Queer Me Up is a web magazine which is directed to the GLBT community and to all the people that can relate with a sense of freedom and authenticity. Our project “Drag Queens of the World” is a project celebrating diversity, visibilty and freedom, so Queer Me Up was a perfect platform to spread the word about it.
Drag Queens of the world by international art studio The Faketory is a worldwide artistic and anthropological research about the phenomena of Drag Queens. The project is now in its final phase: The publication of a book.
“The project started from an interest in the transformation men go through when they dress up as drag queens”, says Martijn Crowe, artistic director of The Faketory. “Becoming a drag queen is more than to become like a woman: They become larger than life.”
The international scope of the project is unique: Crowe and his team went from Phnom Penn to São Paulo, from La Paz to Amsterdam, to meet more than 40 Drag Queens in person.
“We made studio photos of them before and after their transformation, we interviewed them, we went to their clubs”, says Crowe. “We found that all Drag Queens are entertainers that create a world of glitter and glamour, but our project also shows a great diversity in the appearance and the motivations to dress as drag. Bolivian Drag Queens are deeply rooted in the traditional culture, and their shows serve a political purpose, while in Cambodia, Drag Queens dress up and dance as a part of their work as prostitutes”.
The goal of the project is to promote diversity world wide. “Our project is unique because we really portray the Drag Queens and the men behind the makeup. The combination of photos, interviews and background research gives the Drag Queens a voice as persons. We are looking forward to give the world a glimpse behind the wigs and the glitter when we publish our book with the highest quality of design”, Crowe concludes.
The project was guided by the following research questions:
What is the motivation to become a drag queen?
Personal motivations can be very different. For example, Amsterdam-based Daniel was so fascinated by drag shows that he wanted to learn this stage craft, and ultimately, he created his alter ego Miss Didi Licious. Another example is David from Bolivia, that sees his drag queen performances as Dayana Nicole as a way to carry the traditional Bolivian culture.
What is the drag queens’ function in different cultures?
All drag queens are entertainers that create a world of glitter and glamour. However, this entertainment has a different role in different cultures. In Brazil and in the Netherlands, drag queens see their performances as a way of artistic self-expression, while in Cambodia, the drag show is a part of the boys’ jobs as prostitutes. In Bolivia, drag queens are deeply integrated in the traditional folk culture, while their shows at the same time always are connected to political purposes.
What is the nature of the drag queens’ transformation?
The main part of the metamorphosis the boys go through to become drag queens is exaggeration. To become a drag queen is more than to become like a woman: Through their transformation, they become larger than life.
In addition to this book, the research has resulted in the website http://dragqueens-oftheworld.com/, with 200 daily hits, the Facebook page Drag Queens Of the World, with more than 6000 likes and a platform for lively conversation with our fans, a number of exhibitions, and a talk at the international Film and Gender Festival Imperfectu (http://www.imperfectu.com/).
The team is raising funds for the publication of the very first book with photos and anthropological research about Drag Queens from all over the World.
The Faketory (http://thefaketory.org/) is a world famous art studio consisting of an international group of people. We have a long tradition in giving a face to people society tries to hide. The artistic director, Martijn Crowe, is a recognized anthropologist that has published works on elderly people, adolescents and homeless. Our art meets anthropology in the tradition of social constructivism, meaning that we want to show the diversity in the subject, rather than draw conclusions and present statistical ‘facts’. Any work of art is about the relation between the artist and the subject he photographs, and about the effect the work has on you as a viewer. The Faketory seeks to stimulate your own reflection through our art, to let it be a part of your experience of the world.
The book has benefited from contributions and comments by
Dick Weiss, Hans Wijtenburg (owner of Amsterdam drag bar Lellebel), Daniel Denton (drag queen Miss Didi Licious), Jit Van (owner of Phnom Phen drag bar), Vincent van der Kaap, Sabya van Elswijk (The Faketory), Lieke Blankenstein (The Faketory), Radvile Gintauskaite (The Faketory), John Magnus R. Dahl (The Faketory), Marius Schelte Bakker, Priscilla Jaramillo, Inger Kristin Haugsevje (independent consultant on LGBT-issues), Joakim Aadland (leader of Rainbowdays pride-festival, Bergen), Åshild Marie Vige (former leader of Norwegian Queer Youth).
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