February 4, 2015 at 11:20 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: LaShawn Johnson
LaShawn Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade

LaShawn Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag king LaShawn Johnson has become one of Shi-Queeta-Lee’s go-to “Drag Salute” cast members and says it’s always a fun assignment.

The two performers met about 10 years ago through Demetria V. Burts, Johnson’s late partner who also worked with Shi-Queeta. A veteran of past drag take-offs of “Steel Magnolias,” “Waiting to Exhale” and the “Motown Revue,” in which Johnson performed as members of both the Temptations and the Four Tops, Johnson will appear Sunday night in “A Drag Valentine’s Salute to the Divas: What Shi-Queeta-Lee Has Done With It” at the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.). Doors open at 6 for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $20-50. Details at thehowardtheatre.com.

Johnson will play the late Ike Turner opposite Shi-Queeta’s Tina, roles they’ve performed before.

“I always liked Tina’s voice and I was very taken with the story when I saw the movie and when I read about her in Ebony,” Johnson, a 46-year-old lesbian and Washington-area native, says. “Outside of the abuse, they were both very talented.”

Johnson, who lives in Temple Hills, Md., and works by day in building maintenance, got into drag in the mid-90s after being asked to perform at Bachelor’s Mill.

“I love everything about it,” she says. “The illusion of it, the fact that you can bring these performers to life, interacting with the audience, making someone smile, smiling back, being on stage — I love the whole aspect of it.”

Johnson is single and enjoys writing, poetry, photography, music, lip syncing, performing and acting in her free time.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Twenty-four years and my mom.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

Ellen DeGeneres


What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Bachelor’s Mill, Town and Nellie’s


Describe your dream wedding.

On a beach serenaded by an orchestra with white horses and fireworks!


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

People who live and struggle with any form of cancer.


What historical outcome would you change?

The unfair laws we have when it comes to police departments and unfair treatment/police brutality.


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The day I meet my favorite female R&B singer Keyshia Cole.


On what do you insist?

Being respected.


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“Thanx! Happy Sunday Funday”


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“The Eyes Have It”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would become a full-fledged man.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

God (a higher power).


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Be strong and of good courage.


What would you walk across hot coals for?

To touch the hand of God.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The word “dyke.”


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Haven’t seen it yet. 


What’s the most overrated social custom?

Don’t judge a book by its cover — most people do.


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Bachelor’s Mill first runner up as male impersonator in 1996 in a Black Pride pageant.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

How to drive.


Why Washington?

It’s historical and rich in culture. A lively and entertaining place to live and on top of that, the president is here too.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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