What is Drag??

In starting this new weekly piece for arts, ink, I am aware that this topic may not appeal to everyone. It also may not be something that everyone even knows anything about– or perhaps, if you do know what the word “drag” refers to, perhaps its only from Rupaul’s Drag Race or a class on men dressing as women for Shakespeare. So, to properly discuss drag and the culture and world surrounding it, we first need to define drag.

So: what is Drag?

Drag is not dressing as a different gender. It is not putting on makeup, or gluing down your eyebrows. Doing drag does not make you trans. It is not something that can only be done by men. 

Drag is an art.

That’s it. That’s the definition. More specifically, it is a visual and performance art inherently (but not necessarily) linked to queerness and often including makeup, hair, outfits, and live (or digital, in the pandemic age) performance. There are different subsets of drag, such as drag queens, kings, and things. Not all drag queens are men dressed as women, some are cis women, or trans women, or nonbinary AFAB and AMAB people. Same goes for kings, and things don’t really have much of a gender to even be connected to in the first place. For someone to be a drag queen or king or thing or simply a drag artist, they simply have to say “I’m a drag queen. This is my drag.” And that’s it! All forms of drag, no matter what they are or in what capacity they appear in, are valid. 

Not all of them are good, but hey. We all did bad drag at some point. How else are we supposed to become good drag artists?

 

For this weekly column, you’ll mainly be following drag done by one specific artist: me, Pinball McQueen (see image above). The name is a pun on a Pinball Machine (try saying it out loud). I consider myself a drag nuisance (rather than a king or queen) and I often straddle the line of horror, clown, and theatre kid. I’ve been doing drag for about a year now, changing as time goes on, and creating digital performances and looks for a variety of different shows online. 

You will not be stuck with me for the entire duration of this column. I will reference, include photos of, and talk about other drag artists that you may or may not know throughout the course of this blog. 

This first week, as we focus on defining drag and introducing my drag, I’ve chosen the featured image for the week to be one of my favorite looks from last year. There’s not as much as a clear story or reference I can add to this image other than the fact that it was one of my favorites I’ve ever done. Every week I’ll focus on a more specific topic within my drag or queer culture, such as horror and queerness, dungeons and dragons / fantasy tropes, the met gala, trans representation in theatre… You get the gist. 

Hopefully, this introduction and opening weren’t too boring– and I promise next week will pick up a lot more. Until then, Pin out!

Pinball McQueen

Pinball McQueen is a drag artist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They describe themselves as a colorful, chaotic drag nuisance and what happens when you straddle the line of clown, horror demon, and a former theatre kid. They use their drag as an art of personal expression and as a way to talk about queerness as it relates to pop culture, history, classic art, literature, and many other things.

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