Bunny Wonderland performs with the Curbside Queens at a birthday party on Sunday in South Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

When you’re 3 years old at your birthday party, nothing is going to distract you from a toddler-sized car with a blue bow on top. Not even a giant pink bus in your driveway, or GiGi Gabor standing 6-feet-7-inches in cowboy boots and a rainbow jumpsuit.

So Everett Ferguson made a beeline for his present, as if a drag show wasn’t happening outside his house at that exact moment.

“Can we trade?” GiGi called after him.

Luckily, especially for performers who come with a tip bucket, adults outnumber toddlers at this party. They are here to celebrate Everett, yes, but also to see the Curbside Queens. GiGi and fellow performer Cherry Lemonade started doing drag on demand in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic halted traditional performances and Pride celebrations. Malory Ferguson saw one of those early shows, and this year, she knew exactly who she wanted to headline her son’s third birthday.

“A party under 5 is solely for you,” GiGi said to her as friends and family gathered on the lawn.

“Only 5?” Malory joked.


That first summer, GiGi and Cherry clipped a sequined curtain to the roof rack of GiGi’s SUV and thought they would do a couple shows for Pride. They ended up doing 88 performances that summer, and GiGi put 8,000 miles on her car and had to get it towed at the end of the season.

Finn Gerring performs with the Curbside Queens at a birthday party on Sunday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The demand was obvious, so GiGi bought a used shuttle bus with 300,000 miles on it for the next summer. Dubbed “Peg” and painted pink, that vehicle brought them to another 85 shows in 2021. They drove all over Maine, although they had to turn down a request out of Caribou because they were pretty sure the engine wouldn’t make it there and back. When the bus was retired at the end of the year, GiGi got a heart tattoo that says “PEG” on her arm.

In 2022, Curbside Queens upgraded the bus again and invited six additional performers to join the cast. A 50-minute show costs $250, plus a travel fee for destinations more than 15 miles from Peg’s home base in Portland. A summer weekend can mean as many as 12 bookings for the Curbside Queens, but June is a whole other level.

In addition to the usual driveway gigs, the performers are hired for Pride celebrations from Biddeford to Bar Harbor. This past weekend, they did shows over three days at a brewery, a downtown brunch, the Pride Portland! festival stage in Deering Oaks, a nightclub and two different driveways.

GiGi Gabor of the Curbside Queens entertains customers during a performance brunch at the Flying Dutchman before the Pride parade in Portland on Saturday. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

GiGi started Saturday with makeup application at 9 a.m. and finished nearly an hour later. Then she headed to the first stop on the schedule: the Frying Dutchman in the Portland Public Market. Bunny Wonderland and Finn Gerring met her there before 11 a.m.

“Pride is a marathon, not a sprint,” GiGi reminded the others. “Hydrate, hydrate.”


The brunch special was a Korean cheese corn dog and two Dutch meatballs called bitterballen in a suggestive display on top of french fries, and one of the Frying Dutchman owners was serving them up in a pair of towering aqua heels and a sequined halter top. GiGi started the show with a rendition of “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J, and the crowd immediately started waving dollar bills that she gathered in her hands and rained over her head. The audience continued cheering through Finn’s sensual performance of “Pony” by Ginuwine and “Our Own House” by MisterWives.

GiGi introduced the sets and kept the crowd laughing, but she paused for the speech she gave at every show over the weekend.

“We spend May to November driving around in our giant pink shuttle bus doing drag in driveways or parking lots or anywhere that people want us to come and bring this queer joy and queer art,” GiGi said. “And we think that especially during pride season, we need to remember who gave us this right to be here living so freely, and that is trans women of color.”

Curbside Queens donates a portion of its profits to causes that support transgender people and the Black Lives Matter movement. GiGi, who identifies as a trans femme nonbinary person, encouraged the audience to give their time or money to local groups that support marginalized people.

Gigi Gabor performs with the Curbside Queens at a birthday party on Sunday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“Trans women of color have always been on the front lines fighting for our rights as queer people to exist and live freely, and they are still to this day the most at risk members of our community,” GiGi said. “We would not be here celebrating pride without the women who fought back against police brutality and harassment in New York City at Stonewall in 1969.”

The show continued, and GiGi stepped out early to make her way to Deering Oaks, where she was set to host the festival mainstage alongside fellow Curbside Queens Arabella Ladessé and Danielle Dior. A rainbow crowd had already gathered for the parade starting in Monument Square, but you still couldn’t miss GiGi striding down the sidewalk in her towering bejeweled blond wig. (“A daytime look,” GiGi said, when a passer-by complimented her hair.)


Arabella took the stage in a sparking red evening gown to perform “Black Girl Magic,” and the crowd screamed in approval when she swung her long braids free from her bun. She travels all over New England – she’s got 35 shows booked this month alone – but she likes the driveway shows with Curbside Queens.

“The group is so much more intimate,” she said. “There’s room to be more of a person and less of a performer.”

Bunny Wonderland of Curbside Queens entertains customers during a performance brunch at the Flying Dutchman before the Pride parade Saturday. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Mike Thornhill first saw Arabella perform a few years ago. After they met again at a mutual friend’s place, Mike took his chance and asked her out.

“Like everybody else, I was enchanted,” he said.

On Saturday, Mike offered a steadying hand when Arabella came down the ramp from the stage in her towering silver heels and held her coat when she posed for photos. He pulls a pair of small scissors out of his pocket to trim a stray thread on her collar. He sees the labor that goes into these performances, the hours spent working on costumes and the nights of little sleep between an evening show and a morning shift.

“I think people think it’s all a party all the time,” Mike said. “It’s real work. They have day jobs.”


GiGi works Monday through Thursday in product development for a small accessories company in Maine. Bunny is a prekindergarten teacher and said one of her happiest days was when her class came to see her drag performance of “Dragons Love Tacos” at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. Arabella got a job during the pandemic as a health insurance agent, which gives her access to benefits and also an avenue to advocate for policies that are more inclusive of transgender people. Finn is a body empowerment dance teacher and coach.

They came to drag at different times – Danielle Dior has been performing for 38 years and talked lovingly about her “drag daughters,” while Finn Gerring started just last year – but all described it as a way to explore their identities.

Bunny Wonderland performs with the Curbside Queens at a birthday party on Sunday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“Drag is a pretty big art form,” Finn, a drag king, said. “Drag brought together my body positivity and gender fluidity. It brought all these passion parts of myself together.”

While the festival was still going strong Saturday, three Curbside Queens slipped away for a driveway show. They boarded Peg and made for South Portland, a home where they’ve performed at a neighborhood Pride party for the last three years. They took a break after that show and then hit the stage at Aura in Portland that night, then slept in Sunday morning.

Everett’s birthday was their last event of the weekend. A rainy drizzle deterred neither performers nor audience. GiGi wore a red pixie cut wig that would hold up better in the audience, and they all spun rainbow umbrellas over their heads. A few partygoers donned colorful wigs of their own.

When “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles blasted from the speaker, Finn ducked into the bus for one final prop: a bright blue bubble gun. Everett was snuggled shyly against his mom on the grass, but he let out a delighted shriek when he saw the bubbles flying around Finn. He ran forward, giggling with joy, reaching for iridescence.

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