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Q&A: Evan Stehlik discusses his drag identity, Remington Rose


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Courtesy Photo | Evan Stehlik. Photo by Amelia Nicolli

Evan Stehlik's eye for design is always lashed and lined when he transforms into his drag persona, Remington Rose. 

Stehlik, 20, hones his artistic ability as he majors in costume design. The Central Michigan University sophomore spends time perfecting his drag skills when he isn't helping out in the theatre department. Though he had always gravitated toward the spotlight, Stehlik didn't realize he wanted to pursue drag until his senior year of high school. 

"No one was there to judge me anymore," Stehlik said. "I'm on my own, I'm gonna make the best of who I am and I'm going to do this as my art form."

Central Michigan Life sat down with Stehlik to discuss his experience with drag, from a child prancing around in his mother's pink pumps to a queen searching for the spotlight in the midst of a pandemic. 

CM Life: Who is Remington Rose?

Remington Rose... she is my girl, basically my persona that I perform as. I do it as a hobby, but I feel like it's more than just a hobby most of the time because I feel like there is a part of me that’s missing when I’m not being Remington. When I get to be Remington, it’s like I’m my superior self. I’m always on my game with Remington. I tell everyone I'm a chameleon; I will conform to anything that I am feeling at that particular moment in time. So if I’m feeling beauty, I will become a princess for you. If I'm feeling a little more dark and mysterious, I might become a mistress. I feel like I’m very versatile in that way, so maybe that means that I'm still figuring out who I am, but I believe that that might be who I am. Just someone who is a very versatile person. 

How did you come up with your drag name?

A drag name is something that’s really hard to come up with right away, but when I got out of high school I finally made the decision on Remington Rose, because Remington is something that I saw around my family all the time. When you see Remington, you think of the Remington Rifle. I always felt a little bit excluded because my whole family were hunters and country bumpkins, but I wanted to do fashion and I loved beauty. So when I found Remington hair dryers and curling irons, I was like, 'this is really cool. There is a connection here that I can make.' So that beauty and death came together to make Remington, and Rose would’ve been my name if I was born a woman. 

How does Remington Rose compare to Evan Stehlik? 

I feel like Remington brings out this other side of me that I struggle with as Evan, because I always have been told to act like a boy. And I have never felt like “acting like a boy” was under any terms of what I wanted to do. So being Remington, I feel like I can express myself in any way possible. I can be a life-size Barbie doll, dress myself up, be confident, strut my stuff, and make other people happy, too. 

What sparked your interest in drag?

I always tell everyone I feel like I was a drag queen since I was born, because I came out of the womb wearing heels. My mom had these bright pink heels and I would always walk around the house in them. They didn’t even fit my feet at all, but I would still strut my stuff walking down the stairs in them, trying to make it work. So I feel like I’ve always wanted to be something that is a phenomenon, making a spectacle of myself. I’ve always wanted to be that person. 

How would you describe the process of getting into drag?

It’s definitely a process. It takes a lot of work. Some looks can take almost three hours just to get the makeup done and then you have to do everything else. It takes a lot of time, but the end result is so worth it because you feel so empowering and ready to go out there and give the audience a show. It’s a lot of making yourself a blank canvas and then reconstructing your face into something that is not you. So you are just taking away features and eliminating things that Evan might be self-conscious about, or sometimes I'll make them even bolder and go a different direction.

How do your friends and family support your art? 

I have had a really good upbringing. That’s one thing that I feel is a shocker to some people, because people are judgmental. I have had nothing but support with my drag persona. My family has supported me 100% of the way. It was scary to come out to them and tell them who Remington was, but once they finally understood the reason behind the art form and why I was doing it they were right on the same boat with me and they can’t wait to see the other looks that I put out, too. I give my friends a lot of credit, too, because they have pushed me to be the best that I can be and also have pushed Remington to keep producing better content to get more exposure. 

How has COVID-19 impacted the drag scene? 

This is something that has put a little bit of a halt to my experience as a drag queen. I know a lot of queens have been doing live streams; I am a queen that needs to be there in the moment with the people. It’s so hard for me to do Instagram live or Twitch or something. I'm just not that type of person. I’m not tech-savvy enough. Also, there's a connection with the people that you get when there's an audience waiting for you to come out from behind that curtain. There's a feeling I can't describe when I go on stage. I haven't done much since COVID has happened and a lot of my gigs were canceled. I had some very big things planned this year downtown where I'm from. I was so pumped because I thought, 'I'm gonna be able to show my hometown who I am.' And that's something that they don't really get exposed to that much.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I hope to be known. There are so many things that I want to accomplish and I'm always trying to outdo myself. I want the most exposure possible because I love what I do. I feel like if I love what I do - and do it with heart - then other people will love what I do. In a few years, I would love to be performing in bars again, and I want to do a few pageants. That is on my bucket list. To be Miss Drag Michigan that would be so cool. I would be like, gagged. For my family to see that? My family is supportive, but I don't think they realize how important it is to me and how passionate I am about it. So to just show my family and my friends how serious I am about it would be really cool. I just think in the next five years really perfecting who Remington is and giving the audience a true definition. I want to be able to define Remington Rose and have her set in stone. 

 

Courtesy Photo | Evan Stehlik. (Photo by Amelia Nicolli).

To see Stehlik's latest looks visit @remingtonnrosee on Instagram.

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