The perception of Drag Queens...

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by jjsjr, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. jjsjr

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    Ok...

    The other week, I brought a straight friend of mine to the gay bar because she wanted to see a drag show. She loved it, but then she asked me why they do it and I really didn't have an answer and I felt so strange for not being able to verbalize it.

    All she asked was: "What is the allure of dressing up in drag? Why do gay men do it?"


    I've considered it, hence my avatar... but saying it's fun just doesn't seem compelling enough.
    Is there anyone here who does drag who would have a more well-informed opinion?
    :redface:
     
  2. beretta8

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    The Cash and Prestige baby! Oh the attention too.....I think many see themselves as artists/entertainers
     
  3. D_Relentless Original

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    Not sure, ask hootie.
     
  4. jjsjr

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    seriously? is he a professional?
     
  5. nudeyorker

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    I'm clueless on this subject...Just don't get it really. Would really like to hear from someone with some insight in this.
     
  6. jjsjr

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    yeah... i think its a topic that's been kinda avoided here.

    does midlifebear do drag?
     
  7. MarkLondon

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    Dunno. I think it's more attention-seeking than genuine female impersonation. Getting up on stage and feeling the adulation of the crowd for putting on a fabulous show. It's different from transexualism. Drag is a charicature of femininity and it offended my sister when I took her to a bar with an act on. But women are getting in on that now too. Check out Pam Ann PAM ANN LIVE

    I mean, a female drag act? How post-modern!

    And i didn't even know they had a revolving skyscraper restaurant overlooking the Sydney opera house! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QfIQvOGPPM&NR=1
     
    #7 MarkLondon, Feb 16, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  8. unique_exposure

    unique_exposure New Member

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    I did it for Halloween once, so that doesn't really count.

    I think there are some who do it to express a male to female transition.

    Possibly, more do it because they love the theatrical aspect. That larger-than-life, character-driven entertainer within, comes forth.
    The elaborate dressing and costuming becomes a weekly ritual. Its their chance to become the focal point in the room where they may not normally be.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    I had a dear friend for several years when I first moved to Florida named Michael. He had several personas and was actually a very complex person.

    He was ex-military, and the father of at least three kids of whom he spoke often. Although he looked about 30, he was in fact in his mid-40s, and his eldest was a back-up dancer for Celine Dion in Las Vegas, which made him extremely proud. He also mentioned two daughters and the fact that he was a grandfather, though how many grandchildren, their names, etc was never really discussed, and I never pushed him.

    Michael had one of the biggest dicks I've ever actually been in contact with: a real monster. He performed in several porns filmed in Miami in the late 90s and early 00s, always as a top. But once a year, on his birthday, he'd choose someone to top him, and in 2005 he asked me. He was really gifted as a bottom, and should have done it more often, and if I'd have asked I'm sure he would have obliged. But I was more comfortable keeping our relationship platonic, so we'd just cuddle once in a while and never fucked again.

    Michael was quite the barfly, and he was out in Ft Lauderdale's scene every night. He discretely sold Cocaine to a small group of pals and always had "bumps" on hand. As I don't do Cocaine, I'd never accept his near-constant offerings (especially when he was tweaking, or whatever it is cokeheads get when they're wired). For some reason, it made him respect me more. And, of course, I'm not a prohibitionist, so it never bothered me, though I'm not sure I'd have ridden with him too often in cars.

    For several years, his favored apparel was a tank-top cut short above the belly, a sagrong tied at his hips over a studded black leather cod-piece, military boots and long braided extensions which he wore in a variety of ornate ways. He was never without pale blue tinted, non-prescription eyeglasses, and wore leather cuffs that doubled as his wallet and stash-keeper. He was quite the sight. He'd vary this by simplifying to low-rider jeans when he wanted to be more discrete.

    His other persona was Moldavia Ishtar, which was his drag name. I was priveledged to watch and assist in the transformation twice. After a day resting and fasting, he'd get in the shower about two hours before it was time to leave, where he'd soap, rinse, moiturize and shave with extreme care. This usually took about 45 minutes. Once dry, he'd re-moisturize his arms and legs, then begin with the duct tape, which he'd pull off in 12-18 inch strips. His enormous dick and low-hangers required a lot of duct tape, but when he was done, everything was tucked completely out of sight. Next, he'd tape off his chest with longer strips of duct tape, turning his smallish, muscular pecs into cleavage which looked completely real (except that there were no breasts, just cleavage).

