Dear Queerie Bradshaw,
My friends and I went to a drag queen bar the other night and it made me wonder why people do drag. I just don’t get it. I thought you might be able to explain.
Dear Drag Incompetent,
Simple answer: People do drag because it’s so much fun.
I used to occasionally do drag. I can’t find pictures of it, which makes me really sad, but I was Butch Cassidy and I had the “Ass Dance Kids” as my back-up dancers. Butch was offensive and had a giant styrofoam cowboy hat. I had a blast and so did my friends who performed with me.
More complicated answer: people do drag to express a part of their gender that they don’t get to express in other parts of their life. People do drag because it’s a play and they’re putting on a character. People do drag because they can make money being a drag persona. People do drag because it’s fun to step out of your normal comfort zone. There are a million reasons someone might do drag, all of them perfectly legitimate.
This is Bianca del Rio. She’s a bitch.
However, R, the person who created Bianca, the person that lives in that body most of the time, is a really nice guy. He puts on the persona of Bianca del Rio and he’s enabled to be a catty bitch in a way he isn’t in real life. Just like Sean Connery probably wasn’t as cool as 007 in real life, couldn’t drive as fast and might not even like a martini, shaken or stirred.
Or maybe a bit more like the Jersey Shore, with all that make-up and extreme exacerbation of gender norms.
(Have you donated to see Bianca del Rio in a film yet?)
Gender is complicated and fun to mess with. Drag allows that all to come up in an often absurd way. Drag allows for over-the-top performances, gives a person an opportunity to go to an extreme opposite of who they may be in real life.
That said, many drag performers are also trans* in some form, so many people who do drag do so to embrace the gender the are, not the gender they were born into. Still, drag is a performance and often the difference between someone presenting as one gender in life is a lot more subdued than the gender – or personality – presented on stage.
So the answer is, there are lots of reasons someone would do drag. Maybe it’s time to find your reason to try it out?
With facial hair and a sexy man-mullet,
P.S. Go donate! Get drag film made!