Drag Queens In Herstory

By: Maciel Bustos

A Drag Queen is someone, commonly a male, who dresses and performs in drag. Drag was first used by Shakespeare as an acronym meaning “dressed as a girl.” It first started in ancient Roman literature.  And was also featured in classical Chinese theater, when women were generally banned from the theater. In 1870, the idea of “women’s clothing worn by men” was the theater slang before the term “Drag Queen” emerged in 1941. Drag Queens started around the 50s and 60s, but was kept underground and criminalized. In the late 60’s, the LGBT Community fought against the discriminatory practices toward Drag Queens, allowing them to become more prominent around the 80’s and 90’s.

Harris Glenn Milstead, also known as Divine, was a popular queen/performer during the 70’s and 80’s, and was known for her outlandish and disturbingly shocking performances in film and on stage. She worked side by side with John Waters on films such as “Pink Flamingos,” the original “Hairspray,” and “Female Trouble.” Sadly, soon after the release of “Hairspray” and just before the beginning of Milstead’s career outside of Divine, he died of a premature heart condition, caused by his addiction to eating and an unhealthy diet, before the movie was released.

The most famous queen in pop culture at the moment is Rupaul Andre Charles, simply known as Rupaul. Ru was born on November 17, 1960 and became widely known in the 90’s. He has been known for his upbeat songs such as “Supermodel (You Better Work,)” “Sissy That Walk,”  and many more.  Rupaul recently released his seventh album “Realness” on March 2, 2015. Ru is commonly known for his reality TV show “Rupaul’s Drag Race,” which recently premiered its 7th season on March 2, 2015.


There are many types of Queens in the world, but the most common are Comedy Queens, Pageant Queens, and Fishy Queens. Comedy Queens are fun, campy and may take their look to an extreme. Trixie Mattel (Season 7 of Rupaul’s Drag Race) and Bianca Del Rio (Winner of Season 6) are examples of Comedy Queens who take their makeup to an almost doll-like or comic book level. Pageant Queens are those who compete in pageants for Drag Queens. Alexis Mateo (Season 3)  and Alyssa Edwards (Season 5) have been in many pageants and won most of them.

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Fishy Queens are beautifully painted and have such amazingly feminine bodies. Fishy is a drag term, which is used to describe a drag queen who looks extremely feminine, or one who convincingly resembles a biological woman. Courtney Act (Season 6) resembles a woman in an extreme way, without having to wear an abundance of makeup or padding to shape up and create a feminine curve,  which is why most of the queens refer to her makeup tips as chapstick and mascara. Violet Chachki (Season 7) is another example of a Fishy Queen and says she has, “the smallest waist in Rupaul’s Drag Race history.”  Sharon Needles (Winner of Season 4) has described her type of Drag as “the future of drag.”  She has a love for anything horror related and loves to portray it into her performances. Max (Season 7) has a yearning for old Hollywood glamour, as she says. Her looks include a style of old Hollywood and Tim Burton.

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Every queen starts from the bottom, which means starting as a club kid. Veronica Pop , also known as Vicky Pop, is one of those queens who started in the club and is beginning to make her way to the top. Veronica describes her drag as “current” mixed with a dark and urban style. She doesn’t exactly see herself as a fishy queen, since she loves doing crazy makeup, but also loves wearing simple, clean looks.

 I was able to get in touch with Veronica and do a brief interview.

How do you feel when you perform?

-“Performing is so weird. It’s so crazy and really hard to explain.”

 How did you come up with your drag name?

-”I’m a really die hard Britney Spears fan and I really wanted to reference her. I was watching a documentary of hers and there was a scene where she called herself “Veronica the Witch.” So I decided to use Veronica and since Britney is a pop singer, I came up with Veronica Pop!”

When was your first time in drag?

-”I think it was in 2010. This club was having a Britney Spears show and I did it!”

 Drag Queens have been around for so long, and it’s amazing to see how they have evolved throughout the years. They are sisters, they stay united, and they look out for each other. They are a family, and they support each other no matter what.


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