On an outward level, drag has the ability to sweep you up in its technicolor arms, boasting death drops, glittering smiles, big hair, and 5-inch stilettos. At least, this is what we’ve grown to expect from drag’s growing presence on the main stage of popular culture. But while it’s encouraging to see these performances becoming more prominent in media, the transformative power of drag goes far beyond what you see on TV.
In New York City, Dr. Wang Newton embraces the Asian stereotypes they grew up with, performing as a Drag King with a self-described “suave, Daddy vibe.” Likewise, Eureka O’Hara saw drag as a refuge from the bullying she grew up with, and has since emerged as a wildly popular entertainer, competing on two seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
In an effort to uncover what it is about drag — from the makeup, to the fashion, to the artistry — that gives anyone within the community the ability to truly metamorphose in this way, we spoke to five drag artists about what transformation means to them. Read on as they discuss their own drag journeys, and the people who inspired their personal transformations the most.