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The Cuntry Kings

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You've heard of drag queens, but how about drag kings? The Cuntry Kings are a new Durham-based drag troupe that's "trying to make a new statement through drag," says member Kelli DePuy.

Drag kings assert that it's not just femininity that's performed and put-on--masculinity is also a kind of performance. Gender itself is fluid, and it's a good thing to play around with.

"We perform masculinity," she explains, "and we try to separate that from dominant or oppressive things about masculinity. Also, we think of all forms of gender expression are drag, so you might see anything from femme-dressed to butch-dressed or even trans--it's a spectrum."

Onstage, DePuy wears facial hair and a backward ball cap to take on the persona of MC Rockit, "a faggy butch character who's a little awkward, who likes to dance." Like most of the troupe's characters, this one is a bit less campy than most drag acts, a bit more like a real person. This is part of what makes their group's approach unique.

This weekend's performances will feature several choreographed big group numbers mixing humor and political commentary. You can also catch their monthly open-stage night at Bully's Basement on the second Saturday of each month (starting in September), where anyone (of any gender) can sign up to share the stage with the Kings, DePuy says. "Our intention is to have some sort of community-oriented drag, where people can get up and make statements or have fun. We try to have an inclusive feel." Friday, July 25, 8 p.m., at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, $10-$12. Saturday, July 26, 10:30 p.m., at Bully's Basement, 1102 Broad St., Durham, $8-$10. For more information, check out www.thecuntrykings.com .

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