Dominick Varney of Bangor will perform his autobiography as his drag queen alter ego, Priscilla Poppycocks, as part of Bangor Pride, an annual celebration of the LGBTQ community.
Varney, 43, said the act, which includes an original song, “Living for Drag,” tells the true story of his experiences being bullied for his sexuality as a child in Maine and his journey learning to accept and love what makes him different.
Varney said he created the persona of Priscilla Poppycocks, a drag queen, comedian and storyteller, two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Maine and everything — including his career as an actor and director at the Penobscot Theatre Company — shuttered.
He used his sudden abundance of free time to “write about things that were bothering me.”
Priscilla Poppycocks first appeared in a Zoom talk show where he discussed theater, acting and “got people to laugh during a time when we all felt scared and alone.”
Varney’s show “Livin’ for Drag” was also born in that creative storm, he said.
He’ll perform the show on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Bangor Arts Exchange as part of the days-long Bangor Pride celebration. Priscilla Poppycocks also oversaw pride trivia on Thursday and will appear at drag brunch at Happy Endings in Bangor on Sunday at 10 a.m.
The show tells the true story of Varney’s life through the eyes of Priscilla Poppycocks, beginning with his family moving to Winterport from England when he was 10. He enters middle school and feels like an outsider because he sounds and feels different from his peers.
The story then follows Varney through high school where he’s bullied and ridiculed for being gay. He is filled with shame and embarrassed of his feelings.
“It just flowed out and when I performed it for the first time, the reaction was extremely overwhelming because I realized the emotions I talk about mimic those of so many people in this community,” he said.
The story continues to college where he finds his voice, navigates both gay and straight relationships, experiences heartbreak and loss, and meets his current husband.
Varney said the moral of the story is “learning to embrace what makes you different and love yourself for it.”
“As gay humans, we spend a lot of time pleasing others to make sure that they love us and accept us because we don’t always get that,” he said. “It’s called ‘Livin’ for Drag’ because Dominick learns there’s drag in every one of us. There’s compassion, understanding and courage in us all.”
Varney said he settled in Bangor as an adult, despite his bad experiences in Maine as a child, to spread pride, joy and acceptance in the community, both as Priscilla Poppycocks and as himself.
“I love Bangor and I want to make Bangor a place where everyone feels welcome,” he said.
Varney said he regularly receives emails from people who have seen his performances that “remind me that I need to keep doing this.”
“There are people in this community who are feeling what I felt so many years ago and need someone to talk to,” he said. “I feel honored to hopefully be part of their stories now.”