Friday, 22 April 2011

Musings on UK vs US Drag Styles

Now, I LOVE RuPaul's Drag Race. I'd say it's probably my favourite show (not on UK) TV, and definitely my favourite reality TV show. Well, if you can call our hyper, heightened glamour world 'reality'!

Watching it though, you do come to realise that there are several key differences between U.S. and British drag queens, and after consulting a few dragnificent friends of mine, it doesn't just seem to be me that thinks this.
For one, American queens are definitely more obsessed with looking convincingly 'femme', often trying to out-'tuck' one another and there's a clearly sexual aspect to this too. If they can not only pass as a real woman but also get fucked by a straight guy who's turned-on by them, then they've been successful.

Also, U.S. drag seems to be more pageant-oriented than it is over here. That's wholly a U.S. concept anyway, but you really see this underscored in drag culture, and I guess the house ball system also plays a part in this somewhat too.

The other major thing that I notice is the type of makeup they all tend to use, and the way they apply it. Doing your face is called 'beating', and U.S. queens favour heavy, theatrical makeup like Kryolan, which they apply in a process called 'cooking' where they let the makeup set before they blend it all together. For me and other makeup artist friends of mine, we find this method a bit crazy. We're used to applying makeup more like a woman would, starting with foundation and building up contours with blush, as opposed to layering it all up separately as foundation shades.

Personally, I feel that our style of drag here in the UK is a bit more cutting-edge, experimental and fierce, though I do love the 'Showgirls' style too, even though a lot of it's quite alien to us here. We all love a pretty face and big titties, but aren't constrained by beauty like a lot of American queens seem to be. Drag provides a space for experimenting with your look and aesthetic, and should be constantly in flux, not settled just on mimicking one specific sex. As the word suggests, we should be 'trans' - in a state of constant transition between the causal factors of queer theory. That's what makes it all so fun and exciting! :-)

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