Austin drag performer returns to stage 6 months after nearly losing life to COVID-19

Nadine Hughes will join KXAN digital anchor Will DuPree for a live-streamed interview about her recovery and return to performing this evening at 5. You can watch the conversation in this story and on the KXAN News Facebook page.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A renowned drag performer in Austin will make her comeback to the stage six months after nearly losing her life to COVID-19.

Nadine Hughes, known as The Brows of Texas for her exaggerated makeup, will delight fans again this weekend for her first performances since she survived a dangerously severe case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Her infection led her to spend almost two months in a local hospital, and at one point doctors had to medically induce a coma.

(Photo/Nadine Hughes)

Hughes’ hospitalization initially happened in December last year. At that time, Austin-Travis County entered into its highest risk level, and hospitals grew concerned they’d run out of space to treat all the COVID-19 patients. She wouldn’t leave the hospital until Feb. 26 and then finally returned home after spending eight days in a rehab facility.

Hughes will perform Friday night at Doc’s Drive In Theatre, located at 1540 Satterwhite Road in Buda. The event, which starts at about 9 p.m., has been billed “The Return of Queen Nadine.”

In a Facebook post, Hughes wrote she’ll also appear Sunday for a drag brunch at TRACE Austin, which is in The W hotel, and return to the stage at Rain on Fourth on June 16.

“I still have a road ahead of me to get back to 100%,” the social media post stated, “but I’m so ready to be doing what I Love!!!”

(Photo/Nadine Hughes)

Hughes’ fans are clamoring to see her back on the stage, especially after many of them donated money to help cover the mounting medical expenses. Hughes’ mother, Melody Cass, started an online fundraiser not long after her initial hospitalization. To date, it has brought in more than $23,000.

Hughes is still striving to fully recover from the complications caused by her COVID-19 diagnosis. She is currently working with a physical therapist to regain mobility in her left arm, and she’s seeking additional help since her tongue remains partially numb.

Through all the setbacks, Hughes told KXAN she’s grateful to feel well enough now to return to the spotlight, which has sorely missed her basking in its glow.


KXAN Austin