Dead? Dying? Or bigger than ever? And dare I say, for some in the community, who cares?
I have literally stepped offstage for a close friend and author of internationally acclaimed book, Beneath the Sequined Surface, Carol Langley’s lecture on drag and popular culture.
After reading comments recently claiming that Sydney drag is dead and Carol’s comprehensive talk on my performance genre, I would have to believe that it in some circles it is bigger and better than ever. Is that a good or bad thing?
I hear the same comments over and over again: Drag does not represent me, and what relevance does drag have in the gay community? I honestly get so bored with them. I pride myself on not being mean and like to see others’ views, not only my own.
But the ignorance and internal homophobia directed not only at me but to others in the community gives me the shits.
I understand and respect the need for differences in opinion and I respect the need for healthy debate. What I don’t respect is the need by some in the community to trot around town mouthing their opinions off as fact, without any attempt to try to understand the other side.
Like any career in the arts it is very important to be able to change, especially in drag performance. Not fitting the mould of robo-drag or beige brigade, I have had to look for other stages to perform on.
This is not just a phase -“ for the last eight years I have earned my living from drag. Personally I am delighted to hit this milestone, counting my blessing each time I climb onto a stage.
Is the way I earn my bread and butter any different from that of someone who goes to work in a suit every day? Should I be judged because, instead of a tie, I wear a necklace?
Is it a personal attack on another’s masculinity that a man can dress as a woman and earn a good living from it?
I guess some of these questions can be answered fairly quickly -“ but let’s start with a quick overview of what I actually do.
Yes, there are the performances at clubs that most people think of as drag -“ but this is just a small part of the overall position.
You need to factor in the hours of costume sewing, finding matching accessories, make-up and of course rehearsals.
And not every gig is a paying one either. A lot of us showgirls are out there plying our wares for charity.
Then include public speaking, playing hostess, media spokesperson, community advocate, set designer, audio engineer, dancer, singer and choreographer and you have quite a r?m?/p>
Like any contract job there is always the risk you won’t have a job next week -“ there could be a new flavour of the month or, God forbid, another venue could shut its doors.
But I am certain there is no end in sight for Sydney’s drag scene -“ it is just going to keep evolving and keeping abreast of the times.
Like it or not, that’s the way it is going to be so I ask the detractors out there to show at least a bit of respect.
We are all part of this wonderful, diverse community and the last thing we should be doing is tearing each other apart.