FROM HERE TO THERE ... A BIO
I can trace my fascination with drag artistry to the early ’70s.
During the “disco sucks” decade, I was a fanatical member of the KISS Army — particularly obsessed with “spaceman” guitarist Ace Frehley.
I grew up attending Catholic schools in the Chicagoland area.
For 12 years, I adhered to strict parochial dress codes and repressed almost every stripe of my freaky individuality — especially while enrolled in an all-boys high school where the Order of Carmelite monks beat the hell out of its student body severely and frequently.
While in high school, my parents brought me to Dallas for the first time. Before we even checked into our hotel, the Kusners — like all observant Irish Catholics — made a solemn pilgrimage to Dealey Plaza.
I’ve been a Texan since I was 17, when I started my freshman year at Texas A&M University in College Station.
For my sophomore year, I transferred to the University of North Texas in Denton, where I majored in Jazz Studies.
I played bass for The Batmastersons. In 1988, we won a Dallas Observer Music Award for “Best Alternative Band.” The song “Wishing Well” played in heavy rotation on KDGE,
and The Batmastersons headlined the very first Edge Fest.
During summer breaks, I lived in Dallas and barbacked at The Wave, a now-defunct Maple Avenue nightclub.
On Tuesdays, I ran spotlight for “Calling All Stars,” a female-illusionist contest.
That’s when my appreciation for drag began to flourish. To me, those lip-syncing divas were braver than rock stars: They were gender-defying rebels who flew their freak flags sky high.
For my junior year, I transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where I graduated with an English degree.
In 1992, I began publishing SPREAD, a large-format magazine that featured Warholian interviews. I profiled the unusually famous: liberal Texas politicians, gay-for-pay porn stars, necrophilic photographers, HIV-positive queercore punks, white hip-hop superstars and even a homeless Austin author who was anthologized by W. W. Norton.
The first interview I ever conducted was with the godparent of all gender revolutionaries: Quentin Crisp, with whom I interviewed every year.
In 1997, I moved back to Big D when I accepted a newspaper editing position at an LGBT outlet. There, I immersed myself in the various strands that define sexuality and gender.
I also studied Dallas — its history and indelible stereotypes.
When it came to directing editorial shoots, I discovered that drag artists were my favorite subjects. They brought a mysterious and alluring power to the page.
Since 2009, I started biking around Dallas almost daily. It’s not unusual for me to pedal 20 miles in a single afternoon, traversing though Oak Cliff, downtown and to the end of the Katy Trail.
My project “214 Trans4m” was inspired while cycling through Big D. During these tours, my iPod-fueled imagination would take over. And I’d re-envision locations — revamping their historical significance by incorporating local drag artists.