Thursday, June 4

AK Soufflé: Life’s a drag

- March 6, 2017


Drag, you love it or you hate it, or is it as clean cut as that? At the recent launch of LGBT History Month, a splendid affair in no small part due to the dogged determination and vision of Billy Lewis, what an extraordinary man he is, a credit to society as a whole, well drag was the order of the day.

That evening was a celebration of the Sussex Beacon, an amazing organisation and facility for people with HIV and AIDs and one whose existence is now threatened as needs change. The format for the night was going to be drag, drag and more drag. I like a bit of drag from time to time, especially when it is being delivered by stars like Dave Lynn or Miss Jason. I was glad to see them on the bill with Dave opening the evening with a bang, and Miss Jason holding the fort as we waited for the arrival of drag royalty in the form of Maisie Trollette.

We laughed a lot, it was that kind of a night and I was reminded of how much fun I had as a young gay man at pubs like The Black Cap, The Two Brewers and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Maybe I am missing that edgy frisson and sense of dangerous fun

So what changed, why do I not like drag as much as I did? I went with friends to see Bianca Del Rio at the Dome, a sell out gig. Whilst I could admire the talent, much of the humour was lost to me as I do not watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Without those points of reference it sailed over my head, but I could see that this was a clever and witty act.

Back in my youth it was the wit that I liked, the acid tongue of Lily Savage, the lunacy of Regina Fong and the clever lip-syncing of The Disappointer Sisters. I roared at the bitching of the Trollettes, giggled at Adrella and the skinny bitch and yes, I am old enough to have giggled at Mrs Shufflewick. It was all that, yes, and of course the frisson of being in a gay bar or club, that slightly edgy and sometimes dangerous world that I had found and loved so much – and back then drag was a big part of all that. Now I am less often to be found in gay bars and clubs, maybe I am missing that edgy frisson and sense of dangerous fun. Am I? I’m really not sure any more. Maybe I should be getting out more?

But for me, at the end of the day it’s the material that matters and not the frock, it’s the performance and not the wig or make-up. Banging out a brassy ballad is not enough, make me laugh, make me smile at least or show me some originality, look to your peers girls, they have such a lot to give.

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