Alex Ringler never says he hasn’t a thing to wear.
The Broadway and television actor-dancer-choreographer knows what a creative imagination and a heightened gay sensibility can do when one needs an outfit for a special occasion that will land a bullseye.
Ringler’s latest occasion was Fire Island’s annual Fourth of July “Invasion of the Pines” celebration where a ferry boatload of drag queens dressed in their most spectacular outfits from the relatively sedate community of Cherry Grove arrives at the neighboring chi-chi gay enclave where they are welcomed by throngs in thongs. For more on this, search online for the short film Invasion of the Pines.
This is not the first time the tall, tanned and svelte actor has slipped into stilettos, having appeared in several productions of La Cage Aux Folles (one at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam), Pageant, and the national tour of Priscilla, Queens of the Desert. In his most elegant drag, he’s a ringer for Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. His lean, taut body has also been on playful display in eight of the annual strip-a-thons, Broadway Bares, which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
But Ringler is much more than drag. He performed on Broadway in West Side Story, toured in Cats and A Chorus Line, and returned to Goodspeed to play a bullwhip-cracking cowboy in Oklahoma! Though the pandemic curtailed work for the entertainment community, Ringler created a witty web series, Annoyingly Fit Neighbor, in which he played both himself and an insufferably sweet and buff neighbor that drives him mad. The collected five-minute episodes were featured at film festivals
Ringler can also be seen in the upcoming film Bros, starring Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane which is being marketed as the first gay rom-com from a major studio with an entirely LGBTQ+ cast.
For this past Fire Island Invasion, it was Ringer’s first time dressing up drag in a while. But what to wear when you don’t have a glam budget…or any budget for that matter?
Inspired by the way contestants fashion extravagant outfits from unconventional material on the many RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes, Ringer looked at a pile of shopping bags from Target he had collected and thought: “Fabulous.”
The distinctive red-and-white bulls-eye plastic bags were graphically bold, but did he have enough for an elegant summer gown he envisioned for his six-foot frame?
A few friends contributed their Target bags and soon Ringer has enough for a Met-gala-worthy gown for himself—and a matching Targeted harness and jockstrap for his boyfriend Philip which was made up of woven bag handles.
With glue gun in hand, and a few extra safety pins for good measure and security, Ringer crafted the plastic bags (made up of 40 per- cent recycled content) into a winning look for Lady and Lord Targét that stood out on ship and shore.
“People were pretty flabbergasted when they figured out it was made of Target shopping bags,” says Ringler. It was a fun day on the party island, but he didn’t expect the wave of “likes,” comments and shares when he posted his bag-drag pics and clips on his social media.
Has Target contacted him yet, perhaps for its holiday marketing campaign?
“Well, kind of,” says the New York-based actor. “Just this morning on my Facebook page I received a communication from them on the transformation video I just posted, saying they’d like to use this so I’m going through some channels now to see if it can be like a paid promotion for Target. I’m sure it would get a lot of hits for them, plus following Pride month, it shows they support the LGBTQ community all year round. It’s good for them and good for me. But the reason I originally did it was that it wasn’t about money. It was just about having fun.”
Still, one could imagine a holiday commercial campaign.
“There could be a ‘60s mod ready-to-wear bag dress that they could sell,” he says laughing. “I could even make a little wrap to go with it.”
Perhaps could Lady Target be the next spokesperson for the brand?
“Maybe I could even be the next Flo!” (The character in ads for Progressive Insurance.)