Becoming Austin Nation

Solo Show · wayward artist/wayward voices · Ages 15+ · United States of America

one person show world premiere

BECOMING AUSTIN NATION – From Crack to PhD: A Drag Queen’s Story
Produced and Written by Austin Nation

The show sold out during its opening night in Orange County and extended over into another performance!


“The Wayward Artist was thrilled to host this heartfelt, funny, and vulnerable telling of Austin’s life. Audiences are sure to enjoy Becoming Austin Nation.”
Brooke Aston, Director of Programming, Wayward Voices

“I was incredibly moved by the courage, perseverance, and hope expressed in Austin Nation’s journey from crack head to Ph.D. This story of transformation is inspirational, deeply moving, and sacred! Anyone who has ever struggled with addiction, identity, or sexuality must see this show. It leaves a lasting impression which you won’t soon forget! Austin Nation is a gift which makes my heart sing!” Craig Tyrl, Artistic Director, Wayward Artist

Here are some reviews from audience members:

“From Crack to PhD is a powerful, raw biography. Austin gave a stellar performance. Masterfully placed entertaining scenes amongst an inspiring story. Powerful, riveting, entertaining. From Crack to PhD keeps you intrigued the whole time. You will leave the show inspired.” Billy Chamberlin

“Life is a journey with twists and turns. Austin Nation’s one man show is a real life journey of letting go. When we think we can’t go on, hope arises. Austin Nation one-man show helps you believe again that there is hope in the midst of adversity.” Matthew Boone

“Austin’s show was vulnerable, honest, beautiful, and thought-provoking. It was an inspirational story brought to life.” Danielle Chang

“Dr. Austin Nation gave a soul bearing, touching, emotional performance about his incredible life’s journey! Not to be missed! " Melissa Brunicardi

“Austin is able to make you laugh even at delicate subjects. Walk away feeling like you have known Austin everyday of his life. Truth, honesty, and growth. What better way to tell an autobiography. The story of Austin is a about a princess’ dream come true, even after having to kiss a few bad frogs.” Ken Thompson

“Such a powerful show! Glad you get to share your inspirational story with more people!” Shani Murray

“One man’s truely inspiring story about his life’s journey living life on life’s terms, a remarkable and memorable experience.” Joseph Highhouse

“Highly recommend this powerful, personal and polished production of a life many will find inspiring.” – Ariel Vapor

My entertaining and humorous autobiography of my own life story. A life that changed dramatically once I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1986. At the mere age of 26, It was the beginning of the end. Few men were getting out of this alive at the time, there was no hope. I was told to get my affairs in order. I lived as though each day was going to be my last. I had 3 dreams…buy a house, own a Mercedes and travel to Europe (which I had the opportunity to do for 6 weeks). After that, I was ready to die.

In 1987, a medication called AZT came out and I had to take it every 4 hours around the clock. It was toxic! I felt as though it only made me sicker. I decided that I would rather be a no code and take whatever fate came my way. I went into a wonderful season of denial.

In 1994, within a 6-month period, I lost all of my closest friends. I knew my time had to be near. I thought, if I’m going to die, then I’m going party my way out! I couldn’t deny the reality any longer. Drugs and alcohol became my best friend, I considered it a soft suicide. Growing up Catholic, I knew that if I killed myself directly, the many times I would put the loaded gun in my mouth, I would not go to heaven. Plus, as a registered nurse, I knew that if I didn’t get it exactly right, I could end up a vegetable on a breathing machine. Those were my dark years.

Playing around in drag was part of my experience while getting high. I could pretend to be someone else. I was skinny as hell and in the haze of smoking crack, there’s the illusion of being someone beautiful. In my isolation, I would dream of going out into the world dressed as this alter ego, but of course, that would never come to fruition.

Fast forward, I turned 40 years old and I am still alive. What the hell! What was that all about? What was God up to? I was sad to have outlived all of my dearest friends, not being able to grow old with them. So I thought that there must be something else for me.

What if I lived out all of my dreams as though I didn’t know how much time I had left?
I had always dreamed of going go back to school. Plus, I vividly remember during my addiction seeing those commercials with the hot skillet and egg, talking about that being my brain on drugs. I needed to exercise that marvelous muscle! That began my journey into recovery.

Today, I have 19 years clean and sober.
I have tapped back into to important part of myself, this drag persona, my feminine side. Someone suggested the name A’Freeka Nature, sort of a play of Africa Nature.
My academic journey over the past 15 years has taken me beyond my wildest dreams! I was able to obtain a PhD from UCSF, one of the best universities in the country. After being on disability for 20 years, waiting to die, with the newer HIV medications I started thinking I might be well enough to go back work. I wanted to create a different narrative for the remaining years of my life, however long I have left on this earth.

I’ve been able to continue to develop and refine my drag persona over the years. It’s now wonderful, creative outlet for me. I’m 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 in a pageant hosted by Shanti Orange County.

I’m an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton in the School of Nursing and Nursing Supervisor at USC Keck Medical Center.

Without a doubt, at age 60, I feel I am living my best Black gay drag life

It’s a story you don’t want to miss!





Dr. Carol Dawson-Rose

Black AIDS Institute
Dr. Roland Zepf and Theodore Payton
Keck Pride – Keck Medicine of USC/Keck School of Medicine of USC

Dr. Tanya Sorrell
Dr. Gail Wyatt
Dr. Ernest Grant
Brothers of the Desert

Production Team

* Fringe Veteran