Dressed As Girl

Never did I think a fully made up man in a kaftan would make me cry.

However, come this past Friday night, as I lay on Sister With Massive Laugh‘s couch, that’s exactly what I was doing. Crying at a man in a kaftan. Sure, I was tired, on my period and had just scooped my nieces shit out of the bath with my bare hands. But no…They were not the reasons for my pre weekend tears. I was crying because of the sheer joy Rupaul’s Drag Race brings me.

I was first introduced to the reality TV show, where Drag Queens compete in a challenge based contest showcasing their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent*, whilst on holiday with friends a few years ago.

 

Two episodes in and I was hooked on this crazy, ridiculous and hilarious programme. I returned to the UK & back tracked to the beginning so that my knowledge of Drag race herstory was up to date. Having spoken before about a need to step away from content that feels too worthy, political or culturally woke; Drag race became my saving grace. It is now my weekly treat. A place I can escape to and watch these incredibly diverse personalities paint their faces, adorn themselves in costumery and entertain us with their dancing {or lack of} skills, their humour and their flat out honesty.

While the show does provide escapism it should not be considered fluff. Far from it. The things I have learnt about penis tucking {YEP! It really happens}, make-up baking and couture creating have been truly educational. Rupaul’s Drag Race has brought the niche world of drag entertainment into the mainstream. Some argue it’s losing it’s edge being made available to the masses but I disagree. I believe we should all be educated in how a portion of society chooses to present themselves to the world.

The show emits a bright and dazzling world, that is made to impress and entertain, but being a man that dresses up as a woman is still an incredibly hard place to exist. The Queens will often recount their coming out stories as well as their drag introductions. The majority have had difficult family up bringings and homophobic bullying. Some are HIV positive or have lost friends to Aids. Other’s have tales of abandonment, rape, family shame.

They have developed overtly caricatured personas and insanely thick skins to survive and pursue a different way of life.

I believe they should be revered for that. I’m not sure I could consistantly swim against the tide so confidently.

While the origins of the word drag are hazy it is known that the term was used in play text during the late 19th century to specify an actor should be ‘DRessed As Girl’. In 2019 however ‘dressing as a girl’ {female impersonation} takes on a whole other meaning because what exactly is it to present yourself as female?

Choosing to dress in drag is gender fluid in itself but the female side of that fluidity can sometimes be a very one sided representation of women. We are not all large, swaying hips, overly made up faces and teased hair. Not all our tits sit under our chins and few of us are blessed with lips that resemble plump pillows.  There can also be an exaggerated sexualisation that these queens use to represent our gender and it can feel like it’s reducing us to a stereotype.

But surely that’s what drag is? It’s stereotyping and exaggerating. It’s a hyping up for our entertainment. None of these queens are pretending they’re naturally a woman. Absolutely nothing about them is natural. Like all popular culture too, drag is slowly starting to change with the times. There is a shedding of the padded hips. The fake boobs are being relegated. Bald queens are emerging along with those who’s make-up inspirations are anime, horror films, original fairy tales. In the words of Sasha Velour {RPDR Season Nine winner} she is  

‘a gender-fluid drag queen and visual artist. Through multi-media performance, advocacy, and design, Velour’s work maps out new frontiers for drag and creates new spaces for LGBTQ artists to flourish and thrive’

 

These humans are brave enough to go against the grain and put it all out there. It all feels so freeing. And that is where my undying love, as well as my Friday night tears, come in.

As I watched Vanessa Vanjie ‘MISS VANJIE’ Mateo lip sync for her life I was transfixed. Having been eliminated on Episode One of Season Ten she was brought back by popular demand. Unfortunately she’d relied on her winning personality one time too many. She’s wasn’t pushing herself and the judges desperately wanted to see more. Hell, They needed to see more and she knew it. She was fighting for her spot on the show. As Mary J Blige’s ‘No more drama’ played out she mimed along. She ripped off her jewellery, told us her tale of ressurection and served us high quality entertainment.

With her boys nipples on show and her glued down wig whipping around her face she was wild and free. I saw this 27 year old Puerto Rican boy’s need to better his life. To realise his dreams and to fight for a chance to slay another day.

In the words of Rupaul. It was magic….

Now, pass me a tissue, Guurl, ‘Cos that was all the tea and none of the shade.

 

*Do ya get it?????

 

2 Comments
  • Zander
    Posted at 17:17h, 08 May Reply

    Omg love! It was only but a few years ago we where watching RPDR with you, had a spotty internet connection and make-shift projector on an island far far away!

    • Ms Donovan
      Posted at 17:56h, 08 May Reply

      Ahhhh! That makes it all sound so romantic….and it was! My favourite day in Jan this year was lying on your sofa watch Drag Race! Whoop! Thank you for the introduction. Long may drag make us insanely happy. #Branjieforever

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