The Lovely Mark Freeman

A bartender by day and a drag queen by night, actor and comedian Mark Freeman was surprised when he realized he had more control of his career as a woman.

    “There were no real theater companies that I wanted to be a part of, no shows that I was interested in doing and for me it was a way for me to be on stage and play a character. And I was in complete control of it,” Freeman said.

Freeman studied theater at Ohio State. Becoming a drag queen was never part of his plan, but he says queens always had a way of finding him.
“I had a good friend who did drag and he was doing a Christmas show and wanted to have three back-up singers that would lip sync. He convinced two of our friends to do it and they needed a third so they got me drunk and convinced me that it was a good idea,“ Freeman said.

He said his first experience with drag was fun, but Freeman was reluctant to pursue it as a career. He was not comfortable with the sexual nature of some of the shows and did not want to deal with the pressure and stigma that comes with being a drag queen.

Drag queens tend to be men who dress and act like a caricature woman for the purpose of entertaining. Most queens are presumed to be gay men or transgender. Drag is a central part of gay culture; it is often noted that the Stonewall riots in New York City were inspired and led by drag queens. Because of their activism in the 1960s queens remain a tradition at gay pride events and they often serve as spokespersons, hosts, and community leaders within gay communities.

Yet, drag has remained an underground phenomenon for many years. And even though Freeman is a proud gay man, he says he saw other queens being mocked and persecuted for their art and it took him a long time to be willing to enter that world.  He moved to Los Angeles from Ohio in 2001 to pursue acting and quickly found that drag was not something he could escape.

“I came out here and befriended a guy who was in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation house, they were doing a fundraiser for the house and he asked me if I would do drag with him for his thing. I said ‘okay sure’ and that was the first time I performed as Lorayne Love.”

There weren’t a lot of drag shows available in L.A. at the time.  He soon realized he had a chance to make money and bring alternative entertainment to the area. His character Lorayne Love quickly gained popularity in West Hollywood and as the years passed Freeman became more comfortable as a drag performer.

 “I think that right now the LGBT community in general is really having the opportunity to get out there and speak up and be heard.  People are actually willing to be quiet a little bit and kind of hear what we have to say. It’s giving those out there who expand into the drag queen scene the opportunity to explain themselves a little bit more about why they do what they do and what makes them do it,” said Marc Rigoni an emcee and friend of Freeman.

Shows like Rupaul’s drag race have also sparked the public’s interest in drag. Freeman said he sees more queens getting booked for shows everyday. He’s performed as Lorayne at the Laugh Factory and posed for the No H8 campaign.

“I remember saying to my friends, ‘who is that boy?’ I want to know him and I want to be friends with him,” said Patrick Vettraino a promoter and founder of the LGBT event Sassy Prom.
Even though Freeman’s career is on the rise, the job hasn’t been easy. Finding a mate that would understand his job has been difficult.

“I always joke that no one wants to date a drag queen,” Freeman said.  “I think at first it was annoying to me but then after a while I just kind of got to the point where I was like well if they have a problem with it then they’re not the person for me. This is something that I do and it’s not going away.”

Freeman says the hardships he’s faced as Lorayne have helped him learn more about himself.  Even though him and Lorayne are interconnected and he can never fully let her go, he said he plans on doing more shows just as himself. He’s even in the process of seeking out representation.

“Between Lorayne and Mark, they’re both very very talented. One isn’t better than the other. It’s like going to a great ice cream parlor and having two favorite flavors,” Vettraino said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>