By Rebecca Drew
MEET THE amazing drag queen dad who after becoming a father at just seventeen has received criticism for letting his nine-year-old-daughter play with his makeup box but insists his ability to parent is not affected by his glamourous alter-ego.
Virtual call centre owner and drag queen, Darin Ingold (26) from Springfield, Missouri, USA, grew up in a broken home where his mother abandoned him at two-years-old and his father had addiction problems which meant he had to move around a lot which made it difficult for him to make friends.
On top of this, Darin, who started experimenting with makeup and dressing up as a child, was bullied throughout school because of his unique and flamboyant personality which resulted in him leaving education at 16 and getting a job as a waiter.
At this time Darin met an older girl who was also going through a difficult time and they managed to get an apartment together, one thing led to another and the girl fell pregnant and less than a year later, just as Darin turned 17, his beautiful daughter, Addison, was born. After his own troublesome childhood, Darin promised himself to be the best parent to his little girl possible.
Having always enjoyed dressing up in women’s clothes and experimenting with makeup and being inspired by fellow drag queen, Angelina Dupree, Darin took part in his first drag show in 2011 as his fabulous alter-ego, Nikko Arises.
However, Darin, who dedicates his time home-schooling his daughter, has received criticism for embracing Nikko’s character with people wrongly assuming that this takes priority over her and sets a bad example. Addison loves Darin’s hobby and enjoys playing with his makeup when he is transforming himself into Nikko.
“My mother abandoned me at a very young age and my father was addicted to drugs and alcohol which meant he was sometimes abusive. I moved on a regular basis and never had the ability to ever really make friends until I was in high school,” said Darin.
“Throughout my childhood when I would try to connect with my mother she would say very hurtful things and call me a ‘faggot’. Life for me as a child was not fun, I was picked on throughout school because I was unique and constantly made fun of.
“I ended up getting my first job at 16 years old where I met a girl who was 18. She was going through a rough time as well and she ended up getting us an apartment. One thing led to another and then she became pregnant.
“Everything that I have experienced throughout my childhood and becoming a parent at a very young age has shown me many life lessons that many people have never experienced in their entire lives.
“As a child I learned all about what not to do and I continuously told myself if I ever have children that I would strive to be the absolute best parent that I can be.
“I simply push each and every day to be a better parent than the day before by providing a comfortable home, activities and hang out sessions with the neighbourhood kids, after school activities, home-schooling one on one, field trips, makeup fun and maintaining her to be a happy healthy child.
“As a child I started to play with makeup and dress up to an extent until I got in trouble with my dad. I still would do it behind his back without him knowing it and look at myself in the mirror.
“Then in 2011 I experienced my first drag show. I have always enjoyed stage and acting. I loved the experience so much that I just had to try it. I was so nervous, and still to this day when I step foot on a stage I am shaking inside, but as soon as I get on the stage it completes me.
“The feeling is amazing and the ability to release any feelings you may have on that stage to your audience is one of the best things. Drag helps me on so many different levels even when I am not performing on a stage I enjoy creating social media content for my fans and followers.”
It takes Darin anywhere between two-and-a-half to three hours to transform into Nikko Arises. Unfortunately, he has been shamed by people who don’t think that he can be a fit father due to his passion for drag.
“I have been put down by many people thinking that I would not be a good fit as a parent for my daughter, but I have proven that my ability to parent is not affected by drag and never will be,” he said.
“Drag is simply a part of me and my artistic abilities which does not have any negative effects on my parenting abilities.
“Addison understands that I have created a character and she loves me for who I am and that will never change. She does not get involved within the process at all other than she may watch when I am painting my face or she may play with makeup while I am painting my face.
“I have been told that it is not good for Addison mostly because of some people’s religious beliefs. I have no time for negative energy within my life, so I simply respect their opinions and go on with my life. As I know that I am a great parent.
“I have also been looked down on for her playing with makeup, but my response to that is simple. She is a kid and wants to be a kid. There is nothing wrong with her playing with makeup she is a child, but sure I respect that.
“I focus on what matters and that is providing for my daughter. Giving her the things she needs and spending time with her.”
When Darin is Nikko, it’s a way for him to unwind and relax with every performance being slightly different. Ultimately, Darin wants to show that anything is possible and that it doesn’t matter where someone comes from, they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
“I try to switch things up for every performance. Each performance I spend a lot of time thinking it out and planning. I spend a lot of time preparing costumes and practicing my art,” he said.
“Drag helps me cope with life. It helps me to release frustrations, stress, anxiety, anger, and everything. To be able to create your own artistic character and release that energy to the public is amazing.
“The adrenaline rush that I get from fans and how it makes me feel when I hear feedback good and bad is amazing. I have learnt to take all feedback and use it to my advantage regardless of what it is.
“There are a lot of drag queens out there putting out tacky content or inappropriate content especially for any child to see. I think if people would be a little more respectful to families and children that people would be less likely to care about the LGBT communities and families.
“I tend to only collaborate with individuals with like minds that know how to be respectful to there being a child in my home.
“Everyone should always push and push, never give up.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/nikkoarises