If you haven’t caught on to the phenomenon yet: drag culture is here to stay.
Whether it’s on Rupaul’s Drag Race, HBO’s Legendary or in nightclubs around the country, drag queens are challenging American audiences’ views on gender and acceptance.
In The Know caught up with five drag queens who are making their mark and looking fierce while doing it.
Justin Andrew Honard
Honard AKA Alaska ThunderF*** is the winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2. Honard, who’s based in Hollywood, threw himself into drag during college and hasn’t stopped since. He described Alaska as a “Glamazonian princess from the planet Glamatron.”
“Yes, it’s hair and it’s clothes and it’s makeup but once it all comes together, it’s like something magical and something more than just the sum of its parts. Drag is the worshiping of divine feminine energy,” Alaska said.
BenDeLaCreme is a Rupaul’s Drag Race Allstars alumni from Seattle. Ben had a difficult childhood, but his drag persona became a way for him to distill the best parts of himself into a character.
“I was a very overtly queer kid from a very young age,” Ben said. “There was something inside of me that I don’t know where it came from that had a small glimmer of I hesitate to even say hope, it was maybe there’s something out there.”
When he discovered drag, he realized it was his calling.
“As a writer and as an art maker I get to use this character who is optimistic and upbeat. Almost to a fault where she doesn’t want to look at a negative,” Ben added.
Jupiter Velvet is a trans-Latina living and performing in Miami. She found a safe space to be herself through the queer nightlife scene.
“Jupiter Velvet exists as this escape for me,” Jupiter said. “I created her as a way for me to live out the adolescent teenager childhood fantasy of being a girl that I never got to experience.”
She hopes that she will challenge and inspire others through her performance art.
“I feel so rewarded after performing because I know the power that drag has,” Jupiter said. “My hope is to inspire future generations of trans people and of people in general to feel that there is no right or wrong way to be femme. There is no right or wrong way to be masc. These are all constructs. So do what you want.”
Daniel Kelley AKA Paige Turner is a blond, bombshell theater-loving queen. Kelley said Paige Turner is all about “laughter community and having a great time.”
“I really, really feel like a superhero,” Kelley said. “I really love feeling pretty, feeling ridiculous and making people laugh. And I am really glad I have that. There’s a lot of laughter in my life and I am so grateful for it.”
Tiffany Fantasia has been performing as a drag queen for more than 15 years in South Florida. Drag became a way to reconcile past trauma.
“I spent a lot of time in hiding in expressing myself because my dad was very verbally abusive,” Fantasia said. “When drag came around it was like, “oh my goodness, I can express myself how I want to with no problem.'”
Despite the hurdles, Fantasia is grateful for her place in the drag community.
“When I transform into drag, I’m very sassy, funny. I want everybody to be happy and have fun,” Fantasia said. “I work twice as hard to get to where I am and for people to love what I do and respect what I do is an amazing thing. And I don’t take it for granted for one bit.”
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