Guest Post: The Art of Drag Culture Through the Gaze of E! The Dragnificent

I invited E! The Dragnificent to help me with some blogging related to drag culture and drag artists. She helped me craft the questions for our interview with Aquaria, a Pennsylvania native who is part of the Werq The World tour coming to Pittsburgh. And then E wrote this essay about why she loves Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Her essay really spoke to my own concerns for the drag community and inspired some of my own blogging. I am pleased to publish the first of I hope will be many essays by E! ~ Sue


Throughout many years, drag has become a cultural phenomenon in the LGBTQ+ community. From Divine, to Leigh Bowery, to musicals, to popular shows on TV, drag has become even more main stream than before. One of the most popular shows about drag and performance in the queer community is Ru Paul’s Drag Race. RPDR is an outstanding nine time Emmy-winning competition show featuring experienced drag queens competing each year for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. RPDR has eleven legendary seasons, and four All-Star seasons. The show inspires many people today. People love it because it showcases art from a different perspective that a lot of people might not have seen before. And they enjoy it because of its suspenseful challenges that have everyone on the edge of their seats. 

It is important for people to support queens in their own communities because drag queens are also artists, just like the other artists in their communities.

I like Ru Paul’s Drag Race because it has had many talented queens who have helped pave the way for younger people, to show us that we can do drag and create art in a different way. It’s so entertaining to watch the lip synchs and the challenges full of color, energy, and suspense. The show inspires queer people of all ages with its personal stories about the queens that might even inspire people to start doing drag themselves. Drag in its earlier years used to be just men dressing up and expressing their feminine side through performance and pageantry. But as time has evolved, we now even have kids getting inspired to do drag, dragkids like Desmond is Amazing, Queen Lactatia, and me. 

NinaWest.com

My favorite drag race queen is Nina West because she has worked so hard for her drag career. She is from the city where I was born, Columbus, Ohio! She is so funny. For example, if you haven’t seen her performance as Harvey Fierstein and Jo Anne Worley in RPDR’s Snatch Game, you will be so impressed. She brings a different side to drag which is her campy and creative style. She is also a “theater queen,” which I love because I study musical theater at a performing arts high school.  

I think it is important that people know that drag is for all genders and all ages. It gives all people a chance to show their inner creative selves. I especially want people to know that when kids do drag, it’s not their parents sexualizing them. It’s just the kids’ interest, and a way that they like to create their colorful art and to express themselves. It is okay for kids to do drag because it’s just the kids’ way of having fun while showing their creative side, releasing a different side of themselves that they can’t release on a daily basis. 

Gia Gunn

It is okay for cis women to do drag. Some think it’s only people who identify as he/him, or who are biologically male, who can do drag. But all genders can do drag because everyone has an inner creative character and true colors that can be released to show who they are. And of course trans people can do drag! For a lot of trans people, drag is how they might have discovered or first felt comfortable expressing their identity and femininity. Drag allows them to release themselves creatively and elaborately. My favorite trans queen is Gia Gunn because her looks are always fierce. She is also very kind and an amazing advocate for her community. 

It is important for people to support queens in their own communities because drag queens are also artists, just like the other artists in their communities. If queens aren’t supported in their communities, they can feel like their art form isn’t valid, or that they might feel like they can’t express themselves in the way that they want. I am very excited about the Werq the World Tour. Of course it will be very entertaining and inspiring to see the RPDR queens come from all over the world to perform in Pittsburgh and share their amazing drag talents. It’s okay to love all drag, and support our local queens and Ru Paul’s queens. 

But all genders can do drag because everyone has an inner creative character and true colors that can be released to show who they are.

I hope I keep doing drag as long as I’m interested in it. Who knows? Kids’ interests are always changing. But right now I have a strong passion for drag and expressing myself through costuming, creative make-up, and performance. Another one of my passions is singing and song-writing. I’d like to pursue music when I’m older. Or, maybe I can do both.


E! the Dragnificent is a 14-yr old drag queen who has been performing the art form for the last five years. E! loves the creativity that she can express with drag – the theatrics, the costuming, the stage makeup, the movement, the acting. E! has been a featured headliner in the Austin International Drag Festival, and has headlined and performed drag in many Ohio and Pennsylvania productions. But, E! loves Shakespeare as much as she loves Ru Paul. E! is a Freshman studying Musical Theater at a performing arts high school, and has won top honors in Shakespeare competitions for the past several years. Even if she’s not in fake lashes and heels, she takes on each theatrical opportunity with tenacity and sincerity.  E! is a creative kid who just loves performing. 

Follow E on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

E! The Dragnificent
Photo of E! The Dragnificent by Sean Carroll,