The Power of the Knight
“I can be a little more reserved in my professional settings, but Kazma is a little crazy when she comes out. Accounting and finance can sometimes be drab and boring, so this is my artistic outlet to combat that.“
By day, Chris Nevil works as a financial planner, an adjunct professor and president of the Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance (SEORA). On certain evenings and weekends, however, Nevil transforms into Kazma Knights, a glamorous and sassy drag queen hosting events across Southeast Ohio.
When did you first start performing in drag?
It was about five years ago. It all started out as a bit of a joke. There was a drag queen that was trying to start a show here, and she convinced me to do it. So, I made my little debut. Eventually, she quit doing drag and let me take over the shows, and I’ve been doing that since the start of 2019.
How did you figure out your signature look?
It was a lot of trial and error, because I had no idea what size I was in anything, I honestly get most of my outfits on Amazon. There are drag entertainers that spend…thousands on fancy things, but that’s not me. Especially because, Kazma’s whole gag is a little bit grungy and whorey and we love that. It’s iconic at this point. It used to take me easily two hours to get ready. Now, I’ve got it down to 45 minutes.
Could you talk about your work with SEORA?
I always want to see the community that I grew up in thrive. Our goal is to have a physical resource center somewhere in Athens for the public. Students at Ohio University have the LGBT center, but we want one for the public. SEORA didn’t exist when I grew up, which is part of what makes me feel so passionate about it. Athens is an accepting place, but it’s a whole different world if you go five to 10 minutes outside. Now, there are way more people that are kind and accepting and just want to see the world in a brighter light.
Was it nerve-wracking having never been in drag before?
It was, but at the same time, it wasn’t, because you’re somebody else, you know? Of course, my makeup was terrible then, so you could tell it was me. Now, it’s a lot better.
What is it like working in professional settings by day and performing as Kazma by night?
Being in a professional setting in my finance job and being an adjunct professor at Hocking College, it is very interesting having a nightlife side hustle. People are always a little shocked, but usually I get good feedback. Everyone loves it. I can be a little more reserved in my professional settings, but Kazma is a little crazy when she comes out. Accounting and finance can sometimes be drab and boring, so this is my artistic outlet to combat that.
What has performing in Southeast Ohio been like over the last several years?
Way more people from the community actually come to the shows than students do. The biggest show that the local drag community and I always do is the Athens Pride Show. In the summer, we usually have over 400 people there. Being from the area, it is really nice to see all those community members.
Why are these events important to you?
The main thing is just having that welcoming, open environment for anybody to visit. We had people come up to us at our events and say, “This is the only place I can be myself.” That is everything to me. One place where you can be yourself is better than no place to be yourself. That’s the biggest part.