Drag culture has always been a major interest in my life, from documentaries such as Paris is Burning to films like Priscilla Queen of the Desert. In 2009, Ru Paul’s Drag Race introduced a new take on drag culture… And it was SICKENING. It was like America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway had a baby – a very gay baby. I myself was not introduced to Mama Ru until 2014, but my gawd did it change my life.
This inspired me to research drag further. I looked into the roots of drag in history: the Roman times, the First World War, burlesque and even into more modern forms of drag such as Club Kid and women female impersonators. I decided I wanted to explore drag myself, so I took to Instagram and Facebook and began my hunt. After a few days of bombarding drag queens with cringey messages, I finally got a reply. I got in contact with an amazing queen named Eden, who runs a collective called Haus of Eden with two other queens, Aria-Elle and Jessica Bettsy-Rose. We spent the day mixing between photo shoots and interviews, where I asked them very simple questions about what drag meant to them and how their experiences have differed. It was an absolute pleasure working with these three and we all learnt a lot about one another.
After shooting the Haus of Eden project, it made me want to investigate variations in drag, so I decided to try and make a documentary series. I travelled to Birmingham to meet Lacey Lou, a young female-female illusionist. She welcomed us into her home where we set up our equipment surrounded by unicorns and Ru Paul playing in the background and then settled down for the interview, where we discussed the taboos of being a woman in drag that was not a drag king. This was very interesting for, as we were able to discuss the potential developments in drag and how the community are receiving this. Soon I will be travelling to Barbados, and will hopefully have the opportunity to talk to some local drag queens that work in a local fishing village there.
The aims of my documentary were simple. I wanted to show drag culture in a very simplistic and relatable way, where the queens could express their own thoughts and experiences with the topic, in the hope that discussing it would tackle some taboos. I very much hoped for a relaxed, conversational piece. We worked very closely and I made sure they saw each cut of the documentary and encouraged any sort of input from them when it came to the edit, to ensure that the piece did my contributors justice.
Images: Amber Baird