    His foundation garment was a funny kind of custom-made, padded girdle which gave him hips and a bigger ass than he actually possessed, and a strapless bra attached to the top, which he filled with gel inserts. Then he'd put on two layers of opaque hose, which softened any muscular definition in his legs and shaped them into really breathtaking gams.

    At that point he was ready for the make-up, which was applied in many layers, shaping and lengthening his nose and giving his lips a more interesting and defined line. The foundation was applied over his artwork until it was, comparitively, subtle. About 3/4 of the way through, he'd groom and apply the wig (he only had one, and it was expensive), using a special glue to keep it down. With the hair in place, he'd finish the make-up and powder it all down. Because of the way he'd glue the wig, his face would be pulled slightly, giving his almond-shaped eyes an exotic, almost Asian feel.

    All of his dresses, also custom-made, were step-in, so that he didn't have to worry about his hair and make-up. They were all very beauty-pageant and slinky and glittery. Jewelry was relatively subdued, and his shoes were always very lady-like, 3" heels. The shoes were always last and meant that his ride was expected momentarily.

    I attended a Thanksgiving Michael hosted once, in 2004. The guests were mostly other B-List drag queens around town. A few brought dates, but most came alone. Only one came in full-on drag, but even that was subdued: jeans, sweater and light make-up/jewelry. The rest were really plain, rather plump men in their 30s and 40s. Only their shaped eyebrows tipped you off that they did drag.

    Their humor was outrageous, of course. As I was just going through a very messy break-up, I needed the laughs and was an excellent victim for their "abuse", which was only mean spirited about other drag queen who weren't there.

    Without my really asking for information, they figured that I wasn't exactly "in the scene", and gave me some idea of what different drag queens were all about.

    The ones with implants, hormones and various other medical alterations (without going all the way, at which point they were no longer considered drag queens, were the Trannies. Trannies were all driven by gender dysmorphia to alter their bodies. They hate having been born male.

    Illusionists were like Michael. They were driven to what they did by a kind of theatrical drive, but prefered to remain male and were not trans-gendered in any way. They consider themselves artistes.

    Lastly, there were Boys in Dresses. BiD were not illusionists, because they had no desire to disguise the fact that they are male. Think of them as Post-Modern drags: they are all about the mindfuck of drag but with none of the typical female body illusions. There's a famous BiD in Ft Lauderdale who has full-sleeve tats and a fairly muscular body. But she's always seen in wigs and make-up, all very professionally done. Her clothes tend to be kinda mix-and-match: boy jeans, tanks and high, high heels. She makes a living as a DJ, EmCee and, occasionally, TV personality.

    At a certain point, my frind Michael crossed several lines. His drug use made him increasingly erratic and prone to skip his HIV medication. He'd get very messy with me and made me acutely uncomfortable on a few too many occasions. I saw in one of the local bar guides that he'd passed away, and I went to a kind of Drag Memorial in his honor held at one of the dance clubs here.

    As Michael was on the scene for many years, both in Ft Lauderdale and in SoBe, the website linked below has pictures spanning, perhaps, fifteen years and many looks. The one I remember best was the blue dress without the lacy trim.

    RIP, my friend.

    Gay Bar Fort Lauderdale - STEEL Video Lounge and Dance Club
     
  10. kalipygian

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    Thanks, Bbucko, interesting and moving.
     
  11. jjsjr

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    That story is so insightful and detailed,
    thanks!
     
  12. jjsjr

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    It's been a year since the last comment... and I'm going to revive this thread.
    There are plenty of new members who might like to add opinions.
     
  13. B_theOtherJJ

    B_theOtherJJ New Member

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    I'm NOT into drag queens, which is obvious from my Gallery.
     
  14. accemb

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    Seeing "Ru Paul's Drag Race" has shown me that it is a lot of work, and these 'illusionists' are very committed to their craft. The work involved in the transformation from an ordinary looking guy to an over the top female is staggering. I think it also requires the individual to be extremely creative, to come up with his own individual look and style - from top to bottom. I have no interest in attempting drag - but some that I have seen are very funny, entertaining, and their drag persona can be different from who they are in real life.
     
