2022-These Queens Pioneered the Art of Drag. Now They’re Finally Getting Their Due.

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LadyRedCouture
Girl Purple Couture
PhatimaRude 2
Phatima Impolite

Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus heard concerning the night time Phatima Impolite stood as much as the police firsthand. They had been visiting Impolite in San Francisco’s Mission District, and she or he recounted the story whereas holding her canine, Mary Kate. In 2010, Impolite had been internet hosting a Queer Autonomous Zone social gathering at Station 40 when the police tried to come back in. She protected the door for 3 hours, and she or he gained: the police gave up and left, and the social gathering went on as deliberate.  


Tales of braveness, resistance, and triumph run all through
Legends of Drag, the fascinating ebook by Hanson and Antheus, out now by Abrams Books. Hanson is an artist, inventive director, stylist, and drag artist; in addition they did the images for the ebook. Antheus is a floral stylist, tarot reader, diviner, and writer. Collectively, they traveled the nation, touching down in sixteen cities over the course of 4 years. The queens themselves usually selected the flowers featured of their portraits, with many bearing private and symbolic significance. 

DarcelleXV
Darcelle XV

Every queen is totally different–an understanding of the variety of expertise and id was central to the ebook’s creation–however there are shared threads. All through the many years, these artists, who ranged in age from forty-tree (Girl Purple Couture) to ninety-one (Darcelle XV) on the time of their photoshoots, didn’t simply bear witness to historical past. They helped form it. Donna Personna frequented Compton’s Cafeteria within the Sixties. She knew the trans girls who protested towards police harassment and violence three years earlier than Stonewall. 

DonnaPersonna
Donna Personna

As a teen in 1975, Joan Jett Blakk was at Detroit’s first homosexual Satisfaction picnic, and within the Nineteen Eighties, Pickles protested with ACT UP in Chicago. In June of 2020, following the homicide of George Floyd, Girl Purple Couture instructed the story of her grandfather, who got here out of slavery on the age of 13–whereas sharing words of wisdom, energy, and love when the nation wanted it most. 

Hanson and Antheus had been capable of proceed the undertaking amid the pandemic as a result of the photoshoots and interviews might happen safely open air. “We are able to’t think about a means we’d slightly spend the apocalypse than assembly these queens and creating this time capsule,” Antheus writes within the introduction. 

In the end, Legends of Drag is simply as a lot concerning the smaller, on a regular basis moments that make up the landmarks and milestones. Whereas exploring Marshall’s Seashore with Mrs. Vera Newman, Hanson and Antheus noticed a dolphin pod, and the dolphins adopted them alongside the seashore as they took within the sundown. In Los Angeles, they went to The Goddess Bunny’s favourite dinner, the place she had shrimp cocktail and white zinfandel for breakfast and sang alongside to California Ladies by the Seashore Boys. Fontasia L’Amour introduced a leaf-blower to her photoshoot. 

TheGoddessBunny
The Goddess Bunny

In Chicago, JoJo Child, who makes dolls, introduced an anatomically appropriate, outsized doll from her assortment. In Las Vegas, Scorching Chocolate drive the artists again to their lodge; she apprehensive they’d be chilly–a testomony to her motherly concern. She later took them for Sangria on a rooftop pool. Whereas in North Carolina, Hanson and Antheus foraged for beautyberries, the proper alternative for his or her shoot with Ebony Adams. They met Simone for the primary time on the Stonewall Monument in New York. 

The tales contained inside these pages are important, and even amid unsure occasions, they’re usually hopeful. At a second when sure people in Florida, Arizona, and Texas are proposing to ban minors from drag reveals, one anecdote stood out to me as a reminder of the enduring magic of drag–for folks of all ages. Whereas Hanson and Antheus had been hanging out with Sister Roma at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, a toddler known as out: “Look Mommy, A Queen!” One other child paused to select up and return a flower that had fallen from Sister Roma’s head. 

Maybe greater than the rest, Legends of Drag is an ode to friendship, household, sisterhood, and collaboration–and it couldn’t have come at a greater time. It’s a testomony to the significance of intergenerational bonds and the passage of information from one period to the subsequent. The ebook begins with Phatima Impolite, who’s one in all 4 legends within the ebook who’re not right here. However as Antheus writes, she isn’t “really gone.” Her daughters from the Home of Impolite carry her legacy. 

In San Francisco, folks instructed Hanson and Antheus many times about how Impolite had welcomed them once they first arrived within the metropolis; she’d carried out their hair and make-up, and she or he’d made introductions. For some time, she additionally drove for Homobiles, a pay-what-you-can, safe automotive service for the LGBTIQQ neighborhood and allies. Antheus remembers, “She met every passenger with the constant greeting: Hello babe, the place are you going?” 

Get your copy of Legends of Drag here.

ShannonDupree
Shannon Dupree
CarlaGay 1
Carla Homosexual
MuthaChucka1
Mutha Chucka
JuanitaMore
Juanita Extra
DollyLevi1
Dolly Levi

All photos © Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus

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