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Virtual drag shows aim to lighten the mood during coronavirus pandemic

Mercury Rising hosts Saturday night drag shows from her virtual stage-- an attempt to make up for lost wages and entertain audiences stuck at home.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weekends might start looking bleak as people stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, but live entertainment isn’t entirely off the table. 

Zackery Bolin is a drag performer known to most as Mercury Rising. When nightclubs started closing, she took to Instagram live and Facebook to showcase her performances. 

Mercury has been using glitter, filters and decorative backdrops to keep the shows eccentric and colorful, but she says nothing compares to an in-person performance.

"You get the six-foot man in the nine-inch high heels with the foot tall wig on their head, and they're charging at you like a rhinoceros," Mercury explained. "A little bit of the magic goes away, but we try to compensate by doing more creative stuff."

For now, Mercury hosts "The Apple and Merc Show" alongside Sacramento drag queen Apple Adams live on Instagram on Saturdays. While it’s still a way to perform for people, Mercury says it’s difficult to make up for tips lost after nightclub closures.

"At the venues, we do this as a job, this is how I pay my rent. So we get a check or a payment at the end of the night," Mercury explained. "And with this, there’s no guaranteed money involved."

Mercury began her drag career in Sacramento ten years ago and now performs and hosts shows most frequently at Capital Garage, Faces and Badlands. 

As Mercury polishes her act for her temporarily virtual audience, she’s staying optimistic and continuing to entertain in a time where entertainment feels essential. 

"This is an awful time, but when it’s over, and it’s going to be over, there’s going to be drag queens that are here, who are going to dance and prance for you because we know you’re not going to want to be cooped up in your house anymore," Mercury explained. "These digital shows are going to get us through this hot mess, and then we can do that."



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