  15. midlifebear

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    Originally, drag was not main stream culture as it is now. It began as a true identifying mark and typical of a closed culture as "folk theatre." It was (and still mostly is) a tradition handed from one generation of men to another. It is not "learned" as say, one would learn the Tango. It includes more oral traditions than can be documented. There are no books (at least their didn't used to be) on how to do drag. It was something passed from one (usually gay) male to another. Therefore, it quite literally satisfied all the criteria now recognized as necessary to be an authentic folk art. Again, in this case, folk theatre.

    While other grad students were gathering fraternity jokes, documenting sorority rituals, doing photographic investigations on neighborhood curanderas in the Hispanic barrios of Austin, Texas, I was out with a video crew capturing things like "The First Annual Miss Gay Texas" beauty pageant. One of my favorite pieces was a documentary I whipped up where the gay community of Austin cajoles and elects the butchest and well-recognized "alpha" male gay men in their community, have them do a beauty pageant cat walk as themselves -- the butch men they are -- and while a one-hour drag show takes places these men are transformed back stage by teams of experienced drag queens into ravishing, stunning beauties, their first time in drag and their first time in drag in public in their community. Then they come out in the same order on the catwalk and are voted by popular applause as to who is the most convincing and successful vision of loveliness. Needless to say, a lot of liquor is involved. It's amazing what a little Max Factor, a set of fake eyelashes, a wig, heels, and the right size dress do to an otherwise "straight acting" gay man.

    And that's what I did for four years in grad school at UT, Austin. Documenting drag queen rituals. Susan Sontagg had tried to make a big fuss about "camp" in the 1970s and appointed herself the expert on the subject. She wasn't even close.

    Drag queens do two things very well: 1. They polarize the gay community, and 2. They also bring the majority of the gay community together. They are the clowns as well as the mirror of the ridiculous and absurd aspect of gay society coexisting within the larger heterosexual society. They serve as a safety valve.

    However, now that there is more acceptance of gays in all parts of heterosexual society, drag queens have taken it to the next level -- becoming "real" high fashion models and popular actresses. At this level they are no longer representative of a long tradition of folk theatre that, among other things, marked the coming out of some gay mens' alter personae.

    I have a dear friend whose lover whipped him up a swell half-sleeved woman's suit. The skirt was tight and showed off a nice booty. The jacket top included a peplum, accenting his curves (which he did not have). The whole result was my friend (and coworker) was a dead ringer for a 40-ish Helen Gurley Brown the publisher off Cosmo. It was uncanny. Then one day he quit wearing the dress on drag nights when he tended bar. I asked him what happened to "Helen" as he had become so well known. His answer was quick and to the point: "She was becoming more popular than me so I killed her. And it's the only real murder I could actually get away with." Nothing more was said. Then one day I had the occasion to take the grand tour of a new house he and his lover had bought. In his walk-in closet I was surprised to see framed in a full-length glass case "Helen's" wig, jacket, blouse, skirt, black nylons and stilettos. And attached to the frame was a little steel mallet to break the glass in case of an emergency.

    "I thought you killed Helen?" I pressured.
    "I have," he insisted. "But I keep her remains under glass just in case I have the old urge that cannot be itched. In case of emergency, break glass!" And he laughed himself silly as I followed him downstairs for yet another one-too-many vodka martinis.
     
    #15 midlifebear, Mar 16, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  16. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    My only exposure to drag queens and female impersonators is from television, but I think they're fucking fabulous. They're great entertainers, and what they do deserves to be called art.
     
  17. jjsjr

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    Does anyone else watch Rupauls Drag Race?
     
  18. Viking_UK

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    I know a few drag queens and more boys in dresses. For some of them, it's actually an outlet, a way to blow off steam by stepping outside themselves and being someone different for a time. For others, it's purely theatrical - the chance to be "fabulous". It's interesting to note that some people's personalities change depending on whether or not they're wearing a frock. They tend to become more outgoing, more witty and more daring when they're in heels and makeup.

    Off on a tangent, have you seen the CCTV footage of a couple of yobs attacking some guys in drag outside a bar who turned out to be cage fighters on a stag night?
     
  19. B_theOtherJJ

    B_theOtherJJ New Member

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    start your engines, and may the best woman win......

    And don't fuck it up.
     
  20. finsuptx

    finsuptx New Member

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    Haha, that's a great story!
     
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