Boystown's sweetheart continues to give back

Mattie Buckley, Co-Tempo Editor

Over the past 10 years, Loren “Debbie Fox” Agron has grown from a baby drag queen to a pillar of the LGBT community in Chicago, frequently hosting charitable events.

“I don’t have very much,” said Debbie. “I can’t always donate money to people or a cause, but I love to help out in any way that I can. As a drag queen, I can host fundraising events. That’s how I’ve been able to help out our community since Debbie Fox was born.”

In 2006, Loren first dabbled in drag while performing as the Changeling Twink in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale,” which gave a queer spin on the Shakespearean play. He first introduced the world to his drag persona that same year around his birthday.

“An old friend of mine is a lesbian and really wanted to go to a drag king show,” Debbie said. “She didn’t want to go by herself, so I got into drag and went with her. My friend Zorka painted my face because I knew nothing about makeup. When she was done, she took one look at me and said, ‘You look just like your mother!’ So I decided to use her name, but shorten Deborah to Debbie because it sounds younger and a little more flirty.

 My mother loves it and has always supported my drag. She comes to my gigs and tells everyone that she’s the original!”

Over the next three years, Loren honed his drag skills, and in 2009, Debbie Fox won the title of Miss Roscoe’s. Roscoe’s is a neighborhood bar in Boystown that produces an annual drag competition called Roscoe’s Drag Race.

“2009 was truly the birth of the drag queen Debbie Fox,” said Debbie. “When I started competing for the title, drag became more serious for me. After I won, my drag career really took off.”

With her new title, Debbie started to become a big name in Boystown nightlife. She has since held residencies at Roscoe’s, Spin, Hydrate, Replay Lakeview, Minibar and Progress. As she continued to pursue her drag career, Debbie’s drag aesthetic evolved.

“I really started to have fun with my drag when I stopped trying to always be the pretty female impersonator,” Debbie said. “Don’t get me wrong, Debbie is still pretty—she’s drag pretty. I was able to express myself more artistically and really discover more dimensions of Debbie’s personality. She’s a campy drag queen, cosplayer and Club Kid mixed together.”

“She’s become more of a local celebrity host,” said Nick Wagner, Debbie’s former coworker and longtime friend. “She still likes to perform, but she’s really found her niche as a host. A good host isn’t always easy to come by. They need to be humorous and inviting to get patrons to come and stay at these events. Debbie has a way of charming an entire audience and improvising throughout the event to make sure that everyone is having a good time.”

As she gained popularity and notoriety in the LGBT community, various organizations and causes began asking Debbie to promote, host and/or perform in their fundraising events.

“Our community has learned to come together and be resilient, especially in times of need,” said Debbie. “Looking back, I realize I’ve done a lot for the community. At the time of these events, they feel more like friends and family simply getting together to help each other out, while having a good time and celebrating life.”

She performed in Night of 100 Drag Queens, Equality Illinois’ annual fundraising event, several times and hosted the event twice. The event was rebranded as Dragapalooza for its final year in 2017.

Throughout the past five years, Debbie has participated in Hydrate’s annual Turnabout event as a performer and, more recently, as a makeup artist and stylist. Hydrate donates the funds raised to a local charitable cause.

“The Turnabout event is a fun way to get some of our boys who don’t do drag to perform in full face—wig and heels included,” said Debbie. “We’ve moved away from having known drag queens perform to making it an amateur drag show. After all, that’s the purpose of having a turnabout event in the first place. The seasoned queens still help out by doing makeup, hair and costuming for our volunteer queens."

Since 2014, Debbie has hosted Sidetrack’s Santa Speedo Run, benefiting the Center on Halsted, which serves Chicago’s LGBT community. The mile-long run is held in December annually and includes a post-run party with awards, entertainment and door prizes.

“I look forward to the Santa Speedo Run every year,” Debbie said. “It’s probably the most successful event I’ve been a part of. Because of its success and popularity, I am pushed to get creative with my look every year.”

The event has become so successful that Sidetrack and the Center on Halsted threw a thank you party for supporters last July, appropriately titled Christmas in July. Attendees were able to vote on the design for the run’s official speedo.

Barlesque, Chicago’s sexiest fundraiser, was produced by and benefited Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) from 2008 to 2017. Local businesses would compete in a month-long burlesque strip-a-thon event to raise funds. Debbie hosted the closing party in 2015 and 2016 and hosted an event for Charlie’s in 2017 alongside DJ Alex Cabot.

Prior to the 2016 election, Debbie joined with several other drag queens in a March to the Polls. The event gathered and mobilized people from the LGBT community for voter registration and early voting.

“I work at a vet clinic, and Debbie hosted an event we put together last September,” said Ben Tromblay, a close friend of Debbie’s. “It was called Share the Love and promoted happy and healthy pet lives. She helped us raise over $1000 for Canines & Company dressed as Cruella de Vil.”

Last November, Debbie helped promote inclusion at Lewis University by being the first drag queen to perform at the Romeoville, Ill. campus. She hosted and performed at the bstrong Banger, raising funds for bstrong, Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel’s disaster relief nonprofit organization. 

On Thursday, April 29, Chicago’s Mouseketeer will be joining forces with TPAN again as an ambassador for their annual fundraiser, Dining Out For Life®. This international event helps raise money and awareness for people affected by HIV.

“I’m really excited to volunteer as an ambassador for Dining Out For Life,” Debbie said. “That being said, I’m also finalizing plans for several other events this year aside from my current residencies at Replay Lakeview and Progress.”

One thing is certain: Debbie Fox isn’t going to stop giving back to the community anytime soon.