trans men can cosplay women
trans women can cosplay men
trans men can be drag queens
trans women can be drag kings
trans men can dress feminine
trans women can dress masculine
how you dress does not invalidate your gender
Top: Matilda Alice Powles, more commonly known by her drag stage name, Vesta Tilley. Tilley was one of the most famed English drag kings of the late Victorian era.
Bottom: Ella Wesner, likewise was also a highly influential drag king from New York during the same time as Tilley. Wesner was known for her scandalous female love affairs. She also requested to be buried in her male clothing upon her death.
When compared to the exquisitely expressive art of
Drag Queens, the wonderful world of Drag Kings appears to exist with far less
attention from popular culture. When I speak of Drag Queens amongst my friends,
most of them seem familiar with the craft, so much so, they can even name and
discuss examples. However, when I raise the term ‘Drag King’, I am often
confronted with a response similar to, ‘Wow, I never even knew they existed’. Nonetheless,
Drag King performers are storming stages all around the world, treating an
array of audiences to bold shows which captivate and challenge creative minds.
The idea and practice of performers transforming
themselves through male personas is by no means a new concept. For instance, English
playwright, poet and actress Susanna
Centlivre is notable for her work as an actress in ‘breeches roles’. Dubbed as “the most successful female playwright of the
eighteenth century”, she performed regularly in traditional
male attire. In other words, she became accustomed to fitted knee-length trousers
and popular masculine garments; clothing worn mostly by men around the 1700s. Since this
time, Drag Kings have progressed and developed; increasing in popularity whilst
making use of sophisticated resources and techniques. Distinguished impersonators
and cross-dressers across the 19th and 20th Centuries
include theatrical performers such as Annie
Hindle, Ella Shields, Vesta Tilly, Bessie Bellwood and Hetty King. Not to mention other provocative entertainers
such as Blues singer Gladys Bentley and the more controversial LGBT civil
rights icon; Stormé DeLarverie. Referencing
the OED, during 1972, the term ‘Drag King’ was initially published in text to
represent the description ‘woman masquerading as a man’. Referring to the updated version, we can see the definition as ‘A woman who dresses up as a man; a male impersonator’. Bringing Drag Kings
into the 21st Century, the field of performing arts and creative
industries offer a wide range of practitioners specialising in drag king
performances, workshops and transformations. Some of my favourites include Phantom,
Spikey Van Dykey, Adam All and Landon Cider.
The International Drag King Community Extravaganza
is the largest event of its kind and is entirely run by volunteers. Hosted in a
different city each year, the IDKE is known for its extraordinary performances,
workshops and events which push the boundaries of gender. In order to achieve different
levels of gender illusion, drag kings combine methods of breast binding, application of facial/body hair, masculine haircuts, styles or wigs, performance props, staging,
illusive male genitalia, manly clothing, as well as altered posture and movement.
Despite being relatively unheard of to the masses, Drag King shows are becoming
more and more accessible, with both troupe and solo performers making a name
for themselves amongst artistic and LGBT communities. For example, ‘Boi Box’ is
a monthly Drag King show held at ‘She Soho’, a lesbian venue situated on Old
Compton Street in London. There are also many opportunities for Drag Kings to
compete and network, with The San Francisco Drag King Contest being significant
as supposedly the oldest and biggest Drag King competition in the world.
drag scene plays host to a magnificent mixture of gender bending cabaret,
comedy, burlesque, circus, theatre and performance art. The art of drag has
been saturated with fascinating historical events, and continues amaze through
the footprints of modern day practitioners. Drag Kings take their place in the
spotlight, giving us a glimpse into a remarkable and inspiring world which
deserves to be adored and celebrated.
More Than Binary is a makeup piece centered around gender. Many would say that gender is binary, meaning it is based on two genders. Gender is more than just male and female. To explore this concept, I used two heavily gendered colors and switched their places; A typical male face being pink and a typical female face in blue is shown. With both sides being on the same face it brings in genderfluid and non-binary genders into play. This piece was done using airbrush body paint and makeup.