I saw some incredible drag performances in the last week, with Philly’s Gay Pride Parade in full force. What was striking to me, as someone who has seen drag shows around the world over the last 15 years, is the continuous increase in sheer talent level of the performers.
For those who aren’t familiar: drag is about gay (usually) men dressing in such high femme attire and makeup as to create artistic caricatures of real females for the purposes of entertainment. The term “DRAG” supposedly dates back to Shakespeare where the acronym for “dressed as girl” appeared as a stage direction in one of the Bard’s many, many plays with cross-dressing. Dressing in drag is different from being transgender (feeling that your internal sense of gender is in conflict with your external body parts) or being a fetishistic transvesitite (a straight dude who enjoys dressing as a woman for sexual pleasure) and it has become a staple of gay culture.
Let’s take a SUPER quick survey of the explosion and expansion of drag culture in the last few decades:
1970s: New York’s Glittering Glamorous Guys-to-Dolls Drag Ball:
1990’s Paris is Burning trailer about Ball culture:
A view into a 2008 vogue and walk Drag Realness competition: