After the 2016 presidential election, there wasn’t a lot that could unite Brooklynite Fig Chilcott and her conservative dad, Don — except, as it turns out, for a bright red wig, a leather mini-dress and fabulously long false eyelashes.
Transforming Don, 66, into a drag queen for a day was just the thing to bring father and daughter together, says Fig, 29. She and her dad, a handlebar mustachioed locksmith from Idaho, appear on MTV’s new makeover show, “Drag My Dad,” a show whose premise is that any relationship woes can be cured with enough bold contouring and high heels.
“If there’s anyone who could use a little drag, it’s my dad,” says the playwright and bartender. “It’s so far out of his paradigm and so far out of his world.”
The show, which premieres Monday at 6 p.m. on Facebook Watch, pairs dads up with a team of artists, including host and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Bob the Drag Queen. Don, whose relationship with his daughter had become strained over political differences, says that as ridiculous as the concept was, it actually went a long way in repairing the rift between he and Fig.
“I thought, ‘the mustache grows right back,’ ” says Don, who adds that the foray into queer culture didn’t bother him. “There are males who can be threatened by this, but I’ve always wondered, ‘why would that threaten you?’”
Their troubles began when Don moved from their hippie northern California town to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where, as Don puts it, “there’s a rack where you put your gun and get your hair cut. It’s a right-to-carry state, so that changes the atmosphere a little bit.” He became active in his church and joined the Knights of Columbus. And he began to feel the recent cultural shift empowering women and minorities was leaving guys like him with no voice, he says.
“I was absolutely feeling underrepresented,” he says. “[The conversation] was all about these overworked, broke white males these days, getting shade and made fun of, and of course recently we’re all bigots, racists and homophones — but when did I become that?”
For Fig, who describes herself as politically active and living a “bohemian” lifestyle with her cats and partner, the contrast was stark. Over calls and texts, disagreements about President Trump’s policies and the ways they affected women came to a head.
“Most people learn what you can and cannot talk about with people, but there’s a price,” Fig says. “You lose a lot of intimacy when you can’t talk about what you believe in.”
Then, Fig saw a casting call for “Drag My Dad.” When he agreed to do it, Fig felt comforted that her father was willing to be open to other cultures and ways of thinking — it inspired her to find compromise with him, as well.
“It was just such a big gesture, flying across the country, being out of his comfort zone, trying something new,” she says. “He didn’t do it for anyone but me.”
The day of his transformation, Don spent three hours in the makeup chair. He went from a barrel-chested macho man to a “kind of a Latina punk rock meets KISS queen,” he says with a laugh. He even got to keep his mustache, which was colored red to match the accents in his mini dress.
“It’s actually kind of intimate, having someone touching your face like that for so long — I felt cared for,” says Don. “Now, instead of wondering, ‘who is this weird person under all that makeup?’ I might see that she’s like some of the queens I met who were very loving.”
But for all the transforming Don did, Fig felt transformed by the experience, too.
“If I want to be listened to, I need to learn how to listen as well,” she says. “I have this acceptance and appreciation for my dad, and now I’m learning to have it with other people as well.”
For Don, it also ended up being a way to laugh again with his daughter, like when he emerged from the dressing room to show him his final, drag self. “It’s a delight as a parent to re-meet your kids as adults and end up liking them — in spite of the political stuff,” he says. “This is a person I like hanging out with.”