No, you’re not seeing double vision. There really is a pair of identical siblings in Houston’s drag scene. Kara and Tara Dion have often used their mirror images, sharp wit, and bilingual abilities to captivate audiences. And what’s more, they can show twice the love for their community through their joint philanthropic efforts. There were never two more devoted sisters, either. This July marks their 29th year performing as female illusionists. Read on for more about these Texas twins.
Kara: The Mandalorian
Tara: Mickey Mouse
How did you get into drag?
We had a roommate who worked at Rich’s. It was a turnabout show and he was moving the next day, so he offered up his twin roommates since he was busy. The rest is history.
How did you choose your names?
Tara: In the back of the car on the way to Rich’s. We both loved Celine Dion, so we felt like that was a good last name. Then our friend Jonathan said our names should rhyme. Kara and Tara was called out in the car, and Kara quickly claimed that name. No “first dog or first street” names here!
Talk about growing up as twins.
Tara: Growing up as twins was great. We had each other. Our own built-in BFF. We got a lot of attention being identical. At age 5, I got involved in theater and the arts. I don’t know how we would have made it out of high school and on to adult life without arts and entertainment. I think it saved me.
Have you ever pulled a switcheroo?
Tara: We have. As it relates to drag, the biggest one was at Miss Gay USA. I changed into a “Kara” costume [to perform, then left the stage so Kara could quickly come on] in the same costume—but a different color! That was special and something that would be hard for anyone else to recreate. It was a moment I know we and others won’t forget.
Do you perform any illusions?
Kara: Shania, P!nk, Katherine Zeta Jones.
Tara: Michael Jackson, Edward Scissorhands, and Ronald McDonald are my dead ringers.
Talk about your charity work.
Tara: I am most proud of the work some friends and I have done recently at the Pride Pantry.
What are you leaving behind in 2021?
Kara: 2021 has been a year of many struggles and losses. It’s been a year with lots of negativity and fear. I’m looking forward to people hugging and loving on each other more.
Tara: I’m looking forward to continuing to create our new normal. I am recently officially married, so this is my first Christmas and New Year’s as a husband. I’m really grateful to be able to say that. I did not think I’d reach this point ever in my lifetime, but the world has changed so much.
New Year’s resolutions?
Kara: To live a healthier and more productive life, both on and off the stage.
Tara: To continue to grow my professional career, and entertain when I can during my off-time.
What do you want people to know about Houston’s drag scene?
Kara: Believe it or not, drag is everywhere around us. From College Station to Galveston, you can find a show on almost any given night. There are so many kinds of drag and art.
Most embarrassing moment in drag?
Kara: You should pin your wig all the way around. Pinning the front will give you the Pez Head effect on stage. That was embarrassing.
Tara: It’s a long story, but I carried a ferret onstage during my first attempt to become Miss Gay Texas America. She peed on me. I am not sure what happened to her after that category!
How did you develop your sense of humor?
Kara: Growing up, we were in theater. Humor is a way to break barriers, and takes a long time to get it right. Often during shows and events, we are called upon to stall. Gotta be funny to pass the time!
Tara: Believe it or not, our mother is very funny. I think our quick wit came young as a defense mechanism, and showed up later in life as a newfound confidence in who I was. I really don’t think I am that funny. I think I have a different perspective—not taking stuff too seriously.
What do you see as the future of drag?
Kara: I hope that people will embrace every facet of drag entertainment. There is no box. All drag is valid.
Tara: The sky is the limit. We see so many variations of drag these days. I think it will continue to be a platform to change the conversation and move the needle on acceptance, art, and freedom of expression.
Who were your drag influences?
Kara: Miss Piggy (lol!), Paivi Lee Love, Lawanda Jackson, and in my early years traveling the state, Lauren Taylor was a great friend and mentor.
Tara: Paivi Lee Love, Lawanda Jackson, Britney Paige, Miss Zach, Ron Sue, Dyan Michaels. There are many. I was very lucky to sit in dressing rooms of past legends, and I still have opportunities to meet and work with these individuals.
What do you get to do as twins that no one else gets to do?
Kara: Quick-change costumes.
Tara: We share unique DNA. No one can be Kara and Tara Dion but us. It’s funny because some of the drag kids have gone dressed as us for Halloween.
Houston’s best-kept drag secret?
Kara: Although he has basically retired, we were fortunate enough to have Lupe do our hair for many years. Many people do amazing hair now, but back in the day he was the best, and we were among the few who were blessed to have many custom pieces.
Tara: There are more dresses in closets than you might think. We are some of the bravest role models around. We are influencing and showing others—some you may not know or suspect—that it is okay to be yourself, express yourself, and not be defined by the fact that you wear makeup or costumes.
What’s it like representing as Ms. Gay Texas America?
Kara: It was a great year for me. It was a one-time opportunity to leave my mark, and influence future symbols of excellence. It is a job you don’t take lightly, and is rewarding far beyond your “give up.”
Tara: It is something I cherish. I met many people that year and learned a lot about myself. It was a gateway to opportunity, and it taught me that being visible comes with challenges. You are a role model and an example. That never leaves you.
What’s on your bucket list?
Kara: Christmas in New York.
Tara: A trip abroad.
Do you get recognized in the drag community for being the rare twins?
Tara: We do. It’s funny because sometimes someone will look at me and just say something like, “Are you one of the twins?” I may or may not know them, but we do get recognized.
Do you have any sibling rivalry, or is it 100 percent being supportive of each other?
Tara: We are brothers, so we have had our spirited conversations. But it’s mostly all love. We are each other’s number-one fans, for sure.
What has drag taught you about yourselves that you carry in your everyday lives?
Kara: Responsibility for managing a busy schedule [in so many] different places. Also, you have to invest in yourself and your art.
Tara: In my professional career, I am reminded that it is always right to look for the person behind the makeup and the attire. First impressions are powerful, but lasting impressions are what create friendships and chosen family.
Describe your drag personas.
Kara: Fun, funny, and classic.
Tara: Funny and particular.
Pet peeve when you’re performing?
Kara: Nails! You have to have on nails!
Tara: Nails, for sure! I knew we both would say that. And taking time to stop and thank a fan, or say hello. I know I stop lip-syncing during my performances to say a verbal thank you. I appreciate everyone who comes to see me and likes my art.
What do your fans in the audience do that you appreciate?
Kara: When a fan or audience member is there to see and appreciate a show. You can tell when the audience has respect for the performer. It makes us work harder and definitely gives them a better show.
What is your dream job?
Kara: To work full-time on a cruise ship.
Tara: I have it. I am not done growing professionally, but I love what I do. But if I had to say a “dream job,” I would say something in musical theater on Broadway. Maybe in drag, but not necessarily.
What is your ultimate goal as Tara and Kara?
Kara: To continue helping our community, and to entertain. Staying relevant is a challenge, so having our own style and gimmicks has always been a plus.
Tara: There is no ultimate goal for me. I want to entertain as long as I can, or feel that I want to. I’ll continue to try and be a role model for up-and-coming entertainers.
What are your hobbies outside of drag?
Kara: Long weekends to Las Vegas and other cities to see friends and shows.
Tara: Playing pool, going to outdoor markets, and attending sports and live music events.
What advice would you offer your younger self?
Kara: Don’t second-guess yourself. Appreciate that you are different, and that being different sets you apart.
Tara: Don’t be in such a hurry to find the next big step or thing in your life. Enjoy each moment, be open to learning, and embrace mistakes.
What else can you tell us about Tara and Kara that would be interesting?
Kara: Our mother always had drinks and snacks for us in the car during trips. If you look in our purses when we are out, chances are there is a cheeseburger in there. Either in our purses or our cars, there is literally anything we might need.
Tara: I take about an hour longer to get ready than Kara does. I don’t know how she gets ready so fast!
This article appears in the January 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.