put the bass in your walk!
(this article is currently only available in English)
Once I said that I believe that identity is not constant but changes through the course of your life and that we can live many lives in the span of one lifetime. That’s why I’ve always been drawn to exploring new sides of my personality. As you might have seen already on my snapchat (-> kotikrawr) and instagram (@jackstrify), I spontaneously decided to to drag for the first time at the end of April. Just a few days before, we met two drag queens from Vienna through a mutual friend at a drag show in Kreuzberg who eventually ended up lending us their wigs and doing our make up.
Now, drag culture has been around for a few decades but has become the attention of a more mainstream audience during the last years due to social media, Logo TV’s show „RuPaul’s Drag Race“ and the contestants‘ wit and jokes often turn into memes that reach a bigger audience than „just“ the queer community. There have always been drag queens in metropolitan cities who became local night life figures, but with the success of „Drag Race“ you suddenly find public screenings of the show in big cities and some of the queens have turned into stars and performers that travel the world.
Due to my androgynous looks and feminine behaviour, I’ve been asked sometimes whether I also do drag and I always found myself in the same conversation explaining why I don’t. First of all, my background regarding looks and the reason I started wearing make up when I was a teenager didn’t have anything to do with „gay culture“ (whatever that is), I was into anything manga, anime, kawaii, visual kei and the alternative/emo scene. I’ve been drawn to the otherworldy, androgynous looks of Japanese artists and later found my love for Bowie – both have drawn inspiration from the Japanese kabuki theatre by the way. Even in my hardest ‚otaku‚ years, I tried cosplay only once because I never felt like dressing up but was anxious to find my own personality and not a persona. Another reason why I haven’t been inspired to do drag before: drag is a performative side of gender identity and I found it counterproductive to what I am trying to reach – people accepting and respecting the androgynous boy that I am. I’ve had the weirdest conversations in which people explain to me that they do admire drag queens but found me rather confusing, because they know that if they take of a queen’s wig, there’s a man underneath whereas I just didn’t fit in. But mostly, I never considered doing drag before because its essence is the impersonation of a woman. However, no matter how feminine or androgynous I am, I never deliberately tried to appear female. I always instinctively followed my taste and certain aesthetics, regardless of any binary gender norms. I just liked the way make up looks on my face.
However, my interest and curiosity about drag has changed. Probably mainly because of my friend and photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert whom I supported in the making of his first published book entitled „Gender as a Spectrum“ which was released at the beginning of this year. I’ve come to understand a completely different side of drag which I didn’t see before. Also, I’ve learned that drag has evolved the last few years in an even more non-binary directions. Many queens don’t even want to create a female illusion anymore but play with gender stereotypes and mix up best of both worlds. That’s why it’s more common to see bearded queens, queens with chest hair and no bra or hairy legs today.
Drag is a performance. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s talent, wit, politics and a play on gender roles. Drag is over the top, drag is an art form. Even if I am sure that I won’t develop a drag persona and this was just an experiment for a night, it was a great experience and a fun thing to do. And to be honest, I think I was one damn gorgeous queen!
Tip: Every Tuesday Pansy Presents hosts a public screening of „RuPaul’s Drag Race“ at Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke followed by performances of a few Drag Queens and a lip sync battle. The finale episode was already streamed last week, so look out next year or try to visit one of Pansy’s tribute performances!
photos taken by Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert
make up and wig by Philisha Conditioner