Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts

Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts

by Roger Baker
     
 

Men have been dressing as women on stage for hundreds of years, dating back to the thirteenth century when the Church forbade the appearance of female actors but condoned that of men and boys disguised as the opposite sex. Forms of travestism can be traced back to the dawn of theatre and are found in all corners of the world, notably in China and Japan.

In recent

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Overview

Men have been dressing as women on stage for hundreds of years, dating back to the thirteenth century when the Church forbade the appearance of female actors but condoned that of men and boys disguised as the opposite sex. Forms of travestism can be traced back to the dawn of theatre and are found in all corners of the world, notably in China and Japan.

In recent years, of course, drag has witnessed a dramatic and widespread revival. Newsday recently observed, People are talking about all those fabulous heterosexual film idols who now can't seem to wait to get tarted up in drag and do their screen bits as fishnet queens. Drawing on a cinematic tradition popularized by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot, Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie) and Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire) have each delighted mainstream audiences with their portrayals of women. Even former drag queens have experience newfound fame; witness the recent popularity of the late Divine, renowned for her oddly compelling appearances in underground John Waters films.

Music, too, has been profoundly influenced by drag sensibility, from David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Rocky Horror Picture Show to Boy George and RuPaul (the self- proclaimed Supermodel of the World).

Tracing drag tradition from the Golden Age of stage transvestism during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I in England to the current quasi-drag inclinations of American grunge bands, Drag is an entertaining overview of this popular and complex medium.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814712535
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
01/01/1995
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.82(h) x 1.08(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Notes on Contributors
Acknowledgements
Introduction1
Pt. IThe Rise and Fall of the Female Impersonator
1Out of the Chancel, Into the Street23
2No Place for a Lady33
3Acting Style and the Sound of Juliet46
4Swinging Arden56
5Onnagata and Tan65
6Western Approaches75
7The Male Actress Takes Early Retirement82
Pt. IIFantasies, Fairies and Follies
1Diplomats in Dresses99
2Squalling Cats109
3Shame in the Ladies' Morgue121
4The Things that Are Done by a Nun134
5Amateurs144
Pt. IIIThe Rise and Rise of the Drag Queen
1Enter Pursued by Laughter161
2Dames by the Dozen172
3All Legs and Limelight184
4Glamour Girls and Terrifying Termagants199
5Hollywood and Bust225
6Frock Tactics236
Select Bibliography265
Index273

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