DRAG LIFE

Fine time for the surprising Ms. Lucille

Kylie Jean Lucille BARBARA RAMEY / COURTESY PHOTO

Kylie Jean Lucille BARBARA RAMEY / COURTESY PHOTO

The property was large, even for New Town, and enclosed by a tall concrete wall. Opening the gate, which revealed a huge patio and a large, free-form pool, was a very attractive and welcoming young man. It took a long split-minute to realize this was Kylie Jean Lucille.

Kevin Odon, pronounced just like the Norse god Odin, (also known as the all-father of all the Nordic gods, heavily associated with magic) invited this Florida Weekly Key West correspondent to interview him while he put on his makeup and to witness the transformation from Kevin Odon to Kylie Jean Lucille.

Turns out that Mr. Odon is distinctive in a number of ways. Most surprising is probably that he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, worked for a grocery chain in L.A., and then made damn sure he was vested in his retirement fund before moving to Key West.

But let’s back up a bit. Born in L.A. on Sept. 11, 1968 (he looks 10-15 years younger, really), the family moved to Keiser, Ore., a suburb of Salem, when he was in sixth grade. In high school he became best friends with a kid named Gary Marion, now better known in Key West as Sushi. Keiser “was a pretty conservative town and boy, did we make a racket,” he said.

Mr. Odon said this while showing me into his bedroom and offering a chair in view of his vanity, a bamboo desk topped by four bright, theatrical lights; he immediately set about applying a substantial layer of old-fashioned pancake makeup, and then carefully pressing on an even layer of powder.

“Not that we dressed in full drag, but we wore dresses — didn’t think of them as dresses, but we made box dresses with yarn.” That was the beginning of Sushi’s fabled co-career as costume designer and creator. “We both learned through trial and error,” Mr. Odon remembered, “but it became a passion with him.” Indeed.

In many ways, Sushi is the ultimate in feminine grace, delicate, and often quite ladylike. Not Kylie. “We were sent home for wearing makeup, he more than I,” but there’s not much that’s delicate about Kylie. A strong woman originally inspired by Joan Crawford and “Baywatch’s” Pamela Anderson, with an overlay of Valley Girl; unlike his best friend, there’s no inner feminine there. “I was just a gay guy who liked to dress up.”

The school had a very conservative vice principal, who called his mother in and asked if she knew what her son was doing. “Mom’s pretty liberal. She wasn’t horrified — she thought it was a phase.” When he came out as gay to his parents, his dad stormed out of the house. “Fathers always take it the hardest,” his mother soothed.

By now he was pressing white powder under his eyes to define cheek andjaw lines, then applying a peachy pink from inside the bridge of his nose out to his brows, followed by black liner in the same arc.

“I remember talking to Gary the summer between 10th and 11th grades, saying ‘I just want to be crazy — not be bored.” He admired the outrageousness of Boy George, David Bowie and RuPaul. Long story short: After high school and a year of college, he ended up as a Teamster in L.A. with a roommate who came home in drag one day, believing himself more attractive to men that way. But for the nascent Ms. Lucille — the name came from a game of musical trivia when a friend blended another friend’s name, Kylie Jean, with “Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille,” then declared Kylie Jean Lucille was the prefect drag name — it was still all a lark.

“I didn’t care,” Mr. Odon shrugged.

“When Gary moved to Key West, I wasn’t sure it was part of the U.S.” But he visited during Fantasy Fest in 1996 “and moved here Dec. 15.” Initially he and Gary both worked cleaning Bourbon b

Byst Street Pub. “Then 801 Bourbon Bar called Sushi and said, ‘This is yours.’ We ended up putting on seven shows a week.” He and Sushi bartended and hawked on the sidewalk. “I bI didn’t really intend to perform” but he learned so much: theater from Inga, humor from R.V. Beaumont, makeupm from Mila. gI “We all liked each other, didn’t go anywhere without each other … I’ve learned a lot from every girl I’ve wf worked with,” he said. Another close friendship was with Margo, “the oldest e drag queen in captivity,” until she diedd in 2006.

He had highlighted the black arcs wbbe with a narrow white line, applied bright yellow inside the top of the bridge of his nose and hot pink to his eyelids, then pressed on “pinkish” lavenderla sparkle eye shadow. “I like color a lot, so I tend to overdo it,” he confessed. His persona “really took off and evolved over the years,” but he no longer climbs naked in the cabaret rafters. He still, however, has a considerable fan base of returning tourists. “We’re not getting rich, but we make a living.”

Then came huge eyelashes and sparkle lipstick and there was Kylie Jean Lucille, in full riotous living color, ready to head in for 801’s 5 p.m. Sunday family show, kids welcome. The colors glow in black light, he noted.

How has he managed to turn out so well?

“I’m lucky,” he said. ¦

Leave a Reply

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