Thinkhouse

Issue 10

PERFORMING GENDER

“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”- RuPaul.

How did you get into drag?

I had a particularly tough decade and during a long and difficult health battle, I was making a mental list of things I needed to bring back into my life when I was feeling better. Being on stage was near the top of that list! After fondly remembering the many Tuesdays I spent at the drag bar, I decided to give crossdressing a try.

What does being a drag king entail?

All the components of what it takes to be a queen, but pulling/tucking/padding different parts of the body.

What are the biggest influences for your style?

Drag is the largest influencer of my drag. Local queens (who are now world famous) who introduced me to this modernised gay cabaret filled with comedy, glamour and celebrity/pop culture reference. Now, my influences come from all around: fashion, politics, stand up and not taking everything so seriously.

When you are in drag and you are performing as a man. Do you feel yourself as that gender or are you aware that it is just you performing?

As a drag king, I perform male archetypes. I found theater at a young age so I approach my drag as a character. I often remind the audience that I’m a girl under my body-by-duct tape to appreciate the transformation and the fun of it all.

Do you think the language that drag uses is gendered?

I think the "gendering" of the language is innocent. I get called "girl" while I’m in boy drag often. Not because they don't respect my drag, but because that’s the lingo. Walk into any backstage and the kiki (chat) is always in female pronouns. Wigs, outfits, and even pencils and paper are "she/hers". I'm not offended when not referred to him/his pronouns, because the language is and has been an important part of drag culture and not simply a gender.

Has drag become more than becoming as a passing woman or a satire of women? What is it now?

Drag is definitely more than passing/satire. It's a movement. But others may say differently.

What is drag? What is it to you?

Drag, to me is performing gender (or lack of it). It’s proving stereotypes wrong, or pushing the envelope in showing their truths. It’s all those things and none of those things. Every person has their own approach to their drag and only they can describe what drag is to them.

Drag has been described in a negative light at times, with people such comparing it to blackface. Now this is an extreme comparison. Drag is meant to offend at time as much as it is to celebrate. But do you ever think it goes too far?

I definitely think performers can cross the line, but those are usually people who lack class out of drag as well.

What do you think the role of drag is in LGBTQ advocacy?

I think it's important in that it reminds people we are made up of many, beautiful colors, and fucking with gender is fun!

Do you think the words drag uses can be hurtful to transgender people?

Drag performers can fall under the trans umbrella. And it's important to remember drag performers have made important strides in LGBT issues. Drag is where a LOT of people find their truth and gender identity. To assume the words used is harmful to an entire people is silly. People have different triggers. I know plenty of trans performers who still love using the terms we are no longer "allowed" to say.

Recently RuPaul tweeted “If the intention is love, I don’t give a shit about pronouns. We are everything and we are nothing.” What do you think about this statement? Do you think this is something a cis man would say? Is this making light of the transgender community?

I think Ru is speaking truth. A cis man, sure, but a cis man who helped make strides in our community. And again, drag, falling under the trans umbrella, he’s not a complete alien to the thought of transgender people. He truly lives the backstage kiki I mentioned earlier, where the language is a culture, not a gender. If it's with love, the energy is sincere, then the intent should be recognised...not dismissed or accused of "making light".

Do you feel that you fit into defined gender? What would you define yourself as?

I identify as a lesbian cisgender woman. I live as a woman and love being a woman, but my daily presentation is more androgynous.

Do politics impact your drag lives? Or is that something you keep to your personal life?

I perform political numbers often. If i'm moved to the point where I want to put an act on stage, I’m going to. I have the platform...why not use it?

Do you think that Drag is still a subversive form of protest?

I think for some people it still is. For others it's a time to frolic around and play dress up. I protest Trump all the time with my drag.

Is there a ball scene for drag kings?

Not that I know of, but I don't know it all!

Do you have a drag mother? Is this a regular occurrence for drag kings?

Plenty of kings have drag mothers and plenty have drag dads! I have a collection of pseudo-mothers who've all helped me with various parts of my career. No drag kids, but plenty of nephews ;).

Do you think Drag Kings get the same kind of recognition as drag queens?

Hell no. But we're leaps and bound beyond where we were even 10 years ago!

Do you think if there was a show for drag kings that you’d ever compete?

Nope. I have said it many times before. I want to see kings on the same stages as queens. A separate TV show contest will only push venues across the globe to keep us separate on their stages too.

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