Drag Kinging and Gender Bending
A Personal Drag History
Seems I remember the good old days, in my foggy, creaky, ancient brain.
Let’s see if I can roughly reconstruct my personal drag history timeline, without going into my voluminous paper archives of show flyers…
I started doing drag in 1985 or so, but not in the queer community — I hadn’t found it yet. I was performing masculinity at airband shows in roller-derby contests, and at churches, school gymnasiums, etc.
One of my performances was disqualified for setting fire to the hall, with our flashpots (Yes, it was the mid-eighties). But the flames were quickly extinguished.
I had no word nor any politicized framework for what I was doing, yet refused to perform female roles, and defended my right to wear a studded jockstrap and bind my breasts. So…
Fast-forward to 1991 or so… me going to Celebrities every freaking Wednesday night to watch the drag queens perform. Somewhere in there, I had a bright idea… “Hey!” I thought “I could do that here! They’re drag queens… I could be a… um… a… drag KING! Yeah!” See, I’d never heard the term in my life, but it was a simple jump from drag queen, no?
So I created a persona (Joe Craig, no clever puns) and worked on a male look that was less glam rocker and more… passing dude. But I didn’t join/form a community or step on stage yet, because I ended up working up north for a bit. When I came back to Celebs, there was Crema, all TomJones-ing and suave, and I was delighted! They called her a drag king (whoa!), and referenced her having done this for a while, so I’d simply been missing her other performances. I’d had no idea she was out there.
Round about 1993 or ’94 so, I was hanging in The Lotus, and Trigger was pushing the idea of a drag king show. I can’t recall who was organizing it…. I just showed up. Hooray! I did a Meat Loaf number, from Bat Out of Hell. There were quite a few of us, some good, some bad.
I performed sporadically over the next few years, doing dyke sex shows and readings and such more frequently than my drag stuff… and in 1997 started dating a boi who was the onstage king “Joey, The Italian Stallion”. I remember Crema saying to Joey — “Hey, *I’m* the Italian Stallion!” The scene was really popping by this time… lots of drag shows, kings and queens.
|This photo taken by Steve Benson. This was the early days of “full” drag for me… somewhere around 1991|
|Pic above taken by Tricia McDonald in 1996. She’s a talented photographer friend of mine. Contact me to get in touch with her.|
|I think this one is from 1991 as well… Go ahead. Ask me about the bathtub. I dare you.|
|A performance as Jimmy Page (note the ugly shirt). 1998-ish|
|Out on a date with my then-gf at Le Meridien. She was so lovely I was trying to get a pic of her, when a friendly couple of tourists offered to take our pic together. They thought we were honeymooning. [grin]|
|Don’t I make an attractive figger of a man? The smoke was killing me. So was the chest hair.|
Try also Shaira Holman’s GID site.
Here’s some stuff I wrote under my drag persona — “Joe Craig”?
The Collected “Opinions By Joe” Articles – Appeared in Diversity Magazine 1994 – 1997.