Drag Queens have been an important part of our LGBTQ community and queer culture since the beginning of time.
Drag Queens have always been our story-tellers, our truth sayers, the entertainers, and the fluffers to a queer night out.
In years gone by, Drag Queens operated on a fairly local basis. There was a drag scene in each city, and each bar had its own drag coven. If you wanted to break into the local drag scene, you had to be determined, persistent, and you had to impress the right people.
The twin forces of the internet and RuPaul’s Drag Race have changed the game. The art of Drag has gone prime time, and Drag Queens now have the tools to showcase their talents to a global audience.
So, who are the big-name queens that are currently setting the standard?
Here’s our Top 3.
Originally from Wisconsin, it was on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race that Trixie Mattel came to the world’s attention. By her own admission, she didn’t perform too well on the show, but it gave her enough of a platform to enable her to start to build some momentum around her career.
These days, what can’t she do? She a major recording artist, she’s got a hit comedy series on YouTube, she’s got a hit podcast, she’s established her own make-up company, she’s released a book, she sells out concert tours, and she’s got a big audience who are highly engaged in everything she does.
It’s hard to separate the success of Trixie from her on-screen partnership with Katya – some of Trixie’s best work is her double-act nonsense with the compellingly kooky Katya. They’re both always worth watching.
Bob the Drag Queen
Emerging from the drag scene in New York City, Bob the Drag Queen won Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Bob is a comedian, but she’s also been landing major acting roles, as well as serving up podcasts, and conquering social media.
Bob likes to talk, but her gift seems to be that she always comes from a place of truth and honesty. Combined with her killer sense of humour, she’s guaranteed entertainment.
Alaska launched her drag career in Los Angeles and auditioned for every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race until she was cast on Season 5. Alaska made it to Top 3 on Season 5 and was clearly a talented performer with a left-field take on Drag.
Since Drag Race, Alaska has really put the work in. Touring relentlessly, releasing music videos, building her brand.
Teaming up with long-time collaborator Willam, and Forever Dog producer Big Dipper, Alaska has launched the Moguls of Media podcast network. This is providing a podcast platform for Drag Queens in the US, giving them new ways to connect with their audience.
What’s the history of Drag?
Like most good stories, the precise origins of drag are open to a fair bit of debate and interpretation.
One line of thinking is that it’s a tradition that emerged from Elizabethan and the time of Shakespeare – women weren’t allowed to appear on stage, so a script would specify that an actor should be Dressed Resembling A Girl.
Whether that’s true or not, the bottom line is that there’s a long history of performers playing with gender identity.
The concept of being a drag queen is generally attributed to William Dorsey Swann. He was a performer in Maryland in the 1880s, and he described himself as the queen of drag.
Long before social media, Drag was firmly established in many parts of the world as a key component of our queer nightlife.
Beyond being entertainers, we’ve generally looked to our drag queens to be our storytellers, our activists, and the people who will say the unsayable.
Life would be pretty boring without drag queens.