This profile is the first in a series of stories HNN is producing to celebrate Pride Month in Hawaii.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By day, Josh Roach is an office manager at a dental office.
By night, the 36-year-old Makiki resident with a handlebar mustache transforms into “Tita," a drag queen with a personality as big as her wig.
“I’d like to think I’m Honolulu’s premier mustached drag queen, but prove me wrong,” Roach joked recently, as he worked on a costume for an upcoming show.
Roach — a central figure in the growing drag queen scene in Honolulu — is jovial and outgoing, quick to crack a joke and then follow it up with a booming laughter that fills his small apartment that doubles as his work space.
Last week, he spent his day off preparing a new costume, a circa 1970s Big Bird yellow polyester jumpsuit, adorned with fringe and sequins.
“It is a little bit out of the norm and unexpected,” Roach said, as he worked meticulously on the costume.
Roach hosts a weekly drag review at Scarlet Honolulu on Fort Street in Downtown, often performing to audiences of hundreds.
It’s just one of a number of drag shows and major pageants to pop up in Honolulu in recent years, in what Roach says is a growing interest in what was once a taboo art form.
He said social media and even television networks have been critical to that growth, giving more LGBT entertainers an outlet to express themselves.
“It’s becoming more mainstream with different things that have happened like RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has been nominated for 23 Emmy Awards and won nine.
That’s not to say that Roach hasn’t been harassed.
He said reaction to his facial hair is often mixed, and some people confuse him for a woman wearing a fake mustache. (He takes that as a compliment.)
And in one recent incident, a construction crew yelled at him while in drag: “What are you supposed to be?”
Tita responded with a tongue lashing.
But Roach said the feedback he gets has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people seeing the beauty in what he is trying to accomplish — a transformation that takes hours.
It all begins with Roach gluing down his eyebrows so that they’re not so prominent.
Then there’s (lots of) make-up and glitter, including all over his mustache.
For him the makeover is much more than putting on a dress and a wig, it’s a commentary on society.
“You’re an artistic expression of gender and society’s conversations right now about gender, and it’s blowing up,” Roach said.
The mustache queen will be putting that yellow jumpsuit to work on Oct. 12 for The Village People concert and after party that’s being held in coordination with the Honolulu Pride Festival.
For more information (and to read more about “Tita”), click here.