With RuPaul’s Drag Race making it over this side of the Atlantic this month and, closer to home, events such as Drag & Draw garnering an increasing fanbase, it’s high time we educated ourselves more about drag and its origins.
Simon Doonan does it in Drag: The Complete Story.
The writer and fashion commentator highlights the interest in gender fluidity that led to the rise of drag culture, defining its impact far beyond the reaches of its initial community. He also looks at Black icons like trans activist Marsha P. Johnson.
Doonan divides the past and present landscape of drag into nine categories: glamour, art, butch, black, historical, comedy, poster, movie, and radical.
“Whether finger popping, reading, mopping, gagging, voguing, talking to the hand, werking, twerking, throwing shade, serving genius and overness, being legendary, or simply giving realness, the black drag queen is an enduring icon of fascination and inspiration. She generously and magnanimously enriches the culture, often receiving comparatively little in return, and we must all bow down before her. #gratitude. The Medusan ferocity that characterizes glamour drag queens is amplified in the black drag queen, and augmented with unique black irony and wit. The black drag queen is both comedic and glamorous. The black drag queen is fierce.”
Drag: The Complete Story, Laurence King, £30