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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Otis Mack: Heavy Diva's show goes on
by Melissa Wasserman
2017-04-19

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Otis Mack, also known as "Chicago's Heavy Diva," does not take entertainment lightly. CEO and founder of HeavyDiva Productions and creator of The Chicago Warriors, Mack celebrates milestones on the stage.

Born in Houston, and then moving to Chicago at the age of 3, Mack was brought up in a religious Christian home with accepting parents. At Prairie View A&M University, he majored in mass communication and minored in music theory.

Mack, who identifies as a gay man, said he has always been an outspoken person with great stage presence. Mack said anything he dreamed of doing, he has done. He got his start as his church's radio announcer. Since then, he has taken on the roles of choir singer and choir director at his current church. Mack also stays busy working as a case aid and mentor at Children Home and Aid Society, where he has been working for 16 years, performing comedy, traveling and raising his family. Mack has been fostering children for more than 16 years and is currently a foster parent to three boys and has three adopted daughters.

"I just wanted to be somebody," said Mack of his childhood dreams. "I've always wanted to be in the limelight."

Mack's first time seeing a drag show, he said, was at Club LaRay, on Chicago's North Side. Mack eventually took over as host and promoter for theMonday-night drag/talent show at The Clubhouse for more than a decade. Reluctant to audition at first because he was a church boy, it was his first hosting spot and he added his own flair to the job. Mack mentioned Jim Flint, founder of the Baton Show Lounge, as one of his idols, saying he always liked what he does and wanted to do it himself.

"I love the glitz and the glamour," said Mack. "I love the life. What I added to the show, what made it work in my favor, once I got hired at the Clubhouse, was I wanted to add some glitz and glamour."

Mack formed his own group of entertainers, The Chicago Warriors, 23 years ago. The group included seven members who impersonated famous entertainers. Through the years, the members of The Warriors have changed and, on April 24, the original and newer Warriors will be reuniting for a special show at the Baton, along with additional special guests. This event will also be a celebration of HeavyDiva Productions' 25th anniversary.

"I always said, 'If you want to be a lady, I shouldn't know you are a man with a dress on,'" Mack said. "If you want to portray yourself as a lady, make me believe it. That's how I came up with The Warriors. I took the girls who were the regulars there on Monday nights and hand-picked those ones I'd seen something in to make them the best of the best. I didn't want them to be called 'just drag queens.' They're the best—they're The Warriors."

Mack's magic word is "illusion," and said that is what got him into this type of show business. Explaining that while there are female strippers and female singers out there, drag is another form of entertainment and he is embracing the illusion that people enjoy. The Warriors, he described, use various artists such as Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle as inspirations, among many others.

"My girls, they can do all of that and make you believe it," said Mack of his entertainers' talents. "We are so excited and looking forward because The Chicago Warriors haven't been together on the stage in several years, so this is going to be the talk of the town. I am overwhelmed with the response and the love that I'm getting from the community; not just here, but around the country and it's something that we've been working on, believe it or not, for the last three years."

To learn more about Otis Mack and HeavyDiva Productions, visit www.facebook.com/Heavy-Diva-200841109983898/ .


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