Bearded queens and genderfuck drag
July 20, 2015 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Conchita Wurst (previously) might have made bearded drag famous with her 2014 Eurovision win, even popularizing it to an extent by inspiring mainstream outlets like RuPaul's Drag Race. But there's more to bearded drag and genderfuck drag than Conchita Wurst. Beards in drag have been around since the 1970s, notably as performed by The Cockettes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (previously). Here, bearded queens Lucy Stoole, Grace Towers, and Jeff Poulin speak about why they incorporate beards into their performances. (NB: drag queens are not synonymous with trans women.)
posted by sciatrix (12 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
However, trans women can also rock beards!
posted by 256 at 12:06 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ideas had a great episode recently by a woman about her father, who did drag with a 70s tache.
posted by Kreiger at 12:16 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Graham Chapman did drag with and without a moustache in Monty Python on TV from 1969 onwards. He was awesome.
posted by w0mbat at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2015

Way back when I did drag I had a vague friendship with the Smudge Sisters from up-island. Most of them rocked beards, and they were all hilarious.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2015

Back in my late-'90s drag glory days I knew a fascinating LA character who went by the name of Empira. She was an enormously tall, skinny, Republican lass who owned firearms and had a full, black beard. As she explained it, she had a beard because she had a weak chin. (From what I could see her chin seemed fine, but she made the beard work.) She had some sort of tights/ballet fetish and took great delight in telling people about how she had danced until her toenails fell off. I wasn't into ballet or guns and I particularly wasn't into Republicans, but I always found her to be delightful company. I was a nervous young thing, taking my first fumbling steps out in the world, and she offered some good advice and encouragement when I needed it most.

She was ubiquitous in the LA drag scene, and if the TV news did a story on the big West Hollywood Halloween party or whatever she and the cameras invariably found each other. We haven't spoken for years (no big falling out; she moved away and we just lost touch) and it breaks my heart a little that her existence seems to have been largely scrubbed from the Internet. Her Youtube page is still up, and while she seems to have taken down a lot of the clips that featured her prominently there are probably still some glimpses of her if you dig around in there. She left up the video of her fucking toenail falling off, because of course she would.

I guess she was of the old web, the vanished Geocities era. All the weird fetish sites and nightclub pics and wacky online diaries of my youth, all those stories about glorious oddballs like Empira... Lost in time, like tears in rain.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Mathu Anderson also makes a lovely bearded queen.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:15 PM on July 20, 2015

The only way this post could be more relevant to my interests is if all the queens joined together to make a giant robot to fight dinosaurs in space. I am running around in squealing speechless circles like a 6-year-old girl who has just been made CEO of Build-A-Bear.

Also? Helvetika Black. I mean, I don't even have a verb to go with her. I can't put her name in a coherent sentence. I'm writing her notes that end Yes No Maybe and slipping them in her locker between classes. My god.

Also also? Is it just me, or is Mathu Andersen actually Gillian Anderson playing Miss Havisham in a beard?
posted by mittens at 6:04 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

There was a "Bearded Lady" queen at Chicago's Bistro in the '70s. She gets a mention in this interview (self-link), and I have a photo of her in an ad for a club in 1979 where Frankie Knuckles was one of the DJs.
posted by hyperizer at 6:15 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Back in the early 1990s I got to know someone who liked to dress up in frilly, lacy dresses and go about his business downtown. I didn't know him long enough to be able to say how much was gender identity or drag performance, and how much was simply enjoying people's reactions to a tall, burly, and very hairy man in a dress, but either way going places with him was always an adventure.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:53 PM on July 20, 2015

Also reminds me of a friend in gay 90s Seattle, a ridiculously handsome, brilliant, muscular and facially-haired gay lawyer who competed in a local leather contest. Each walk-on more perfectly, masculine fetishistically attired than the last... and with red 6" pumps. Which made him about 6'10".

Alas, he was not allowed to win.
posted by Dreidl at 8:24 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

So rad. Literally! I'm not a beard person, but bearded queens, and bearded genderqueer people like Jacob Tobia did a lot to break me out of my shell, gender-wise.
posted by Drexen at 4:33 AM on July 21, 2015

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