You’re sure to know celebrities like Pabllo Vittar and Gloria Groove. Do you know what they have in common? Both are drag queens, as well as Lua Lamberti, a researcher who participated in this article telling more about the drag universe. To get to know him better, read on!
What is drag queen?
Lua explores the definition of transformism suggested by Miss Draga, transvestite and drag artist, as an artistic language that challenges, frays and parodies the field of the genre. For Paul Preciado, transformism is “a laboratory for experimenting with gender technologies”. In addition, Lua presents the perspective of the Boulet Brothers, drag queens, that “doing drag is a radical form of self-expression”, and claims to like these definitions because they are broad and plural.
Lua says that “in general, we know Drag Queens and, at best, Drag Kings. But transformism as an artistic field is much broader”. According to her, Personas Drag does not necessarily need to emulate or reproduce socially established gender norms, between the male x female binary.
“There are bearded Drags, busty Kings, androgynous figures, anthropomorphized, fantastic and fanciful, abstract, caricatured, anyway… as plural and infinite as human subjectivity. Even the term, transformism, I like more than “Drag”. Because there are other manifestations of this language that are not within the imagination we usually have, Drags that look like supermodels, fashionistas, glamorous. Thinking through transformism tends to contemplate artists who dialogue with other fields, other aesthetics”, complements Lua.
the drag art
“In general, it is a performance art of personification”, indicates Lua. This means putting together a persona in you (different from a character, because it dialogues much more with your personality and without many commitments to pre-established rules, as a character in the sense theatrical).
Many believe that Drag is part of theater or performance, and to some extent it is part of it, but Lua explains that “transformism is an autonomous language in itself. There are Drags that don’t perform shows and don’t make numbers and there are also projects of transforming artists telling stories in libraries, visiting hospitals, at soirees, cabarets, clips, series, movies and in the theater, in the beauty industry as makeup artists , designers, seamstresses, and much more”.
Lua points out that everyone can do drag art! According to her, “the idea of associating Drag with gay men is wrong, as it has always been produced by trans people and people of non-conforming gender. Even because, in addition to the cliché man dressed as a woman for Queen and a woman dressed as a man for King (which already excludes trans people, for example Miss Draga, or myself, who are transvestites, not gay men, and we do drag), there are drag or transformist personas that blur these binary divisions, that flirt with the absurd, with horror, with science fiction, with mythologies, with medieval fantasies, in short, it goes far beyond just ‘looking like a woman’ or ‘looking like a man’ ‘.”
history of drag art
There are many controversies about the origin of transformism. According to Lua, “there are those who say that it started with Shakespeare, which indicated which characters were Drag (dressed as a girl, the anagram, which meant that it would be characterized as a woman); Some lines say that Drag comes from the verb ‘to drag’, from drag, because of the long trains of the dresses the female transformers wore. Still others say that the term was derived from dragon because of the loaded makeup”.
“The fact is that what we understand as transformism in this more open field has always existed in many cultures and in many different ways,” says Lua. In addition, Drag finds it difficult to credit this to Shakespeare without taking into account, for example, that this it was a misogynistic device to prevent cisgender women from being on stage.
Lua also says that “Drags, transformist artists in general, have always been there. We always have been. In political activism, in entertainment, in conceptual art, in galleries, on stages, in bars, in the gutters. And, because of the subversive nature of this art, remembering that even today we find countries that criminalize and violate everything that disobeys the binary rules of gender and sexuality, much of our history is mutilated. We are not narrated.” She also draws attention to the lack of a specific transformism discipline in performing arts degrees.
“Many Drag figures are important in history, I think it’s dangerous to think of heroic names, kind of personifying this artistic language in a few subjects, because each artist will look for their references”, points out Drag queen Lua Lamberti. She also remembers that Drags, in general, are striking symbols in the LGBTQIA + pride parades, change paradigms with their activities and influence the whole world, whether in fashion, aesthetics, musical styles, cosmetic productions, media etc.
Drag in Brazil
Lua highlights, here in Brazil, the Dzi Croquettes group. She says that “what they do is not Drag, in the hegemonic way of understanding, but it is essentially a transformist and has a very Latin American aesthetic”. Drag finds it difficult to trace a historiography at a world level because the artistic relationship is in constant negotiation with the environment, period, culture and economy.
Lua goes on to add that “much of the transformist history flirts with the history of theatre, the circus, the visual arts, even at a global level. The Club Kid scene, the Ballroom scene in the United States, mostly made up of Afro-Latin trans, the camp aesthetic, the pantomime, and the burlesque. There’s a lot in this story that we can’t forget to remember!”
Drag and the gender issue
Lua says that the transformism is done through the coupling of gender prostheses (such as makeup, wigs, padding, costumes, etc.), but it is not limited to what the gender designates. “In the case of transformism, I think that it invents new ways of being and being, without many commitments to real life, being able to expand this field far beyond the static binary of man x woman”, points out Lua Lamberti. If your doubt is about the nomenclatures, check out the following definitions suggested by Lua:
- drag queen: Drag is an artistic language, which has nothing to do with the performer’s gender or sexuality;
- Transgender: trans refers to modes of existence outside the cisnorm, that is, the coherence between genital and gender;
- Transvestite: this is a very specific identity in Latin America, of the feminine order, but not related to the man x woman binaries.
In short, drag, or transformism, feeds on gender norms to produce other forms, so it is a feedback relationship in which it produces, reproduces and is produced.
10 drags around the world to meet
Now that you’ve learned more about the art of drag, it’s time to meet transformism personalities and support their work. Let’s go?
Nothing fairer than starting with the interviewee in the story, right? Lua Lamberti is a transvestite, teacher, artist and researcher. Graduated in Performing Arts, Master and Doctoral Student in Education (UEM), matriarch of the collective Haus of X (2016), member of Grupo Meu Clown (2013), affiliated to the research groups NUDISEX (2015) and DOBRA (2019) in the areas of gender, sexualities, transfeminisms, performativities, playfulness, self-fictions and comicity.
Gloria Groove is Daniel Garcia’s drag queen. Today, she is one of the greatest Brazilian drags! In addition to being a singer, she is a composer and voice actor and has been in the music business for a long time.
Activist, researcher, comedian, speaker, singer and songwriter Dalvinha Brandão is a Brazilian drag queen, representing, today, one of the great names in encouraging transformism in Brazil.
Vander Von Odd
Mexican drag queen, performer, visual artist and filmmaker Vander Von Odd won the first season of The Boulet Brothers’ DRAGULA.
British Juno Birch is, in addition to being a drag queen, a sculptor and youtuber. She is known for her glasses with a vintage feel and colored skin.
How about meeting a drag king now? Hugo Grrrl was the winner of Season 1 of House of Drag, being the first drag king and first trans male to participate in a reality drag show. In addition to being a transvestite, Hugo Grrrl is also a comedian.
Returning to Brazilian drags, meet Bianca Dellafancy. She is a DJ, podcaster, model, columnist and is successful on her Youtube channel.
The American performer was well known for her participation in the reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2018. The Vixen is a name for activism against racism and homophobia, and is the co-founder of Black Girl Magic, an African-American drag show.
The drag queen participated in season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and won season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. She started her drag career in 2012 and since then has gained more and more notoriety.
Haus Of X
Haus of X is a drag family and collective of transformist artists composed of Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Drag Queers and Tranimals, of which Lua Lamberti, interviewed in the article, is part. The collective exists since 2016 and is worth knowing!
Drag art is very important to countless people, so it deserves knowledge and notoriety. After all, it can be a way to find empowerment and self-esteem.