Proud drag kings on queerness, performing gender and being rude to cis men
More than 50 drag kings from around the world are performing together this weekend for Unofficial King Pride, a two-day event that is being held online.
Organised by Macho Man Drag UK, the free event is a celebration of all things drag king and will be raising money for raising funds for HIV/sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust.
As well as donating to THT, viewers will be able to tip their favourite kings during their performances – and with the profile of drag kings on the up, now is the time to get involved.
Organiser Charlie Bagshaw, who is creator, producer, and host of Unofficial Drag Pride, said: “Drag kings have not yet received the appreciation or cultural renown as our feminine counterparts in the media and Unofficial Drag King Pride was born out of a need to break that glass ceiling.”
Drag Kings on their favourite thing about drag
Beau Jangles: “I think for me, as a queer person never really feeling comfortable in my assigned gender, it’s a chance to present to people how I want them to see me.
“And for them to treat me in such a way. You know, drag is performing gender. And I get to show [the audience] this person and say, ‘This is how you will think of me.’ It’s taking control of how I’m perceived, in a way.
“And I also get to be rude to white cis men when I’m in drag, which is really fun.”
Charlie: “It kind of intersects with craft and with gender exploration and with intersectional feminism, and performance – I did drama.
“So, it’s all the things together. And I only really started doing make-up through drag. I’ve been doing it for just over two years now, properly. The best thing is the intersection of all of the things I’m interested in. I’m genderqueer, so I’m glad that I get to express that part of me, the proper icon and diva!”
Baron LaVey: “A lot of my creativity comes through in my drag.
“And again, it’s gender expression, it’s controlling how other people perceive me, whether that be as a masculine-ish creature on the stage, or whether or not I’ve got my tits out, that’s my control over what people are seeing of me.
“And it’s also becoming a character that I kind of wish I was.”
How has doing drag impacted on the king’s gender outside of drag?
Baron LaVey: “For a very, very long time, I understood that I wasn’t female. But it took lockdown for me to go, ‘Actually, yeah, I’ve got all this time I think to myself and like begin to understand myself a bit better, so it’s only been in lockdown that I have outwardly said OK, I’m non-binary.’
“And I think all of that has been like, because I had nothing better to do other than being in drag or cosplay. So it was like, ‘OK, so I’m definitely more comfortable in in costume than I am out of costume? So what does that say about me?'”
Beau Jangles: “It was the same for me. In lockdown, I realised that a lot of the femininity I was performing, I was performing because I thought that’s what other people wanted from me, rather than that being an authentic part of me.
“And now I do embrace femininity, but from more of a free kind of way, the way like, when you see Billy Porter in a fabulous dress or Lil Nas X in a pink cowboy outfit.
“I think if I hadn’t done drag, I still would have come to the same conclusion, but it probably would have taken me a lot longer. It helped me to be in spaces where I could have these open conversations about gender and talk to other people, I’m very grateful to other people who put in the emotional labour to talk to me about their queerness.
“I’m always very grateful to the drag community for that.”
Charlie: “My gender was always very fluid, I was always wearing alternative items of clothing or feeling very separate or different in whatever way. And I thought that was just because I was a queer person. But it went a lot deeper than that, in how I intersect, just everything I do, the way I walk, and the way I change my personality for different people in different environments.
“Being able to be onstage, be as confident, be as crass or be as silly as I wanted to, it is just utterly freeing to have that alter ego. And then because I’ve been able to explore my masculinity, I now feel comfortable to be more feminine in different ways, but not in a way that I feel is an expectation.”
Who is your favourite drag king, and why?
Beau Jangles: “It’s like asking me to choose between my children!
“Honestly, I can’t. I can’t pick a favourite. But I have to always, always, always give mad props to [Mr Gay England Finalist] Chiyo for everything that they are. And they’re also just the nicest person, he’s so lovely to just be in a space with and talk to, his energy is just wonderful.
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