A 17-year-old senior at Amador Valley High School is introducing new audiences to drag culture by organizing and hosting monthly drag show events in Dublin.
Brock Uhl said that attending his first drag show with his mom in Alameda last June was a life-changing experience for him. "After my first drag show, I fell in love," he said.
At the time, he said he was the brand ambassador for World of Beer in Dublin and was involved in marketing and event planning. He said upon seeing drag for the first time, he immediately wanted to figure out how to bring the show to the restaurant and help popularize drag culture in the Tri-Valley.
"We have the LGBTQ community but I feel like it's a very hidden community, especially with a lot of the things we do," Uhl said. "So, by publicizing drag, my angle is to make attending drag shows as common as going to the movies or going to mini-golf."
Uhl said drag shows are a safe space for all walks of life.
"It's a space for people of all backgrounds and all identities, not just identities labeled LGBTQ, but anybody can come to a drag show and feel welcome and included and just leave the show with a smile on your face," he added.
After the show he attended, Uhl connected with one of the performers and organizers, Ava Lashay, who also happened to be a Tri-Valley native -- and the rest was history. "It was really cool to bring Ava home to perform," Uhl said.
Since then, Uhl has successfully hosted a total of seven local shows, with the first five at World of Beer and the last two at Casa Orozco in Dublin.
Although he ran into a few challenges along the way, including COVID-19 restrictions, personal obstacles and World of Beer's decision in December to no longer allow the shows to be held at their establishment, Uhl said that he "never takes no for an answer."
"'No' is like the death of me and I will find any loophole to turn it into a 'yes'," Uhl said. "Ever since I was a kid, anytime I had a situation where I was told 'no,' I'd find a backup option," he added.
His own fortitude, bolstered by some encouragement from his mom, led him on a search for a new venue with less than a week before his sixth show that was already sold out. His quest ultimately led him to Casa Orozco. He said he received a call from one of the restaurant's co-owners and founders, Jesus Orozco, saying he was interested in learning more about the show. About an hour after they hung up, Uhl said Orozco called him back and told him, "It's a go."
While he didn't have all of the same resources and staffing available to him that he had at World of Beer, Uhl said he was able to rent a sound system from his school, rush order other equipment and gather friends from school to help set everything up to bring the show to life at Casa Orozco.
"That was the most empowering moment for me -- getting that show put together in such a short time," Uhl said. "I grew so much as a person by realizing that when one door closes, there are so many other doors that you can find and you just have to go knocking on every single one."
Uhl said drag shows are a form of entertainment intended to make people happy and that's why he's so enamored with them because he said that seeing other peoples' joy brings him joy in return.
"For me, my passion is helping people and putting smiles on peoples' faces. It's super meaningful just to make a little tiny impact on somebody's day," Uhl said, adding that his future dream job is to do event planning for Disney.
While he said the turnouts for his shows have been great so far, his goal is to expand the audience even further. "A lot of people don't know what drag is and a lot of people have never experienced a drag show," he said, adding that he wants to change that. "I want everybody to know it's there."
One of his goals for the near future, he said, is to connect with Livermore Pride and potentially collaborate with the organization.
Uhl's next drag night is planned for Feb. 16, where he said he will also be celebrating his 18th birthday which is on Feb. 15.
More information and details about the next show can be found here.