Monday, September 05, 2011

what a drag.

over the last week or so, i've been watching absurd amounts of RuPaul's Drag Race. *ABSURD* amounts of it. i've already blown through Season 3, and i've started watching Season 1. if you haven't watched it...go over to and watch it, since all three season stream for free in their entirety. it's compelling, it's entertaining...

...but it's not really what this blog entry is about. this blog entry is more about the gender-related thoughts that have popped into my head while watching it.

i've never actually done real drag performance before. the extent of my drag experience is going to a few drag dances over the years. every time i've gone to any kind of drag dance, i've dressed as a drag king: bound my boobs down with an ace bandage (or ten), used some makeup to put a five o'clock shadow on my face, and gone out that way. problem is, except for the makeup and the boob-binding, there really wasn't any difference at all between nicky (who i am day to day) and larry (the drag king persona i was trying to be). i didn't feel like i was playing a character. i felt like myself, albeit with a few cosmetic additions to accentuate the masculine. i wore the same kinds of clothes day in and day out, and didn't feel the need to change much of anything about how i presented myself, since i tend to present myself in a rather butch fashion as a matter of course. that's just who i am.

compare that to how i feel if i'm going to a formal dance. i'm not explicitly trying to create a character, but i feel like something different than what i am day in and day out. the protocol of the event demands that i be something formal and feminine, so i'm costuming myself in a manner that's nothing like my usual, daily wear. i'm wearing a dress, heels, makeup. such trappings worm their way into my brain, and i subconsciously start to act in a way that's far more prim, proper, and feminine than the way i act day in and day out. i'm not myself--and that's fun, for a night here and there.

this is the kind of thing that watching RuPaul's Drag Race makes me want to do. it makes me want to bend my gender. it makes me want to put on a long-haired wig, makeup, a dress, and maybe even some heels -- go out, and be something that is nothing like who i am every day. it makes me want to do a supercharged version of what i do if i'm preparing for a formal dance or event. it makes me want to play around with formulating and portraying a character with a completely different gender expression than the person i am day in and day out.

and, yet, i feel a little weird about the fact that this makes me want to try being a drag *queen*. it isn't all that logical, since drag is supposed to be about finding a way to creatively portray a gender you aren't day in and day out -- and being a drag queen would do that for me in a way that being a drag king never could. even though, to me, being a feminine "queen" is a lot more of a transformation from my day-to-day existence than being a masculine "king", i still have this little voice in my head that tells me that it would be somehow belittling to male-bodied drag queens to go out as a female-bodied drag queen.

do i have any resolution to this? not really. these are just ideas that have been bouncing in my head for a long time, and have been bouncing closer to the forefront now that i've been watching many hours of Drag Race on TV. maybe i'll make a bit more sense of them in the future, maybe not. but, this is where my brain has been hanging out lately.