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Mikayla McCormic

Culture Clash
The Archie Griffin ballroom was booming with the upbeat pop of Your Lips are
Moving as Natasha West swept onto the stage, her black-and-pink poodle skirt flying around
with energy. As the famous drag queen danced and lip-synced, the music switched to Taylor
Swifts Shake it Off and Natasha West climbed off the stage. This was only to beginning of
what I came to learn about drag shows: they are VERY interactive. Natasha danced on laps and
seduced men throughout the audience before ending her segment on stage. She gave some
ground rules, told the audience to be kind, and that she was already feeling the pain of having her
dick up her butt. Sandy Von Lipshitz then took the stage with a phenomenal purple leopard
tutu ensemble, lip-syncing to Madonnas Borderline and bouncing around with child-like
energy. These performances were amazing in their own right, but I was NOT prepared for the
next act.
A pair of golden wings entered the stage, fluttering around and hiding the drag queen
behind them. From off stage, Natasha West introduced the Miss Axis 2015 and then the music
jumped into Burning Up by Jessie J. The wings fell down and there was Anisa Love. Wearing
a red-and-gold Wonder Woman body suit, this strong, tall, powerful black drag queen took the
stage and danced around like Ive never seen before. At one point, she even licked the face of a
boy sitting in front of me while giving him a lap dance. This Amazonian woman marched back to
the stage by the end of her set, and proceeded to use her fake boob to dab off the sweat on her
face.

I am extremely inappropriate, so if anyone has a problem with that you had better leave
now, honey. She laughed before blowing kisses out to the crowd. Anisa Love patrolled the
audience members, looking for straight boys she could bring to the dark side. Natasha West
and Sandy Von Lipshitz stood on the stage and laughed, cheering their friend and fellow drag
queen on and helping her on her hunt. The drag queens brought an immediate energy to the
room, with the crowd becoming more receptive by the minute. Then the twerking competition
began. That was pretty straight forward, with a guy taking his shirt off and Anisa Love snapping
a selfie with him and the women on stage dominating. Miss Love was also around to help the
men figure out the form by touching their butts. She was my favorite.
Lancaster, Ohio was declared the third-least diverse city in 2013, with a 96.3% white
population. The two cities ranked above were in California. This land of Wonderbread is
comfortably nestled on E 33 between Columbus and Athens, making it a wonderful rest stop for
OSU students on their way to Palmer Fest. It is in this town that I spent my elementary, middle,
and high school years and became the person I am today.
When you are surrounded by white faces and white opinions, it is easy to think that they
are your opinions as well. My father often talked about the loose morals of cities like San
Francisco and how they are part of the reason this country is falling apart. He liked to complain
about liberals and their blind eye to the issues of today, and I trusted his judgement.
You have all these kids who are crying out for equality and such, but you dont see a
single one of them lifting their fingers and putting in the work, he would say as he drove me to
school in the mornings, the 610 AM station buzzing in the background. I dont think I agreed
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with him, yawning and hoping for some sort of cosmic event to occur that would stop school
from being in session. I didnt realize that he was talking about The Gay Agenda (according to
him) until much later.
Dressing in drag has been a thing since ancient Japan. Kabuki theater was (and
sometimes still is) a man-only ordeal, which means that they dress up as women characters. Men
dressing up as women continued on throughout history, even during Shakespeares moment in
the sun. So, we are not unfamiliar with the idea of dressing in drag, but we are definitely
unaware of the dangers that may occur because of it. Kabuki Theater was often very rowdy and
sexual, with the actors often getting involved with prostitution. Japanese authorities tried many
times to shut down this style of acting, pushing it underground until the end of the Meji period
and the beginning of Japan being open to the West.
Columbus has one of the highest drag populations, having only recently broken a world
record on largest drag queen show. Even with the growth of their community, drag culture has
not had it any easier than kabuki. Within the LGBTQ community itself, drag culture is seen as
reinforcing negative stereotypes and frowned upon. Transgender women believe that drag
queens hurt their struggle more than help, and actively reject drag culture.
What is a drag queen specifically? Good question. A drag queen is typically an effeminate
gay man who dresses up as a woman with exaggerated features, especially makeup and hair. The
idea is to personify the feminine aspect of women, and to present this from an entertainment
standpoint to an audience. Drag queens go through a lot to look like a woman, often

implementing a tactic called tucking in order to make their male genitalia look like a womans
vulva. This process involves panty hose, tape, and tight boxers. Sounds kind of painful, right?
Makeup is the most important part of drag, besides the dress. A super close shave is
imperative when transforming, since stubble breaks the illusion. When a queen applies her
makeup and its done really well, its called beating your face due to the constant beating of
makeup brushes. Queens have to apply a heavy foundation to work with, and highlight the
contours of their faces to create a softer, more feminine look that their natural faces cant give.
There are thousands of Youtube tutorials out there that explain everything, and its pretty
complicated.
When I told Wes about my paper idea, he became very excited. He had been to many
drag shows in his first few years of college and he wanted to experience it again. His boyfriend,
Zach, did not share the same enthusiasm.
Who wants to see a bunch of queers dress up as women and be super bitchy? Zach
grumbled over his laptop, ever the image of acceptance.
Zach, these are your people. How can you hate them so much? Wes was thoroughly
offended. I may or may not have caused a huge fight.
They were with me during the drag show, and I could sense the lack of enthusiasm. It was
about a half an hour before the show when we walked toward the Union slowly, Zachs huffs and
sighs bringing us down with every step.

