Friday, April 6, 2018

DRAG, the Series: Challenge

I have decided to leave this series of posts, intentionally, in a very draft form. This owes to the upheaval of the past month of my personal life, yes ... but it also feels fitting, as the entire point of this discussion of drag is about construction and challenging assumptions. To smooth it all into coherent, long prose might obscure the various parts, and thoughts, I have put into this, and they perhaps should stand out starkly. In honesty, much of what I say is just intros to the links embedded. And so, here is this series. Unfinished. Challenging - to me, in one sense, and to the audience in another. Seems right ...

The thing about most offputting entertainments and art forms throughout history is this: they *mean* to be offputting. To a certain audience. Ugliness, cacophany, discomfort in art are a direct challenge, always, to prevailing assumptions. And right now, for a western-centric culture out to homogenize the world, a culture which has dressed men the same for upward of 200 years, there can be little wonder that one of the most popular challenges is the industrial-scale insurgency of drag

I’m not doing drag to give you makeup tips. This has always been a political statement.
RuPaul Charles


There is no one way to be gay ... or drag, or masculine, or feminine, or a particular age, or republican, or spiritual. More specifically: there is no wrong way to be any of these things, or any others.

I do Goth wrong. In my life, the very essence of nonconformity has been ... showing up at a tattoo convention and having a triple piercing removed. "You went to a tattoo festival and got yourself UN-maimed," my brother said, and it was a revelation to me. Or wearing sky blue and glitter lipgloss to a Type O Negative show, or putting together a 40s-vintage ensemble, but wearing forest green lipstick amongst otherwise "authentic" hair and clothing and period-perfect makeup.

We. All. Contain. Multitudes.

People have been weird since we've been people: truly, independently, fiercely weird. We have also been "people" for more than three hundred thousand years - not merely hairy little tool-users who put the dead away systematically or even ritually - but engaging in trade, and even processing pigment from stone.

Using pigment to permanently mark ourselves.

Pigment is at the heart not only of art, but of self-decoration. And even self-decoration performs double-duty - many people are aware that eyeliner dates back thousands of years, but fewer realize its practical application, in reducing visual glare in a very sunny region. The principal of dark patches on the face to improve bright-light vision survives today, quite prominently.

Our attachment to our tools and our expressions is the basis for the very concept of sin.

Fishy aesthetic versus Acid BettyDirt WomanDivine (both glamorous and un-"pretty", using symbols of the former and co-opting the latter to invent something new)...

Perhaps especially during the 1970s and 1980s, punk and drag had a lot in common, and RuPaul's early days show a grungy, harder-edged New Wave image.

This post "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" and I'll publish it anyway ... this post is a challenge. Ooh, how meta.

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