Chicago dancer Mark Stephan entertains worldwide and encourages all to 'Make Your Mark'

Thu. July 13, 2023 9:49 PM by Ross Forman

mark stephan models his 'make your mark' t-shirt

photo credit //

' matter what you’re doing make sure you ‘Make Your Mark.’ Life is short, so let’s make it memorable,' says designer Mark Stephan

Mark Stephan was ready to slow down on his dancing gigs this year to focus on his health and overall well-being. But opportunities hit that “only come once-in-a-lifetime,” he said.

Stephan, 25, who lives in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, started 2023 with an offer from Organized Grime for their Natique party during Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas stop in Aruba.

He also was invited back and offered solo performance routines at several of the events during Miami Winter Party 2023. “I love this gig because I get to meet and perform alongside some of the best entertainers from around the country,” he said.

He also this year was invited back for the IML Victory Party, held at the House of Blues and produced by CircuitMOM Productions.

Stephan split Pride weekend in late-June between New York City and Chicago – NYC for MEAT and Planet Pride, then after a Sunday morning flight to Chicago, he performed his regular Sunday gig at The River Chicago Drag Brunch. 

“This summer has been unforgettable so far,” Stephan said. “Chicago summer never disappoints. Even though we have had some rough weather here and there, we always know how to make the most over it. I love going out, seeing friends. 

“Pride 2023 is another one for the books. Pride should be celebrated all year round, but something about Chicago Pride Month is just so close to my heart. I think we need to show our Pride now more than ever while we stand in the face of anti-gay legislation across the country. 

“(June) is our month and our time to stand out and (be) proud.” 

Stephan is a nursing home facility director during the day, and seemingly ever-present at night in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, commonly called Boystown. 

“I have performed at most bars in Chicago, but you can find me every Tuesday night at Roscoe’s Tavern for Roscoe’s Drag Race, hosted by Kara Mel D’ville and Ari Gato with Kara Krew, Hunter, and myself. Every Sunday at The River Chicago Drag Brunch with Kimberly Summer, Veronica Pop, Boy J, and me. We cannot forget Replay, Sidetrack, Splash and Hydrate where I get invited to perform for some of their monthly shows, too.” 

Stephan always delivers a breathtaking routine, often shocking partygoers with rare skills. That’s where his gymnastics and cheerleading past plays out.

“From starting with just being a local dancer here in Chicago to being able to travel around the county and now world to perform, it truly is a dream come true,” Stephan said. “Being able to work and meet such talented dancers makes me want to push myself as I get inspired by many of them.” 

Stephan has several performances over Northalsted Market Days weekend in mid-August in Chicago.

Stephan is launching his first-ever shirt on July 13 – a black unisex t-shirt with artwork inspired by one of his photo-shoots.

“This ‘Make Your Mark’ (short) focuses on giving back to my community and leaving a lasting impression to the world,” Stephan said. “I partnered with my close friend Lonnie, who is based in San Francisco to recreate one of my iconic looks that was made by Chicago-based designer, Martin Luna. Each shirt is stamped, ‘Make Your Mark.’

“There are many layers to this shirt. I was thinking back to my cheerleading/gymnastics era and we always had a shirt to celebrate the season. My last two years as an entertainer have provided me with so much joy. I have had so much fun at each (performance) and have gotten to meet so many folks in our community. It’s been an honor to meet and work with so many great entertainers, drag queens, promoters and costume designers that I wanted to create something to encapsulate this era. I also wanted to send a message to folks that, no matter what you’re doing, make sure you ‘Make Your Mark.’

“Whether you are singing, dancing, modeling, acting, healing, helping … no matter what you’re doing make sure you ‘Make Your Mark.’ Life is short, so let’s make it memorable.”

Stephan will donate 10 percent of all shirt sales to Equality Illinois and other organizations that are on the frontlines fighting for equality, he said.

To order Stephan’s “Make Your Mark” shirt, go to: or at Men’s Room Chicago (3343 N. Halsted Street).