Even though folks have been crossdressing for entertainment since the dawn of time, the rise of the modern drag queen can be traced back to a some relatively recent events and a few key artists.
While American society in the 1960s was opening up to the many possibilities offered by the sexual revolution, a lot of drag artists took the art of female impersonation very seriously, and didn’t stray too far from a feminine ideal. It was folks on the fringe like Divine, Sylvester, the Cockettes, Holly Woodlawn and David Bowie who shaped drag into a multi-faceted art form we see today.
Today, queer educator, doctor of drag Lady J Martinez O’Neal Davenport joins us to take a look at the rise of the modern drag queen, from Holly Woodlawn and the Warhol Superstars to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona to RuPaul who made her-story by being the first drag queen to get signed by a major record label.
Listen as we talk about: Charlie Chaplin as the silver screen’s first drag superstar.
➤ Charles Ludlam and the Theater of the Ridiculous plays where two actors did all the roles.
➤ Why the drag documentary Paris is Burning became such a hit when the film came out.
➤ Madonna’s influence on RuPaul.
➤ How close RuPaul came to becoming just a footnote in history as just another club kid with a big dream.