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Drag Life Before the Death Drop

drag drag king kings of joy lgbtqia+ performance queer the king coach Jul 25, 2023

Every Drag Queen and her dog seem to be doing death drops and full-on acrobatics in their routines these days. I’ve seen some incredible acts and some very talented performers. However, the standard that Queens need to live up to in their performances these days seems sky-high.

Drag Kings have the luxury of not having to pull out acrobatics to deliver a great performance. We use comedy, irreverence, and often overt sexual expression to express ourselves. I believe this is a blessing and one of the benefits of not being mainstream yet. 

Drag King culture, like Drag Queen culture, is a unique and vibrant art form that celebrates gender expression, performance, and creativity. While there are similarities between Drag Kings and Drag Queens, there are also some distinct features that set Drag King performances apart and captivate their audiences. 

Let’s explore how Drag King culture is unique with its own special quirks. Here are some of the diverse and endearing features of Drag King culture:

1. Gender Performance: Drag Kings are any individuals who are ready to lean into their masculinity and explore that on stage. At Kings of Joy, we don’t care what gender you were assigned at birth or who you sleep with, if you are ready to lean into your masculine and express your persona on stage, then you are welcome. 

Drag King performances challenge traditional gender norms and explore a diverse range of masculinities, from hyper-masculine expressions to more nuanced and sensitive portrayals. We do not do representations of toxic masculinity on stage, however. Who needs to see that again?

2. From Drag Kings to Drag Things: Having mentored 85 first-time Drag Kings, I’ve seen a diverse stream of Drag King personas pouring out of people’s imaginations. I coach people to draw on their cultural heritage to avoid problematic cultural appropriation and create a persona from within by leaning into their own masculine expression. This results in a more aligned, trued up and authentic expression. 

People also have room to explore masculine archetypes - from Kings to Things. Beyond cowboys and tradies (which are both great archetypes within themselves) are Elves, Lords and Wizards. I’ve also seen Alien and other dimensional personas. What a delight! Such diversity.

3. Masculine Aesthetics: Drag Kings use various techniques, including binding, padding, and makeup, to create the appearance of male or masculine characteristics. We may also wear facial hair, suits, or other traditionally male-coded clothing to enhance our transformation.

4. Storytelling and Character Development: Drag Kings often excel at storytelling through our performances. We develop unique personas with distinct backgrounds, personalities, and narratives. The audience becomes invested in these personas and their journeys throughout the performance.

5. The Reveal: The reveal can come in the form of a costume reveal or bringing out a surprise prop. What’s in his pants this time? I’ve seen dildos, flowers, bananas, party poppers, Santa hats, and many more pulled out. The element of surprise and the creativity of Kings really knows no bounds.

The double reveal - tear-away pants that reveal the exact same pair of tear-away pants. We love this and find it hilarious. While at times harshly critiqued by some Queens who don’t get King culture, Kings and our community love that kind of humour.

6. Subversion of Gender Expectations: Drag King performances often challenge societal expectations and perceptions of masculinity. By presenting diverse portrayals of masculinity, Drag Kings confront and dismantle rigid gender norms, allowing for greater exploration and acceptance of various expressions of identity.

7. Intersectionality and Inclusivity: Drag King culture embraces all cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities. It provides a platform for the exploration of intersectional identities and allows performers to express themselves authentically.

Not all Drag King personas and performances are sexual either. This spectrum includes sexual expression but also includes affection, bromance, and other endearing qualities.

8. Social and Political Commentary: Drag Kings often use our performances to comment on contemporary social and political issues. We may tackle topics such as toxic masculinity, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and other relevant issues, using our art as a means of activism and raising awareness.

9. Diversity in Performances: Drag King performances cover a wide spectrum of genres, from lip-syncing and dance routines to spoken word poetry and live singing. This diversity allows the audience to experience a range of emotions and artistic expressions during a show.

10. Empowerment and Inclusivity of the Audience: Drag King performances often foster a sense of community and inclusivity, encouraging audience members to participate, cheer, and feel empowered. Drag King culture emphasizes the idea that anyone can explore and celebrate their own gender identity and expression, regardless of societal norms.

The uniqueness of Drag King culture lies in its celebration of full self-expression in performance through the lens of performers who are ready to lean into their masculine expression. Our performances provide both entertainment and thought-provoking insights, making them beloved by audiences who appreciate the creativity, inclusivity, and social commentary offered by these talented artists.

Let’s celebrate where we are at as a Drag King culture and soak up all the goodness, value and benefits of being where we are as we travel further and further into people’s hearts and minds.

And remember, real Kings fix each other's crowns 🙂


Danica Lani

The King Coach
P.S. Wanna be a Drag King? Sign up for the Kings of Joy waiting list here.

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