Dear Right Wing/MAGA Idiots. DRAG IS NOT Sexual Orientation. It's Performance Art With A VERY Long History

Dear Right Wing/MAGA Idiots: DRAG IS NOT Sexual Orientation. It’s Performance Art With A VERY Long History

Somehow those crazy mixed up Trump/MAGA zombies have fallen for the propaganda that Drag Queen’s groom our kids to be LGBT. When in fact it is nothing more than a harmless performance art that goe back Centuries.

The origin of the term drag is uncertain But female impersonation can be traced back at least as far as ancient Greece. There was little to no gender equity then and women held a lower social status. This meant male actors would play female roles during theatrical performance. his tradition continued for centuries but began to be less prevalent as motion pictures became popular.

In the age of Shakespearean theatre, during the late 16th century.  At the time, the church was heavily connected to the stage and only allowed men to perform, and so it was that any female roles were played by the men in the cast dressed as women.

During the era of vaudeville it was considered immodest for women to appear on stage. Due to that circumstance, some men became famous as “female impersonators”, the most notable being Julian Eltinge. At the peak of his career he was one of the most sought after and highest paid actors in the world. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Bothwell Browne was the top female impersonator of the West Coast. He performed at the Grand Opera House and Central Theater, among other venues, went on tour with United Vaudeville, and later appeared in the film Yankee Doodle in Berlin (1919), produced by Mack Sennett.

In the early to mid-1900s, female impersonation had become tied to the LGBT community and thus criminality, so it had to change forms and locations.

 In the 1940s and 1950s, Arthur Blake was one of the few female impersonators to be successful in both gay and mainstream entertainment, becoming famous for his impersonations of Bette Davis, Carmen Miranda, and Eleanor Roosevelt in night clubs.[ At the invitation of the Roosevelts, he performed his impersonation of Eleanor at the White House.](I guess he groomed the Roosevelts)  He also impersonated Davis and Miranda in the 1952 film Diplomatic Courier.

Even today many male stars have dressed in drag in movies and theatre. Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder classic, remains a comedy favorite in part because of the hilarious pairing of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag!, John Travolta played voluptuous and bubbly Edna Turnblad in the 2007 musical remake of John Water’s cult film Hairspray. Even in the In 1999’s The Boondock Saints, Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) tries saving the day by showing up at a dangerous location dressed as a woman.

And there are so many more they are literally too many to list.

So did Travolta, Curtis, Lemmon and Dafoe groom anyone?

No. They acted. They are performers, thespians, and artists.

And so are Drag Queens.

2 thoughts on “Dear Right Wing/MAGA Idiots: DRAG IS NOT Sexual Orientation. It’s Performance Art With A VERY Long History

  1. I was fortunate to attend the very first ‘Wigstock’ only because I was dating someone who knew about the grassroots event on a Labor Day 1984. It was held before the cleanup of Tompkins Square Park, before the pre-‘Rent’ gentrification of the East Village after the West Village was overpriced and saturated with yuppie families, displacing the historically gay and financially affordable West Village that was no longer offering humble rental apartments to gay bohemians. The first ‘Wigstock’ was promoted by gay word of mouth, and the cast of the original unrehearsed performances seemed like they were admirable survivors of Stonewall. With no budget, financial sponsorship, and probably no legal permit to host this gathering, the talent performed uninspiring lip synch numbers from a primitive public announcement system on was the obvious choice for a stage: an ancient and crumbling performance bandshell like The Naumburg Bandshell, an outdoor concert venue near the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park that is used to stage classical performances to a well-mannered audience provided with green painted wooden foldup chairs. The unexpected heavy turnout to this first of what would become an annual event as important as the Gay Pride Parade did not pass judgment on the sad condition of Tompkins Square Park, sharing it with homeless citizens of NYC, with no proper amenities or barely any natural beauty (read: the landscape was mud). ‘Wigstock’ was not a professional production, and the audience who filled Thompson Square Park in 1984 were mostly gay men who seemed more focused on encountering an old friend after the Fire Island summer season had officially ended. But the audience respectfully celebrated the show as another gay event. And no one except the performers wore wigs. But just like Woodstock, the informality of ‘Wigstock’ on Labor Day became a tradition that younger members of the gay community attended, as did friends of gays. But unlike Woodstock, the smart and savvy members of the talent that migrated from all points of the USA to land a chance to entertain the sophisticated audiences in NYC clubs pulled all their resources together to continue to produce more lavish and high production value ‘Wigstocks’ every year, even if that meant finding a new venue to host this large crowd pleaser with no other financial commitment from the attendees than to wear a wig (not full drag, but at least a badly weathered flea market wig). The badly weathered bandshell in Tompkins Square Park was demolished during the controversial closure of the park for extensive renovations. But ‘Wigstock’ occurred every year, finding accommodations in Union Square Park, and finally on the still not developed piers on the West Side Highway. The focus of the audience had migrated from cruising the crowd to being overwhelmingly entertained by the crème of the crop. And wear a wig! I could go on naming the talent that crooned and amused us for what seemed like a VERY LONG DAY. Especially if you wore a wig that your scalp was not accustomed to. My back and my head could not wait to call it a day. Without stepping on anyone’s toes, as I was no closer to being in the company of the talent than when I was in the mini-stage of ‘Boy Bar’, I suppose from what I heard that Lady Bunny, a talent in her own right, was responsible for working all year leading up to the next scheduled ‘Wigstock’ like the creative geniuses employed by Macy’s to make the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade as perfectly wrapped present for the people. Kudos to Lady Bunny, and anyone else who supported her (dare I say, ‘keep her upright’??). I enclose an image of one of the last ‘Wigstocks’ on a pier on the Hudson River, where my boy-toy and I woke up one Labor Day, committed to go together to enjoy ‘Wigstock’, bought some ‘illicit drugs’ (?) and paid whatever the asking price was for our Afro wigs from an otherwise quiet and unglamorous wig shop on 14th Street but doing good business at a good mark-up on the day all fun New Yorkers were encouraged to wear a wig.

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