BECOMING AUSTIN NATION From Crack to PhD: A Drag Queen’s Story

Austin Nation Photo credit: Francis Gacad
Written & Performed by Austin Nation

Presented as part of the 2023 Queerly Festival
June 16 – July 3 @ The Kraine Theater

FRIGID New York will present Becoming Austin Nation: From Crack to PhD: A Drag Queen’s Story as part of the 2023 Queerly Festival. Performances will take place on Friday, June 16th at 7pm, Monday, June 19th at 9pm, and Monday, July 3rd at 7pm at The Kraine Theater (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003). Performances will also be available to livestream from home. Tickets ($25 in-person; $20 for streaming) are available for advance purchase at

Austin Nation shares his entertaining and humorous autobiography of his own life story, From Crack to PhD: A Drag Queen’s Story.  

Austin’s life  changed dramatically when he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1986. At the mere age of 26, it was the beginning of the end. In 1987, a medication called AZT came out and he had to take it every 4 hours around the clock. It was toxic! In 1994, within a 6-month period, Austin lost all of my closest friends. He thought, if he was going to die, then he was going to party his way out! Drugs and alcohol became his best friend. Playing around in drag was part of his experience while getting high. 

Fast forward, he turned 40 years old and was still alive. What the hell! What was God up to? He was sad to have outlived all of his dearest friends, not being able to grow old with them. So he thought that there must be something else for him to do. Austin beat many demons and today, he is 19 years clean and sober. He was able to obtain a PhD from UCSF, one of the best universities in the country. After being on disability for 20 years, He started thinking he might be well enough to go back to work. Today he’s an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton in the School of Nursing and Nursing Supervisor at USC Keck Medical Center.  

Someone suggested the name A’Freeka Nature, sort of a play of Africa Nature as a drag name. Austin has auditioned for RuPaul’s Drag Race twice, entered a couple of drag search competitions – placing in the top 5, and won the title of Mx Caring Heart 2020 with Orange County Shanti. He’s excited to be a part of the Queerly Festival with FRIGID New York. 

Founded in 2014, Queerly is FRIGID New York’s annual celebration of LGBTQA+ artists. Queerly strives for diversity on and off stage, seeking out queer teams and artists of all kinds as well as a wide range of shows and performances. Our goal is to provide a space for queer artists who’ve rarely or never seen their identities portrayed on stage to be able to represent themselves and tell their stories their way, as well as to provide a space for queer celebration, pride, and strength. 

FRIGID New York’s mission is to provide both emerging and established artists the opportunity to create and produce original work of varied content, form, and style, and to amplify their diverse voices. We do this by presenting an array of monthly programming, mainstage productions, an artist residency, and eight annual theater festivals that create an environment of collaboration, resourcefulness, and innovation. Founded in 1998, the aim was and is to form a structure, allowing multiple artists to focus on creating and staging new work and providing affordable rental space to scores of independent artists. Now in our third decade we have produced a massive quantity of stimulating downtown theater.   

Published by malinism

Malini is a native New Yorker who has been involved in the arts for her entire life. She's served the theatre in many aspects of which she's very proud – actress, director, producer, stage manager, costume designer, prop designer, theatre reviewer, publicist and most recently writer/monologist. She received her BA in Theatre Arts and English Literature from Baruch College and her MFA in Directing from the Actors Studio Drama School. In 2003, Malini and her husband, Ian, created Black Henna Productions with a handful of innovative artists. Every member of the company collaborates on every piece, either writing, acting, directing, designing, or filling any other role that fit their own personal skills with a commitment to bring new, exciting, and challenging theatre to the world. She is an associate member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. Malini received the Woman of Distinction Award for her contribution to Media, Arts and Culture from the City of New York in 2008. She is also a Person of Godspell which ran at Circle in the Square on Broadway from 2011-2012.

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