For their birthday this year on April 21st, fitness trainer and burlesque performer Jake DuPree bought themself some new red lingerie. It wasn't their first piece in any way — DuPree has been a burlesque performer for the past two years, accumulating a collection of key pieces — but it was a piece they'd had their eye on.
"Red is so bold and daring, I knew I had to have it," DuPree tells Out. "It just looks special!" So they did a little photoshoot in it and posted it to Instagram. And the photo took off. On Friday the brand Playful Promises reposted the photo of DuPree in their limited-edition Regalia Skylar set to their 300,000+ followers.
"Oh my GOD," they wrote. "Jake DuPree causing heart palpitations in the Regalia Skylar set." At the time of publishing, the post had accumulated over 30,000 likes with white a bit of support. And where there have been some negative, Playful Promises has had no issue clapping back.
"Just no," one commenter wrote. "Not sexy at all."
"Key info we needed to know, thanks," the brand responded sarcastically. "Making a note of it."
When someone else said that they would never wear the look because they don't want to be "seen in a set made for men," the brand responded to that as well.
"Were you previously unaware that all garments can be worn by all genders?" the brand asked. POINTS WERE MADE.
"I have followed them for years, just in awe of all of their lingerie," DuPree says of the brand. They had not known the company would post their photo. "They always feature so many different types of female bodies, and I know inclusivity is very important to their brand. It's very inspiring to see that, and I had never seen them post a male body before in their lingerie."
DuPree's posting comes as a part of a long process of self-acceptance. Three years ago the performer, who is genderfluid, went through depression following a breakup. DuPree's ex ended things as they began to explore their feminity in a role for Cosmopolitan Magazine.
"When both my relationship and that job ended, it felt like all these doors of opportunity and acceptance had closed," DuPree, who performed on the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars season 3, says. "To get myself out of depression, I started doing my makeup and doing a form of drag in my bedroom, and with the help of therapy, I decided to enter an amateur drag competition at the gay bar, Revolver, in West Hollywood." The drag competition gave way to an entire burlesque, which eventually them meeting Von Teese herself who taught DuPree their famed giant martini glass act.
"She had always imagined a man doing it," DuPree says. "I cried in front of her because she has been my idol for so long, and that number, in particular, made me want to do burlesque. I did her show, and that started my journey to fully expressing myself."
Now, DuPree has made an entire career of it.
The Playful Promises repost has seen DuPree's following increase by over 10,000 in the last few days.
"It was almost overwhelming," they admit. "I never expected to receive all of the love but also all the hate. The comments section is something I never try to see because it can be so unproductive to read." While they usually don't look, friends drew their attention a few, but the dancer is undaunted.
"Negative comments do not bother me anymore because I am so happy with my life and feeling comfortable with myself," they say. "I have such a thick skin already, but reading some of those things stung. I did not realize that I would cause such an uproar just by wearing lingerie. I think it challenges people's idea of gender seeing a muscular guy wear something so inherently feminine."
And clearly, it's a challenge DuPree is up for starting.