“They always say you want to go for sisters, not twins, but I go for twins,” Ben Grimwood paints on a perfectly symmetrical set of eyebrows above his “boy brows”, which have been plastered to his face with the help of an Elmer’s glue stick, a blow dryer, and a tub white powder. This is step number one in his transformation into one of Bloomington’s most well known drag queens, Bendovah Plenti.
Bloomington’s Pourhouse Cafe is not only filling up the mugs of IU locals but filling up the hearts of people in need worldwide. Each month, The Pourhouse uses its tips to fund a new humanitarian project to better the world, making it the perfect spot for great coffee and a great cause.
A hamper of heads sits in Ben Grimwood’s apartment, filled with the trappings necessary to transform him into Bendovah Plenti, his drag alter-ego. Bendovah will don the sparkly blue dress and matching accessories to portray Elsa from Frozen in a Disney-themed show at Bloomington queer bar, The Back Door.
Clad in a satin robe, Grimwood starts his three-hour transformation into Bendovah by plastering down his eyebrows with an Elmer’s glue stick. He will later blow dry and add layers of powder to his brows until the area is primed to paint on new, more dramatic brows.
Ben heads downstairs, where he’s set up his makeup station in the living room he shares with his fiancé Cody, their dog Rita, and their roommate Heath. Marilyn Monroe, one of Ben’s icons, gazes down on him as he morphs into a blonde beauty queen.
Grimwood coats the back of his hand with his brow makeup, and guards his robe with a towel as the process tends to get messy. His transformation into an Elsa-themed Bendovah will require a sharp brow and stark cheek contour.
Grimwood admires his contour in the mirror. He utilizes the edge of an envelope to guide his strokes to give the illusion of perfectly hollow cheekbones that are visible onstage. He has learned make up tricks over the years from both his drag mother, Jewels A Plenti, and Youtube tutorials.
The Back Door buzzes with activity in the hours leading up to the Queer Cabaret. “Be nice or get out,” the chalkboard at the entrance reads, reinforcing the venue’s emphasis on inclusion and acceptance.
Lights beam and smoke fills the zebra-printed room as the queens gear up for their Disney-themed performance. Patrons pepper the bar dressed as their favorite Disney cartoons, enjoying drinks and the company of friends.
Bendovah poses for pictures outside before heading backstage for the show. The dressing rooms back right up to the patio of The Back Door, and queens often pop out join fans and friends for drinks after shows.
It’s show time: the audience is captivated as Bendovah belts to a Frozen-inspired musical mash-up, wowing the crowd in her waist-length braid and shimmering blue dress. Her performance consists of several frozen songs accompanied by dramatic choreography.
Bendovah ventures in the crowd, plucking dollar bills from the outstretched hands of audience members rewarding her for a fantastic show.
“They always say you go want to go for sisters, not twins, but I go for twins,” Ben Grimwood paints on a perfectly symmetrical set of eyebrows above his “boy brows”, which have been plastered to his face with the help of an Elmer’s glue stick, a blow dryer, and a tub white powder. This is step number one in his transformation into one of Bloomington’s most well known drag queens, Bendovah Plenti.