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Drag performance doesn’t end after the klieg lights shut off, as this triple portrait by Kevin O. implies. Drag performance takes place both on stage and in the community of casual, real-life interaction, which has an impact even on an inhospitable world. It’s possible for a group to live at the margins of society, and yet occupy that society’s symbolic center. Think hippies in the late 1960s or civil rights protesters a few years earlier. Those groups influenced the culture at large way out of proportion to their relatively small numbers and demeaned social status. Something similar happened with gay politics in the early 1990s. RuPaul and the Lady Bunny — both originally Atlanta queens — weren’t just part of a profound cultural change gaining momentum, they were its vanguard. The sun hat, the hoop earrings, and the contouring makeup visible in Kevin O.’s photo carry the same political charge on stage and off.
Uploaded: Nov 7, 2013