Leaving Like A King: Before Her Big Move, Trans Actress Takes on Elvis

Courtesy photo.

What better way to take a bite out of the Big Apple than by playing a king.

“I’ve never been more prepared as I am at this moment,” said June Raven Romero, who stars in Juggerknot Theatre Company’s “Conjuring The King” — an immersive show about Elvis Presley and the hyper fandom embedded with the late King of Rock & Roll. 

“It’s a commentary on our culture of idolatry and how far some people might let it go,” said Romero, who was born well after Elvis left the building for good, but understands the allure of his fame. 

“The closest I’ve got to that sort of fandom was [Lady] Gaga,” she said. “How did she rise? What has fame done to her? What was she like at 17? I’m curious about that.”

For Romero, taking on Elvis is an audition of sorts as she prepares for a move to New York to pursue a career in show business. 

“It’s a great launching pad,” she said. “It’s a one woman show — an hour and half of just me. I’m singing, dancing, acting, and emoting with the person a foot and half away from me. It’s the Olympic training ground for acting, and I’m so glad that I have this opportunity.”

Romero said she’s leaving Florida partly due to the state’s hostility towards transgender people. Even in the entertainment industry — historically a left leaning culture — Romero said she’s experienced biased attitudes and refusals to acknowledge her existence as a trans woman. 

“From the perspective of a performer, it’s limiting,” she said. “It’s constricting to your career, it’s suffocating really and moving to NYC — evidently opportunities abound there.” 

Born in Miami, Romero was raised in a conservative immigrant family. Her father is Cuban, and her mother is Nicaraguan. 

She has undergone procedures and accoutrements that have given her what she terms “passing perception and privileges.”

“Certain privileges and access points allow me to live a more comfortable life than some of my trans counterparts here in the state,” Romero said. 

Activism and advocating for the trans community on health care issues is a big part of Romero’s life. She has met with Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services and worked as a STI prevention specialist for CAN Community Health. 

“There [are] so many fires to fight in Florida,” Romero said. “I see people wedging out Florida for a specific kind of person with a specific kind of wallet.”

Meanwhile, Romero will be doing her Elvis rendition through April 28. The location remains a mystery, only to be revealed after tickets are purchased — a ploy that enhances the show’s focus on fame and adulation.

Queer audiences will love it, Romero said.

“It’s an LGBT coded show,” she said. “It’s very campy and led by a trans woman who idolizes and is in love with this good-looking man — just the camp and pop of it all. Bring the gays!”


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