“Lessons in Glamour”
He slides on a dress and steps into heels. Make up is applied with grace to a face that defines its own beauty and a wig that is wrangled into a position of maximal attitude. His transformation is almost complete, from chrysalis to glamorous butterfly, requiring only the embrace of an audience.
The process is mesmerizing, and I am honored to bear witness to the creation of those astonishing personae only a drag queen can create. I have tried to be an attentive student to the artistry and there is so much to learn. There are many motivations for a man to emerge as a new being, as numerous as the elements of couture. It is in the dressing room, where the lines of gender and sexuality become purposely blurred.
Drag queens are not sham women or comic impersonators. Such simplification would be degrading. There are those who do drag for reasons of pride.
“When I see photographs of myself in drag sometimes I am in awe because I created her. She is my imagination.”
Some drag queens perform because they love to entertain.
“When I get on stage and perform, I hope I can make people laugh and forget about their
Some are transgender women and others identify themselves as gender queer and femme, employing drag to unpack and reaffirm gender identity.
“I love the adoration from the audience because I do not see it in myself”
Some gay men who perform drag emphasize that their drag queen identify as an iconic entertainer.
“Honey, this is a Bob Mackie dress.”
There are those performers who adopt feminine identities as a tool to connect to life off stage
“I started doing drag with the name of Jasmine Harlow. Jasmine was my mother’s name and Harlow was from the documentary about Queen”
Drag queens commit to who they will become and share the new born authenticity with each other.
“Now who has my lipstick”,
“I forgot my eyelashes”,
“Oh my god, she is beautiful.”
“The face doesn’t come together until you have on your lips.”
“Girl, I was doing that song tonight.”
For the audience, the drag queens create a space, in which nothing is as it appears. She is a magician…sexual smoke and feminine mirrors. At the same time, they are challenging all of us to shift our perception of male and female, beyond rigid biological classification. Is it only in the chromosomes? “Does it matter how one defines themselves sexually?” My intention with this body of work is to initiate a dialog as it relates to a possible fusion of male/female within all of us, and that the “self” lies along this continuum.
All photographs have been shot with DLSR camera, and some manipulation completed within lightroom and photoshop.
These photographs are not posed, nor set up with specific lighting and backdrop, but are shot while the individuals were completing their makeup and dressing, and ultimately the performance.