Inside The Colorful World Of Drag

Published March 3, 2015
Updated February 12, 2015
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In any society, peculiar institutions tend to grow up that only have relevance—or make any sense at all—within the context of that society. The unique subculture of Drag, for example, came out of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, and it developed so rapidly into its own little universe—with its own rules and taboos, customs and conventions—that even somebody born just a generation earlier would have a hard time understanding it. What began as men dressing in women’s clothing, partly as a sexual kink and partly as an expression of personal identity, has morphed into a full-scale community which, despite its deep links to gay and transsexual cultures, is distinct and independent from either.

Modern Drag (dibs on the magazine name) is largely centered around live stage performances in which men dress as outrageous caricatures of women and lip-synch Lil’ Kim for what are sometimes huge audiences. The audience members, and the performers they’ve come to cheer for, may be gay, straight, or bisexual. They may identify as men, women, or mind-your-own-business. Some performers are doing it for the money, some for the fame, and still others because a team of horses couldn’t stop them from doing it. They are, in other words, Drag queens.

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Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.