Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Slade to the rhythm

Nightlife

Andrew Slade, Bestie-winning gogo guy


Bestie-winning gogo guy Andrew Slade at Oasis. photo: Gareth Gooch
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His boyish smile can light up the darkest nightclub, and his muscled frame stands out as well. But what's most notable about our Bestie-winning gogo guy Andrew Slade is how darn nice he is.

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Slade may not have imagined he would one day dance in a jock strap with a panda, or in a museum as a green-skinned female alien, or even as a transgender pro wrestler. Or maybe he did imagine all that, only to make it happen.

"I've been out since freshman year of high school," said Slade in an interview. "It was actually very easy, but I was not a jock at all until college at the University of Iowa." While studying Art Design, Slade took to cheerleading easily.

"I didn't start working out until my sophomore year in college," said Slade. "I kept dropping the girls and got a complex about it. So I went to the gym and gained about 20 pounds in one year."

Slade, who recently turned 30, is known for his physique on the gogo platform, where he modestly mentioned another recent 20-pound muscle gain. "That was a post-breakup inspiration," he said.

What was once a subject of ridicule has become Slade's trademark look; his exceptionally pale skin.

"I was really skinny and pasty," said Slade. "I used to be made fun of for it when I cheered. Guys would put their arms up to see how pale I am next to them."

Slade's 2009 move to San Francisco (where a non-tan is normal), included a brief stint with an all-male cheer squad. But the time commitment to join the larger Cheer SF squad didn't work out.

As a designer for an event planning company, Slade makes 3D videos for productions and video games, even helping to visualize parties and weddings.

"It's a lot more helpful than just storyboards or floor plans," he said of the masterful technique that compliments his recent foray in creating multiple-dancer multimedia drag acts.

But wait; rewind. My query about Slade's first gogo dancing experience takes us back to Iowa.

"I was at the one gay bar in Iowa City, Studio 13," Slade recalled. "One time, me and a girl friend were dancing in the club. We were so hot and sweaty, we took our shirts off. I was shirtless, and she was in a sports bra. The gogo box was right nearly, and one of the hired dancers got down and pulled us up and said, "Dance here!"

Andrew Slade with a fan at The Café. photo: Steven Underhill

By the end of the night, the DJ offered to pay Slade and his gal pal to dance. "We ended up coming back every Saturday night. I made $50, and back then I felt like the richest guy. It was nice."

Fast-forward to Slade's San Francisco reel. With a commitment to art school, he didn't want a job that interfered with his studies. By 2010, he said, "I thought dancing a couple hours would make me some money for the week, so I went to Trigger [now Beaux] and did the gogo audition, and they hired me. That was five years ago."

Since then, Slade has danced at nearly every San Francisco gay club or bar, with wads of tip cash that gets a curious glance at his bank.

"I think, 'Oh if they only knew where it came from.'"

Andrew Slade in his college cheerleading days. Photo: courtesy Andrew Slade

How the tips get stuffed into his shorts leads to a question about patron behavior. "People for the most part are respectful," said Slade. "I've only had to use my teacher voice a few times on people. You sometimes need to draw the line. 'I don't need a five-dollar bill that bad, honey.' Some people think that a tip means they own you, but I'm like, 'No. This is not rent boy.com.'"

And while a bit flirting is "par for the course," Slade admits, "I'm dancing in my underwear in a bar. People are going to get touchy-feely, but I draw the line between respecting myself and getting money. I don't need the money that bad."

Despite sometimes questionable music, Slade finds fun in dancing, particularly with other guys like Besties runner-up Paul William. "When I dance with him, I can't stop laughing. We have too much fun together."

 

Chaka Corn (aka Andrew Slade) with Sue Casa after being crowned at the Trannyshack Star Search contest in 2013 at DNA Lounge. photo: FBFE

Chaka Corn, everybody

Slade recently stepped out as his new drag persona, Chaka Corn. His debut performance won him the 2013 Trannyshack Star Search competition.

Since then he's developed full-scale production numbers with pop culture themes ranging from Harry Potter to Guardians of the Galaxy, each with a computer animation component as well.

"I've done that for every one of my performances, mostly like for the opening titles, like the Harry Potter parody." Slade also mentioned his Lord of the Cock Rings parody. He posts many of the clips on YouTube.

Slade credits his drag mother Pollo Del Mar for nurturing his drag ambitions and letting him beta-test his act at Glamazone at The Café.

Andrew Slade flies through the air as Chaka Corn at the 2014 Trannyshack Star Search at DNA Lounge. photo: Dusti Cunningham

"At first I had no idea what I was doing; gogo dancing in wig. But it was fun, and a good experience to get my feet wet."

Slade's official premiere as a high-flying pro wrestler Chaka Corn combined his athleticism and drag aspirations in one of the more physically amazing performances in Trannyshack history.

"I went into that competition planning to lose, because I knew I was going up against all these seasoned queens," recalled Slade. "I didn't know how to do makeup or anything, and I was fully self aware of how ridiculous I looked."

Yet his muscular and comedic 'warrior princess' theme was a huge hit.

"It was timely, and something I had to get out of my system. The crown was kind of a surprising bonus," said Slade. But when he realized that the Star Search winner would be obligated to return to Trannyshack, said Slade, "The other half of me thought, 'Shit! Now I gotta learn how to do drag for real!'"

Slade also returned to gogo dancing after a hiatus when he realized how much money he'd have to spend on drag costumes. But with the aide of his House of Glitter queen mothers and big sister, the collective led by Landa Lakes has helped nurture Slade's beefy drag persona through many iterations.

Along with the nightlife performing community, Slade said he's still having fun, citing the Café and The Edge as among his favorite venues, and DJ MC2 as one his preferred groove-spinners. "Whenever he DJs, it never feels like work."






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