The Drag King Book

The Drag King Book

It is impossible to separate my personal relationship with facial hair from my hermstory with the Drag King scene that erupted in London and around the globe in the mid 1990s. The thought of coming out as a bearded lesbian was terrifying and it was only when I hooked up with Simo Maronati that I found the courage to let it all hang out, consequences be damned! I was also due to compete in the first Drag King contest ever at the London Lesbian & Gay Film festival during the spring of 1996. I thought that possibly having a beard of my own might give me a much needed edge....since I was well aware that I did not possess an iota of 'authentic' masculinity.  As it happened I was the biggest loser. My leather daddy stripper  persona was a bit too genderqueer in an era where ‘realness’ was the currency. But from that one event a new queer time and place began that included Drag King clubs, lots of mainstream press, including a faux exhibition of my work on Sex & The City and a free trip through the Channel Tunnel to Paris for a gaggle of Drag Kings.  The biggest bonus by far though was that Judith Jack Halberstam, (an academic already writing about Female Masculinity and one of the contest judges) and I became friends and went on to produce THE DRAG KING BOOK together over the next five years. ¨

Now that more than twenty years have passed a new generation of Kings are in the spot light, although they are still given far less space than there sister Drag Queens.  Many of the Kings I photographed in the 90s now live their lives as men or trans after finding the performance of masculinity a better fit than the options they had been living. As for myself, I continue to believe that dis-obedience, dis-ruption and defiance of gender norms and ALL norms are the cornerstones of queer cultural production.