The World of Drag: How People Wearing "Wrong" Clothes Created the Most Iconic Community

Drag Queendom

Who is iconic, fabulous, and is a monarch but has no country to rule? Drag queens have become a phenomenon that everyone should be aware of. So we collected history, performers, and cases of the impact of drag culture and created a guide to introduce you to the huge community.
And So It Begins

The origins of drag culture lie back then, when the church was running the world. Approximately in the 16th through 17th centuries, the theatre scene was open only to men, although at the same time, they had plays with female characters. Exceptions didn't exist, and the audience met men who starred in male roles and men in skirts who starred as women. The sphere of art was always flexible, and thanks to rules and restrictions, it started to transform. The actors wearing feminine clothes are far from being drag queens, yet they are the founders of a great community.

The theatre of the past showed the public the way of style, and the public began to use it. Not only gays, but men of various orientations have started to transform themselves using exaggerated women's looks, style, makeup and even traits. They could breathe deeply as they were able to express the other side that was hidden. The drag queen was born, and so were kings. Women saw the opportunity and didn't want to lag behind. A hyperbolic male looks was created from the same script.
"We're all born naked and the rest is drag." (Born Naked by RuPaul)
Drag monarchs are common these days, and some of them may be familiar to you.The star of a self-titled series is fabulous RuPaul, who captivated the audience with a single Supermodel (You Better Work) in 1992. If you want to dance alone in the middle of a kitchen drinking wine and wearing your best dress, dear, it's the perfect song for that. Adam All is a Godfather of the British drag scene and the co-host of Man Up, Europe's largest drag king competition. Trixie Mattel is a Billboard and social media conqueror whose book has become a bestseller and whose YouTube channel is heartened by more than a million followers. Murray Hill is a New York City legend, a comedian, and a frequent series flyer. He's starred in Somebody Somewhere, These Thems, and the newborn Life & Beth. Desmond is Amazing, a 14-year-old drag kid who has already become famous and even opened the New York Fashion Week catwalk in 2019.

Don't be a prisoner of prejudice: the drag community welcomes people of many genders and sexual identities. Their aim isn't just to change into drag clothes; they seek to express themselves and do the show. Lip-syncing, dancing, singing, starring, there is nothing drag kings and queens can't do. Performing is their strong suit, and it's affecting and developing world culture.
"Shade is I don't tell you you're ugly but I don't have to tell you because you know you're ugly…and that's shade." (Paris Is Burning, 1990)
Drag Impact

The late nineteenth century was a century of the "drag generation." Again, because of laws, the LGBTQ+ community (primarily African-American and Latinx) organized a clandestine ball called "drag." They laughed at the law that prohibited wearing clothes of the opposite sex and imposed the dress code of "wrong garments." It all began in New York, then balls spread to Washington, Baltimore, and New Orleans, and migrated to Japan, Canada, and the UK. Those events still exist in remote corners of the world.

Over several years, the balls were upgraded. It is now a contest and free atmosphere, as well as a scene for drag performers who sing, dance, pose, and model. And if you're a fan of vogue, you should know that its history has grown out of the competitions of the Balls. Named after the famous magazine, the dance style combines duckwalk, hands, floorwork, catwalk, dips, and spins. And no doubt, you can have dance lessons in your city, as the style has become viral.

Another distinctive feature is houses. Many members of the Balls are part of a group known as "houses"—the alternative way to call a family not by blood but by point of view. The houses provide a safe place for those who are rejected by their real relatives because of their sexual identity and have no place to live. Such houses are usually run by "mothers" or "fathers" who, not always but often, are drag queens and kings. For example, the 50-year-old House of LaBeija is a drag family that has appeared in a scandalous and controversial film (for those times), Paris Is Burning.

The ball culture influenced language as well. The term "iconic" is a synonym for "legendary" in the English language. The slang word "shade" is rooted in the lexicon and means disrespectful expression or disgust with someone in both verbal and non-verbal form. The fashion industry adopted the word "fierce" — of exceptional quality — and the phrase "work it."
Show but Make It Drag

On par with familiar concerts, drag shows are fabulously entertaining shows whose lead stars are drag impersonating men and women. At the visited drag performance, you can expect skits, mini comedy plays, and even pantomime, along with the usual singing and dancing. The members of the scene demonstrate themselves by wearing those iconic elaborate costumes and bright makeup. Drag shows can be of various types, such as drag brunches, where the public is served food and drinks; drag camps, such as the two-week event in Massachusetts in 2018, or tours, such as the Jewel Box Revue from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The show is there where the drag queen is, and the annual expo is no exception. The first Drag Con debuted in 2015 and now takes place every year in Los Angeles. There you can talk with your favorite impersonal monarch, obtain merchandise, and have a look at discussion panels on all sorts of themes. By the way, Drag Con 2022 is around the corner. From 13 to 15 May, its doors will be open for queens, kings, and their fans.

The Met Gala was also captured: the exhibit called Camp: Notes on Fashion opened in 2019. "Camp" there means an exaggerated and theatrical style or behavior. Does it ring a bell? Yes, it's closely associated with drag culture. The exhibition introduced bold art and fashion items, including a collection of men's nude photos, feather gowns, and paintings on pink walls.
Queens on Scenes

Since the early 20th century, the drag concept began to appear on TV, and after some time, it was mentioned in music lyrics. Drag monarchs started from small cameos and created their own layer of culture.

  • Paris is Burning (1990) was almost the first public statement from the ballroom culture. The documentary film presents the inside of balls: the structure of competitions, the explanation of the houses, the origins of vogue, and interviews with prominent performers. In 2016, it was selected for preservation as culturally significant in the United States.
  • The main event of 2009 was the Drag Race. RuPaul decided to make the audience familiar with the community he loved and created the competition show through which you can observe kings and queens and choose your favorite. The show is still on air and this year it is waiting for its 14th season.
  • Dragnificent was a special episode on the TLC channel, but in 2020 it was transformed into a whole TV series. The 40-minutes-long show presented engaged women and a drag team that helped them plan their wedding of a dream. Unfortunately, the second season wasn't announced despite almost a million viewers of the last episode and a nomination for an American Reality Television Award in 2021.
  • Drag Is Magic is the name of an EP for children by drag performer Nina West. The idea of the album is to inspire kids and illustrate to them the possibility of being who they want to be. Through tracks, Nina educates children and explains the phenomena of drag. The catchy and family-friendly EP received positive feedback and peaked at number nine on the US Kid Albums Billboard.
  • AJ and the Queen premiered in January 2020 on Netflix. With the genre of comedy drama, the TV series narrates the story of the travels of a drag queen and a ten-year-old orphaned child. They visit American cities and their clubs in order to earn some money.
  • Death Drop was the first play featuring an all-drag cast in the West End theatre in 2020. The play received positive feedback, and the British magazine Attitude described it as "a spectacle to be savoured - a blur of witty one-liners, fabulous costumes, deftly done farce."
Death Drop
DragCon UK, 2020
Paris Is Burning
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