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RuPaul Andre Charles is a 6’4”, fifty-five-year-old African American man. But When he is dressed as “the Monster,” as he affectionately calls himself in drag, he is transformed into an even taller, stunning, female glamazon How tall? “With hair, heels, and attitude . . . I’m through the mother-freakin-roof!” he says, in classic RuPaul style.
Though RuPaul uses his actual first name as his drag name, his female alter ego is a completely different character from his everyday self. For RuPaul and other drag queens, creating an alter ego or persona goes beyond just the outward transformation achieved by Wigs, makeup, and costuming.
Queens are creating a Whole new character, which they express as a separate disparate identity from their everyday selves. Sometimes you will hear queens refer to their characters in the third person. Their drag characters are often completely different in personality from the person behind the facade. The drag character sometimes is used to compensate for perceived flaws in the performer’s own identity; for others, it can serve as a conduit for personal expression.
April Carrion, a talented twenty-six-year-old drag queen and art student from Puerto Rico, told me: “April for me is more than a character. She’s a blank canvas …. I just see [her] as a never-ending project as just being who I want to be …. I love her, and with her I like to experiment in so many different ways, in my makeup and my hair, my clothes, just everything.”
This idea that you can be anything you want in drag is so different from what we experience in our everyday lives, especially for women. We have roles we play-as a working woman, as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter-and most of us mold our everyday personas to fit those roles. Sometimes it’s just easier to conform, because otherwise we have to deal with the consequences of standing out. “those consequences may be judgment in the form of verbal criticism, untoward looks, exclusion, or even ostracism.
Perhaps this is why so many women are drawn to the fearlessness of drag queens. Fun fact: from the start of RaPaul Drag Race Seasons 1 through 8 (the last season as of this writing), the audience demographics have always been 50 percent women. One of those women is Courtney Constable, a twenty-six-year-old female drag queen from Toronto, Canada, who just happens to have a master of arts degree in women’s and gender studies and is a professional writer when not in drag.
Her drag persona’s name is Courtney Conquers, and her drag style is extremely diverse. She explains the idea of becoming the image of her imagination through the art of drag.
You can literally be anything you want. I’ve dressed as a raver, a barbie doll, an alien, a supermodel, a paper cutout, a bride, various animals, and any other number of things that I’ve never actually been. Sure, I could wear those costumes without “doing drag,” but drag is more than just the outfit. It’s the confidence, attitude, and beliefs that go along with it. I’m not just a barbie doll; I’m a sparkly barbie doll who also happens to be witty, smart, hilarious, and thinks she’s, like, really good at dancing.
Drag is like playing adult pretend, only you’re doing gender activism just by standing there looking like that …. What adult doesn’t secretly want to spend their weekend transforming themselves into literally anything their mind can think of? The ones who say they don’t are liars. Now imagine you could start with a blank slate and create the person you have always wanted to be.
Someone who would try things you are afraid to try, do things you are scared to do, wear things you wouldn’t dare to wear, and say things you would never say. Can you see this person in your mind’s eye? Who is it? Can you imagine a fully realized persona that is everything you’ve always wanted to be?
Creating this powerful alter ego and alternate persona is the mechanism this book uses to enable you to conceptualize and then actualize the amazing person that is inside you. Let’s look at how female entertainers, drag queens (including Jackie), and even an eighty-seven-year-old great- grandmother have created their drag personas so that you can learn how to do this too.
~ Jackie Huba
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