I was 9 attending my Summer Recreaction program in Manalapan, NJ when I first heard RuPaul. Every year at the end of the summer, each camp group would perform a song and there’d be a long–– and extremely fun –– show of everyone’s performance. That particular year, my group’s song was Supermodel (You better work), I absolutely loved it. I still remember some of the songs/dances performed, both doing it and watching it, but I will always remember stomping down a make-shift runway in my Chucks. Even now, I still listen to the song–– hell, an entire Pandora station of Mama Ru–– to get me pumped for a fearless day of design work, client meetings, and general entrepreneurial awesomeness. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and deliver a sassy shimmer right to my day.
It may sound silly, but it’s undeniably true.
See, I’ve always loved drag queens. Growing up with two parents heavily involved in the theater, you grow up loving and respecting natural showmanship – Although I’m also fairly certain I take this fantastical trait from my grandmother, who ALSO loved drag queens– but either way, having said natural show(wo)manship, and tossing into the mix a whole hearted visual person that will always be blown away by a transformation, and you’ve got a natural affinity for drag.
Now that I’m in my third decade on this Earth, I have developed an entirely new level of respect and adoration for these exquisitely unique individuals.
Maybe it’s because for the majority of my life I’ve known the sharp disconnect between your internal identity and who everyone and your mother tells you that you are– it’s an extremely isolating and alienating experience. While I am a heterosexual and biological woman, how I experience and understand my world, and the people around me are experiences entirely my own, but it’s taken about 30 years to come to this conclusion.
Drag queens are born to live through and accept this. They see it from an early age, and carry it in their bones. They are perpetually redefining the ideas and ideals of ‘normal’, ‘conventional’, and ‘femininity’ and for this, and so many other spangled glittered reasons, I will always be on their team. And do not even get me started on the amount of mastery you need to wield in order to create such a striking gender transformation. I. just. can’t. even. begin.
I’m a visual person who loves makeup and performance, so drag queens are a natural go-to for me. Like, let’s just talk about To Wong Foo for five seconds. John Leguizamo as Chi Chi Rodriguez ? Making my heart sing over here.
If you’re asking me, drag is on equal measure to fine art. Both take countless amounts of tireless effort in creating a world in which the taken-for-granted’s are turned on their face. RuPual’s epic stance “What other people think of me ain’t none of my business” was no less groundbreaking in the personal shapings of who I am than The Étant Donnes in the Philadelphia Museum of Art , and I am no less taken by either display of their talent and craft.
My personal motto for the incredible, willed, beautiful transformation is not the clichéd butterfly. No, no.
For me, it’s all about the amazingly beautiful, uber-transformative drag queen.