It was the day after the Drag Show pictured in this post that the state of Tennessee proposed a law making it a crime to perform in Drag around children, or some such nonsense.
Supporters of that dangerous silliness reasoned that such a law makes sense because of the sexualized nature of Drag Art. Specifically, the deplorables in the Tennessee legislature seek to criminalize “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.” A “prurient interest” is a legal term of art referring to a morbid, degrading, or excessive interest in sexual matters.
The premise of the bill, in other words, is that Drag Art is sexualized.
The Drag Performance at the Conway Pride Festival in Conway, Arkansas, in November 2022, pictured below, was the first I have attended.
Looking back on the experience in the light of the Tennessee legislature’s hateful bill criminalizing Drag Art, there was nothing sexual, per se, in the performances, the costumes, or the characters of these Drag Artists.
Nor was there anything sexual in my camera’s gazing on the artists before, during and after their performances.
Whether I found performers sexually attractive, or whether you find something sexually attractive in their images, speaks to our individual sexual desires, not the Drag Performances or their characters.
You have to look impossibly hard at the work of photographer Magnus Hastings to find sexuality in the Drag Artists that Hastings has photographed.
The only sexuality I was able to find in Dana Goldstein’s photographs of Drag Artists, presented as if they were stage or film stars from the 1930s, is the idea of sexuality that I brought to the table.
If you see sexuality in any of the pictures in this gallery, please be kind enough to point it out in the comments below.
Drag Shows are not sexual, or even sexualized. They are performance art, at its apex.
Characters with lives and stories and styles and personalities, living and breathing and standing in front of you through the performative vision and talent of a Drag Artist.
Click on the first photo to see the complete photos in gallery format.