease is an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. It most commonly affects the small intestine and the colon.

"I've actually been cut open and gutted three times," Turner said. "Every aspect of a Crohn's victim's life affects their disease."

So Turner decided to involve the people in her life to help others with Crohn's disease.

Independence Place usually hosts "Top Female Impersonators" Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Turner has performed as Jaxom Summers for almost 10 years and has earned a few titles as the male pop "singer" and dancer.

"I would pick nowhere else to have my birthday show," she said. "Independence Place is primarily a gay bar, but it's open to everyone," regardless of color, sex or orientation, she said.

"It's a place where you can go and be yourself and have no qualms about it," Turner said.

She said for those who have never been to a drag show to "expect the unexpected, but not in a bad way."

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