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  • Alex Fear

British Drag

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

There’s something about the good old English approach to drag queens that really warms my heart. The way a gay bar in a principality outside London will just slap the word “drag queen” across a badly photoshopped poster. As if “drag queen” were something like Campbell's soup and they’re all as good as each other and really you should take what you’re given and be grateful. She’ll come out leering and gurning to raucous applause with PVA glue over her eyebrows and eye-shadow in a single block colour up to her mid forehead. She'll be squeezed so tightly into a sequin dress that she will asphyxiate before the end of the show and not require paying. And the sequins have plastic jewels hanging off them, and the plastic jewels have sequins hanging off them, her dress like a never ending fractal vortex, a true simulation of infinity. She’ll insult some people, grab a young mans dick or a lesbian’s tit and then launch into “I Will Follow Him” in a voice not dissimilar to that of the late Ronnie Corbett. Changing the word “follow” to “swallow” and peppering the lyrics with slurs and sexual come-ons, as they fly like some bawdy singularity from her pouting, gaping, Rimmel smeared mouth-hole.

I’m almost offended if someone comes on stage looking good or anywhere near a passable female. I have heard it claimed by what are probably my own imagined stereotypes of feminists, that drag is an offensive portrayal of women. But British drag queens are not a portrayal of anything. They are their own entity. Imagine for a moment if real women went around in a uniform of ball gowns dripping with acrylic jewels constantly insulting people, talking about oral sex and then belting out “Life is a Cabaret ol’ chum” in nasal tones. British drag is not dissimilar to some forms of shamanism. Paint is smeared onto the face and then a trance state is induced using cheap gin in which a wrathful homosexual deity known as “dragqueen” enters the practitioners body. The humongous matted wig and ruffle boa are signifiers that the practitioner is currently possessed by the iniquitous spirit of “dragqueen” and can no longer be held accountable for their actions or antiquated song choice. On stage in Shrewsbury I once watched in terrified awe as one such modern day shaman by the name of Miss Penny told jokes about “Pakis” then proceeded to drink an 18 year old boys entire pint, take the boys top off, then push her acrylic-nailed-hand into his pants and grab his genitalia. This obviously deeply significant yet cryptic series of semantic gestures was then topped with a rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s Disco classic, “I Will Survive.”

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