Drag Queens are nothing new. Drag Queens as we traditionally know them began to appear in the late 19th century. Both Drag Kings and Queens frequently appeared in Shakespearean plays such as As You Like It and The Merchant of Veniceand more recently, they have appeared in films including Some Like It Hot in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe. So why are they becoming to popular now? They were the highlight of the club scene in the 80’s but now they seem to be just about everywhere you look.
In February 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race aired for the first time in the United States and since then it has become famous worldwide with two-spin off shows, RuPaul’s Drag U and Beyond Belief, and a UK version (supposedly) in the works. RuPaul’s Drag Race is no doubt the reason for so many young Drag Queens being shot into fame including, Alaska, Sharon Needles, Willam Belli, Adore Delano and Courtney Act with most of them now releasing albums or singles, like ‘Your Makeup Is Terrible‘.
However, not all famous Drag Queens have RuPaul to thank. In 2014, Conchita Wurst, won Eurovision in drag for Austria with the song ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. Her real name is Tom Neuwirth and he started doing drag only three years previously. According to Neuwirth, Conchita is from the mountains of Colombia and she is married to a French burlesque dancer. She is the first Austrian to win Eurovision in forty-eight years and she is the first Drag Queen to ever win.
Of course I can’t talk about Drag Queens without mentioning our own national treasure, Panti Bliss. She is the hostess of the annual Alternative Miss Ireland pageant and in she opened her own ‘Pantibar’ in Dublin in 2007. Right now she is mainly known as a gay rights activist and is campaigning tirelessly for the Yes vote in the upcoming marriage referendum. In February 2014, she made an inspiring speech at the Abbey Theatre about homophobia and after this she sold “I’m On Team Panti” t-shirts with all proceeds going to BeLonG Youth Services (I may have one of my own).
I get asked quite a bit why I have such an interest in Drag Queens and I know many other people do. I can’t speak for everyone but I’ll try to sum up the main reasons as best I can. Drag Queens are performers. So just like someone would like another type of performer, they’d like a Drag Queen for the same reasons, because they’re entertaining. They can be many different things, they can be singers, comedians, actresses or just hostesses of parties and events. Some people are simply really interested in their makeup and costumes.
Someone’s reasons for liking Drag Queens may also depends on where they’re from. English Drag Queen, Amber Dextrous explains, “if you look at American Drag Queens, particularly, they take an awful lot of time trying to create that allusion of femininity. We don’t. In Britain, I think we try to create that allusion of fun and entertainment“. I see it all the time on RuPaul’s Drag Race that some of the queens are gradually becoming more “fishy” or feminine but whatever your reason for being interested in Drag Queens, is a good enough reason.
“I the the whole trick is, when it comes to drag, is just really not to take it too seriously”