On most Friday nights, Jason Johnson clocks out of his 9-to-5 job, heads home, puts on makeup and a wig and heads back downtown to the Blind Buck, where he MCs as the demure, outspoken drag queen Nova Kaine.
But for the past couple weeks, Nova hasn't had anywhere to perform. With every bar and restaurant closed until further notice, Spokane's drag scene, along with every other facet of downtown's nightlife, has come to a complete standstill.
"So many of my friends are out of work," Johnson tells the Inlander. "A lot of them are really terrified. There's a handful of queens that drag is their sole source of income. Now, not only are they facing unemployment, they're facing possible homelessness. I think the financial repercussions of this are frightening."
To make up for the lack of foot traffic, the Blind Buck will be hosting a live-stream that they're calling the Miss QuaranQween pageant, an online-only showcase of the city's many drag performers.
"All of the performers will be videotaping performances from home," Johnson says. "It'll be just like a regular Friday night show, but nobody's at the bar."
As each performer gets their time to shine, viewers will have the opportunity to tip them through Venmo or PayPal, and at the end, panel of judges will then crown the QuaranQween. Nova Kaine, meanwhile, will host the proceedings, albeit without a physical audience.
"70 percent of my performance isn't so much the performance itself — it's the standup comedy and the interaction in between numbers," Johnson says. "For me, there's not a crowd to react off of. It'll be like a standup comic in the bathroom doing the routine to himself."
Johnson says there's certainly a possibility that Spokane's Pride celebrations in June could be on the chopping block — L.A. has canceled its Pride events, while New York and San Francisco have seriously considered postponing theirs — but no concrete plans have yet been made. In the meantime, he says, he's trying to be patient about the situation.
"We don't know how long this is going to be," he says. "Obviously when the ban is lifted, we're going to be running out to our nearest watering hole. And probably over-drinking."
The QuaranQween pageant starts tonight at 9 pm, and you can stream it here.