School of Rock is proud to highlight the incredible journey of Larry Wisowaty, School of Rock’s Director of New School Operations. Larry's world is far from conventional, and that's where he thrives.
Six years ago, School of Rock’s Chief Operations Officer, Stacey Ryan, brought Larry over to the School of Rock team.
“Stacey promised me a culture where I would be supported, celebrated, and free to be myself,” Wisowaty shared. “This is what School of Rock represents—freedom, creativity, and authenticity. It’s an organization whose principles champion personal integrity.”
As an LGBTQIA+ activist, Larry pioneers change through “The Joy of Drag.” When the curtain opens and the lights shine, Larry fades to black and “Miss Sassy Trade” unapologetically takes the stage. Following in the footsteps of brave activists like RuPaul Charles, Harvey Milk, and Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Sassy Trade's performances speak for marginalized communities and amplify the voices often pushed to society's fringes.
The birth of “Miss Sassy Trade” began through the inclusive and community-based Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, where Larry was cast as a schoolgirl in “The Mikado.” From there, the character evolved.
“As I continued to grow in my performances, I learned that the evolution of a character is an ongoing process of building bridges between ourselves and the people who are watching us,” Wisowaty said. “The ‘Sassy’ that I had to give and the ‘Sassy’ that people wanted, were the perfectly imperfect parts of me. Years later, this is what continues to catapult and drive my purpose.”
With over 25 years of performing in the Chicagoland area, Miss Sassy Trade's shows and performances are explosive, theatrical, and unrelenting. When “Sassy” hits the stage, it's a whirlwind of entertainment that lets you leave your cares behind.
“In my world, there’s no such thing as a boring drag queen. My shows will always embrace the best and most authentic parts of me. They overflow with high energy. There’s nothing more fulfilling than giving my audience what they came to see—an electrifying performance and elaborate costumes.”
Sassy represents a unique style of drag, a fusion of Broadway and Comedy. Standing at six foot two with broad shoulders, “there’s certainly no illusion. I’m not a queen who is gorgeous and stunning. At least by ‘normal’ drag standards. My drag has never been about turning a look. It’s about telling a story and yielding to the character. Standing in my truth and meeting myself where I am is what keeps me connected to my audience.”
In March 2022, School of Rock hosted a community jam night, which brought together school owners and operators, corporate staff, partners, and vendors to showcase their own musical talents on stage. Miss Sassy Trade was encouraged by Stacey to go on stage and put on a full drag production.
“It was an opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself. I wanted to serve as an inspiration for others who were afraid to be vulnerable. I wanted to pay it forward by providing a safe zone for others in the same way that School of Rock has done for me. It is so important at this time, as kids are under attack from some of our society, that there is support for them on becoming and understanding their true selves. That night I dedicated my performance to all the transgender kids. I didn’t realize how powerful my story, statement, and standing in my truth would be so impactful to so many people.”
Being a drag queen in the United States right now is undeniably scary. Toxicity and hate surround us locally and globally.
“As a queer person, I understand the fight to survive,” Wisowaty explained. “We cannot let the opinions of others drown out our own inner voices. It’s an important time to use our voices to help others feel empowered, encouraged, and understand their worth. By acknowledging and saluting diversity, we find our strength together.”
At School of Rock, music empowers all to be their authentic selves. We celebrate Pride Month and support our LGBTQIA+ community, creating an inclusive environment where self-expression can thrive. Together, we celebrate diversity, spread love, and continue to build a community where everyone can be exactly who they are.