Backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co.

Once a month at the Rainbow Cattle Co., Miss Kitty Rawhide, Miss Candi Schtick, Miss Sophia Penelope Precious, Miss Mercedes Roulette and Miss Mama Mayhem transformed from their everyday lives as nurse, C&S executive, Vermont Yankee manager, Target employee and became glamorous, glittering drag queens for a night of performance.  

Evie Lovett’s captivating black and white photographs of the drag queens at the Rainbow Cattle Co. in Brattleboro invite us in to the dressing room to watch this fascinating transformation. Folklorist, Greg Sharrow’s audio interviews capture their stories. The organizing concept/question of this exhibit is, “What is Your Drag?”-- the way we as humans explore different personas and parts of ourselves through dressing up and costumes.

For Evie the photographic project was personally transformative:  “Ultimately, I came to deeply respect these men (and one woman) for being in touch with who they are.  Drag for them is a means to explore creativity and a sense of fun.  Knowing them has prompted me to ask myself:  how do I let my hair down?”

“Backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co.” has toured to Boston, New York, Phnom Penh (as part of Cambodia’s fifth Gay Pride Week) and Cape Cod. The exhibit opened at the Vermont Folklife Center with the exciting addition of the drag queens’ voices, thoughts, opinions, and musings, in the form of audio excerpts from recent interviews.  

We hear about Candi’s first trip to buy a gown at Lord and Taylor, of what it was like to grow up “different” in a small town in Vermont, how each responds to the inevitable question, “do you want to be a woman?”  (The answer, across the board: no!)  This exhibition shows us the world of Vermont drag queens.  We see it from the inside out.

Backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co.” grew out of a two-year project during which photographer Evie Lovett passed many hours backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co., a gay bar on a rural strip of Route 5 in Dummerston, Vermont, just north of Brattleboro. Through Lovett’s intimate photographs and Greg Sharrow’s interviews, the exhibit invites us in to the dressing room to watch the fascinating transformation that takes place backstage.