So let me start by saying I have the utmost respect for the art of drag and the Queens that perform it. As I have said before, it takes a strong confidant man to perform in drag. Not every man can put on a pair of heels and a dress and put themselves out there for other people to judge and critique. Queens have to have a thick skin – that goes without question. However, I think it is this thick skin that leads to some queens, not all, to loose track that at the end of the day they are just men in dresses.
Before Vivian I would have never guessed that Drag was so political and competitive. Out of these two facts I think politics of drag is the most shocking. The competitiveness really should have not surprised me. Men are competitive no matter if they are gay or straight. So if you have a number of men all performing in drag, why would it not be competitive? It’s in our nature to want and need to be the best. Unfortunately that competitiveness for some Queens takes priority over the enjoyment of Drag. It seems that Queens are always competing for crowns and bookings. It’s not just the Queens either. In cities where there are multiple bars featuring Drag Shows, they bars compete for the Queens with the biggest following. Why? To book those who will bring in the largest amount of people that will ultimately spend money.
I think it is this competitiveness that leads to Drag being so political. The Drag community is new and old at the same time. Every city has its established Queens who have been around the longest and then there are the newer Queens. It goes without saying, that for the most part, established Queens will have a larger following – and more than likely make more money than new Queens. Sometimes an established Queen will take a new Queen under their wing and mother them, and the Drag Mother/Daughter relationship is formed. When a new Queen is lucky enough to find a Drag Mother, their following, and subsequently bookings, will increase quite quickly. This makes it very appealing for new Queens to jockey for an established Drag Queen to have as a Drag Mother.
Bars do the same thing. If they see a new or established Queen with a following, they jockey to have them perform as much as possible at their bar. Some bars are located in better parts of town which would mean clientele that for the most part are able to tip more and purchase more drinks. These bars are the ones that most Queens want to have a relationship with and in turn, other Queens want relationships with those Queens and bars. It’s all a vicious circle and in some cases can lead to rivalry between different parts of towns & Queens. All of this sounds just like elections doesn’t it?
Unfortunately there is a side effect to the politics and competitiveness: bitchiness. Queens start to bad mouth one another and tear each other down to build themselves, their drag family, bar or part of town up. Even if you attempt to be neutral you can be drug into this rift because other Queens want your loyalty before their rivals can get it.
For me it’s amazing to see these men in dresses that are doing something that should be fun and entertaining, be so competitive and political. However, I will say once a charity needs help raising money, the majority of the rivalries are put aside so they can raise money for those in need. It’s a shame that sense of sisterhood can’t be shared the rest of time.