The Ember Island Slay-ers: Breaking Down A Fiery Avatar: The Last Airbender Drag Performance

The Ember Island Slay-ers: Breaking Down A Fiery Avatar: The Last Airbender Drag Performance

Imagine, if you will: all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender, reenacted by a team of queer performers in 10 minutes. We saw this stunning mega-musical live at this year’s FlameCon and had to know more about the work behind it.

Gizmodo sat down with the mastermind of this performance, drag queen and current reigning Miss Nerd New York, Megami, to chat about what might be the wildest interpretation of Aang and friends came to life.

The interview transcription below has been edited for clarity and flow.

Gizmodo: Who is Megami?

Megami: Megami is the geek queen of New York City. I started doing drag at New York Comic Con, at Flame Con, and it suddenly kind of just rolled into me performing in bars and venues all across New York. And I’m very much a geek, a hardcore gamer. I have geek tattoos all over my body. Fandoms and geeky stuff is 100 per cent part of who I am as a person. It kind of just rolls over into who I am as Megami.

Gizmodo: How did you start doing drag?

Megami: I got my start in drag almost four years ago at this amateur lip-syncing competition by this organisation GGNY, Gay Geeks of New York. And it was just a geeky cosplay lip-syncing competition.

The only two rules: you have to lip-sync something, and it has to be geeky. You don’t have to do drag. You could do whatever you want. Those are the only two rules. So I had never performed before and I was like, “Let me try; I have this idea for like a Sailor Moon Team Rocket thing.” And so I tried it out and I actually won it.

The next year they invited me back to host it. So now I host GeekSync every single year. And it’s one of my absolute favourite, favourite shows to host because it’s specifically for amateurs. It’s not for like, us girls who are out there working every two days doing shows.

It allows people who normally would never go on stage that chance to be creative and make a cosplay and make a performance and you know win or lose you know getting on that stage. It changes people. They’re like, “I was so nervous doing this, and now I feel so good about myself.” [GeekSync] really changed my life and it’s coming up this October. So look out for that. 

Gizmodo: Favourite Avatar character?

Megami: I always like the bad girl character, so I think Zuko’s sister Azula, just because she’s like a fiery woman and that’s what I am in real life — just a fiery woman. 

Gizmodo: What was the inspiration for the choreography?

Megami: My inspiration for the choreography was the fighting and animation style that they used for each bender. So like, with the water bending, it was very flowing.

We used the ribbons and the fabric to show [the audience] this is water, the Earth bending was very low to the ground, very aggressive and pushing away from you like they do in the show. The fire bending was the fans with the flame because we wanted to be spicy and salsa.

Gizmodo: How long did this set take to choreograph and rehearse?

Megami: It took about an hour or two to cut the tracks together, and then it took another like two or three hours rehearsing with all five of us in the room to get the whole number down together because it’s a 10-minute number. It took me a whole day to sew together five costumes, so it was a long week before Flame Con. [laughs]

Gizmodo: How was the audience response?

Megami: The audience response was overwhelming. Amazing. Everyone kept coming up to me after the show like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe what you just did,” “That was crazy,” “I can’t wait for the video to come out. I need to see it again,” “Thank you for doing that. Avatar is one of my favourite shows.” I had such a fun time making it, [and] such a fun time performing it.

At the end of the day, I do cosplay drag and cosplay performances specifically for the geeks — for my people because we don’t get that kind of representation, especially within the LGBTQ community. So it’s really important to me to kind of be a person who’s like, “Yeah, we’re gay, and we’re geeks, and we’re going to have a good time, and it’s going to be awesome.”

Gizmodo: What’s the future of geek drag?

Megami: Well, I hope the future of geek drag, first and foremost, for me is — I would love to get on RuPaul’s Drag Race, just to have more representation [..] Being a queer Latina who’s also a super geek, and really showing that […] it’s not just dressing up in a Halloween costume, there’s a lot that goes into cosplay drag. There’s definitely a market out there, and a bunch of people who love this.

I get it all the time at my shows every time I do anything geeky because I’ve done, like, how many iterations of Jean Grey? [I’ve done] ‘90s Dark Phoenix, I’ve done Lydia Deetz, and [D.Va] from Overwatch — any time I do these numbers in these costumes, people feel seen and like, “Hey, this thing that I love and obsess about — you love it too.” And now the audience can understand it, and why it means so much to us.

I hope in the future there is more of a spotlight and a platform for geeky queer people to kind of celebrate their geekiness and show the world the amazing artistry that they put into it.

To see more of Megami, follow her on Instagram at MegamiNYC.