Fifteen years ago, the young person who would become the fabulous Louisville drag queen Vanessa Demornay made the bold decision to follow their heart and throw on a wig for the very first time … and heels … and a dress … and all the sass needed to command a stage.
Ever since then, Demornay has stolen the spotlight at drag shows across the city — from the now-defunct Connection to Play Louisville — and beyond, and has earned numerous accolades and titles including Miss Kentucky Newcomer, Miss Kentucky USofA Diva and National Entertainer of the Year. And she is the current Midwest All American Goddess.
Demornay also will be the key figure in the Louisville Free Public Library’s first Drag Queen Storytime on Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. Patterned after successful events in other cities, Drag Queen Storytime is designed to celebrate diversity and inclusion and promote self-acceptance — all issues kids struggle with everywhere, and issues Demornay confronted herself when she was growing up.
She tells Insider she’s most looking forward to connecting with children and showing them it’s OK to be whoever they want to be.
“I had a sheltered childhood and wasn’t exposed to many things, and it would have been life-changing to have met a drag queen,” says Demornay. “I want to show children that it’s OK to be exactly who you are, to wear exactly what you want and to not be afraid to show the world your true colors.”
Demornay was contacted by friend and Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman for the Storytime gig, and after meeting with the library’s board, she knew it was a great fit.
She believes that the event, which often draws criticism from those aren’t open or accepting of the LGBTQ community, will work well in Louisville.
“We are a compassionate city with a diverse community, and Louisville has always been welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community,” she says. “There is definitely opposition, but I realize most of it comes from a lack of understanding as to what drag as an art form truly is about and why I, as a drag performer, would want to participate in this.”
Organizers suspect there will be some protestors outside the library on Saturday, and members of the Fairness Campaign will be on hand as well to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“We plan on there being protestors, but we also anticipate a huge turnout of support and just want this event to be all about love, positivity and inclusivity,” adds Demornay, whose stage name was inspired by ’90s pop star and former Miss America Vanessa Williams and also the Demornay drag family she was welcomed into when she was starting out.
When not on stage, Demornay works as a professional hair and makeup artist, wig designer and educator for an international hair care company. And after Saturday’s Drag Queen Storytime, you can find her at Play, Drag Brunch at The Hub and also performing at the upcoming Kentuckiana Pride and Louisville Pride festivals.
Before she prepares for Saturday’s event — warning: There will be glitter — we asked Demornay some very important questions …
What was your first concert?
My first concert was on my 18th birthday and it was Mariah Carey. I was in the very last row, sang like a fool to every song and might have cried tears of joy a time or two … or three … or four …
What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I could give a solid 40-minute presentation on how hair color works — color theory, types of color, reactions within the hair, application technique, etc.
What job would you be terrible at?
I would be terrible at working in a gaming or electronics store. I would be so clueless!
What is your favorite restaurant or bar?
My favorite restaurant is Ramsi’s Cafe on the World — there is something for everyone, consistent quality and service, and amazing food!
My favorite bar is Chill Bar — so friendly, everyone is welcome, and they sling some mean drinks (try the Korbellrita).
What is something you think everyone should do at least once?
I think everyone should dress up in drag at least once! It is so eye-opening to see yourself as someone new and fabulous, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, it will help your perspective with what the opposite sex goes through for our standards of beauty, and it will free your mind to just have fun and not take things so seriously for a little while!
Where would you direct a newcomer of Louisville to get a feel for the city?
I would recommend a newcomer to the city check out Bardstown Road in the Highlands. I feel it’s so diverse and so much to explore, there are so many hidden gems! It’ll help a newcomer understand Keep Louisville Weird!
What keeps you here (in Louisville)?
What keeps me in Louisville is the rich culture it has to offer. I fell in love with the artistic community and all the collaborative opportunities. We have such an incredible group of artists and talent, and I am constantly inspired by them.