So some of these queens arent going to be the most convincing. This is going to be a
blend of professional and amateur drag queens. Plus, there might be a few drag kings. Wes was
talking over his shoulder to me while leading the way to the ballroom.
Oh, great. Its not just drag, but shitty drag, Zach said, a smile on his face and a laugh
in his voice that allowed him to pretend like he was joking if someone called him out. This upset
Wes yet again, and we had to stop before entering the ballroom so they could fight a little. He
told Zach to grow up and to be kind while hes in there or else. Zach saw the look in his eye and
complied, though not without acting like a scolded child.
We picked on of the side rows, pretty far back from the stage itself. That, of course, did
not stop the drag queens from coming our way throughout the performance. Anisa Love had to
walk in our aisle at one point, and Zach honestly looked afraid of her. She is a very tall woman,
after all. After the first lap dance she gave, I could hear him trying to persuade Wes to leave, but
he was stubborn for my sake.
One of the more memorable amateur acts was a duet of sorts by Pu$$y Cayenne and Ellis
Dee. They performed an abridged version of CellBock Tango from the musical Chicago. As
they drag queens removed their leather coats and revealed their lingerie, we all cheered. By the
time their attractive victim came out onto the stage, Zach was completely involved with the show
and its shitty drag.
If there was one thing that was the most shocking about the drag show, it was how open
everyone was. When I was sitting in this giant ballroom and listening to Anisa Love talking
about all the college students shes had sex with, I couldnt help but feel embarrassed and I
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couldnt quite figure out why. What was so surprising about someone having sex? Why was I so
affected by someone that is so natural? Ive had sex before, and Ive talked about sec with my
friends like it was nothing. But, when a drag queen starts talking about her own sexcapades I feel
my cheeks heating up.
Gay sex is disgusting, a classmate once told me in 7th grade, pointing to a recently
outed boy a couple of rows away from us. He wants to have sex with other boys! The boy,
Kyle, could hear her words and he turned away from us. I just wanted the first period teacher to
enter the room so shed shut up, but I wasnt so lucky. Taylor, the girl, continued with her hateful
rants and no one stopped her. A few classmates even nodded in agreement. As I sat in the
ballroom and felt embarrassed about gay sex, I wondered if Taylor influenced me.
Drag queens often have to make their own dresses in order for them to get the perfect fit.
Drag queens use lots of padding and memory foam in order to get more feminine thighs and
butts, which means they need more space on top of the fact that they have larger male features.
Honestly, the sewing skills that some of these women have is remarkable.
Drag queen is a term often morphed into a blob with transgender and transvestite. While I
would love to write this essay on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is not the same thing as
dressing in drag. Even so, there is a strong cultural fascination with cult movies like this, and
their portrayal of drag culture. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a cult movie
about three drag queens traversing the Australian Outback in a pink bus that has a giant stiletto
heel on top. Yeah, the movie is as awesome as it sounds. It also stars Hugo Weaving as one of the
queens. The name sounds familiar, right? Think Mr. Smith from The Matrix. Yeah, that guy.
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I fall under the category of being fascinated, having watched RHPS multiple times since
my friends introduced it to me in high school. To us, this movie was daring and unique compared
to the rest of our classmates. Everyone else couldnt understand the appeal of such a weird
movie, but we relished it and quoted it whenever we could. The same thing happened to me with
Priscilla, and I didnt even notice. There is something about the underdog, the outcast, that pulls
me in and drag culture might not be that different.
NEVER touch a drag queens face or hair! my friend began, her knowledge of the
subject being my baseboard for understanding how to interview drag queens, and even where
exactly to start this project. At that point, she was the only one I knew who had any real
experience with drag culture, so her word was law to me. She really emphasized protecting the
illusion that drag queens create for themselves and others, so accidentally pulling off hair or
smudging makeup that took two hours to put on would be an inauspicious start at best. She also
strongly suggested not asking about a performers background during the interview, since they
would already be in their second skin and they need to stay in that moment.
Being a drag queen is all about creating an image that you want other to see and to
partake in, very much like their ancestors. Drag is about the show and the persona of being a
woman, embodying the feminine qualities and exaggerating them in the name of art. Ashton
follows up with this by saying dont be afraid of the performers, since most of them are 6-8
feet tall and looking pretty intense. Even she said that it can be terrifying when standing right
next to a drag queen, but always remember to shower them in compliments and make sure I have
the correct pronouns down when speaking to them.
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Now I want everybody to stand up! Stand up! Were all gonna dance this show out
together! Natasha West cheered from the stage, motioning with her hands for the crowd to
stand. She had changed at that point into a leather dominatrix outfit, and she rocked it. The chairs
scrapped the ground awkwardly as the audience stood up, a general shyness overtaking
everyone. Natasha called her fellow queens out onto the stage and Anisa Love laughed in her
bodysuit, still out of breath from performing Venus by Lady Gaga herself. Sandy Von Lipshitz
was in a red dress ensemble, and generally more reserved than her two friends. All began to
cheer on the crowd and persuade them to stand enthusiastically.
Come on now, you all know better. This is a drag show, not a funeral! Now get ready to
shake those asses, and any cute boys can take off their clothes. Anisa Love suggested. The
crowd laughed and loosened up, many looking at the boy who had received multiple lap dances
by that point in the night. Zach and Wes stood up next to me and sighed, preparing for the worst.
Despite his previous excitement, Wes was tired and did not feel like dancing. Zach, however, was
smiling and radiating energy.
This was amazing! Thank you for bringing us! Zach yelled over to me. I was really
surprised this wasnt awful.
Soon, I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston began to play over the
speakers, and all of the drag queens began to dance. The audience started with a rhythmic
clapping, bodies swaying side-to-side while watching the three queens lip-syncing. I felt myself
smiling and dancing along with the beat, and I was happy.