Spotlight on Drag:
An author friend on Facebook recently commented that it was harder for a man to have a ‘feminine day’, and wear a skirt or dress than for women to have a masculine day and wear jeans or trousers. I think it would be accepted that currently, , this is the case. I thought it would be interesting to look at the phenomena where men cross dressing is accepted and even praised. My Sunday spotlight falls on Drag Queens or Artistes also known as Female Impersonators. There is of course the female /male equivalent named Drag Kings. This form of cross dressing is less well publicised, and less easy to find generally, proving ironically that in the entertainment world it would seem to be less accepted for women to cross dress as men.
Growing up in England, men dressing up as women is a totally accepted form of entertainment. In my parent’s time old performers such as Danny La Rue or comedian Les Dawson were always on the television. Danny La Rue was introduced as a Female Impersonator.
Les Dawson dragged for comic effect and for playing Dames. Even earlier there are black and white, St Trinian films with the Headmistress played by a revered actor called Alistair Sims.
The remake had Rupert Everett in the role.
One of the reasons drag is a recognised and accepted form of entertainment in England I’m sure is our unique and old tradition of Pantomime and theatre. Going back to the days of Queen Elizabeth l and Shakespeare, as women were not allowed on the stage, all female parts were played by men. Additionally, in England we have Pantomime, often seen as ridiculous it was an early form of satire, often used as a way of highlighting political and royal corruption and the disparities between rich and poor, whilst having a good time. The part of the pantomime Dame still is played by a man or rather men as tradition usually has two Dames.
Here as mentioned is English comedian Les Dawson, as a pantomime Dame
I went to pantomimes when I was a child and we took our daughter to pantomimes. My Husband who is Dutch had a hard time ‘getting’ pantomimes, but the art of men dressing as women is ingrained into English culture. Not just on stage but in music with the advent of David Bowie, Boy George, Steve Strange, Lee Bowery etc. Australian, Barry Humphries made a fortune as ‘Dame Edna Everidge’
and is still popular here. Even more recently England had Lily Savage
who is the alter ego of Paul O Grady now a ‘national treasure’, and very popular presenter in his own right. Up to date we have Matt Lucas and David Walliams who’s wicked portrayals of less attractive transvestites, incontinent old women and the larger lady have made them stars and their show Little Britain a world wide hit.
Drag shows are still and always will be popular forms of entertainment in the UK. What about in the United States? Well I know less about the drag scene there however, most of us know Ru Paul and her recent TV drag shows. I know one particular past Drag Queen from the States a little better, as my daughter and I are fans of John Waters’ films, and in the late 80’s I danced to the music of ‘Divine’.
I was lucky enough to see Divine perform on stage at a Brighton gay club, only a few years before he sadly died. His performances were wild, very rude and wonderfully enjoyable.
At the beginning of this month at the UKMeet I was lucky enough to see Eddie Adams perform and meet Eddie and her partner, Dan Burgess. I can write about the history and give you examples of Drag Queens but Eddie and Dan have a unique perspective and I hope to put an interview I did with them on site in the near future. At that time it might be interesting to discuss how much the phenomena of cross dressing for entertainment, has to do with gender and sexuality.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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